‘Triple Whammy’ at heart of Justify’s pedigree

July 22, 2020David Bay

COULD the “triple whammy” at the heart of Justify’s pedigree be the reason the son of Scat Daddy became an undefeated US Triple Crown winner? I’d like to think so.

He has three mares, two of them sisters, bred on the Mr. Prospector-Nijinsky cross within five generations, backed up by a male line of 1970 English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky. He also has the brothers For the Moment and Honest Pleasure (twice) to add another genetic punch to the mix. The sisters Yarn and Preach are out of a mare called Narrate (Honest Pleasure-State by Nijinsky), who is 5fx5f here to make Justify a Rasmussen Factor horse (inbreeding to a mare within five generations via different individuals). But he is so much more than that.

To up the ante, Justify’s third dam Voodoo Lily is by Baldski (Nijinsky) from Cap the Moment by Honest Pleasure’s brother For the Moment, reversing Narrate’s pedigree. Does that count as a triple-triple-whammy?

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It’s rare to get such an inbred horse and it’s a theme that continues into the further removes of his pedigree if you study them. Bred by Canadian John D. Gunther, Justify sold as a yearling at Keeneland in 2016 for $500,000, the buyers being Win Star Farm (60%), China Horse Club (25%) and SF Racing (15%), the latter selling some of its share to further entities in early 2018 after he won a 7f Santa Anita maiden on debut for trainer Bob Baffert by 9.5 lengths on February 18. He won over a mile at Santa Anita on March 11, that 6.5 length romp followed by a three length win in the Santa Anita Derby-Gr.1 (9f) on April 7, 2018.

The last horse to win the Kentucky Derby (10f) without racing at two was Apollo in 1882, but on May 5, he ploughed through the sloppy surface at Churchill Downs to beat Good Magic by 2.5 lengths. Heavy rain in Baltimore made the surface at Pimlico very sloppy for the Preakness (9.5f) and he was made to work all the way to retain his early lead, in the end scoring by a half-length. There was a lot at stake too, with breeding rights sold to Coolmore before that race for $US60m, with a further $25m contingency should he win the Triple Crown.

Baffert, who also trained fellow Coolmore barn mate American Pharoah (USA) (Pioneerof the Nile-Littleprincessemma by Yankee Gentleman) to win the Triple Crown in 2015, followed a similar training regime with Justify in the lead up to the Belmont Stakes (12f) and the big colt finally got a fast track, leading all the way on June 9 to win by 1.75 lengths in 2:28.18. He was only the second of the 13 Triple Crown winners to achieve this milestone while undefeated, the other being Seattle Slew, who appears in his pedigree alongside other Triple Crown winners Secretariat, Count Fleet, War Admiral, Omaha and Gallant Fox.

With that win on June 9, 2018 a career, which began on February 18, was over and a planned campaign for the Breeders’ Cup Classic did not eventuate. The 16.3 hand chestnut with the large while blaze was retired as the earner of $US3,798,000 on July 25 after filling was discovered in his left front fetlock. He was subsequently voted US Horse of the Year and also crowned Champion 3YO Male.

Justify (USA) (Scat Daddy-Stage Magic by Ghostzapper)

He retired to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky with his original ownership group retaining some breeding rights. His northern fee was set at $US150,000 ($A211,386) and his southern fee at Coolmore, Jerrys Plains where he is covering a superb book of mares, is listed as private.

Any fan of pedigrees will learn a lot by studying Justify (USA) (Scat Daddy-Love Style by Mr. Prospector). He has the sisters Yarn and Preach 4×4 and has four lines of English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky, plus the other Canadian bred sons of Northern Dancer, Storm Bird and Vice Regent within seven generations.

Like so many good horses he carries the Rasmussen Factor, thanks to Narrate, dam of Yarn and Preach. She is a daughter of Honest Pleasure (What a Pleasure-Tularia by Tulyar) and the Nijinsky daughter State, who is from Round Table’s sister Monarchy (Princequillo-Knight’s Daughter by Sir Cosmo).

Yarn and Preach are daughters of Mr. Prospector (a grandson of Native Dancer) and their second dam is by Nijinsky and this pedigree combination appears again in Scat Daddy as his dam Love Style is bred on this Mr. Prospector/Nijinsky cross.

While Scat Daddy’s second dam Likeable Style adds another female strain of Nijinsky, Justify’s third dam Voodoo Lily adds a son of Nijinsky as she is by Baldski. His fourth dam, Cap the Moment adds more intrigue as she is by For The Moment (What a Pleasure-Tularia by Tulyar), a brother to Honest Pleasure, the brothers appearing 5×5,5.

This immediate concentration of Mr. Prospector, Nijinsky and his sire Northern Dancer, reinforced by other sons Storm Bird and Vice Regent, provides a powerful genetic hit when you consider they also share many similar ancestors. Mr. Prospector’s sire Raise a Native is by Native Dancer (Polynesian-Geisha by Discovery) who traces to Sickle (Phalaris-Selene) and his dam is by a son of Teddy. Mr. Prospector’s dam is by Nashua, a son of Nasrullah and her third dam is by a son of Teddy. Northern Dancer is by Neactic (by Nearco by Pharos, a son of Phalaris and a mare by Chaucer). Nearctic’s dam is by a son of Hyperion (ex Selene by Chaucer), while Northern Dancer’s dam Natalma is by Native Dancer from a mare by Mahmoud, a grandson of Mumtaz Mahal. Nijinsky is out of a Teddy line mare whose dam is by Menow whose sire Pharamond is out of Selene and a brother to Sickle.

Mumtaz Mahal looms large in this pedigree mainly though descendants of Nasrullah (Nearco-Mumtaz Begum by Blenheim) including his sons Bold Ruler (Secretariat), Red God, Nashua, Bald Eagle and What a Pleasure and Nasrullah’s three-quarter brother Royal Charger, as well as Gallant Man, a horse inbred to the family but a male line descendant of Chaucer. Tulyar, dam of Tularia, is also a male line descendant of Chaucer and his dam is by Nearco from a Blandford mare, a cross echoed in Nasrullah.

Although they stood side by side at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native-Gold Digger by Nashua) and Nijinsky were as different as chalk and cheese. A talented but fragile sprinter with suspect front legs, Mr. Prospector stood 16 hands and won seven of his 14 starts. A top priced yearling at Keeneland July in 1971 at $220,000, he brings speed to every pedigree and won a 6f allowance at Gulfstream Park, running 1.07.8, a new track record and a tick off the US record and also set a track record at 7f. Initially retired to stud in Florida in 1975, he relocated to Claiborne in 1980 where his fee peaked in the mid-1980s at $460,000. Twice Champion US Sire, he died in 1999 but his sire line continues strongly today. It’s notable in Justify’s pedigree that Mr. Prospector appears only via daughters so sending mares who have his sons in their pedigrees looks a winning move, especially as Scat Daddy was worked so well with mares by Mr. P’s male line descendants. Daughters of the earlier-mentioned American Pharoah could also work well when they get to breeding age as that horse is bred on the Mr. Prospector-Storm Cat cross and via individuals not found in Justify’s pedigree.

Nijinsky was physically very different from Mr. Prospector, and indeed his own diminutive sire Northern Dancer. A robust, strong type, he stood 16.3 hands and resembled his dam Flaming Page (Bull Page) who won the 1962 Queen’s Plate, a major race in Canada. Her daughter Fleur (Victoria Park) also produced an English Derby winner to Northern Dancer, in this case The Minstrel, a name worth seeking out when selecting mares for Justify, as is his brother Far North.

Bred by E.P. Taylor in Canada (he also bred Storm Bird and Vice Regent) Nijinsky won 11 of 13 starts (6f-14f) including the Dewhurst-Gr.1 at two and the 2000 Guineas, English Derby and St Leger (Triple Crown) at three, when he also won the Irish Derby and the King George V and Queen Elizabeth Stakes for trainer Vincent O’Brien. He was British Horse of the Year in 1970, Leading Sire in GB and Ireland in 1986 and twice Leading Broodmare Sire in the US. His son Royal Academy (USA) (ex Crimson Saint by Crimson Satan) is a name to remember as his dam also produced Terlingua (Secretariat), dam of Storm Cat (great-grandsire of Scat Daddy) and her fast brother Pancho Villa (sire).

Despite their differences Mr. Prospector and Nijinsky have racing excellence in common and both are by noted sires, while their dams excelled on the track. If you are going to inbreed, then here is the answer.

This is reinforced when you look at the three mares at the heart of this pedigree. Yarn won in six starts and produced the good winners and sires Minardi (UA) and Tale of the Cat (USA) as well as the dam of Johannesburg (USA), while her sister Preach was a Gr.1 winner on the track before leaving successful sire Pulpit (A.P. Indy), sire of champion sire Tapit (a horse also inbred to Mr. Prospector and Nijinsky). Preach and Yarn are granddaughters of State (Nijinsky-Monarchy by Princequillo) with Monarchy being a sister to champion sire Round Table and tracing to outstanding broodmare Feola. Love Style, dam of Scat Daddy and the third mare
in this trilogy, is a daughter of Mr. Prospector and the Gr.1 winner Likeable Style (Nijinsky) and she traces to another remarkable broodmare in Rose Red (Swynford-Marchetta by Marco).

Justify’s dam Stage Magic is a stakes placed daughter of Ghostzapper (Awesome Again-Baby Zip by Relaunch) US Horse of the Year in 2004 and winner of nine of his 11 starts including the Breeders’ Cup Classic-Gr.1 (10f, new track record) and whose sire, Awesome Again, has a second dam by Mr. Prospector. Ghostzapper’s third dam Sailaway is by South African champion Hawaii, a horse who appears twice in Justify’s pedigree, and from a mare by Australian champion Shannon (by the Blandford son Midstream (GB)).

Justify’s second dam Magical Illusion is a winner and Gr.1 placed and she is by Pulpit, a horse who carries a triple cross of Bold Ruler and double of Princequillo, and she is from the Gr.3 winner Voodoo Lily, by Baldski (Nijinsky-Cap the Moment by For the Moment), a mare who carries a triple of Nasrullah within five generations (one via Bold Ruler) and is bred on a reverse cross to Narrate. This is family 1h (Sunshine) and another notable in this particular branch is the Gr.1 winner and sire Afleet (Mr. Prospector) whose unraced daughter Gainesville (USA) has been such a noted producer in Australia. n

David Bay

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