Tepin, Vyjack could serve up rare sibling rivalry in Breeders’ Cup
Although Tepin’s title defense is the overarching storyline for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), the champion mare might be part of another historic angle. Her half-brother, Vyjack, is also under consideration for the Mile. If the two Machmer Hall-breds square off, Tepin and Vyjack would become the fourth pair of siblings to compete against each other in a Breeders’ Cup race.
The precedent was set two decades ago by half-brothers Honor the Hero and Prenup, both outsiders in the 1994 Sprint (G1) won by Cherokee Run at Churchill Downs. The 10-1 Honor the Hero set a swift pace under relentless pressure from Soviet Problem and retreated to seventh, while the 13-1 Prenup checked in 13th of 14.
Bred by Edward P. Evans in Virginia, Honor the Hero and Prenup were two of five stakes winners produced by the Buckaroo mare Homewrecker. Honor the Hero, a multiple Grade 3 winner by Hero’s Honor, was her first registered foal. Prenup, by Smarten, earned his signature score in the 1994 Jerome (G1). Homewrecker was subsequently responsible for Grade 2 victor Cat’s at Home (by Tabasco Cat) and Grade 3 winner Giant Wrecker (by Giant’s Causeway). Her daughter Marital Spook didn’t win on the track, but she’s a winner in the breeding shed as the dam of Grade 1 hero and sire Yonaguska.
The next half-brotherly rivalry occurred in the 2002 Mile, when Niarchos Family bluebloods Good Journey and Aldebaran lined up at Arlington. That eventful race is most often remembered for another Niarchos homebred, Domedriver, upsetting 4-5 favorite Rock of Gibraltar (as well as the sad breakdown of Landseer).
Good Journey, the 5-1 third choice fresh off a score in the Atto (Woodbine) Mile (G1), was prominent throughout and struck the front, only to be overhauled by Domediver and nipped by “The Rock” late. The 14-1 Aldebaran, last on the far turn, swerved the ill-fated Landseer and passed a couple of rivals in 11th.
Warning: you can see Landseer go horribly wrong in the replay.
Unlike Irish-bred Domedriver, Good Journey and Aldebaran hailed from Kentucky. Their dam, the royally bred Private Account mare Chimes of Freedom, had captured the 1989 Moyglare Stud (G1) and 1990 Coronation (G1). From the immediate family of 1997 BC Mile star Spinning World, she produced a total of four stakes winners, with Good Journey (by Nureyev) and Aldebaran (by Mr. Prospector) the most significant.
Aldebaran went on to reign as champion sprinter of 2003, principally in light of his victories in the Met Mile (G1), San Carlos (G1), and Forego (G1). But his Breeders’ Cup woes continued, for he was a belated sixth as the 2-1 favorite in the 2003 Sprint. Aldebaran ultimately exerted an influence on the Breeders’ Cup through his best son – champion Main Sequence, who downed Flintshire in the 2014 Turf (G1).
The only ensuing clash of siblings was a much lower key affair in the 2008 Dirt Mile, as Slew’s Tiznow and Slew’s Tizzy ran well adrift of Albertus Maximus. The 18-1 Slew’s Tiznow went hopelessly wide, but still bested the 42-1 Slew’s Tizzy by a half-length in their own private wrestling match for 10th.
Despite the otherwise forgettable result, they stand alone in Breeders’ Cup history as the only full siblings to face off. They’re also the only ones who were stablemates too, both trained by Doug O’Neill for owner/breeder Joseph LaCombe. And Slew’s Tiznow is the only younger sibling to outfinish his elder in a Breeders’ Cup race.
As their names imply, both Kentucky-breds are by Tiznow, and they’re inbred to Seattle Slew. Their dam, Hepatica, is by the Seattle Slew stallion Slewpy. (Tiznow is himself out of a mare by the Seattle Slew stallion Seattle Song.) Slew’s Tizzy, a three-time graded winner, notably landed the 2007 Lexington (G2). Slew’s Tiznow won a pair of minor stakes and placed second in the 2007 Breeders’ Futurity (G1). Both set track records on Hollywood Park’s synthetic surface in 2008.
Even if Vyjack ends up going to the Dirt Mile instead of facing younger half-sister Tepin on the turf, the dynamic duo have still put their dam the Stravinsky mare, Life Happened, in excellent company.
Seventeen other mares have had two offspring in different races in the same Breeders’ Cup. Here they are, in chronological order (just for those years, not including any other BC appearance by their progeny):
Iza Valentine (1985): Fran’s Valentine (Distaff) and Earl’s Valentine (Juvenile Fillies)
Louisville (1987): Le Belvedere (Mile) and Louis Le Grand (Turf)
Grecian Banner (1988): Personal Ensign (won Distaff) and Personal Flag (Classic)
Sultry Sun (1992): Solar Splendor (Turf) and Sultry Song (Classic)
Whakilyric (both 1993-1994): Hernando (Turf) and Johann Quatz (Mile)
Personal Ensign (1995): My Flag (won Juvenile Fillies) and Our Emblem (Sprint)
Primarily (1997): Primaly (Juvenile Fillies) and Whiskey Wisdom (Classic)
Shared Interest (1999): Cash Run (won Juvenile Fillies) and Forestry (Sprint)
Viviana (2003): Sightseek (Distaff) and Tates Creek (F&M Turf)
Justenuffheart (2006): Dreaming of Anna (won Juvenile Fillies) and Lewis Michael (Sprint)
Kelli’s Ransom (2009): Devil May Care (Juvenile Fillies) and Regal Ransom (Classic)
Champagne Glow (2011): Champagne d’Oro (F&M Sprint) and Ruler on Ice (Classic)
Amelia (2012): He’s Had Enough (Juvenile) and Kindergarden Kid (Turf)
Granny Franny (2013): Granny Mc’s Kitten (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Kitten’s Dumplings (F&M Turf)
Boat’s Ghost (2014): Finnegans Wake (Turf) and Puca (Juvenile Fillies)
Belle Watling (2015): Land Over Sea (Juvenile Fillies) and War Story (Dirt Mile)
Celestial Woods (2015): Bobby’s Kitten (Turf Sprint) and Camelot Kitten (Juvenile Turf)
Last year marked the first time that two mares had a pair of starters, and 2016 is on course to eclipse that mark.
Aside from Life Happened with Tepin and Vyjack, Miss Hot Salsa will be represented by defending Turf Sprint (G1) champion Mongolian Saturday and Juvenile Fillies (G1) contender Daddys Lil Darling.
Belle Watling’s duo of Land Over Sea (Distaff) and War Story (Classic) have been thrown unexpectedly into the ring again, and the total could rise to four mares if Aidan O'Brien sends both Brave Anna (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and big brother Hit It a Bomb (Mile) -- full siblings by War Front and out of Liscanna.
Tepin photo courtesy Keeneland/.Coady Photography