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Caval fingered as Blame's first winner

Blame scored his career-defining victory over the hitherto unbeaten Zenyatta (Breeders' Cup Ltd. Photo)
Champion Blame, who will go down in history as the only horse ever to defeat Zenyatta, celebrated another milestone Thursday in the form of his first winner -- and a potentially smart one at that. Caval, sent off as the even-money favorite in her career debut in the 1ST race at Santa Anita, romped by 5 1/2 lengths in near track-record time.

Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, the J.W. Singer Inc. colorbearer vied with Haleys Rainbow through an opening quarter in :22.03 on the fast track. But Caval kicked away from her pace rival, opening up through a half in a torrid :44.77 for Elvis Trujillo, and completed the five-furlong maiden special weight in :56.78. The bay filly missed equaling the track record of :56.73, set by Klassy Saint on February 19, 2011, by a mere .05.

Caval was bred in Kentucky by Tada Nobutaka and sold for $150,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. A half-sister to Dubai Group 2 winner Derbaas, she is out of the winning Storm Cat mare Sultana, who is herself a full sister to multiple Group 1 star Aljabr. Caval's second dam is multiple Group 1 heroine Sierra Madre.

A homebred campaigned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Blame broke his maiden at Keeneland in his second try as a juvenile, but didn't resurface until the summer of his three-year-old season. Trainer Al Stall Jr. brought him carefully, having him clear his entry-level allowance condition before trying restricted stakes company in the 2009 Curlin at Saratoga. Blame passed that initial class test with a driving finish, and earned his way into a Grade 2 tilt in the Super Derby. His closing style compromised by an early crawl, he did well to finish a bold second.

Blame continued his upward trajectory by tackling -- and beating -- older horses in the Fayette at Keeneland and the Clark Handicap at Churchill. Connections had exercised their wonted patience throughout 2009, but 2010 would be much more ambitious. Thus began the long-range planning for his four-year-old campaign, which his team hoped would culminate in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Little could they know just how spectacularly it would come to fruition.

After kicking off 2010 with an efficient verdict in the William Donald Schaefer at Pimlico, Blame would compete exclusively in Grade 1 events for the rest of the year. He erased a four-length deficit in midstretch to win the Stephen Foster Handicap going away at Churchill, and likewise pegged back the high-class Quality Road in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. Blame had to settle for second best behind Haynesfield in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but would be pitch-perfect for his career finale in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

While Zenyatta was a lackadaisical, tailed-off last for much of the way, Blame bided his time in a more sensible spot off the pace, and uncorked a sustained move at the right time. Zenyatta finally got involved in a stretch thriller, but Blame would not let her pass. He kept his head in front at the wire, ending her fairy-tale run.

Sired by Arch and out of the multiple stakes-placed Liable, Blame is a half-brother to multiple stakes scorer Tend and to Apt, the dam of the Grade 1-placed duo of Apropos and Carve.

Liable is a Seeking the Gold half-sister to Group 1 globetrotter Archipenko and to Grade 3-placed stakes victress Limit, who is responsible for a trio of stakes performers, led by Grade 1-placed stakes hero Cease. Blame's second dam, Grade 1-placed stakes queen Bound, is a full sister to multiple Grade 2 vixen and influential broodmare Number, whose descendants include the likes of Jade Robbery, Numerous and Corinthian.

With Blame's third dam being Special, he hails from the exceptional sire-producing family of Nureyev and Sadler's Wells.

The eight-year-old stallion stands at his birthplace -- historic Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky, for $30,000, stands and nurses.

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