By Brian P. Turner
Nothing is more confusing to the average handicapper than when the progeny of a young sire is making its first start on the turf. Generally, the sire has yet to establish a reputation and has had so few runners try the lawn that it is difficult to determine how the youngster will handle the new surface. The confusion can result in an otherwise solid handicapper leaving out a serious contender and costing them a very healthy payoff.
In an attempt to help the handicapper spot potential turf runners, we will explore a list of 10 sophomore sires that, due to the pedigree and the success of the limited numbers of runners they have had, bear consideration when their offspring show up on the grass. This is in no way meant to be an all encompassing list of second crop sires with turf potential; they are simply sires who are demonstrating potential in this arena and bare extra consideration when their progeny appear on the lawn.
Spinning World has a black-type littered pedigree literally made for the turf. The 1997 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) winner's progeny have been living up to that expectation as they are winning at a rate of 17% on the lawn. Spinning World is by premier turf sire Nureyev and out of Imperfect Circle, who is a stakes winner on the turf and half-sister to recent Charles H. Wittingham H. (G1) hero, Denon. Her half-sister is Chimes Of Freedom, a stakes winner on the turf herself and dam of notable stakes winner Aldebaran. Though Spinning World's more successful runners have to this point been in Europe, they should at all times be treated with respect.
Boston Harbor owns a sneaky pedigree for the lawn and thus his progeny are winning at a phenomenal 27% in their first turf attempt and 20% of the time overall. For those that find his statistics surprising, a closer look into his pedigree may alleviate some of the shock. Boston Harbor's dam, Harbor Springs (by solid turf sire Vice Regent), is a half sister to sprinting phenomenon Groovy, who, though he never tried the lawn himself, produces runners who win a very respectable 14% of the time on the grass. Boston Harbor's sire, Capote, counts among his siblings the excellent turf specialist Exceller and most within his family run well on the lawn. Capote's sire, Seattle Slew, was of course a very successful grass sire as well.
Lost Soldier has already produced his share of stakes competitors including Lush Soldier who recently captured the Allywow S. on the grass at Woodbine. The remainder of his progeny is winning 17% of the time on the turf and 14% of the time first on the turf. Lost Soldier's dam, Lady Winborne, was stakes placed in Ireland and a half sister to Allez France, who, among her many other accolades, was Horse of the Year in France at the age of four. Of Lady Winborne's 15 foals, 13 actually made it to the track and all of those at some point found the winner's circle including six who earned their black-type. Among those stakes winners were multiple graded winners Al Mamoon and La Gueriere, both of whom enjoyed the majority of their success on the grass. Add in the fact that Lost Soldier is a son of the legendary turf sire Danzig and it is easy to see a young sire with boundless grass potential.
Atticus is a son of Nureyev who showed the ability to handle both the turf and the dirt as the last two races of his career were stakes wins in the Arcadia H. (G2) on the turf and the Oaklawn H. (G1) on the dirt. His dam, Athyka, is a daughter of Secretariat and a multiple Group 2 winner in France. Though Atticus is her only stakes winner to date, many of her foals have been winners on the grass. His progeny are winning at a very respectable 16% of the time in their first turf attempts and 14% on the grass overall. His most prominent North American runner to this point is No More Chads whose best stakes effort to date came in a second place effort on the lawn at Keeneland in the Forerunner Stakes.
Chequer is another on the list who may come as a surprise to many as his only graded victory came on the dirt in the W.P. Kyne H. (G3) at Bay Meadows. Still, the pedigree is one that can be successful on the turf as he is a son of the legendary Mr. Prospector and his dam, Number, is a daughter of Nijinsky 2nd and half sister to the aforementioned Nureyev. Number foaled two other stakes winners in Numerous and Jade Robbery, both full brothers to Chequer with the latter being a Group One winner on the turf in France. His progeny are currently winning 23% of the time in their first turf attempts and 25% of the time overall. Chequer's progeny may get ignored by many on the turf but they bear serious consideration.
Geri never tried the lawn until late in his career but finished with a bang, capturing the Woodbine Mile (CanG1), the Citation H. (G2), and finishing second to Spinning World in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) in his final three career starts. His progeny are winning 25% of their turf races and a very solid 17% first on the turf. Geri is by legendary grass sire Theatrical (Ire) and out of Garimpeiro, a daughter of Mr. Prospector, who never had much success as a runner herself but produced four foals who were winners on the grass including Clure, a stakes winner and full brother to Geri. With in-breeding to Nearctic, Northern Dancer, Native Dancer, Natalma, and Nashua appearing in the first five generations of his pedigree, Geri definitely brings the potential for turf success.
Benny The Dip is by perennial turf sire Silver Hawk and out of Rascal Rascal who is by average turf sire Ack Ack. Though she never tried the turf in her brief career, Rascal Rascal has thrown stakes winners on the lawn such as Cryptic Rascal and Beggarman Thief. Benny The Dip had only a mere 11 starts in his short career but managed in that time to compile earnings of nearly $1.5 million in Europe, winning such events as the Vodafone Derby (G1) at Epsom and the Gtech Royal Lodge S. (G2) at Ascot. To date, his runners are winning 17% of the time in their first turf attempt and 13% of the time overall on the turf. While a great number of his runners are competing in Europe, many are in North America and deserve respect anytime they are on the lawn.
Native Regent, by respectable grass sire Vice Regent, was a winner of nearly $500,000 on the turf including victories in the Generous S (G3) at Hollywood and the Everglades S. at Hialeah. His dam, Barkerville Belle, was a stakes winner on the turf herself and produced another turf stakes winner in Morriston Belle who, during the course of her career, won such turf stakes as the Natalma S. at Woodbine and the Herecomesthebride S. at Gulfstream. To date, progeny of Native Regent are winning 17% of the time in their first turf attempt and 13% of the time on the turf overall. His most prominent runner to date is Native Mark, a third place finisher in the Black Gold H. on the Fair Grounds lawn this past January.
Outflanker never managed to break his maiden in 10 career starts but he owns a tremendous turf pedigree and his progeny are more than making up for his short comings. Outflanker is by Danzig and his dam, the stakes placed Lassie's Lady, is a half sister to European turf star Wolfhound and to Weekend Surprise, who, in addition to being an accomplished stakes runner in her own right, is the dam of A.P. Indy and Summer Squall. As a matter of fact, Outflanker's entire pedigree is filled with accomplished stakes winners on the turf and the dirt. His most accomplished runner to date is the stakes winning Regiment, who had reeled off three turf victories in a row before coming up a nose short in the Cinema Breeders' Cup H. (G3) last out at Hollywood Park.
Cat's Career is definitely a sire to watch out for with the ever growing popularity of the turf sprint, though his progeny should be able to have an impact at the shorter route distances as well. Cat's Career was a stakes winner himself sprinting on the turf as was his half brother, Al's River Cat. The dam, Comical Cat, was stakes placed sprinting on the turf and her sire, Exceller, was of course a turf legend. Many of Comical Cat's siblings were stakes runners on the grass in Europe, including Half A Year, who won the St. James Palace S. (G2) in England before finishing her career in North America. By Mr. Prospector, Cat's Career has already produced a stakes winner sprinting on the grass in Ragin T Rex who captured the Manahttan Breeders' Cup H. at Hollywood this past June.
Although there are many young sires out there whose pedigrees indicate that their progeny will run well on the lawn, these 10 have shown an inclination in that direction. Still this is only part of the equation. The rest lies in the pedigrees of the dams these sires are bred to and the ability of the trainer to recognize the grass potential in his trainee and help it flourish.
In the ever difficult game of handicapping though, recognizing the turf potential of a sire is definitely a key piece of the puzzle and one that can make the difference between leaving the track with money in pocket or just losing tickets.
For more information on Owner.Breeder International, a valuable publication on the world of horse racing, click on Pedigrees & Lifetime Starts at Brisnet.com.
-- Brian P. Turner, of Brisnet.com, specializes in turf pedigree handicapping.
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