By Andrew Caulfield
The recent 50th anniversary of the birth of the great Mill Reef acted as a reminder that great sires are not always destined to establish a long-lasting male line. Despite having numerous stallion sons, Mill Reef’s influence in Europe depended heavily on his Derby winning son Shirley Heights and to a lesser extent on his 2,000 Guineas winner Doyoun.
In the U.S., it was hard to imagine that the great Bold Ruler, with his eight sires’ championships, would not found numerous successful branches of his widespread male line. In the end, though, his male line became reliant on just one son, the Santa Anita Derby winner Boldnesian. To be more precise, it was Boldnesian’s Jersey Derby winner Bold Reasoning who ensured that Bold Ruler’s male line would live on, when he sired the great Seattle Slew.
There were times, I must admit, when I wondered whether Storm Cat would become similarly dependent on just one or two sons, even though this two-time champion sire had around a hundred stallion sons in North America in 2005.
Unfortunately, several of Storm Cat’s most talented sons on the racecourse didn’t repeat their success as stallions. This included the well-qualified sons which joined him at Overbrook Farm. His GI Preakness S. and GI Belmont S. winner Tabasco Cat was sold to Japan as a 9-year-old, having failed to come up with a graded stakes winner among the runners from his first two crops (he later made some amends with Grade I victories from Snow Ridge, Habibti and Island Sand). Then there was Storm Cat’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Cat Thief, who failed to sire a Grade I winner, and the same applied to his GI Hollywood Futurity winner Tactical Cat.
Of course it hasn’t all been a tale of gloom and doom. While there is still a long way to go before we can draw any firm conclusions about the long-term prospects of the Storm Cat male line, there are plenty of rays of hope, with numerous accomplished grandsons and great-grandsons.
One flourishing branch descends from Storm Cat’s son Harlan, even though this winner of the 1994 GI Vosburgh S. left only 102 foals. Crucially, one of the 102 was Harlan’s Holiday, who numbered Into Mischief and Shanghai Bobby among his best sons.
Then there’s the Hennessy branch which supplied the much-missed Scat Daddy, a stallion who could easily establish a thriving male line in Ireland. The Tale of the Cat branch cannot be discounted either, as Gio Ponti and Tale of Ekati both enjoyed Grade I success last year and Kantharos, the sire of X Y Jet, is now covering plenty of mares in Kentucky.
Pride of place, though, must go to Giant’s Causeway. Having established himself as Storm Cat’s highest-achieving son on the track, with his six Group 1 wins, Giant Causeway has matched his father by becoming a multiple champion sire. Although his own career is winding down–he had only 38 live foals born last year, when he covered 31 mares–the 21-year-old already looks to have made a significant contribution to the longevity of the Storm Cat male line.
Giant’s Causeway’s best son, the dual classic winner Shamardal, has several sons at stud throughout Europe, headed by Lope de Vega, another dual classic winner whose early success has translated into a 2018 fee of €60,000. Footstepsinthesand, another of Giant’s Causeway’s Irish sons, has carved out a solid career as a mid-market stallion and the same could be said of First Samurai.
As ever, there are hopes that some of the unproven sons will do even better. Carpe Diem, winner of the GI Breeders’ Futurity and GI Blue Grass S., covered 162 mares in his first season at WinStar and 144 in his second. Then there’s Not This Time, who–in common with Storm Cat, Hennessy and Carpe Diem–finished second in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Ambitiously billed as “Giant’s Causeway’s most brilliant 2-year-old ever,” Not This Time covered 145 mares last year in his first season at Taylor Made.
Also recruited to the Giant’s Causeway team in 2017 was Brody’s Cause. A Breeders’ Cup Juvenile third who enjoyed GI success at two and three, Brody’s Cause is based at Spendthrift, a farm which has shown it can “make” inexpensive young stallions. He covered 101 mares in his first year. Another to keep an eye on is Fed Biz, a multiple Grade II winner whose first crop yearlings averaged more than $80,000, off a $12,500 fee. With upwards of 128 mares covered in each of his first three years at WinStar, this well-bred horse from the family of Pulpit and Johannesburg is being given a good chance to prove himself.
The other young son of Giant’s Causeway who has been attracting plenty of attention is the GI Norfolk S. winner Creative Cause, who was another who reached the first three in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Creative Cause was also third in the Preakness, whereas his Grade II-winning younger brother Destin was runner-up in the Belmont S. Now Creative Cause has a possible Triple Crown contender in his second crop, in the shape of My Boy Jack, recent winner of the GIII Southwest S.
Creative Cause enjoys the advantage of having two Grade I- winning parents, his dam being Dream of Summer, who built a record of 20-10-4-3 over four seasons, her finest victory coming in the GI Apple Blossom H. Creative Cause appears to be putting his strong bloodlines to good use and My Boy Jack is his third graded winner, as well as being one of eight black-type winners from the Airdrie stallion’s first two crops, each smaller than 90 foals. These crops were sired at $15,000, so Creative Cause is doing well to rank among the leading third-crop sires. Indeed he has a higher percentage of black-type winners than Dialed In, Bodemeister, Union Rags and Shackleford, the four American stallions who rank above him in cumulative earnings.
My Boy Jack cost only $20,000 as a yearling and Airdrie sold his dam Gold N Shaft for a mere $8,000 in 2016. However, Gold N Shaft is a daughter of Mineshaft, a Horse of the Year who, at the age of 19, is showing plenty of promise as a broodmare sire. Mineshaft mares have already produced nine graded winners, headed by such as Cathryn Sophia, Coal Front, Enticed, Leave The Light On and Azar. It is well worth remembering that Mineshaft–another horse with two Grade I-winning parents– spent his first four years at Lane’s End at a fee of $100,000. Therefore his daughters from his early crops are likely to come from very strong female lines or from well-performed racemares.
My Boy Jack’s dam is an example. A member of Mineshaft’s third crop, Gold N Shaft is out of Gold n Delicious, a Grade III winner who was runner up to My Flag in the GI CCA Oaks. She earned nearly $530,000, which was pretty good going for a filly who had sold for $7,500 as a yearling and $17,000as a 2-year-old.