Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bayakoa in Chinatown Redux; or My Mother, My Daughter

It’s going to take some doing to knock the great racemare and producer Personal Ensign off the pedestal as the female with most clout at the Breeders’ Cup -- she, of course, won the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, her daughter My Flag won the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and granddaughter (out of My Flag) Storm Flag Flying won the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Primal Force has done okay at the Breeders’ Cup as well, with two winners, Awesome Again in the 1998 Classic and Macho Uno in the 2000 Juvenile.

But when Fort Larned won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic, I made note of an interesting singularity: a mare named Arlucea was now the dam of two Breeders’ Cup winners. Of course, it is not the same Arlucea, but they are granddam/granddaughter: the first was a 1974 Argentine model by Good Manners (a son of Nashua) who won a Listed race and was second in a Group 3 in Argentina; and the second -- Fort Larned’s dam -- is a 1997 daughter of Broad Brush. The link between Arlucea (Arg) and Arlucea is the former’s daughter and the latter’s dam, champion Bayakoa (Arg).

Straight outta Chinatown, no?

Sired by the Bold Bidder horse Consultant’s Bid, Bayakoa was born on October 10, 1984, and was trained in South America by Jorge Machado and started eight times at two and three (in Southern Hemisphere time, that was the 1986/1987 and 1987/1988 seasons), winning three races. Her lone stakes win (and indeed, her only win at three) came against colts in the Group 1 Premio Palermo -- she won by 12 lengths -- and she was second in both the Polla de Potrancas-Argentine One Thousand Guineas-G1 and the Gran Premio San Isidro-G1. Americans Janis and Frank Whitham purchased her for about $300,000 and imported her to the California barn of legendary trainer Ron McAnally.

The bay debuted with an allowance victory in May, 1988, at Hollywood Park, after which she was vanned off due to heat prostration. Her next two starts, a sixth in the Lady Canterbury Handicap at Canterbury and a fifth in Del Mar’s Osunitas Handicap, didn’t foreshadow what a monster she was to become. On her next outing, she took the June Darling Stakes, also at Del Mar, in September, but failed to reach the winner’s circle again in three subsequent starts to close out the year.

In 24 more career starts, she was only to finish out of the top two four times.

Bayakoa opened her account in 1989 with an 12-length allowance win and a second (after breaking through the gate prior to the start) in the Santa Maria Handicap-G2, both at Santa Anita in January. She followed up with five consecutive wins: Santa Margarita Invitational H.-G1, Apple Blossom H.-G1, Hawthorne H.-G2, Milady H.-G1, and Vanity H.-G1, before a sixth in the Grade 2 Chula Vista H. The mare resumed her winning ways for her final three starts of the season, winning three Grade 1s -- the Ruffian H. (at Belmont in New York), Spinster S. (at Keeneland in Kentucky) by 11 1/2 lengths, and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (at Gulfstream Park in Florida). Among the vanquished in the Distaff were 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors, 1988 Kentucky Oaks winner Goodbye Halo (who had beaten Bayakoa in the Chula Vista), 1989 Filly Triple Crown winner Open Mind, and Gorgeous.

It goes without saying that Bayakoa was voted 1989 champion female in the U.S.

She began 1990 where 1989 had left off, with firsts in the Grade 1 Santa Maria and Santa Margarita Handicaps. She disappointed in her next, against males in the Santa Anita Handicap, coming in tenth. In her next start, she was second to Gorgeous (second to Bayakoa in the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Distaff) by 2 3/4 lengths in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn. Two more wins -- in the Hawthorne H.-G2 and Milady H.-G1 -- followed a second to males in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap in August. Bayakoa toted 122 pounds in that race, versus 116 to 111 for her rivals, including 115 for winner Quiet American, who was about two lengths ahead at the wire.

Bayakoa rebounded with three wins in her next three starts, the Grade 2 Chula Vista and two Grade 1s: the Spinster (over Gorgeous) and the gruesome, tragedy-marred Breeders’ Cup Distaff, during which three-year-old Go for Wand broke a leg while duking it out with Bayakoa on Belmont’s homestretch.

The Whithams’ mare retained her Eclipse title as the nation’s champion female.

She continued to race in 1991. In three starts, she was fourth of four in the Santa Maria-G1, second in the Santa Margarita-G1, and sixth of sixth in the Apple Blossom on April 19th, after which she was retired.

In all, Bayakoa won 21 of 39 races and ran second nine times, earning $2,861,701, and was at her optimum over a distance of 9 furlongs. Among her 13 Grade 1 victories were back-to-back runnings of four prestigious events: the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Santa Margarita, Spinster, and Milady. She was ridden regularly by Laffitt Pincay Jr., although Chris McCarron deputized on several occasions.

Bayakoa was not an easy horse. She was high-strung, which often worked against her and affected her performance. In addition to being a nervous wreck, she was severely parrot-mouthed (Google a picture, like this one of her winning the Ruffian Handicap!) and crooked-legged. Odds were stacked against her to become a good broodmare, and she certainly didn’t.

Her first foal was the unraced Trinity Place, a chestnut daughter of Strawberry Road born on April 22, 1992, almost a year to the day of Bayakoa’s final race.

A date with Seattle Slew produced the colt De Sarmiento in 1993. Trained by McAnally, he made just one start, at three, and came in tenth.

Bayakoa with her 1993 Seattle Slew colt. This photo was published in the now-defunct Thoroughbred Times.
Bayakoa was barren to Nureyev in 1994 and had an unraced filly, Morocha, by Kris S. in 1995. She aborted a Seattle Slew foal in 1996 and foundered after delivering her last foal, Arlucea, on May 7, 1997. Five weeks later -- on June 14th -- Bayakoa passed away, a year before her induction in the Hall of Fame. She’s interred at Pennbrook Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, which is also the final resting place of Au Printemps, whose son Success Express won the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Arlucea was the only produce out of her dam to win a race, taking a maiden special weight at Santa Anita as a three-year-old for the Janis Whitham and McAnally team. She failed to hit the board again in six subsequent starts.

But as is so often the case with great racemares, despite a dismal produce record, Bayakoa’s influence did not die with her. Trinity Place later became the dam of four-time Grade 1 winner Affluent, a 1998 daughter of Affirmed owned by Whitham and trained by McAnally. Among other wins, she won the Queen Elizabeth Invitational Challenge Cup-G1, John C. Mabee/Ramona Handicap-G1, La Brea Stakes-G1, and the Santa Monica Handicap-G1, and earned just short of $1.5 million. Affluent even finished second to another great racemare, Azeri, in a race her granddam had won, the Apple Blossom.

Arlucea is the dam of Fort Larned, a five-year-old son of E Dubai, who was runner up (by a tally of 139 votes to 109) last night for the 2012 Eclipse Award as champion older male. He races for Whitham but, unlike the other top horses in the family, is trained by Ian Wilkes. His eight wins in 19 starts to date include last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Whitney Handicap, two of the most celebrated Grade 1s in N.A., and he set a 1 3/16-mile track record of 1:53.92 last year at Gulfstream Park. His earnings to date exceed $3.6 million.

Arlucea has two other stakes horses: Izarra (a filly by Distorted Humor), who ran second in the Oak Leaf S.-G1 and third in the Del Mar Debutante-G1, both in 2007; and Moonport, a gelded son of Cape Canaveral. (As a sidenote to the Arlucea (Arg)/Arlucea connection, the 1964-foaled Izarra, by Right of Way, is granddam of Arlucea (Arg) and therefore fifth dam of the Arlucea’s daughter Izarra.)

Morocha didn’t produce any foals, while Bayakoa’s one son, De Sarmiento, sired one crop (of 25 foals) before his death in 1999. One of these, Bayakoa’s Image, won five stakes in Restricted company.

Fort Larned remains in training in 2013. He has an unraced three-year-old, Lent, by Pulpit, and Fort Wallace, a two-year-old by Bernardini, to follow. Their half-sister Izarra has two foals: Hike (2011 filly by Stroll) and a yearling filly by Sky Mesa. She was bred to Mineshaft for 2013. (All three of her foals 

Affluent is the only daughter of Trinity Place, who died in 2008, and has yet to produce any stakes horses. Her three-year-old is a gelded and unnamed son of Giant’s Causeway. She has a two-year-old by Pulpit and was bred to Lonhro for her foal of 2013.

Bayakoa has two races named in her honor -- a Listed race, the Clasico Bayakoa, at San Isidro in Argentina; and from 1994 to date, the Bayakoa Handicap, a Grade 2 at Hollywood Park. Previous winners of the Bayakoa include three who’ve won it twice: Manistique and Starrer (both back-to-back), and Star Parade. Sharp Cat and Hollywood Story also have the Bayakoa on their resumes.

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