Sky Beauty - North American Champion whose Blood Excels in South America Today

It is twenty-one years since she entered the starting stalls for the last time and five years since she was inducted into the U. S. Hall of Fame. Blushing Groom’s daughter Sky Beauty, the star of mid 1990s, is slowly falling into oblivion as her results at stud lagged behind those on the racecourse. Her blood, however, is still alive and achieved a major success over the weekend.

Her career was impressive. The mare bought as a yearling at Saratoga by Georgia E Hofmann from her breeder Sugar Maple Farm for USD 355,000, performed greatly as a two-year old and she did not win just a single of her five races when she finished first in the Gr.1 Spinaway Stakes but was disqualified and switched to the third position. Besides this she won the Gr.1 Matron Stakes and Gr.2 Adirondack Stakes.

At three she won five of seven races and, above all, won the Triple Tiara, formerly called The Filly Triple Crown, consisting of Acorn Stakes over a mile, The Mother Goose Stakes over 1 and ⅛ mile a The Coaching Club American Oaks over 1 and ¼ mile. She is the last filly to have achieved this feat. She also won the Gr.1 Alabama Stakes and Gr.2 Rare Perfumes, but her way to the Champion Three-Year-Old Filly was thwarted by Hollywood Wildcat, who won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, with Sky Beauty finishing fifth.

Sky Beauty did not win Breeders’ Cup Distaff as a four-year-old either (she finished ninth) but since she won the remaining five races including the Gr.1 Shuvee Handicap, Hempstead Handicap, Go For Wand Stakes and Ruffian Handicapu, she did not leave the Eclipse Awards empty handed and won the Award for Outstanding Older female Horse. She raced at five as well and of her three races the most important one is defending the win in the Gr.3 Vagrancy Handicap from the previous year.

She ended her racing careers with the record of twenty-one races, fifteen wins, two second and two third places and the purse of USD 1,336,000. Then she left for stud. In 1997 she gave birth to her first progeny, the colt Bestyoucanbe by Danzig, who definitely was not the best he could have been on the racecourse. As a yearling bought for USD 500,000 he won a single of his nine races, earning just USD 26,410. A year younger Storming Beauty by Storm Cat, sold for USD 1.2 million, did not fare much better. The winner of a single of nine races won just USD 32,063, just a fraction of her purchase price. Sky Beauty’s third product was the filly Sky Legend by Deputy Minister. She was sent to the sale as a foal, was sold for USD 800,000 and never raced. Ten years later she was sold for just USD 26,000…

Sky Beauty herself was offered at the same sale as Sky Legend as a foal. This was in November 1999 when her first product Bestyoucanbe was waiting for his debut and it was no wonder that the mare with a brilliant career and an excellent pedigree was bought for USD 2.85 million by John Magnier. In 2001 to 2004 she produced for him four foals, all by Storm Cat. They included Sky Beauty’s most successful progeny, the cold Hurricane Cat. Trained by Aidan O’Brien in Ireland, Hurricane Cat won two of eight races and as the first and only progeny of Sky Beauty was successful in stakes races. As a two-year-old he won the Gr.2 Horris Hill Stakes, at three he placed third in the Gr.3 Tetrarch Stakes and Concorde Stakes.

Of seven progeny of Sky Beauty six raced, five won but just a single one in a stakes race. This is not a very impressive record for a champion, the winner of nine Gr.1 races and the daughter of two-time Gr.1 winner Maplejinsky, half-sister to the champion sprinter Dayjur. Put simply, nature or the Highest One showed once again that it was the time to bestow grace on the others, as Sky Beauty and her predecessors had enough of it.

Despite this, it cannot be said that Sky Beauty’s influence has evaporated. Today, twenty year after she launched her stud career, her name can be seed in pedigrees of Gr.1 winners. The last, and second most important one, is the Saturday winner of the Gr.1 Gran Premio San Isidro, Argentina, El Benicio. The three-year-old El Benicio is the third Gr.1 winner and one of twenty stakes winners by Hurricane Cat – the stallion thanks to whom the blood of Sky Beauty today figures in pedigrees of black-type winners most often. Hurricane Cat is based – with several breaks – at Haras de la Haie Neuve but his fee EUR 3,000 and the fact that during four crops of foals of racing age he produced just five stakes winners is a proof that he fares better in the Southern Hemisphere, namely in El Mallín, Argentina. He launched his stud career in the Southern Hemisphere in Chile, at Haras Porta Pia, where he produced two previous Gr.1 winners: Mr. Rodrigo, out of a dam by excellent Hussonet, the winner of the Gr.1 Polla De Potrillos - the 2,000 Guineas in Peru and gelding Querido Machito, the winner of the Chilean Gr.1 Copa De Plata - Italo Travers Pasqualetti. El Benicio, who won the over million Argentinian peseta-purse Gran Premio San Isidro, is the most successful Hurricane Cat’s progeny so far.

Hurricane Cat is not the only son of Sky Beauty to have produced a stakes or Gr.1 winner. The same thing was achieved by Bestyoucanbe, a horse not impressive on the racecourse, who produced, in Venezuela, the mare American Woman out of Miss Guarico by Jack of Blubs (Sir Ivor), who is the only black-type winner among his progeny but won the local Gr.1 Classico Hipodromo La Rinconada and more five stakes races.

Sons of Sky Beauty are successful mostly in South America, but her blood was successful in the north of the continent as well – albeit two generations further. Sky Beauty has produced three daughters (Desert Tigress, Sky Legend and Storming Beauty), each went to stud but neither managed to produce a black-type winner. Closest to this achievement was Desert Tigress, winner at two in Ireland, whose son Growl finished, as a two-year-old, second in the Gr.2 Mill Reef Stakes. At the same time, Growl is the only product of Sky Beauty’s daughters placed in a black-type race. Her son Sundarban, sold as a yearling for USD 1,700,000, who earned in sixteen races just over USD 100,000, went to stud too.

Granddaughters of Sky Beauty fare better at stud. Violent Beauty, the daughter of Storming Beauty, did not excel on the racecourse, won once as a four-year-old and earned USD 51,000 but her second product, the colt Violence, belonged among the best 2012 two-year-olds in the U.S., winning all his three races, including the Gr.1 CashCall Futurity and Gr.2 Nashua Stakes. Sadly, the colt, favourite of the Kentucky Derby in winter, broke his sesamoid in his first race as a three-year-old in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, where he was second, which was the end of his promising career. Today he is the biggest hope of the Sky Beauty family: since 2014 he has been based at the Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, his fee is USD 15,000 and last year he covered in the U.S. (he also shuttles to Argentina) 177 mares. This year his first yearlings came to the sales and 76 were sold for an average price of USD 77,816.

The second daughter of Sky Beauty to have produced a black-type winner is the placed Belle Jour, the daughter of Sky Legend. She, in foal with Seeking the Dia, was sold on the 2010 Keeneland November Sale sold for USD 15,000 to India where Quasar was foaled. The colt whose name became a household name in India has won fifteen races of twenty, including six with the Indian Gr.1 status (among them Golconda Derby, Calcutta Derby or Pune Derby) and received the Horse of the Year title.

The blood of Sky Beauty thus scored well in India after South America. In her motherland, however, Sky Beauty is still behind expectations but the talent performed by Violence and the high demand for his service among North American breeders are a promise that Sky Beauty’s blood and her achievements could be soon heard about from the United States.

Miloslav Vlček

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