Epitome and Her Influence

It will be thirty years this year since the two-year-old Epitome, previously successful in the Pocahontas Stakes, run her famous finish to catch on the wire the long-time pacemaker Jeanne Jones and took the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies, which brought her the two-year-old champion filly title. At three she did not achieve a major win but she left for stud with the record of five wins, five places and one show of fourteen races.

Satsuki Sho winner Al Ain. Foto japanracing.jp

The championship title paved her the way to the best U.S.-based stallions but the overall record of her eleven progeny is not that impressive, given what a champion she was and what an opportunity she was given. Of her eleven progeny, there was a single Gr.2 winner and a single listed winner, while neither of the two daughters could have produce a black-type progeny, as has no other mare of his family. Despite this, however, we encounter the name of Epitome in the pedigree of Gr.1 winners, most recently last weekend in Japan, which saw Satsuki Sho, the local version of the 2,000 Guineas.

The classic race, run over the unusual distance of 2,000 metres, was taken by a horse bred at the Northern Farm – Al Ain, sired by Deep Impact, out of the U.S. imported Dubai Majesty, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (Gr.1). Dubai Majesty, bought in 2010, just a few days after her biggest achievement by Katsumi Yoshida for USD 1.1 million, is the most successful progeny and the only Gr.1 winner by Essence of Dubai, Pulpit's son and, above all, the former classiest of all Epitome’s progeny.

He was bought as a yearling at Keeneland by John Ferguson for the Sheikh Mohammed with the price-tag of USD 2.3 million and left him in the United States. It was there that the two-year-old colt won the Gr.2 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita. He launched his next year’s campaign in Dubai, first winning the UAE 2000 Guineas and the local Derby. As the second odds-on favourite he was ninth in the Kentucky Derby, but won the Gr.2 Super Derby and placed second in the Gr.3 Pennsylvania Derby. As a four-year-old he made another bid for Dubai glory but after two runs with no show his racing career came to an end. He produced just two stakes winners: besides Dubai Majesty, the dam of the aforementioned classic winner, it was the winner of the Gr.3 Matchmaker Handicap Unbridled Essence. She, too, proves to be a hopeful broodmare – her first progeny, the last year’s three-year-old Unbridled Daddy made some good black-type results, including the third place in the Gr.2 With Anticipation Stakes.

Epitome, however, has produced a yet more successful stallion than Essence of Dubai. We won’t find his name among stakes winners but this does not mean at all that he was not successful on the racecourse. Faltaat, the horse in question, is the very first progeny of Epitome. He raced in Dubai, but at times before the Dubai World Cup, when the local racing lacked today’s international prestige. Sired by Mr Prospector, he won thirteen of his twenty races and he was the UAE Champion older sprinter. He was at stud in the U.S. too but his glory came from his stay in New Zealand. He had an absolutely fantastic start. Although he had – according to the New Zealand Stud Book – only fifteen progeny in the first crop, they included the five-time Gr.1 winner and Horse of the Year Tit for Taat or the Gr.2 winner and Gr.1 placed Hey Pronto. His second crop in New Zealand was not numerous either – it consisted of twenty-four foals of racing age and it again included a Gr. 1 winner (Sedecrem) and a Gr.2 winner (Rosina Lad). It was they who started to tell the successful story of the stallion Faltaat, crowned by the champion sire title, but also milestones as as Little Bridge, an excellent sprinter in Hong Kong, the winner of the 2012 King’s Stand Stakes and the first New Zealand Gr.1 winner at Royal Ascot.

For Faltaat himself, another milestone came in 2016, when Howard Be Thy Name won the South Australian Derby and became the first Gr.1 winner of Faltaat’s daughter. The son of the Gr.2 Jayco Stakes winner Bellini Rose is the fourth black-type winner out of a dam by Faltaat.

While through her sons, or rather their progeny and the progeny of their progeny, the blood of Epitome is still present in the veins of major stakes winners (a single stakes winner was produced by a winner of three minor races in the U.S. Danjur), she failed to establish a successful family. She had little chance though, having produced just two fillies of eleven progeny. Of the mares, the unraced Chinoe Road produced only two horses, a colt and a gelding. The burden of keeping the family flag on is thus on another unraced mare, Jordanesque, who was sold to Argentina ten years ago. It is in Argentina, where two of her daughters ended up, another one is in Jamaica. Perhaps a different environment will help them and Epitome will eventually succeed in the maternal line too. Even if she does not, it is evident that the blood of the champion and the winner of the fourth edition of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies did not lost and is present in the veins of this year’s classic winner.

Miloslav Vlček

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