PEDIGREE INSIGHTS BY ANDREW CAULFIELD

Taken from Thoroughbred Daily News 11/09/12:

Who says today’s Thoroughbreds aren’t as tough as their ancestors? Try telling that to Juddmonte’s wonderful old stager Famous Name, who achieved a remarkable 19th stakes victory in the Gr.3 Solonaway Stakes two days ago (9th September).

His career figures now stand at 37-20-8-5, which means that this tough-as-teak seven-year-old has been out of the first three on only four occasions, even though 36 of his starts have been against stakes company. And it isn’t just on the racecourse that he has been busy, as his trainer Dermot Weld pointed out in yesterday’s TDN: “He takes plenty of training and we have to work him hard to keep him fit, but his enthusiasm for being a racehorse is remarkable.”

The son of DANSILI has now won one Group 2, 12 Group 3s and six Listed races and I remain convinced that he would also have won the Gr.1 Prix du Jockey-Club in 2008 but for being drawn 17 in a 20-horse field, which forced him to race wide. He still did very well to close to within a head of the high-class Vision d’Etat.

Famous Name has won at least two stakes races in each of the last five years, his 2012 total being an impressive six. His failure to win a stakes race during his juvenile season can be forgiven on the score that he wasn’t born until May 8. Despite this handicap, he was a wide-margin winner on his two-year-old debut in July and was second at Group 3 level.

Of course, I’m not exactly unbiased here. As a member of the Juddmonte team, it was my responsibility to make the initial suggestion that his dam, Fame At Last, should visit DANSILI in 2004. The reasoning behind this suggestion was that Fame At Last is a lengthy, low-to-the-ground mare who stands little more than 15.2 hands. By the fall of 2003, we had only two foals by which to judge her. Her first foal, by the 16.3-hands Zafonic, was small and lengthy and her second, by Lomitas, was also small.

These foals’ lack of size no doubt owed something to their being their dam’s first two produce, as all of Fame At Last’s subsequent foals have been bigger. Even so, it made sense to look for a stallion who usually transmits some size, such as DANSILI. DANSILI also appealed on the basis that his progeny are rarely lengthy - a tendency which also applied to his sire Danehill - so he made a lot of sense from a Conformation viewpoint for Fame At Last.

Another incentive was that Fame At Last’s second dam, Katsura, had another granddaughter, Tugela, which had already excelled with a son of Danehill, namely Desert King. Their daughter, the legendary Australian-raced mare Makybe Diva, gained her first Melbourne Cup victory at about the time the mating plans were being formulated. By the time she retired, Makybe Diva had notched up seven Group 1 victories, in the process becoming the first horse ever to win three editions of the Melbourne Cup. She was six when she completed this outstanding hat trick, so she was as tough and durable as Famous Name.

Famous Name can surely thank DANSILI for much of his toughness. DANSILI’s blue-hen dam Hasili raced eight times at two and a further nine times the following year. DANSILI was sound enough to have raced on at five, if required, but he retired after his narrow defeat in the Gr.1 Breeders’ Cup Mile at four. However, his brothers Cacique and CHAMPS ELYSEES both enjoyed Grade 1 success after the age of four, as did Famous Name’s broodmare sire Quest For Fame, who added the Gr.1 Hollywood Turf Handicap to his win in the 1990 Derby.

The toughness of DANSILI’s background is one of the reasons why his progeny have earned an enviable reputation for soundness. Famous Name’s latest win came a day after three of DANSILI’s five-year-olds had acquitted themselves well at Group level.

Dandino, making his 20th start, showed admirable determination in landing the Gr.3 September Stakes. Then Bated Breath turned in another respectable Group 1 effort to take third in the Betfred Sprint Cup. Finally Emulous failed narrowly to repeat her victory in the Gr.1 Matron Stakes.
 
These three rank among DANSILI’s total of a dozen 2012 Group/Graded winners - a total which ranks him a clear third in this respect among the Northern Hemisphere stallions, behind Galileo and Deep Impact. He ranks second behind Galileo in terms of blacktype winners.

There are plenty of other tough performers among DANSILI's total of 45 Group/Graded winners, including Proviso (four Grade 1 wins as a five-year-old) and Illustrious Blue (Gr.2 Goodwood Cup as a seve-year-old).

That said, his story is by no means one dominated by mature performers. DANSILI is well capable of siring quality juveniles, too, as Famous Name’s sister Big Break underlined on Saturday, when she earned “TDN Rising Star” status with a very
eye-catching victory. Juddmonte has two other talented juvenile winners by him in Ashdan and Winsili, while other owners have the very promising Irish colt Nevis, the Group-placed French filly Sara Lucille and the once-raced winner Love Magic (described as “a lovely prospect” by the Racing Post after her debut).

Famous Name, Big Break and hopefully Ashdan are all examples of DANSILI’s affinity for mares from the Blushing Groom male line. He has four stakes-winning daughters out of Rainbow Quest mares, plus Famous Name and Big Break out of a granddaughter of Rainbow Quest. DANSILI also has a compelling record with mares by Blushing Groom’s son Rahy. This partnership has only four foals of racing age but three of them are blacktype winners. He also has a blacktype winner among his two foals out of Arazi mares. Perhaps this success with the Blushing Groom line stems from the fact that DANSILI’s pedigree also contains this exceptional juvenile.

Fame At Last’s success hasn’t been limited to her DANSILI progeny, as she also produced the very useful Irish filly Zaminast to ZAMINDAR. She has a yearling from the first crop by DANSILI’s brother CHAMPS ELYSEES and is again in foal to DANSILI.

The family entered the Juddmonte stud book in 1981 with the purchase, for $400,000, of Fame At Last’s second dam, Northern Dancer’s Group-placed daughter Katsura. Famous Name has repaid that sum several times over. More importantly - rather like Frankel - he has surely given his owner-breeder the type of pleasure that counts for far more than money.

Date: 11 September 2012