Bloodlines: Slow-Developing Red Smith Winner North Dakota Another Success For Broodmare Starry Dreamer

For the beautifully pedigreed North Dakota (by Medaglia d’Oro), success in the Grade 3 Red Smith Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 21 was like a spring thaw after a long, hard winter.

The 4-year-old colt won his first stakes in the Red Smith and capped a remarkable season in which the racer for the Joseph Allen Stables developed from a seemingly hapless maiden at the New Year tracks to graded stakes winner here in the penultimate month, with four victories from a half-dozen races.

In contrast, North Dakota had contrived to remain a maiden in a half-dozen previous races at 2 and 3 while being one of the most attractively bred horses in training and coming from the Hall of Fame barn of trainer C.R. “Shug” McGaughey.

Bred in Kentucky by Joseph Allen LLC, North Dakota is the 10th and last foal out of Allen’s star producer, the Rubiano mare Starry Dreamer. After the Red Smith, he is also the mare’s fifth stakes winner.

Four of those won graded stakes, including leading sire War Front (Danzig), who stands at Claiborne Farm and is one of the most sought-after international stallions. Starry Dreamer’s other stakes winners include G2 winner Teammate (A.P. Indy), who was also second or third in five G1 races; G3 stakes winner Ecclesiastic (Pulpit), who has been four times the leading sire in Uruguay; and Riviera Cocktail (Giant’s Causeway), who was also twice placed in graded stakes. The mare also produced Jay Gatsby (also by Giant’s Causeway), who was likewise twice placed in graded stakes but did not win one.

North Dakota seems to have progressed in strength and confidence from the first of the year, as well. Just viewing him on the screen, he appeared to have strengthened through the hindquarters and across the back, and there was no hesitation in the colt when jockey Jose Lezcano angled North Dakota out to challenge wide down the stretch.

The dark bay colt kept picking up horses and responded very willingly to the challenge of the towering Red Knight (Pure Prize) in the drive to the wire, and McGaughey noted after the race that “I wouldn’t have thought he would be running in the Red Smith back when he broke his maiden at Tampa,” which came on on March 25. McGaughey added that North Dakota “had been training really well. I thought he had a big chance today. He’s got the pedigree to do it and wants a distance of ground. Jose is a patient guy, and I said just take your time with him.”

Patience has paid off for all parties, and the colt is the greatest beneficiary. If there is further improvement in him, next season should offer some tempting options for a horse who wants to race 10 furlongs or longer on turf, and with his relations, someone will want to give him a chance at stud. If that happened, he would be the seventh son of Starry Dreamer to become a stallion.

A foal of 1994, Starry Dreamer was bred in Kentucky by Charles Nuckols & Sons from the first crop by champion sprinter Rubiano (Fappiano). Racing for Russell Reineman, she became the sire’s first stakes winner with her victory in the 1996 Gold Digger Stakes at Hawthorne.

In April of 1997, Joe Allen acquired the filly privately, and she won the Palisades Stakes and Regret Stakes in her first two starts for him. In all, the gray won six of 31 starts, earning $564,789.

Retired to be a broodmare at Claiborne Farm, where Allen keeps his bloodstock, Starry Dreamer produced four stakes winners from her first four foals. Chronologically, they were Ecclesiastic, War Front, Teammate, and then Riviera Cocktail (who is a double post-barren, born after two barren years).

A couple of Storm Cat duds, one of whom was a $1 million RNA at the 2008 Keeneland September sale, were followed by an unraced Awesome Again filly named Gracie Square. The graded stakes-placed Jay Gatsby indicated that grand mare hadn’t completely mislaid the plans for cooking a good one, and then North Dakota came along as the final foal after an unraced son of Smart Strike.

Both Jay Gatsby, who ran second in the G2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga and the G3 Knickerbocker at Belmont, and North Dakota are post-barren foals themselves. Research that I conducted several years ago into the foals of mares produced after a barren year showed that the percentage of stakes horses was surprisingly high.

The kink, of course, is that breeders don’t plan barren years. It’s counter-intuitive to try to miss a year with a mare, more especially a very good mare. The mares do that on their own; either their reproductive or immune and endocrine systems need the time off, and they get it.

It is interesting, however, that breeders may get an added benefit when their mare does go barren.

Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank’s lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.

The post Bloodlines: Slow-Developing Red Smith Winner North Dakota Another Success For Broodmare Starry Dreamer appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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