Three Gr.2 races were run at the Curragh on Sunday, including the Debutante Stakes for two-year-old fillies. The race was won by Aidan O’Brien’s Rhododendron from another O’Brien’s filly Hydrangea. The two fillies share not only the trainer but they are also daughters of Galileo and their dams are by Pivotal.
It was eleven years ago that the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashin Al Maktoum bought from Cheveley Park Stud a 25% stake in their then biggest star Pivotal. In the same year the Sheikh decided to stop buying yearlings by Coolmore sires, including the stud’s rising star Galileo. In 2005 Pivotal’s yearlings sold for 125,000 guineas on average, a year later it was 227,000. Galileo’s yearlings sold in 2005 for 138,000 guineas on average, a year later for just under 154,000.
After eleven years the position of the two stallions is different. At twenty-three Pivotal is past his prime while Galileo, considered to be the best stallion in the world, is having his best season so far. Although the two stallions found themselves, eleven years ago, on the opposite sides of the "barricade", in pedigrees of successful horses, as the Debutante Stakes showed, they often work side by side. Let’s see how often and how successfully.
As of today, there have been a total of twenty-one runners by Galileo out of dams by Pivotal. Seventeen of them have won, five in black-type races and two more were placed in black-type. There was a total of twenty-six thoroughbreds of racing age from this cross. Statistically, the connection looks very well with 19% share of black-type winners of all foals of racing age (in the whole population of Galileo it is 10% share) and 81% of winners of all runners, even the AEI in these horses is higher than the whole population of Galileo.
The connection has produced a single Gr.1 winner so far – the Irish-foaled The United States, formerly trained by Aidan O’Brien, who after two seasons in Ireland moved to Australia, where he won the Gr.1 Ranvet Stakes this March, beating, among others, Criterion and Mongolian Khan. The United States is the son of the Gr.2 Prix du Gros-Chene winner Beauty Is Truth, who also produced the Gr.3 winner Fire Lily by Dansili, the runner-up in the Gr.1 Moyglare Stud Stakes and Prix Marcel Boussac. The other black-type winners of the Galileo - Pivotal combination come also out of dams successful on the racecourse. Halfway To Heaven, the winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Nassau Stakes and Sun Chariot Stakes, produced with Galileo the above mentioned Rhododendron and her four year older brother, the Gr.3 winner Flying The Flag. A Gr.1 race, namely the Pretty Polly Stakes, was won also by Chorist, the dam of the Yorkshire Cup winner Gospel Choir, and a listed win and a group place was scored by Silver Pivotal, the dam of the Jebel Ali Mile (Gr.3) winner Silver Galaxy.
The fact that each of Pivotal’s daughters who has produced a black-type horse (including the winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas Saoire, the dam of the Gr.3 placed Tamarind Cove) is herself a black-type winner, three of them even Gr.1 winners, is no doubt something that optically improves the Galileo x Pivotal statistics. On the other hand, most of these daughters have not produced a classier progeny with other stallion that Galileo and even the overall statistics of Pivotal’s daughters at stud (4% of blacktype winners) lag behind those, albeit much classier, than partnered Galileo.
Sons of Galileo, so far, have almost none achievements in black-type races with Pivotal’s daughters. The only exception is New Approach, the sire of the listed placed North Sea of seven runners of this combination. There are no black-type horses so far among Teofilo's ten runners out of dams by Pivotal, two two-year-olds by Frankel (including Seven Heavens who ran a promising debut) and one by Sixties Icon.
The reverse connection of Pivotal and his sons with Galileo’s daughters does not work much either. There is a single black-type horse, the winner of the Castle Stakes Loving Things, but it needs to be said that Pivotal has produced with Galileo’s daughters thirteen foals of racing age but only two were runners according to Equineline. Coolmore once had Pivotal’s son Excellent Art who has produced nine progeny with Galileo’s daughters. Seven of them were winners, including the winner of the Czech Oaks Sedmikraska, but none of them succeeded in a pattern race.
The connection of Galileo and Pivotal is a combination of lines of two close relatives, Sadler’s Wells and his 3/4 brother Nureyev. In practice it has statistically very good results that could be yet improved by the two-year-old Rhododendron, but judged by the results of connections realised by sons of Galileo and Pivotal, and also taking into consideration of high class of all Pivotal’s daughters, the dams of black-type progeny by Galileo, I think the statistically very good results are rather the outcome of mating exceptionally successful individuals than what we call a nick, i.e. a successful connection of a sire and a damsire who bring added value into the pedigree.