The results of the two colt’s classics in the U.S. and England this weekend are notable in that they were both won by horses who offer the opportunity to extend the leading classic distance lines in their respective countries, those of A.P. Indy and Sadler’s Wells.
A.P. Indy, despite his preeminence as a sire of classic-distance dirt runners, is a little bit of a paradox in that he never sired a Kentucky Derby (gr. I), his sole classic winning colt being the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) victor, Bernardini (although he did have a daughter, Rags to Riches, capture the Belmont Stakes (gr. I)). We’ve previously hypothesized that in general, the best A.P. Indy’s developed too late for the Derby, but late-development was not the problem for Malibu Moon, the sire of yesterday’s Kentucky Derby hero, Orb. A son of French juvenile group one winner, Macoumba, Malibu Moon was in action as early as the end of April of his two-year-old season, and on his second start, which came at the end of May, he captured a five furlong Hollywood Park maiden in a sharp :57.41. Unfortunatly, due perhaps to a combination of being asked early, and a substantial frame, Malibu Moon suffered a career ending injury soon afterwards.
Starting his stud career inexpensively in Maryland, Malibu Moon soon earned a move to Kentucky, and even before Orb’s victory he was firmly established as a top-line sire, standing for $70,000 in 2013. Malibu Moon sired two talented males, Perfect Moon and Declan’s Moon (the Champion Two-Year-Old Colt of 2004) in his first two crops, but from Declan’s Moon’s victory in the 2004 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I), until Orb’s score in the 2013 Florida Derby (gr. I), he was not represented by another male grade one winner (actually, since Perfect Moon and Declan’s Moon were geldings, that race made Orb his sire’s first grade one winning colt). In the meantime, there was a slew of distaff grade one scorers such as Malibu Mint (from a Maryland crop), Life At Ten, Devil May Care, Ask The Moon, Malibu Prayer, Funny Moon and Eden’s Moon. Considering his ability to get two top-class males early in his career, and his physique, we’ve always wondered whether it’s not so much a case of Malibu Moon being a “filly sire” as his colts often being too big and heavy for their own good. With that in mind it will be interesting to see if some more good males are destined to appear.
The good news, however, is that we do look like having another branch of A.P. Indy, and interestingly enough, Orb’s pedigree is reminiscent of the currently leading standard-bearer for the line, Tapit. Both are by sires who are by sons of A.P Indy out of Mr. Prospector mares, and both are themselves out of mares by Unbridled (so they share 75% common ancestry in the third generation). Oddly enough, in view of what we’ve said about Malibu Moon and size, not only is his dam, Lady Liberty, by one very big horse, but his second dam is by another, she being the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) heroine, Mesabi Maiden, a daughter of Cox’s Ridge (who, like Unbridled was in the 17.00 hh range). We do have a Kentucky Derby connection under the third dam, the stakes winning Damascus mare, Steel Maiden. She is a three-quarters sister to Private Terms (by Damascus’ son, Private Account). He came into the 1988 Kentucky Derby undefeated in seven starts, including the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I), and started co- favorite with eventual captress, Winning Colors, but bled in the race and finished ninth. He bled again when fourth in the Preakness, but returned to form to win other good races at three and four. Steel Maiden is also a sister to the dam of Coronado’s Quest, who captured the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. II), Travers Stakes (gr. I) and Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I), but who skipped the Derby, his volatile temperament being judged unsuitable for the rigorous of the pre-race ceremonies.
Orb’s fourth dam, Laughter, a daughter of Bold Ruler, is a three-quarters sister to the magnificent, but tragic Ruffian, and half-sister to the good runner and sire, Icecapade. The female line has been in Phipps/Janey hands since the purchase of Orb’s seventh dam, Erin (a foal of 1927) from H. P. Whitney. Herself a stakes winner, Erin had as her granddam, Cherokee Rose II, a sister to Pennant, the sire of Whitney’s great runner, Equipoise. The Erin family also has Derby connections through two other descendents by Bold Ruler, Bold Commander (whose son, Dust Commander, took the Derby in 1970) and Irish Castle (sire of 1976 Derby laureate, Bold Forbes). Orb is TrueNicks rated A on the basis of the A.P. Indy/Unbridled cross. He’s the first stakes winner from seven foals by Malibu Moon out of mares by that horse, but he has five stakes winner from 31 starters (16%) out of mares by sons of Fappiano (which gives his broodmare sire, Mr. Prospector, 3 x 4).
Malibu Moon’s first classic winning colt came along in his tenth crop, but European Champion, New Approach, became a classic sire with his first crop, when his son, Dawn Approach, ran out a dominating five length winner of the 2,000 Guineas (gr. I). A son of Galileo – who has inherited the mantle previously worn by his sire Sadler’s Wells as “the World’s Leading Stallion” – New Approach was European Champion at two and three. New Approach boasted a lifetime record of eight wins in 11 starts, all but one in group events, among them the National Stakes (gr. I) and Dewhurst Stakes (gr. I) at two, and the Epsom Derby (gr. I), Irish Derby (gr. I) and Champion Stakes (gr. I) at three. Two of his defeats came in classics, behind Henrythenavigator in the English 2,000 Guineas (gr. I) – by a nose – and the Irish 2,000 Guineas (gr. I).
New Approach wasted little time in making a mark as a sire, and set a new standard for freshman at Royal Ascot last year with Dawn Approach (Coventry Stakes (gr. II)) being joined as a first crop black-type winner for by the ill-starred Albany Stakes (gr. III) victress Newfangled, and Tha’ir, who took the Chesham Stakes. Dawn Approach had kicked off his career as early as March last year, and ended the season undefeated in six races, adding the National Stakes (gr. I) and Dewhurst Stakes (gr. I).
Dawn Approach has a tangential pedigree connection to Orb as his dam, Hymn of the Dawn, is out of a mare by the brilliant U.S. dirt sprinter, Phone Trick (a grandson of Icecapade, who we’ve noted as a half-brother to the fourth dam of Orb). Dawn Approach actually marks the resurgence of a hitherto modest branch of a famous family. Neither his granddam, Colonial Debut (by Pleasant Colony), nor his third dam, Kittihawk Miss (by Alydar) produced a black-type winner, and there are actually only three previous black-type horses in his first three dams (although we should mention that Colonial Debut’s Tale of the Cat son, Galantas, was good enough to take third in the Woodbine Mile Stakes (gr. I).
Kittihawk Miss is a sister to Free Handicap Highweight Filly, Miss Oceana, and half-sister to the Prix Jean Prat (gr. I) victor, Kitwood, multiple graded stakes winner Larida, and stakes winner Ivory Wings. There are a host of other celebrities under Kittihawk Miss’s dam, the graded winning Sea-Bird II mare, Kittiwake, among them Magic of Life, Joshua Tree and Aruna. The next dam, Debutante Stakes victress Ole Liz, is also ancestress of Sabin, Love Theway Youare, Film Maker, E Z’s Gentleman, Fatah Flare, Street Sounds and Saint Anddan, to name a few. The family goes back to the famous foundation mare, Maggie B B (dam of Iroquois, who back in 1878 became the first U.S. foaled horse to win the Epsom Derby). Rated A++ by TrueNicks, Dawn Approach, is an outcross at five generations, other than having Nearctic 5 x 5 through the three-quarters related Northern Dancer and Icecapade.
Apparently, Dawn Approach’s next race is likely to be the Epsom Derby. We’re prepared to be proved wrong, but we find it hard to believe that a horse out of a Phone Trick mare will find 12 furlongs to his liking. What’s more intriguing to us is the prospect that Dawn Approach may develop a branch of the Sadler’s Wells/Galileo that produces top-class speedsters.