We we’re pretty sure that John Lennon didn’t have Kentucky Derby trials in mind when he penned the chorus of “Nobody Told Me” but, “strange days indeed” was our immediate reaction to the results of the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) and Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on Saturday.
After all, following hot on the heels of a Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) win that propelled California Chrome – by Lucky Pulpit, who stands in California for $2,500 – who would have expected a pair of grade one nine furlong classic trials with a total of $1,750,000 and a qualifying berth in Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on the line to fall to sons of Two Step Salsa and Street Boss?
Two Step Salsa, whose son Dance With Fate, had 1¾ to spare at the finish of the Blue Grass Stakes, is probably the less familiar of the two sires, although he was a more than accomplished racehorse, winning six of 12 starts for earnings of just over $1,000,000. By Petionville (by Seeking the Gold), Two Step Salsa had solid graded form from 7-9f., but was probably at his best as a sprinter/miler. In the U.S. he took the Laz Barrera Stakes (gr. III), going 7f. on the all weather in 1:20.66, and Affirmed Handicap (gr. III), and ran second in the Swaps Stakes (gr. II) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I), all at three. His biggest payday, however, came at four, when he captured the $1,000,000 Godolphin Mile (gr. II) at the Dubai World Cup meet.
Retired to stand in Florida at a fee of $5,000, Two Step Salsa sired 51 first crop foals. To date, 32 have started, for 17 winners, and with Dance With Fate (who was twice grade one placed at two) being joined as a black-type performers by stakes placed juveniles Purchango and Conquest Two Step.
Dance With Fate is out of the winning Saint Ballado mare, Flirting With Fate. The second dam, Biogio’s Baby (by Belong to Me), is a three-quarters sister to NY-bred star Biogio’s Rose (by Polish Numbers), a near $800,000 earner who stepped out of state-bred competition to take the Next Move Handicap (gr. III) and Rare Treat Handicap (gr. III). Biogio’s Rose is the only previous stakes winner under the first four dams, but the fourth dam, Gallant Colors, is a half-sister to My Gallant, who preceded Dance With Fate as a Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner, but who is probably better remembered for his distant third to Secretariat in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Gallant Colors’ granddam, Times Two, numbered a second in the Selima Stakes and a third in the Kentucky Oaks among her best efforts, and through other branches is ancestress of Take Charge Lady, Will Take Charge, Take Charge Indy, Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. II) victor Chamberlain Bridge, and last year’s King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) victor Capo Bastone.
From a nicking standpoint, it’s interesting that Two Step Salsa is a Seeking the Gold/Seattle Slew cross, and we’ll note that Mutakddim, who is bred on the same cross, has enjoyed phenomenal success with mares by Southern Halo (like Dance With Fate’s broodmare sire, Saint Ballado, a son of Halo) in South America, getting 11 grade one winners. It’s not at all certain that Dance With Fate will take his place in the Derby line-up, but given his pedigree (we can also note that his dam scored her only victory at 6½ furlongs), and despite his decisive win in the Blue Grass, it’s a little hard to envisage him as ten furlong classic winner on the dirt.
Like Two Step Salsa, Street Boss, the sire of upset Arkansas Derby (gr. I) scorer Danza, was a star on the all-weather. The son of Street Cry, peaked at four, when he took the Bing Crosby Handicap (gr. I), setting a new track record for six furlongs, the Triple Bend Handicap (gr. I) at seven furlongs, and the Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III), where he established a new six furlong track mark of 1:07.55.
Danza is a member of Street Boss’s second crop, as are other stakes winners Silvertongued Tommy and On The Backstreets. His first crop has so far produced four stakes winners, and coincidentally the most notable of these is Capo Bastone, who upset last year’s King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) for the same Todd Pletcher/Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners team that is responsible for Danza (and strangely enough, as mentioned above, Capo Bastone is also from the same family as Dance With Fate).
Danza is out of the stakes placed French Deputy mare, Champagne Royale, previously dam of the Tokyo City Cup winner Majestic Harbor (by Rockport Harbor). Champagne Royal is half-sister to the minor stakes winner He’s Hammered, and is out of All Tanked Up, a daughter of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner, Tank’s Prospect, and a half-sister to the California Derby (gr. II) captor All Thee Power. Danza’s fourth dam, the minor stakes winner Weekend Fun, is a daughter of noted foundation mare Brighton View. Born in 1962, Brighton View gave no hint of her potential influence during her racing career as she won just once in 18 starts for earnings of $1,661. What’s more, she owned a pedigree which was obscure even in that era. By Tuscany (by The Rhymer, a son of the imported English horse, St. Germans), she was out of a mare by Fritz Maisel (a Domino line horse who appears in the pedigrees of stakes winners through only one other mare), with a second dam by Dartle (a horse who doesn’t seem to appear in any animal of note, other than through Brighton View, and who was a grandson of Jim Gaffney, notable in racing history as the sire of Jim Dandy). Despite these modest credentials Brighton View’ has founded quite a family, and among her best-known descendents, many from a branch developed by the Winchell family, are Olympio, Call Now, Tapizar, Wild Wonder, Pyro, War Echo, Fun House, Paddy O’Prado, Early Flyer, Cuvee and Will He Shine.
Danza is TrueNicks rated A on the basis of the Street Cry/Deputy Minister cross, and we can note that Street Boss also has a stakes placed horse out of a Deputy Minister mare, and stakes winner Bosco with a second dam by Deputy Minister. Street Boss also seems to benefit from inbreeding to his male-line ancestor Mr. Prospector, as this appears in not only Danza, but in a total of five of his seven stakes winners. Danza’s dam did appear best at 8 1/2 furlongs, but overall, like Dance With Fate, this isn’t a background that has Kentucky Derby winner stamped on it.