published: 10 Sep 2013 in Stallion profiles

Outstanding mares populate every remove of Pluck’s pedigree and this young Breeders’ Cup winner, who stands at a modest $11,000 at Vinery, Scone, looks a great chance to continue the success story started by his sire More Than Ready (USA), who has proved such a potent force with Australia’s dominant line of Danehill (USA).

WHEREVER you look in in the pedigree of Pluck (USA) you will find broodmares who are among the key players in the history of the thoroughbred, and this should stand the young Vinery-based stallion in good stead during his stud career. He’s got some pretty good “back up” from the sires in his pedigree too, starting with his own sire More Than Ready (USA) who leads the Vinery roster and has sired more than 100 stakes winners.

A good two year-old in the US, Pluck won three of his seven starts including the Breeders’ Cup Turf Juvenile-Gr.2 at Churchill Downs. He stood his first season in 2012, looking after 150 mares at $11,000, and his fee remains the same this season. He is a direct descendant of one of the all time great broodmares, Chelandry (his 12th dam), winner of the 1896 English 1000 Guineas and dam of 2000 Guineas winner and sire Neil Gow.

It would takes pages to list all her notable descendants but some worth mentioning are the Aussie stars Skyline and Sky High, Imposera, Chicola, Heroic and Melbourne Cup winners Baystone, The Trump and Just a Dash. Sires like Magpie (GB), Clairon, Never Say Die, Dignitas (USA) and more recently Clem, Anabaa (USA), Zoffany (USA), Mi Preferido and Believe It are on her honour roll while the branch that includes Pluck (via a daughter Samphire) includes and English Derby winner in Ocean Swell and Kentucky Derby winners Tommy Lee and Genuine Risk. Also members of Chelandry’s family (1n) are Americain (USA), High Chaparral (IRE) and Teofilo (IRE), all current shuttlers to Australia.

The more immediate members of Pluck’s dam line originated in South Africa and his stakeswinning dam Secret Heart won five races and also placed at Gr.1 level. She is a daughter of the beautifully bred Gr.1 winner and SA Champion Sire Fort Wood (GB), a son of Sadler’s Wells and the Gr.1 winner and multiple Gr.1 producer Fall Aspen (Pretense). It would be hard to imagine a better bred horse than Fort Wood as Sadler’s Wells, also a Gr.1 winner, was Champion sire in Great Britain and Ireland a record 14 times and is a noted sire of sires, his sons including Galileo (IRE), High Chaparral, Montjeu (IRE), El Prado, In The Wings, Carnegie (IRE) and Scenic (IRE). 

Fort Wood, who won the Gran Prix de Paris-Gr.1, has sired three South African Horse of the Year winners, Dynasty, Celtic Grove and Horse Chestnut. The latter, bred by Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer, won the South African Triple Crown at three, including the South African Derby (2450m by 10 lengths) and also won the J&B Met (2000m by 8.25 lengths, the first three year-old to win the event in more than 50 years) before heading to the US where he was a Gr.3 winner, by five lengths at his only start there, before breaking down. South African Horse of the Year in 1999 and trained by Mike de Kock, he won nine of 10 starts and was third in the other. He stood at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky (28SW up to Gr.1 level) before being repatriated to South Africa in 2009.

Fall Aspen, one of the “keys” to Pluck’s pedigree, won the Matron Stakes-Gr.1 in the US and left 14 foals, 13 winners, four of them Gr.1, including two who came to Australia in Timber Country (USA) (Woodman (USA)) and Hamas (USA) (Danzig). She is also the dam of Gr.2 winner Bianconi (USA) (Danzig), who is still siring high class winners at Swettenham Stud in Victoria. One of Fall Aspen’s daughters produced the short-lived World Cup-Gr.1 winner Dubai Millennium (a Seeking the Gold horse whose line is being carried on by his terrific sire son Dubawai (IRE)), while another daughter produced Medaaly (Highest Honour) and Charnwood Forest (Warning), who also had stints at stud in Australia. Daughters of all these horses could be excellent mates for Pluck.

Pluck’s second dam Secret Pact was bred by the Koster brothers in South Africa and won at Listed level as well as being runner-up in the Cape Flying Championship-Gr.1. Her main claim to fame however is that she is a sister to South African superstar London News, who won 11 races, five of them Gr.1 and including 1996 Durban July and 1997 Queen’s Plate and J&B Met. He travelled to Hong Kong in the latter year to smash the 10f track record at Sha Tin in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and earlier broke the southern hemisphere 2000m record when he won the Daily News-Gr.1 in South Africa. Raced by Laurie and Jean Jaffee, he also campaigned in England, finishing third to Bosra Sham in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes-Gr.1 at Royal Ascot. London News was twice Horse of the Year in South Africa before retiring to Wilfred Koster’s Cheveley Stud and then Sarston Stud where he died of cancer in 2009.

Secret Pact and London News are by the Bold Ruler (Nasrullah) grandson and brilliant, record-breaking multiple Gr.1 winner Bush Telegraph and from South Africa’s 1995 Champion Broodmare Soho Secret (Regent Street-Secret Landing by First Landing), who was also a very good racehorse with 10 wins in 25 starts including the EP Breeders’ Stakes and EP Breeders’ Guineas. She was also third in the Cape Paddock Stakes-Gr.1 and RDF Fillies’ Cup-Gr.1.

Her US-bred dam Secret Landing, who was sent to South Africa in 1970, was no slouch either with 12 wins and 10 placings in the US and she is a daughter of 1958 US Champion Two Year-Old Colt First Landing, a horse who connections nicknamed “Lazy Bones”, despite him winning 19 of 37 starts, including breaking the 9f track record at Laurel, and placing second nine times! He started favourite and was third in a Kentucky Derby, a race won by his son Riva Ridge in 1972, the year after he was Champion Two Year-Old Colt in the US. First Landing (Turn-to-Hilldene by Bubbling Over) appears 5fx5f in Pluck’s pedigree.

As with so many influential mares, Soho Secret is a RF (Rassmussen Factor; inbreeding to a superior female via different descendants within five generations) to Lavendula (Pharos-Sweet Lavender by Swynford), 5fx5f, via daughters Perfume (Badruddin) and Source Sucree (Admiral Drake). Lavendula is best known as the dam of French multiple Gr.1 winner and US Champion Sire of 1961 Ambiorix (Tourbillon), her daughter Perfume is also dam of 2000 Guineas winner and sire My Babu (sire of Better Boy (IRE)), while Source Sucree is the dam of Turn-to (Royal Charger) and Cagire II (Tourbillon) among others, so this is a family of the highest class.

Turn-to and Perfume, who appear in Soho Secret’s pedigree, are both by sires who are descendants of another champion racehorse and broodmare in Mumtaz Mahal, Perfume’s sire Badruddin being a son of that mare and Turn-to’s sire Royal Charger (Nearco-Sun Princess by Gainsborough’s son Solario) being a great-grandson. Soho Secret’s third dam Secret Recipe is by Mahmoud, by Blandford’s son Blenheim and from Mah Mahal (Gainsborough), a daughter of Mumtaz Mahal, adding to the inbreeding. 

Secret Recipe’s dam Skye, the seventh dam of Pluck, was another very good race filly who won the Princess Royal Stakes and Ribblesdale Stakes and was runner-up in the Yorkshire Oaks and Princess Elizabeth Stakes. She is by Fairway’s son Blue Peter and from English Oaks runner-up Iona, a daughter of Hyperion (Gainsborough) and this is significant because Soho Secret is by the Hyperion grandson Regent Street and is inbred 2mx4m to that English Derby winner as well as being 3fx4m to Fairway (Phalaris-Scapa Flow by Chaucer), the brother to Pharos, whose male line is that of More Than Ready, Sadler’s Wells and First Landing and who of course is also the sire of Lavendula. 

Pluck’s pedigree is certainly a master class in line breeding and perhaps it’s time to concentrate on his sire line. His sire More Than Ready (Southern Halo-Woodman’s Girl by Woodman (USA)) was a very good sprinter in the US where his seven wins included the King’s Bishop Stakes-Gr.1 (7f) and Sandford Stakes-Gr.2, both at Saratoga. He also placed second in the Blue Grass Stakes-Gr.1 (9f), Vosburgh Stakes-Gr.1 (7f) and Dwyer Stakes-Gr.2 and was third in the Futurity Stakes-Gr.1 and fourth in the Kentucky Derby-Gr.1, Haskell Invitational-Gr.1 and Cigar Mile-Gr.1.

As expected of a horse who won five of his seven starts at two, More Than Ready has proved an exceptional sire of juveniles including Champion Two Year-Old Colt and Golden Slipper winner Sebring (Flying Spur), now a promising young sire, Blue Diamond Stakes-Gr.1 winner Samaready (Secret Savings), Champagne Stakes-Gr.1 winner Carry on Cutie (Conquistarose) and Golden Slipper-Gr.1 winner Phelan Ready (dam by the Sadler’s Wells-line sire Blevic). However, More Than Ready is not a one-dimensional sire, he’s also had classic winners like Benicio (Danehill), Dreamaway (Danehill), More Than Sacred (Danehill) and top class older performers including champion miler More Joyous (Sunday Silence, Danehill) and Goodwood Handicap-Gr.1 winner Perfectly Ready (Danehill).

His current star in the US is multiple Gr.1 winner Verrazano (Giant’s Causeway), a Coolmore-owned horse who is likely to shuttle here, and he also has the Gr.1 winner and $1m earner Regally Ready (out of a mare by Kings of Kings, a son of Sadler’s Wells). It has been a huge bonus for the Australian breeding industry that More Than Ready has proved such a potent cross with daughters of Danehill (a horse who has also crossed well with Sadler’s Wells). This provides a great pointer to the prospects of Pluck.

Young sire Perfectly Ready, who is bred on the More Than Ready/Danehill cross, has two stakes placed runners out of mares with Sadler’s Wells in their immediate pedigree and he also has stakes placed runners duplicating Woodman (dam sire of More Than Ready) and Danehill. His best runner, SW and Gr.1 placed Al Strada, is out of a mare by Straussbrook, representing the Star Kingdom male line, another good cross with More Than Ready.

More Than Ready has sired 1082 winners (72.1% of starters) of $116m and his 117 stakes winners represent 7.8% of starters. His daughters have already produced nine stakes winners including Gr.1 winner Miracles of Life (by the Danehill-line sire Not a Single Doubt), Gr.2 winner Rebel Dane (by California Dane, by Danehill) and several stakes placed runners by Danehill-line sires. In the US two of the best performers from his daughters are by Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy-Macoumba by Mr. Prospector), doubling Mr. Prospector (as in Sebring and Carry on Cutie).

More Than Ready’s sire Southern Halo (Halo-Northern Sea by Northern Dancer) won five races in the US and was twice Gr.1 second. He went to stud in Argentina and was an immediate success (40-plus Gr.1 winners), becoming a multiple Champion Sire there before eventually shuttling to the US. Not surprisingly, he is also an RF, the mare in question being Almahmoud (Mahmoud-Arbitrator by Peace Chance). She appears 3fx4f via daughters Cosmah (by Cosmic Bomb, a son of Hyperion’s Phalaris-sired half-brother Pharamond), who is the dam of Halo and Natalma (by Native Dancer, a great-grandson of Sickle, brother to Pharamond and half-brother to Hyperion) and dam of Northern Dancer (she is also third dam of Danehill, who is an RF, 3mx3f to Natalma).

More Than Ready’s dam Woodman’s Girl, a winner three times in the US and a half-sister to Gr.1 winner Bail Out Becky (Red Ransom) is by the Mr. Prospector son Woodman, a very good juvenile in Ireland and a leading sire and broodmare sire for Coolmore. Woodman’s dam Playmate (Buckpasser) is a double RF, carrying Selene (Chaucer) 5mx5m (via sons Pharamond and Hyperion) and La Troienne (Teddy) 4fx5f via daughters Businesslike (Blue Larkspur) and Baby League (Bubbling Over). Playmate also has Man o’War’s son War Admiral 3fx5f,4f. More Than Ready’s second dam Becky Be Good is by the Nasrullah grandson Naskra and from Good Landing by First Landing.

Things get even more interesting when we look at the pedigree of More Than Ready’s fourth dam Best Side (Better Self-Belle of Troy by Blue Larkspur) for she too is an RF to La Troienne 3mx2f via son Bimelech (Black Toney), sire of Better Self, and daughter Belle of Troy (Blue Larkspur, a grandson of Black Toney). La Troienne is of course one of the great broodmares of the 20th century and More Than Ready has a mighty dose of that greatness, along with two other superb ‘Blue Hens’ in Almahmoud and Selene, to bring excellence to every remove.

I can’t remember when I’ve seen a more interesting pedigree than that of Pluck, his intensely line bred parents have many things in common and have combined to produce a very good racehorse. Capitalising on these strengths by adding more La Troienne, perhaps via another Halo line descendant in Don’t Say Halo or the Mr. Prospector sire Rhythm for example could be a good thing as could using daughters of Fall Aspen’s Woodman-sired son Timber Country or others with her name in their pedigrees, daughters of Dubawi (and in time his son Poet’s Voice) for example as his dam is a grandaughter of Shirley Heights (a line that has crossed well with Sadler’s Wells).

The Sadler’s Wells connection also offers many possibilities by using mares featuring his brothers Fairy King or Tate Gallery, or three-quarter brothers Perugino or Nureyev or others from the Rough Shod line such as Ridan or Thatch and his son Thatching, or even the short-lived Northern Meteor (a grandson of Fairy King and inbred to the family of Rough Shod); but of course the default option has to be Danehill, it’s hard to see how this cross won’t work. 

However while we have talked about Pluck’s pedigree, perhaps it’s also time to look at his efforts on the racetrack. He ran 1:09.68 (6f) when he broke his maiden by 1.25 lengths on turf at Belmont Park in July 2010 at his second start at two, and was then fourth in the Listed Continental Mile (demoted from second for ducking in) the following month before travelling to Canada to take the Woodbine Summer Stakes-Gr.3 (8f. 1:37.70) by a length on September 18 after being five wide on the turn. He then ended his juvenile year on November 6, winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf-Gr.2 (8f, 1:36.98) beating Soldat and Willcox Inn.

Pluck was seen at his very best on BC day at Churchill Downs. He stumbled at the start of the mile event and was last at the first turn for jockey Garrett Gomez. He gradually made up ground and made his move wide as they turned for home, coming with a strong late surge to score by a length. “He overcame a lot,” Gomez said. “He stumbled at the start and I just had to let him find his feet. He actually turned in a brilliant performance.”

“We knew he had an explosive turn of foot,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “To me he’s been a colt who is very talented but has still been learning. It was a matter of putting it all together. He was doing a lot of things on natural talent, but today he really polished off the race at the end.” Pletcher also trained More Than Ready and won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf for fillies the previous day with another More Than Ready youngster More Than Real.

Pluck did not race again after a fourth in an Allowance and a seventh in a Gr.3 in March and April 2011 because of injury (bruised cannon bones) and then illness. Raced by his breeders, Team Valor, and later with Vinery who purchased a share in the colt after his Breeders’ Cup win, he was due to resume in November 3, 2011 but instead was rushed to a Lexington vet hospital for emergency surgery after suffering a colic attack. He was subsequently retired to Vinery, Australia.

“Pluck is a very exciting prospect to have standing here at Vinery,” general manager Peter Orton said when announcing the son of More Than Ready would stand at Scone “He is a magnificent looking horse with such great depth of pedigree and possessed an extraordinary turn of foot, the most important elements we look for in any potential stallion. He sustained an injury in his three year-old year, preventing him from racing on which was a great disappointment, especially with the plans the stable had to take him to Europe for the classics.”

That disappointment may prove to be a silver lining for Australian breeders as Pluck offers a fine race record and exceptional pedigree, and his fee of $11,000 looks good value when you consider his sire is commanding $99,000 this breeding season.

Toggle Cross Duplications
Show/Hide Sibling Identifiers

Six x Six Enhanced Pedigree Grid for

PLUCK (USA) 2008 Bay colt
by More Than Ready - Secret Heart, by Fort Wood


B. or Br. 1997
GW 7 wins
f:2075 r:1755 w:1295 SW:135
  Southern Halo
B. 1983
SP 5 wins
f:1796 r:1361 w:1085 SW:173
B. or Br. 1969
GW 9 wins
f:724 r:602 w:450 SW:63
  Hail To Reason   Turn-To   Royal Charger 9
  Source Sucree 1
  Nothirdchance   Blue Swords 7
  Galla Colors 4
1 Cosmah   Cosmic Bomb 3 Pharamond 6
  Banish Fear 14
  Almahmoud   Mahmoud 9
  Arbitrator 2
  Northern Sea
B. 1974
GW 7 wins
f:8 r:6 w:5
  Northern Dancer   Nearctic   Nearco 4
  Lady Angela 14
1 Natalma   Native Dancer 5
  Almahmoud 2
  Sea Saga   Sea Bird   Dan Cupid 4
  Sicalade 2
  Shama   Bold Ruler 8
  Lea Lark 16
  Woodman's Girl
B. 1990
Wnr 3 wins
f:5 r:5 w:4 SW:1
Ch. 1983
GW 3 wins
f:1961 r:1665 w:1102 SW:100
  Mr. Prospector   Raise A Native   Native Dancer 5
  Raise You 8
  Gold Digger   Nashua 3
  Sequence 13
  Playmate   Buckpasser   Tom Fool 3
  Busanda 1
  Intriguing   Swaps A4
  Glamour 1
  Becky Be Good
B. 1981
f:13 r:9 w:6 SW:2
  Naskra   Nasram   Nasrullah 9
  La Mirambule 11
  Iskra   Le Haar 20
  Fasciola 3
  Good Landing   First Landing   Turn-To 1
  Hildene 9
  Best Side   Better Self 20
  Belle of Troy 1
B. 1999
SW 5 wins
f:5 r:4 w:2 SW:2
  Fort Wood
B. 1990
GW 3 wins
f:978 r:794 w:584 SW:74
  Sadler's Wells
B. 1981
GW 6 wins
f:2140 r:1678 w:1082 SW:291
  Northern Dancer   Nearctic   Nearco 4
  Lady Angela 14
1 Natalma   Native Dancer 5
  Almahmoud 2
  Fairy Bridge   Bold Reason   Hail To Reason 4
  Lalun 19
  Special   Forli 3
  Thong 5
  Fall Aspen
Ch. 1976
GW 8 wins
f:14 r:13 w:13 SW:9
  Pretense   Endeavour   British Empire 3
  Himalaya 8
  Imitation 3 Hyperion 6
  Flattery 3
  Change Water   Swaps   Khaled 22
  Iron Reward A4
  Portage   War Admiral 11
  Carillon 4
  Secret Pact
B. 1990
SW 4 wins
f:10 r:8 w:7 SW:3
  Bush Telegraph
B. 1983
GW 9 wins
f:176 r:169 w:105 SW:10
  Jungle Cove   Bold Ruler   Nasrullah 9
  Miss Disco 8
  Santorin   Greek Song 9
  Secret Meeting 16
  Maiden Over   Persian Wonder   Persian Gulf 2
  Lilac Belle 9
  No Ball   Hill Gail 11
  No Appeal 5
  Soho Secret
Ch. 1972
SP 10 wins
f:15 r:14 w:13 SW:7
  Regent Street   Gulf Stream 3 Hyperion 6
  Tide-Way 8
  Fair Spoken   Sayani 1
  Tudor Fair 12
  Secret Landing   First Landing   Turn-To 1
  Hildene 9
  Smart Secret   Dedicate 23
  Secret Recipe 1

Hail To Reason (USA) 1958 : 4m x 6m
Northern Dancer (CAN) 1961 : 4f x 4m
Turn-To (GB ) 1951 : 5m 6m x 6m
Almahmoud (USA) 1947 : 5f 6f x 6f
First Landing (USA) 1956 : 5f x 5f
Swaps (USA) 1952 : 6f x 5f
Bold Ruler (USA) 1954 : 6f x 5m
Native Dancer (USA) 1950 : 6f 6m x 6f
Nasrullah (GB) 1940 : 6m x 6m

Hyperion (GB ) 1930 : x 6f 6m