This year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff was a great climax of an excellent career for Beholder. After a breathtaking fight with unbeaten Songbird she won by a nose and thus defended her victory she achieved as a three-year-old. With her record of eighteen wins from twenty-six starts, three Eclipse Awards and a purse of over six million dollars she leaves for stud to Spendthrift Farm. Her first partner will be Uncle Mo and this combination of a stallion with one of the most successful starts of stud career with an exceptional champion mare commands attraction already.
Stud careers of all the winners of Breeders’ Cup Distaff and the winners themselves were paid much attention and whenever the winners went to the sales ring, they were sold for astronomic prices. For instance the 2004 winner Ashado was sold for 9 million dollars, Royal Delta, offered just a few days after her second win in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in 2012 (called Breeders’ Cup Fillies Classic), went to a bid of 8.5 million.
The very first winner Princess Rooney crossed the 5 million milestone in 1985, when she was bought by Wichita Equine for 5.5 million. She was followed a year later by Life’s Magic, for which Eugene Klein paid 5.4 million. The 1986 winner Lady’s Secret was sold for the same price in 1987. The 2006 winner Round Pond was bought by Darley for 5.75 million, Adoration went to Demi O’Byrne for 3.1 million. The 1996 winner Jewel Princess (unsold as a two-year-old for 29,000 dollars), too, went to Coolmore, auctioned by John Magnier at Keeneland in 2000 for 4.9 million. Escena was sold in 1999 for 3.25 million, Spain even for 5.3 million, Unbridled Elaine was bought by John Ferguson in 2004 for 4.4 million. Katsumi Yoshida, too, came to like the Breeders’ Cup Distaff winners. In 2009 he bought Azeri, the 2002 winner and the Horse of the Year, for 2.25 million and he paid 1.6 million for the 2007 winner Ginger Punch. The 2010 winner Unrivaled Belle was not cheap either, she went to Brushwood Stable for 2.8 million.
To cut a long story short, the BC Distaff winners have been a very attractive investments, and not just for breeders in the U.S., and breeders do not hesitate to pay millions. Let us look how these mares fared at stud.
In 33 editions of the race, there have been thirty winners (Bayakoa, Royal Delta and this year Beholder won twice), of whom 26 had already one runner at least. It is satisfactory that nearly a half of them, twelve mares to be precise, have managed to produce a black-type winner. If we were to choose the most successful dam among the BC Distaff winners, it would not be an easy choice. The unbeaten Personal Ensign would be the hottest candidate for such a title. The 1996 Broodmare of the Year produced three Gr.1 winners - the winner of the American Oaks and Breeders’ cup Juvenile Fillies My Flag (herself the dam of the two-year-old champion Storm Flag Flying, winner of the BC Juvenile Fillies), the Jockey Club Gold Cup’s winner Miner’s Mark and the Oaklawn Handicap winner Traditionally. Besides them she also produced the Gr.1 placed Our Emblem, who later sired the Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem.
The 1991 winner Dance Smartly was awarded a broodmare champion too, although not in the U.S. but in Canada. She was the dam of the Gr.1 winner and champion three-year-old filly in Canada Dancethruthedawn or the Gr.2 winner Dance With Ravens. Same as her dam Classy ‘n Smart she established a successful family, which includes the 2014 Whitney Handicap (Gr. 1) winner Moreno, a grandson of Dancethruthedawn.
An excellent stud performance was provided by the 1993 winner Hollywood Wildcat, the dam of twelve runners, eight winners of whom four won a black-type race and two placed. Same as Personal Ensign, Hollywood Wildcat produced a Breeders’ Cup winner – even a two-time winner. Her son War Chant, five-time winner, won twice the Breeders’ Cup Mile. War Chant, based for years at Three Chimneys Farm and now stabled in Australia, is a half-brother to Ivan Denisovich, the winner of the July Stakes (Gr.2) and runner-up in the Gr.1 Prix Morny and Secretariat Stakes.
A Gr.1 winner was produced also by Sacahuista, the dam of Ekraar, who won the Gran Premio del Jockey Club in Italy. Ekraar was the only black-type winner produced by Sacahuista but despite that this mare is perhaps the most influential dam of all BC Distaff winners. She proved to be an excellent dam of sires (see an older column), headed by Hussonet, a multiple champion stallion and the sire of ninety-seven black-type winners.
Inside Information, the winner of 1995, twenty-one years ago, is the last winner to produce a Gr.1 winner at stud. The most successful of them was Unbridled’s daughter Smuggler, the winner of both Mother Goose Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks in 2005.
Unbridled Elaine fared well at stud too, having produced three group winners. Black-type winners have also been produced by Jewel Princess, Ajina, Spain, Azeri and Ginger Punch. More four mares - Princess Rooney, Life’s Magic, Escena and Beautiful Pleasure - produced horses who were placed in black-type races. Many of them succeeded through their daughters such as Jewel Princess, whose daughter Home Court is the dam of this year’s winner of the Alcibiades Stakes (Gr.1) Dancing Rags or the Gr.1-placed Coup de Grace.
But we will find among the winners those who failed at stud. The most expensive of all winners, the six-time Gr.1 winner Ashado, was the biggest disappointment. So far she has produced six foals of racing age, four of whom are runners, two are winners but the most successful of them earned just 47,000 dollars. The poor record can yet be improved by those who wait for their racing debut, as a yearling daughter by Tapit or this year’s foal by Lemon Drop Kid. The two-time winner Bayakoa failed at stud too, having produced four horses, of whom two are runners, a single one is a winner who earned 28,000 dollars. This is a very poor record of a Hall of Fame mare but her two daughters, Trinity Place and Arlucea, did greatly at stud. The first is the dam of the John C. Mabee Handicap (Gr.1) Great Legacy, the latter has produced the excellent Fort Larned, a triple Gr.1 winner.
It is many years to go before we know what path is taken by this year’s champion Beholder. For her too, however, the win in the BC Distaff opened a way to the best U.S. stallions who could make the path to success at stud easier.