“…they aim to persuade breeders that resting their mare is less attractive than having a May foal.”
The weekend marked a halcyon moment for an American horse.
One hundred Stakes winners remains a notable landmark in any stallion’s career, with Unbridled’s Song being the latest to reach this demanding milestone. Thanks to Graydar’s victory in the Donn Handicap (Gr.1), Unbridled’s Song became a member of this elite club at an appropriate time, just nine days before his actual 20th birthday. So writes Andrew Caulfied.
“While on the topic of birth dates, Saturday’s main events at Gulfstream Park acted as a reminder that patience is a virtue, which often reaps rich rewards. Firstly we saw Point of Entry (Dynafortmer) take the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (Gr.1)., and then a few races later came Graydar’s first Grade I victory. Point of Entry, whose bloodlines should make him a very interesting stallion prospect - was born on May 10, whereas Graydar was born on May 16. Although a late foaling date is by no means an insurmountable obstacle, the racing records of these two Grade 1 winners confirm that some patience is required. While Graydar’s birth date didn’t stop him selling for $260,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s February sale at two, he didn’t race at that age. After making his debut in April last year, his record now stands at three wins from four starts. Point of Entry, for his part, was another who made it to the races at two and he then earned less than $90,000 in eight 3-year-old starts. Fortunately, maturity and a permanent switch to the turf have changed all that, and his Gulfstream victory was his sixth in his last seven starts. It’s possible that a May foaling date is considered a greater handicap in Britain and Ireland than it is in the States, where the climate is warmer.
Consequently, the clever copywriters of Coolmore’s adverts find it necessary to stimulate interest towards the end of each season. Using a list of prominent late foals, they aim to persuade breeders that resting their mare is less attractive than having a May foal. Last year, for an article in Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder, I looked at the birthdays of the Grade or Group 1 and 2 winners in Europe and North America during July. I found that 50 individual horses were involved, of which three were born in January, 10 in February, 13 in March, 17 in April, six in May and one in June. The May sextet was especially interesting, I wrote, as they included no fewer than four Group 1 winners - Danedream (born May 7), Point of Entry (May 10), Acclamation (May 16) and Mayson (May 16). Several other Grade 1 winners had late-April birthdays, including the major 3-year-old winners Imperial Monarch and Great Heavens (both born April 28) and Aesops Fables (April 30). I also reminded everyone that quite a few colts have won the G1 Belmont Stakes not long after their actual third birthday, comparatively recent examples being Touch Gold (Deputy Minister) (May 26), Victory Gallop (Cryptoclearance) (May 30), Lemon Drop Kid (Kingmambo) (May 26), Birdstone (Grindstone) (May16) and Afleet Alex (Northern Afleet) (May 9). I mentioned too that Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno) had managed to flourish despite a June 15 birthday. He finished third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, when still about six weeks short of his actual third birthday, but again didn’t show the full extent of his talents until he was four.
Although they also include the graded winners Magnificent Song, Half Ours, Noonmark and Noble Tune, their percentage of black-type winners is lower than Unbridled’s Songs overall figure. The perceived success of this cross has also seen Unbridled’s Song cover numerous grand-daughters of Storm Cat, but so far there has been only one stakes winner among their 70 foals.
All I am saying is that blindly following promising nicks is no guarantee of success, especially if conformation is overlooked. There is also no guarantee that mares by sons of a certain stallion will work equally as well as those by the original stallion. It is often convenient to forget that the sons have 50% extra bloodlines, which may or may not prove compatible.”
Editor’s note: The late date of the Ready To Run sale has facilitated the late foaling of numbers of top horses at Summerhill. A May foaling date in the Northern Hemisphere, is the equivalent of December down here. Born on the 16th December was Champion Three-Year-Old filly, Icy Air, while Dynasty’s first vanquisher, in the Golden Horseshoe (Gr.1,) was the “Christmas baby”, Bianconi.