One of the most interesting developments of the current Australian breeding seasons has been the rapid progress of second season sire, Sebring. A son of More Than Ready (two-time Leading Sire of Two-Year-Olds in Australia, and also winner of that title in the U.S.), Sebring won five of six starts at two, and came within in inches of completing the rarely achieved triple of Golden Slipper Stakes (gr. I), AJC Sires Produce Stakes (gr. I) and AJC Champagne Stakes (gr. I), losing the Champagne by a short-head to Samantha Miss. Sebring remained in training at three, but was never able to get back to the track, retiring to Widden Stud without making a further start. Sebring was runner-up on the freshman sire to his ill-starred stud-companion, Northern Meteor, last term, but his year has being flying, and he not only is clear leader of the second season division, but is up to eighth on the overall sire’s classification. He already has nine stakes winners to his name, six graded and two grade one. Having made some recommendations for Sebring when he retired to stud, we thought at this stage it was worth reviewing a young stallion who looks set to become a major player in the years to come.
While Sebring might have been expected to come up with two-year-olds, sprinters and milers, one wouldn’t have necessarily have anticipated that his first crop would come up with a winner of the Australian Derby (gr. I) at 1½ miles. However, that’s exactly what he has done in the shape of Criterion, who conformed to expections as a sharp two-year-old, winning the Todman Stakes (gr. II) and Black Opal Stakes, but who this year has added the Rosehill Guineas (gr. I) and Australian Derby (gr. I).
Criterion is also the product of a cross that would have been hard to predict as a classic producing one, as his dam is by the Spectacular Bid horse, Bite the Bullet, and to say that the evidence on which to judge a More Than Ready/Spectacular Bid cross is thin would be an understatement. If one wants to try and grasp enough straws to built a raft, we could note that Criterion has three crosses of Mr. Prospector, along with one of his genetic relative, Alydar (with More Than Ready’s broodmare sire, Woodman, and Lassie’s Lady, the dam of Bite the Bullet both being Raise a Native/Buckpasser, and Woodman, Lassie’s Lady and Afleet, sire of the second dam of Criterion all being Raise a Native/Tom Fool. Criterion also has distance linbreeding to Fanfreluche, as third dam of Flying Spur (broodmare sire of Sebring) and dam of L’Enjoleur (sire of the fourth dam of Criterion).
That fact that he’s out of a Flying Spur mare means that Sebring is bred on what has been the most prolic cross for his sire in Australia, that with mares from the Danzig line, particularly through Flying Spur’s sire, Danehill. Of course with Danzig and particularly, being the overwhelmingly dominant influences in Australia, one question with regard to Sebring was whether he should be bred back over mares the Danzig, or even Danehill line. We suggested that this would be a good option, and initial evidence has borne this out. Sebring’s Royal Randwick Guineas (gr. I) victor, Dissident, is out of a mare by the Danzig horse, Anabaa (whose broodmare sire, Gay Mecene, comes from the same Gay Missile family as Bite the Bullet, meaning Gay Missile is in both of Sebring’s grade one winners); and Sebring’s current grade two winning two-year-old, Bring Me The Maid is from a daughter of another Danzig stallion, Belong to Me. Danehill son, Redoute’s Choice, was a strong recommendation on the basis of both he and Sebring’s dam being the product of a Danehill/Star Kingdom crosses, and Sebring already has first crop graded stakes winner, Kiss A Rose, out of a Redoute’s Choice mare.
One experiment that lept off the page as particularly intriguine was that of crossing Sebring with mares by Encosta de Lago, a horse whose dam is half-sister to Sebring’s broodmare sire, Flying Spur. We had to wait a season, but the cross now appears to be coming good, as from six starters, Sebring has graded stakes winning 2013-2014 two-year-olds Believe Yourself and Clifton Red from daughters of Encosta de Lago.
Another cross that appeared strongly-indicated was that with Storm Cat line mares, and so far this has produced Sebring stakes winners Bring A Ring (dam by Hennessy) and Interspered (dam by Tale of the Cat) from eight starters. Storm Cat’s sire, Storm Bird, is bred on similar lines to The Minstrel, and that horse appears in the sire line of Sebring stakes winner Bring Something (dam by Naturalism, by Palace Music: here we can note that both Naturalism and the dam of Bring Something are parallel Northern Dancer/Star Kingdom crosses to the dam of Sebring). The Minstrel’s three-quarters brother, Nijinsky II, doesn’t yet appear in the sire line of the dam of Sebring stakes winner, but is found elsewhere in the pedigress of Dissident and Kiss A Rose.