Galileo’s Success in This Year’s Guineas from the Historical Perspective

The 1-2-3 finish achieved by Minding, Ballydoyle and Alice Springs in the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday added, in a great style, this English classic on a long list of major races won by Galileo's progeny. Until then, none of his daughters won it, despite a number of places scored. The Sunday success was exceptional from the historical perspective too, especially if you add to it the Saturday result of the 2,000 Guineas.

Lemberg (1907), until this year the youngest sire of a Guineas winner and damsire of the second Guineas winner in a single year

None other stallion in this century managed to have three daughters placed 1-2-3 in the 1,000 Guineas. The only stallion who had two daughters among the first three was Northern Dancer’s son Unfuwain, whose daughter Lahan won the 1,000 Guineas in 2000 while Petrushka was third.

You may find it surprising but in the last century, either, none stallion achieved a similar success and we won’t find many of those who scored the same success as Unfuwain. The last such achievement was 62 years ago, in 1954, when Fair Trial's daughters Festoon and Welsh Fairy placed first and third. Nasrullah was close but he needed two editions of the race: in 1950 his daughters Catchit and Tambara placed second and third, a year ago the race was won by their older paternal half-sister Musidora.

Hyperion's daughters were very successful in the 1,000 Guineas. Hypericum won in 1946 and Iona placed third, four years ago the 1-3 finish was achieved by Sun Chariot - Light of Day and in 1950 his daughters Godiva and Golden Penny finished on first two places. Sundridge, the sire of the 1913 winner Jest, had two fillies among the first three in 1915, but these placed “just” second and third.

To find a stallion who managed the same result as Galileo on Sunday, we must go another century back. If you think about the giants such as St. Simon or his sire Galopin, you are heading in the right direction but none of them managed to score the 1-2-3 finish. Galopin’s daughters Galatia and Goletta (the latter established an excellent family that includes the great Dundeel, Starspangledbanner or Highland Reel) finished second and third in 1897, St. Simon even scored 1-2 finished twice within three years. In 1892 the excellent La Fleche won from The Smew, two years ago it was Semolina from Memoir.

Three stallions, however, achieved exactly what Galileo did on Sunday. The very first one of these was the winner of the Craven Stakes and mainly the three-time champion sire in England and Ireland in 1815, 1821 and 1822 Rubens. His latest title was strongly contributed to by the 1,000 Guineas finish – the race was won by Whizgig, Rosalind was second and Varnish third – all were by Rubens.

Fourteen years later, one of the most important stallions of his day, the runner-up in The Derby and six-time champion sire Sultan, achieved the same feast thanks to fillies Destiny, Toga and Zenana.

It may seem unbelievable but until the last Sunday it was, for the last time, in 1882, i.e. 134 years ago, that a single stallion occupied first three places in the 1,000 Guineas through his daughters. The said stallion was another giant of thoroughbred breeding, champion of sires and damsires, Hermit, whose daughters St Marguerite (she established a family that has produced a long line of stars, including another 1,000 Guineas winner Blue Bunting), Shotover and Nellie took the first three places in the 1,000 Guineas.

As can be seen, Galileo is in a very good company. However, besides the 1-2-3 finish in the 1,000 Guineas, Galileo is the damsire of the Saturday 2,000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold. And to become, in a single year, the sire of the winner of one spring classic and the damsire of the second one, is a task yet more difficult – as the history tells us – than to have the first three in the 1,000 Guineas finish. Before Galileo only two stallions achieved this double, last time 87 years ago. Then the 1,000 Guineas was taken by Taj Mah, the daughter of the Derby, Eclipse Stakes, Champion Stakes and the champion sire in England and Ireland Lemberg, while the 2,000 Guineas was won by Mr. Jinks, whose dam False Piety was Lemberg’s daughter. Ninety years ago the same double was achieved by Chaucer, the damsire of Pharos (the sire of Nearco), Fairway and Hyperion, and therefore a sire whose blood, albeit in generations from the sixth on, can be found in the pedigree of every thoroughbred born. Then his daughter Pillion won the 1,000 Guineas while the 2,000 Guineas was won by Phalaris’s highly talented, but prematurely diseased at stud, son Colorado, whose dam was by Chaucer.

It is not necessary to stress that none of the stallions mentioned above managed to achieve both feasts in a single season – i.e. to have first three fillies in the 1,000 Guineas and, at the same time, to be the damsire of the 2,000 Guineas winner. If we were to add more achievements to Galileo’s record, we should mention that Galileo is the grandsire – in the paternal line – of the 2,000 Guineas runner-up, Massaat by Teofilo. But this would be just another, perhaps unnecessary, proof of how successful Galileo is, even from the historical perspective, and how exceptional were the results of his progeny in this year’s first two English classic races – despite the fact that none of his progeny raced in the 2,000 Guineas.

Miloslav Vlček

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