Pedigree fun facts for 2017 Belmont Stakes
Most of the contenders in the 149th running of the Belmont S. (G1) have robust pedigrees, as you might expect for three-year-olds attempting the 1 1/2-mile third jewel of the Triple Crown.
Let’s take a look at a few of the more notable bloodline angles, in post position order:
Twisted Tom’s pedigree is shot through with Belmont connections. He’s from the first crop of the Giant’s Causeway stallion Creative Cause, a full brother to Destin, who came within an ace of winning last year’s Belmont. Twisted Tom’s maternal half is even better, with three Belmont heroes appearing in succession. His broodmare sire is 1995 Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Thunder Gulch, second dam by 1977 Triple Crown legend Seattle Slew, and third dam by 1968 champion Stage Door Johnny. That third dam, by the way, is Class Play, victress of the 1984 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) when it was still 1 1/2 miles. This is the famed No. 23-b family that he shares with rival Gormley (see below), albeit from a different branch.
Tapwrit, purchased for $1.2 million at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga, is by leading North American sire Tapit. A paternal grandson of 1992 Belmont star A.P. Indy, Tapit is responsible for two of the last three Belmont winners (Tonalist in 2014 and Creator in 2016). Tapwrit’s dam, 2006 Spinaway (G1) queen Appealing Zophie, was all about speed in her career. But she was out of a mare by 12-furlong turf world record-setter Hawkster, also the broodmare sire of 2005 Preakness and Belmont champion Afleet Alex. Tapwrit’s pedigree features 4 x4 inbreeding to Seattle Slew, via his sire line and as the sire of his third dam.
Gormley is likewise from the Seattle Slew male line, by way of A.P. Indy’s son Malibu Moon. His female line, however, is saturated with turf influences. Dam Race to Urga is a turf stakes winner by Bernstein out of French classic-placed Miss Mambo, a daughter of Kingmambo. Gormley’s third dam is by globetrotting Australian Strawberry Road out of champion turf mare Estrapade, both parents have carried the late Allen Paulson’s colors with distinction. Estrapade, by the redoubtable stamina influence *Vaguely Noble, traces through the tail-female line to a full sister to Domino – an esteemed branch of the No. 23-b family.
J Boys Echo continues the Slew-line theme, being by A.P. Indy’s Horse of the Year son Mineshaft. And being out of a Storm Cat-line (Menifee) mare, J Boys Echo is bred on a similar cross as Gormley. His dam, Grade 2 vixen Letgomyecho, descends from 1967 Preakness and Belmont-winning Hall of Famer Damascus and 1968 Epsom Derby hero Sir Ivor. Letgomyecho is also inbred to Argentine Triple Crown sweeper *Tatan. (For something of a doppelganger, see Senior Investment.)
Hollywood Handsome represents one of the younger members of the Slew tribe, 2012 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) victor Tapizar, by Tapit. Hollywood Handsome is another out of a Storm Cat-line (Forestry) mare, thereby offering a slightly more attenuated version of the cross shared by Gormley and J Boys Echo. He comes from the extended family of champion Blushing John, third to the titans Sunday Silence and Easy Goer in the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
Lookin at Lee sports inbreeding to Danzig, who appears on the maternal side of sire Lookin at Lucky and in the male line of dam Langara Lass. Further back on the bottom half of the pedigree, one finds 1982 Belmont romper Conquistador Cielo (sire of his third dam) and the aforementioned Damascus (fourth dam’s sire). This is the superb No. 9-e family that he shares with Epicharis (see below).
Irish War Cry (pictured) is by Hall of Famer Curlin, who just missed to champion filly Rags to Riches in the 2007 Belmont (has it been 10 years???) but celebrated a Belmont winner in his first crop in Palace Malice (2013). This is the same sire line as Lookin at Lee, since Lookin at Lucky and Curlin are both by the outstanding Mr. Prospector stallion Smart Strike. Irish War Cry may inherit some additional stamina from his British-bred third dam, by 1959 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero Saint Crespin III, out of a mare by 1962 Irish Derby scorer Tambourine, with further classic antecedents. Fifth dam Nectandra is closely inbred to the great Tesio mare Nogara, through her phenomenal son Nearco and champion son Niccolo Dell’Arca -- a “Rasmussen Factor” of inbreeding to a superior female. This is the deep family of staying supremo Donatello II, tracing straight back to the all-time great racemare Pretty Polly.
Senior Investment makes it a total of five descendants of Seattle Slew’s sire line in Belmont 149. He actually echoes J Boys Echo, on both the top and bottom of the pedigree. By Mineshaft’s much speedier son Discreetly Mine, Senior Investment descends from the same No. 16-g family as J Boys Echo. He likely gets his staying capacity from broodmare sire Deputy Commander, the 1997 Travers (G1) winner.
Meantime has perhaps the biggest pedigree question marks for this trip. The first-crop son of 2011 Preakness winner (and Belmont fifth) Shackleford is out of a mare by the brilliant sprinter Mt. Livermore. Meantime’s half-sister Sweet Reason, despite being by 2007 Derby champion Street Sense, was a three-time Grade 1 winner around one turn in the Acorn, Test, and Spinaway. Their dam is closely inbred to Crimson Satan, the champion two-year-old colt of 1961. Although Crimson Satan himself managed to win a couple of majors at 1 1/4 miles (the Mass ‘Cap and Strub) and finished third in the Belmont, he functions as a speed influence. If Meantime’s maternal line doesn’t appear very noteworthy for a few generations, keep digging and you’ll find he traces to the great matriarch *Rough Shod II.
Multiplier is from the first crop of the speedy War Front stallion The Factor, and out of Grade 3-placed one-turn specialist Trippi Street, by Trippi. Yet his second dam packs quite a punch. Ten Downing Street (a hunch play in honor of the British Parliamentary elections?) is by dual Arc hero Alleged and carries three crosses of 1937 Triple Crown star War Admiral. She also has a duplication of noted broodmare Banish Fear, giving her a claim to the Rasmussen Factor.
Epicharis, as a paternal grandson of Sunday Silence, would be a fitting first Japanese-based U.S. classic winner. Since the Belmont was the only jewel that Sunday Silence could not keep from Easy Goer, there would be an added poignancy of winning one for grandad. Epicharis is by successful dirt sire Gold Allure, a recently deceased son of Sunday Silence who was produced by a Nureyev mare. Epicharis’ dam is by 1994 Arc star Carnegie, himself a son of Sadler’s Wells and Arc queen Detroit. Through the three-quarter brothers Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells, Epicharis boasts a potent example of the Rasmussen Factor. In tail-female, he descends from the No. 9-e family by way of its French offshoot, the exceptional Zariba. She was the dam of four top-level winners, chief among them the two-time Arc legend Corrida.
Patch is the only member of the field by a Belmont winner, being a first-crop son of Union Rags (2012), and he also has a Belmont-winning broodmare sire in A.P. Indy. His dam is a close relative of the dam of American Anthem, the morning-line favorite in Saturday’s Woody Stephens (G2). While Patch has a few duplications in his pedigree, the nearest is his 5x3 inbreeding to Slew. Patch’s second dam is a full sister to champion Banshee Breeze, and this is the family of Damascus and 1941 Triple Crown legend Whirlaway.
Irish War Cry photo by Harold Roth/Horsephotos.com