Serena’s Song Sounded Through Saratoga

The last day of August Saratoga hosted the Gr.2 With Anticipation Stakes for two-year-olds over 8 and ½ furlongs. The favourite Made You Look dived down the inside in the last bend, took the lead and won by two lengths, thus turning into victory second of his three runs. The colt is the grandson of the legendary Serena’s Song and already the thirteenth black-type winner of the family established by this champion. 

photo Denali Farm

The history shows us that racing champions are not very often successful broodmares. It is the case especially with those whose racing careers lasted longer and were rich in the number of races. Rahy’s daughter Serena’s Song belongs among the exceptions that managed, after a successful racing career, to be almost equally successful at stud, in which, as the above mentioned With Anticipation Stakes showed, also her daughters are successful.

The career of Serena’s Song was not only rich in achievements, but also rather demanding. The mare who earned 3,283,388 dollars was once the best-earning mare in history and ran in thirty-eight races in three seasons. As a two-year-old she ran ten races, of which she won four, a year later she ran in thirteen races (of which she won nine) and at four she ran in fifteen races, of which she won five, in seven she was second and twice third. The champion three-year-old filly, inducted in the U. S. Racing Hall of Fame in 2002, won eleven Gr.1 races including the Santa Anita Oaks, Mother Goose Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks or Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Even before her progeny appeared on the racecourse, Serena’s Song again became the centre of attention, this time in the sales ring. Robert and Beverly Lewis, who bought Serena’s Song as a yearling at Keeneland July Sale for USD 150,000, sent six of her yearlings to the sale and five of them were sold, only her ninth progeny, Storm Cat’s son Schramsberg left the ring unsold after the highest bid of 1.4 million dollars. The sales statistics of Serena’s Song are as amazing as her racing record – for the five yearlings mentioned above the buyers paid a total of 12,650,000 dollars, i.e. 2,108,333 dollars on average per one yearling!

The highest prices, 3.5 million dollars, was paid by John Fergusson on behalf of the Sheikh Mohammed for the colt Colourful Score by Storm Cat but he wasn’t lucky and the colt, winner for the first time as a six-year-old in Dubai, was the weakest progeny of Serena’s Song. Demi O’Byrne, five years before, had a luckier hand, when he paid a hundred thousand dollars less for Sophisticat, also by Storm Cat, but the filly, trained by Aidan O’Brien in Ireland for John Magnier and Michael Tabor, won three races including the Gr.1 Coronation Stakes and Gr.3 Prix de la Grotte, and finished second five times, including the Gr.1 Cheveley Park Stakes. She was at stud until December last year, her most successful progeny include the French listed winner Sefroua (the dam of the listed winner Sivoliere) and the third in the Gr.1 Cheveley Park Stakes Pursuit of Glory.

Sophisticat was the only Gr.1 winner in the production of Serena’s Song but she was far from being the single black-type winner. Of her twelve runners (thirteen progeny in total), ten were winners, six in black-type races. The honour to be written in catalogues by bold capitals was deserved by her very first progeny, the filly Serena’s Tune by Mr Prospector. Sold for a million dollars as a yearling, Serena’s Tune won three listed races in the United States and earned 337,000 dollars. She did not earn her purchase price on the racecourse but the sum, for which she was bought privately after her career by Hill ’n’ Dale Farm, was probably even higher. She, too, excelled in the sales ring where four of her progeny (one foal, three yearlings) sold for a total of 7,860,00 dollars, i.e. 1,965,000 dollars on average per one individual. Two of her progeny won stakes races, Vocalised by Vindication showed, same as Sophisticat, that the dirt-running Serena’s Song can produce turf specialists, as Vocalised demonstrated in his triumphs in the Gr.3 Tetrach Stakes and Greenham Stakes in England and Ireland. His half-sister Serena’s Cat by Storm Cat raced in the United States where she scored four wins, including one black-type, and earned 131,391 dollars. She fared better at stud – her son Honor Code, the champion older horse in the U.S., has scored two Gr.1 wins (the Metropolitan Handicap and Whitney Stakes) and earned over 2.5 million dollars and an excellent results were achieved by another of her sons, Noble Tune, a Gr.2 winner, who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. It can come as no surprise, therefore, that her progeny are much demanded on sales and one of them even broke the U.S. record for a foal. It was two years ago when the filly Serena’s Harmony by Tapit was sold to Bridlewood Farm for the bid of three million dollars, the highest price ever paid in North America for a foal. M. V. Magnier, however, did not stay much behind with his bid of 2.6 million dollars for her son War Front last year.

Last week the two daughters of Serena’s Song, producers of black-type winners, were joined by a third, Night and Day. The daughter of Unbridled’s Song who raced just once and was not placed has not belonged among those mares whose yearlings would sell for million sums but the 360,000 dollars sold Made You Look, a Gr.2 winner today, will no doubt support the demand for his dam’s progeny.

Serena’s Song established a successful family but her blood today is not disseminated only by her daughters, granddaughters or great granddaughters but also her sons. The winner of the Gr.2 Oaklawn Handicap, Grand Reward, formerly shuttling between Hill ’n’ Dale Farm and Haras La Quebrada, now permanently based in South America, has already produced four Gr.1 winners in Argentina. Also the Gr.2 successful Harlington, today a stallion in Saudi Arabia, produced, when in North America, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Wavell Avenue. The Gr.3 winner Schramsberg, based at Bar None Ranches, Canada, has been at stud since 2012 but is still waiting for a major success of his progeny.

Serena’s Song, pensioned two years ago, now enjoys her deserved rest at Denali Farm, to whose rise to prominence she has contributed and where several of her daughters are based today to move the successful family to other generations. The results achieved so far show that they could do it.

Miloslav Vlček

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