Pedigree fun facts for 2015 Breeders' Cup
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first: Juvenile Fillies contender Rachel’s Valentina is the offspring of two champions, Bernardini and 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra.
Defending Turf Sprint champion Bobby’s Kitten and Juvenile Turf hope Camelot Kitten are full brothers. Interestingly, Bobby’s Kitten had also competed in the 2013 Juvenile Turf, finishing third as the 6-5 favorite. If “Camelot” can succeed where “Bobby” failed, their dam, Celestial Woods, would become only the fourth mare to produce two Breeders’ Cup winners. Moreover, their family has deep BC connections including 1987 Turf champ Theatrical as well as BC placegetters Paradise Creek and Forbidden Apple.
Distaff threat Sheer Drama is a half-sister to Big Drama, the 2010 Sprint winner. So their dam, Riveting Drama, could actually beat Celestial Woods to the punch and become the fourth multiple BC matron. The others are Primal Force (dam of 1998 Classic hero Awesome Again and 2000 Juvenile scorer Macho Uno), Hasili (Filly & Mare Turf queens Banks Hill  and Intercontinental ) and Sweet Life (Sweet Catomine in the 2004 Juvenile Fillies and Life Is Sweet in the 2009 Ladies’ Classic).
Classic hopeful Gleneagles is out of a Group 2-winning full sister to Giant’s Causeway, the near-misser to Tiznow in the 2000 Classic. A renowned international sire, Giant’s Causeway has Brody’s Cause in this year’s Juvenile and Red Rifle in the Turf.
Defending Mile champion Karakontie hopes to repeat just like his third dam Miesque, herself a two-time Mile legend in 1987-88.
Juvenile Turf favorite Cymric descends from unbeaten Hall of Famer Personal Ensign, who famously preserved her perfect record in the 1988 Distaff thriller. Personal Ensign was the start of a three-generation streak in the Breeders’ Cup: her daughter My Flag, the 1995 Juvenile Fillies winner, went on to produce 2002 Juvenile Fillies heroine Storm Flag Flying. Cymric descends from a different Personal Ensign daughter, Pennant Champion, so he would start an offshoot branch of BC success for the family.
Coincidentally, Turf Sprint runner The Great War descends from Winning Colors, the 1988 Kentucky Derby winner who was caught at the wire by Personal Ensign in that epic Distaff.
Mile threat Time Test and Dirt Mile favorite Liam’s Map were both produced by mares who had placed in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup at Monmouth: Time Test’s dam, Passage of Time, was third in the Filly & Mare Turf, while Liam’s Map is out of Miss Macy Sue, third in the inaugural Filly & Mare Sprint.
Juvenile Fillies contender Land Over Sea and Dirt Mile longshot War Story are half-siblings. Their dam, Belle Watling, comes from the same female line as 1987 Juvenile Fillies upsetter Epitome.
Classic contender Keen Ice and Juvenile Fillies Turf favorite Harmonize descend from the same family. Their maternal ancestress in common is 1987 Ashland winner Chic Shirine, whose other descendants include Verrazano, Somali Lemonade, Hungry Island and Al Khali.
Sprint favorite Private Zone and Dirt Mile longshot Mr. Z share the same immediate female line. Perhaps unexpectedly given their speedy profiles, Mr. Z is out of a half-sister to 1997 Turf winner Chief Bearhart.
Mile runner Recepta comes from the family of Soaring Softly, champion of the inaugural Filly & Mare Turf in 1999. Soaring Softly recently died as the result of a paddock accident in late September. With Recepta likewise representing Phillips Racing Partnership, and the same trainer in Jimmy Toner, a big performance would be especially poignant.
Filly & Mare Turf also-eligible Talmada hails from the family of Coretta, who was second to Soaring Softly in this race, and another maternal relative is 1994 Mile star Barathea.
Honor Code aims to emulate his sire A.P. Indy in the Classic, and thereby avoid the brutal BC beats suffered by a couple on his dam’s side. Broodmare sire Storm Cat was mugged by Tasso in the 1985 Juvenile, and third dam Serena’s Song was outdueled in a war with Flanders in the 1994 Juvenile Fillies.
In contrast, Classic rival Beholder’s male line is characterized by Breeders’ Cup seconditis: sire Henny Hughes (2005), grandsire Hennessy (1995), and great-grandsire Storm Cat were all runner-up in the Juvenile – and as you’ll see, all of their years end in -5. (The same of course holds true for Henny Hughes’ other runner, Merry Meadow in the Filly & Mare Sprint.)
Juvenile hope Tale of S’Avall’s maternal grandparents are both BC winners: his dam, S’Avall, is by 1998 Classic victor Awesome Again and out of 2005 Distaff romper Pleasant Home. Interestingly, Tale of S’Avall is by Tale of Ekati, who comes from the same family. As a result, Tale of S’Avall sports 3x4 inbreeding to multiple Grade 1 heroine Maplejinsky, the dam of Hall of Famer Sky Beauty. Maplejinsky is in turn a half-sister to Dayjur, who infamously threw away the 1990 Sprint when jumping shadows at Belmont Park.
Sprint contender Favorite Tale is out of a half-sister to 1997 Juvenile star and Horse of the Year Favorite Trick.
Sprint rival Barbados descends from the same female line as 2008 Classic winner Raven’s Pass.
Filly & Mare Sprint hope Super Majesty is out of a half-sister to 2009 Sprint upsetter Dancing in Silks. Sire and broodmare sire are both Derby winners, Super Saver (2010) and Go for Gin (1994).
Juvenile Turf runner Ray’s the Bar is out of a half-sister to 2014 Turf hero and dual Eclipse Award champion Main Sequence.
Mile contender Mshawish descends from the family of 2003 Juvenile Fillies victress Halfbridled.
Juvenile Fillies Turf hope Thrilled counts her second dam as a full sister to 2000 Distaff shocker Spain.
Turf hope Big Blue Kitten comes from the female line of 2005 Juvenile champion Stevie Wonderboy.
Turf Sprint runner No Silent can boast that both grandsires are BC winners: on the paternal side he claims 1989 Classic legend Sunday Silence, and his broodmare sire is 2000 Mile star War Chant.
Filly & Mare Sprint threat Taris likewise has two BC-winning grandsires, both far in excess of her ideal trip: 1992 Classic winner A.P. Indy and 1987 Turf champion Theatrical.