The most recent weekend saw another pair of grade one Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trials, with the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct, and the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on the West Coast. In New York,Gemologist and Alpha, two of the leading Derby hopefuls had to finish in the first two to be certain of having sufficient graded earnings to be certain of making the field. In the event, they achieved that feat as Gemologist just held off Alpha, to go into the Derby with an undefeated five-for-five record.
Although they are both from different sire lines and different broodmare sire lines, Gemologist and Alpha do have somethings in common. In addition to being by a pair of stallions for whom the ten furlong trip held no terrors – Tiznow and Bernardini – they are also unusual in that they are out of mares whose broodmare sires, Mr. Prospector (a foal of 1970) and Nijinsky II (a foal of 1967), are virtual anachronisms, at least in terms of appearing that close up in current pedigrees.
Not surprisingly, Tiznow has seen relatively few daughters of Mr. Prospector in his time at stud, and there are only 13 foals of racing age bred on the cross. Of these nine have started, and Gemologist is joined as a stakes winner by the grade two scorer, Tizaqueena. Tiznow also has six stakes winners from 84 starters out of mares by sons of Mr. Prospector (two apiece out of daughters of Woodman andGone West, one out of a mare by Seeking the Gold, who is bred on the Mr. Prospector/Buckpassercross as Woodman, and one out of a mare by Carson City, a strong positive influence for Tiznow). Tiznow is also sire of three stakes winners from 44 starters out of mares by grandsons of Mr. Prospector, including grade one winner Bullsbay (dam by Lord Carson, a son of Carson City).
Gemologist’s dam, Crystal Shard, never ran, but she is a sister to Withallprobability, a three-time graded scorer, who also took runner-up spot in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Withallprobablity is also dam of grade two winner, With Ability, and granddam of the Personal Ensign Handicap (gr. I) victress,Summer Colony. Bradmante, a Roberto half-sister to Crystal Shard, and Withallprobability, appears as dam of Japanese Champion Three-Year-Old Filly, Still In Love, and their three-parts-sister Color Of Gold (by Seeking the Gold), produced Japanese Oaks victress, Robe Decollete. Gemologist’s granddam,Sulemeif, is a graded stakes winner by Northern Dancer, out of Barely Even, a prolific black-type scorer whose triumphs included the Ashland Stakes.
From the pedigree pattern standpoint, it’s interesting that Tiznow’s granddam, Lonely Dancer, is bred on a similar Northern Dancer/Olympia cross to Gemologist’s second dam, Sulemeif. Combining Tiznow with Storm Cat, another genetic relative to Lonely Dancer, has often provided dividends, and it will be interesting to see how Gemologist does with Storm Cat influenced mares when he retires to stud.
Gemologist is owned by WinStar Farm, and a few hours after his victory, I’ll Have Another, a grandson of WinStar sire, Distorted Humor, repelled Creative Cause to take the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). I’ll Have Another is from the second crop of the Travers Stakes (gr. I) victor, Flower Alley – who had the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) heroine Lilacs and Lace in his first crop – and this was the third recent classic trial taken by the offspring of a young son of Distorted Humor, following the victories of Hero of Order(second crop of Sharp Humor) in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and Princess Arabella (first crop of Any Given Saturday) in the Sunland Park Oaks.
This is a pedigree that suggests improvement with age. The Distorted Humor’s tend to make significant progress through the spring and summer of their three-year-old season (as did Flowery Alley), and althuogh I’ll Have Another’s broodmare sire, Arch, did win his only race at two, he scored his two stakes wins in the Super Derby (gr. I) and Fayette Stakes (gr. II) towards the end of his three-year-old season. In addition to siring such as Champions Blame, Arravale, Les Arcs and Overarching, Arch is making a promising start as a broodmare sire, and his daughters have already prodced ten stakes winners, including juvenile Champion Uncle Mo, and French group scorer, Homebound.
Arch’s Gal Edith, the dam of I’ll Have Another, never had the opportunity to run over a distance of ground, but she did win her only start which came in a six furlong maiden at Belmont Park. Both her other two starters have won, and they include the five-year-old Thunder Gulch gelding, Those Were the Days, a winner of the last four of his five starts to date.
The second dam of I’ll Have Another, Force Five Gal, is a daughter of Pleasant Tap, another who improved with age and distance earning a title as Champion Older Male as a five-year-old, after a year in which he took the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) and Suburban Handicap (gr. I), both at ten furlongs. Force Five Gal was stakes placed when second in the Border Cup at Fort Erie, and she is half-sister to three stakes placed horses, including the Bewitch Stakes (gr. III) runner-up, Noble Cause. However, she’s also closely related to a much better runner in the California Stakes (gr. I) and Young America Stakes (gr. II) victor, Roanoke, who was by Pleasant Tap’s sire, Pleasant Colony, and was half-brother to Force Five Gal’s dam, the Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. III) third, Last Cause (a daughter of Nijinsky II’s long-winded son, Caucasus).
The fourth dam, Last Bird, is by one of the immortals of European racing, Sea Bird II, out of the crack two-year-old Patelin, successful in the the Selima Stakes, Schuylerville Stakes and Alcibiades Stakes. This is also the immediate family of Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Pleasant Stage (by Pleasant Colony), and grade one winners Into Mischief, A Phenomenon, Seattle Meteor, Marsh Side,Changeintheweather, and Pillaster.
I’ll Have Another is rated A by TrueNicks, and is a product of the Distorted Humor/Roberto cross that has produced five stakes winners from 50 starters, the best being Regal Ransom, successful in the Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group UAE Derby (gr. II) and Super Derby (gr. II). In addition to the strong cross, the pedigree also presents some interesting patterns. Distorted Humor and Princess Olivia – the sire and dam of Flower Alley – are both Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native)/Northern Dancer crosses, as is Lycius the broodmare sire of Princess Olivia. Aurora, the dam of I’ll Have Another’s broodmare sire, Arch, is a Northern Dancer/Raise a Native cross. In Flower Alley the Raise a Native is through Mr. Prospector, in Arch, it is through Alydar, a horse with a very similar pedigree background to Mr. Prospector (Alydar is in the dams of at least five Distorted Humor stakes winners, and is sire of the second dam of Flower Alley’s other grade one winner Lilacs and Lace). And, in both Distorted Humor and Aurora, the Northern Dancer is represented through Danzig.
The combination of Flower Alley’s grandsire, Forty Niner, with Pleasant Colony (in the dam of I’ll Have Another) is also interesting, as Forty Niner’s dam had Ribot/Double Jay/Nasrullah close up in her pedigree, while Pleasant Colony is by a son of Ribot, out of a mare bred on a Double Jay/Nasrullah cross. Distorted Humor has actually already sired at least four stakes winners out of mares carrying Pleasant Colony, so that affinity has also demonstrated its potential.
Given that the sire and broodmare sire of I’ll Have Another were grade one winners at ten furlongs, and the sires of the the next three dams, Pleasant Tap, Caucusus and Sea-Bird II, scored their most prestigious triumphs at ten furlongs, 14 furlongs, and 12 furlongs, I’ll Have Another almost certainly will not be found wanting in stamina on the First Saturday in May.