Doubling down brings a Triple Crown

April 12, 2021Rommy Faversham

Inbreeding to the family of Narrate serves as a key component within the pedigree of America’s 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify as well as a growing number of other superior individuals.

If it were to be asked of this writer to select the American racehorse whose pedigree best exemplifies the value of female family inbreeding my answer would have to be Justify (USA). For it is only this magnificent chestnut who can combine the phrases, undefeated and Triple Crown winner: descriptions that when locked together form the ‘holy grail’ of America’s thoroughbred lexicon. There may have been other more resilient individuals over time but It is no less than the ultimate achievement to garner victory in all three of the U.S. classics: the Kentucky Derby (US-G1), the Preakness Stakes (US-G1) and the Belmont Stakes (US-G1) while completing one’s career with a flawless race record.

The union of Justify’s sire and dam was the brainchild of Tanya Gunther whose father, John, is master at Glennwood Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, a family-run operation whose size has been far outweighed by its success. This most auspicious of matings came about in 2014 when Tanya made the decision to send their graded stakes-placed mare Stage Magic (USA), a daughter of America’s 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper (USA) out of a Pulpit (USA) mare to Scat Daddy (USA), a Grade 1 winning son of Johannesburg (USA) standing at Ashford Stud, also in Versailles, whose stud fee at the time was $30,000.

As Tanya herself put it, ”there are certain matings where you feel it all just clicks. The opportunity to cross the two full sisters, Yarn (USA) and Preach (USA), 4X4, creating inbreeding to their dam Narrate (USA) was very compelling. It was a prospective mating that made my pulse race a little bit faster. One that just had to be done”.

The family of Narrate was forged at legendary Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky when its founder Arthur Hancock Sr. acquired her third dam, Knight’s Daughter (GB), as the ten-year old broodmare, bred and raced by King George V, was sold for 2,500 guineas at the 1951 Tattersalls December sale at Newmarket.

In 1954, Knight’s Daughter’s second Claiborne-bred foal was future Hall of Famer and breed shaping sire, Round Table (USA), by Princequillo (Ire), a six-time champion and 1958 Horse of the Year. The following season, Knight’s Daughter was bred back to Princequillo and got Round Table’s full sister Monarchy (USA) who won the prestigious Arlington Lassie Stakes at age two when she was probably the country’s third best juvenile filly.

In turn, Monarchy’s tenth foal was State (USA), by England’s last Triple Crown winner, Nijinsky II (Can). A multiple winner but much better as a producer, State was dam to four graded stakes winners including our central matron of interest, Narrate, by 1975 two-year old champion Honest Pleasure (USA), who displayed her best form as a sophomore when she captured the Grade 3 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs while placing in three other graded events.

From eleven offspring, Narrate foaled only two fillies, Yarn and Preach, both of these full sisters by Mr. Prospector USA) would become key broodmares. Conversely, Narrate’s nine male progeny were comparative under-achievers. Four of these went unraced while three others were gelded for a number of less than flattering reasons. By far, Narrate’s best racehorse was her fourth foal, the Mr. Prospector filly Preach (see Narrate’s family tree). Conditioned by Claiborne Farm’s principal trainer Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Preach was best at two when she won the Frizette Stakes (US-G1) at Belmont Park after finishing third in Saratoga’s Spinaway Stakes (US-G1).

It was Preach’s first mating as a broodmare in 1993 when to the cover of Seattle Slew’s (USA) best son and 1990 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy (USA) she foaled her mate’s heir in tail-male line when getting Pulpit. His pedigree featured inbreeding to his tail-female line since Seattle Slew was out of a daughter of Poker (USA), a son of Round Table, creating 5X4 inbreeding to the full siblings Round Table and Monarchy, Pulpit’s fourth dam. Unraced at two, Pulpit annexed the Fountain of Youth Stakes (US-G2) and Blue Grass Stakes (US-G2) before injury to his left hind leg in the Kentucky Derby (G1) forced his retirement. In his fifteen years at Claiborne Farm between 1998 and 2012 (the year he died), Pulpit sired 74 stakes winners from 921 foals (8%). His son, Hopeful Stakes (US-G1) winner Sky Mesa (USA) is sire of 72 North American stakes winners while standing at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky.

Pulpit’s non-stakes winning son, Lucky Pulpit (USA), became known as the sire of two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome (USA). The future Hall of Famer is the all-time richest Kentucky Derby winner with earnings in excess of $14.75 million. After standing in Kentucky for three seasons (two in Chile), California Chrome is currently a resident of Arrow Stud on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Pulpit’s best siring son, by far, has been Wood Memorial Stakes (US-G1) winner Tapit (USA). The grey/roan (visually pure white) Gainsway Farm stallion is now up to 132 stakes winners, 24 of them at Grade 1 level. Tapit was North America’s leading sire from 2014 to 2016, first setting the record for progeny earnings and then eclipsing his own mark in each of the following two seasons. Tapit’s third dam, Moon Glitter (USA) is a full sister to the influential sire Relaunch (USA), setting up a noteworthy affinity with Relaunch-line mares that includes this year’s three-year old sensation, Tiz The Law (USA), by the Tapit sire Constitution (USA). Tapit is represented in Australia by three-time Grade 1 winner Frosted (USA) who shuttles from Darley Farm in Kentucky to Darley, Northwood Park in Victoria. His first Australian crop will be juveniles this season. Pulpit and Tapit also have sons listed at stud in Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey and Uruguay.

Preach’s unraced Storm Cat (USA) daughter, Ranter (USA), was the dam of Pat Day Mile Stakes (US-G3) winner Wild Shot (USA), a son of Trappe Shot (USA), by Tapit, and therefore inbred 4X2 to Preach.

Preach died at age 31 in February of this year. Her three-quarter brothers, West Acre (USA) and Lecture (USA) are also worthy of mention. The unraced West Acre, by Forty Niner (USA), was a useful sire in Florida. His best daughter, Grade 2 winner Ivanavinalot (USA) is the dam of Songbird (USA), by Medaglia d’Oro (USA), a U.S. champion filly at both two and three. Stakes-placed Lecture, by Seeking The Gold (USA), was exported to South Africa where he sired two Group 1 winners including a champion juvenile filly.

Two years older, Preach’s full sister Yarn could only manage a single race win rendering her what would become a regrettable cull, available for private purchase by Indian Creek Farm of central Kentucky. There, from six foals, her two sons became major stakes winners and her four daughters were all dams and/or grandams of graded or group stakes winners.

Yarn’s first foal was the winning Ogygian (USA) filly Myth (USA) who to the cover of the Storm Cat stallion Hennessy (USA) produced Johannesburg (USA) whose five Group 1 victories in England, Ireland and France culminated with a convincing score in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (US-G1). Based on his perfect 2001 two-year old campaign, Johannesburg earned divisional championships in both Europe and the U.S. After an uneventful sophomore campaign, Johannesburg was retired to Kentucky’s Ashford Stud where he stood for a total of seven seasons (2003-09). The first five, he was shuttled to Coolmore Australia. The last two, he shuttled to Argentina. In 2010, he was transferred to JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station in Hokkaido, Japan where he has failed to make much of an impact. So far, the 21-year old is the sire of 49 stakes winners.

Johannesburg’s best son was the aforementioned Scat Daddy (USA) whose remarkable exploits at stud only got better with time. Winner of the Champagne Stakes (US-G1) at two and the Florida Derby (US-G1) at three, Scat Daddy spent eight seasons at Ashford Stud (2008-15), four of these (2009–11) shuttling to Chile where he became a four-time leading stallion. The sire of at least 125 stakes winners (over 11% of his foals) including 35 Grade/Group 1 winners, Scat Daddy’s brilliant career came to a tragic end when he died of an apparent heart attack in December of 2015. His 2016 fee had already been set to soar from $30,000 to $100,000 and, of course, there is no telling how much higher it would have been raised following Justify’s Triple Crown.

Scat Daddy’s first son at stud is two-time English Group 1 winner No Nay Never (USA). Already proven with no less than thirteen group winners, No Nay Never is considered one of the world’s most exciting young stallions. He resides at Coolmore Ireland having shuttled to Australia from 2016 to 2019. His multiple Group winning son Ten Sovereigns (Ire) now joins him at Coolmore Ireland with plans of serving in New Zealand later this year.

Coolmore’s stranglehold on the best of Johannesburg’s male line continues with Grade 1 winners Justify and Mendelssohn (USA) now standing at Ashford Stud and Caravaggio (USA) in Ireland. All three of these young sons of Scat Daddy have also been shuttled to Coolmore Australia.

Two additional sons of Johannesburg worth noting are Teuflesberg (USA) and Turffontein. Teuflesberg was a Grade 2 winner whose fourth dam, State, was also the dam of Narrate. As such, he is inbred 5X4 to State. His son Trinniberg (USA) was America’s 2012 champion sprinter. Turffontein was Johannesburg’s best Australian-bred son and winner of the MRC Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (G1) and William Reid Stakes (G1). Standing at Blue Gum Farm in Victoria, he is the sire of four Group winners.
Johannesburg’s half sister, the placed Storm Cat mare Show Me The Roses (USA) was dam to the unplaced daughter of Distorted Humor (USA), Rosy Humor (USA). She, in turn, produced Stanford (USA), by Malibu Moon (USA), a multiple graded stakes winner at four and now a California stallion.

Yarn’s second foal was Tale Of The Cat (USA), by Storm Cat. A $375,000 September Keeneland yearling in 1995, Tale Of The Cat won the Grade 2 King’s Bishop Stakes at age three and placed in a pair of Grade 1 fixtures a year later. In 1999, he began his long stint of service at Ashford Stud which goes on to this day. His stud career in the Southern Hemisphere included one season (1999) in New Zealand where he was 2002-03 leading freshman sire and eight seasons (2003-10) at Coolmore Australia. He also earned a
U.S.juvenile sire championship in 2003. Overall, Tale Of The Cat, in his two decades plus of international production has sired a hefty 2,659 foals including 108 stakes winners (4%), 46 who became graded/group winners, ten of these at the Grade/Group 1 level.

Three of Tale Of The Cat’s Grade 1 winners, Lion Heart (USA), Gio Ponti (USA) and Tale of Ekati (USA) have become his best sons at stud. Lion Heart sired 42 stakes winners (four Grade Ones) in five years (2005-09) when dividing time between Coolmore facilities in Kentucky and Australia. In 2010, he was transferred to Turkey where he currently stands. Two-time American turf champion Gio Ponti has sired fourteen stakes winners, including sprint champion Drefong (USA), from seven Kentucky-based crops. He was also shuttled to Arrowfield Stud in New South Wales for the 2012-13 season. Tale of Ekati is sire to eleven stakes winners, four graded, from six crops while standing at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington. Three more useful sons of Tale Of The Cat standing in Australasia include Whittington, Battle Paint (USA) and Falkirk (NZ). The latter two died in New Zealand earlier this year.

Yarn’s third foal, Fabulist (USA) by Devil’s Bag (USA), was grandam to Russian-bred Nesmayana, winner of the Group 1 South of Russia Star Stakes.

The fourth foal from Yarn was the stakes winner Spunoutacontrol (USA), by Wild Again (USA) who produced a pair of stakes winners, Spun Silk (USA) and Fed Biz (USA). Spun Silk was a daughter of A.P. Indy and therefore inbred 5X5 to Round Table and Monarchy. She is the dam of the gelding Joking (USA), by Distorted Humor, winner of the Vosburgh Stakes (US-G1) as a seven-year old.

Fed Biz, by Giants Causeway (USA), won three grade 2 events at ages three and four and then entered stud at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Kentucky in 2015. So far, he has just four stakes winners from 166 foals (2%).

Yarn’s penultimate foal was Minardi, by the Danzig (USA) stallion Boundary (USA) whose grandam was by Round Table. As such, Minardi demonstrated inbreeding 4X4 to the full siblings Round Table and Monarchy. A $1.65 million Keeneland yearling, Minardi won the Middle Park Stakes (Eng-G1) and the Phoenix Stakes (Ire-G1) as he captured the 2000 juvenile championship of England and Ireland. At stud, he shuttled between Walmac International near Lexington and Glenmorgan Farm in New Zealand with very little success. The best of his progeny was a winner of the Italian Two Thousand Guineas (Ity-G3).

Yarn’s final foal was Castanea (USA), an unraced filly by Horse Chestnut (SAF). Her grandson Untrapped was by Trappe Shot (USA), a son of Tapit, and therefore inbred to Preach and Yarn 4X3. Untrapped annexed the Oklahoma Derby (USA-G3) and placed in seven other graded stakes races at ages three and four. Unfortunately, the colt developed laminitis and was euthanized soon thereafter.

Up to this point, inbreeding to the Narrate family has demonstrably outperformed its opportunities as measured by graded / group as well as lesser stakes winners. Another example of useful methodology from the thoroughbred breeders toolbox.

Rommy Faversham

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