Doubling down on Storm Cat can pay off

Lady Aurelia: daughter of Scat Daddy won the Prix Morny

PICTURE: Getty Images Aurelia shows inbreeding to Storm Cat can work By Nancy Sexton 1:10PM 25 AUG 2016

CAN there ever be too much of a good thing? Inbreeding has been employed by various breeders with great success over the years, particularly by Marcel Boussac, for whom the idea was one of the cornerstones of his operation.

Today, inbreeding to Northern Dancer is almost the norm. But, in turn, his line has become defined by different branches, whether it be the faster type generally associated with Danzig or the middle-distance influence of Sadler's Wells and Galileo.

We're seeing more and more breeders experiment – probably in some cases not by design – with inbreeding to Danzig. To take one example, it is a pattern that has done Kodiac no harm, featuring in the make-up of Tiggy Wiggy (3×4) and Kodi Bear (3×4).

Similarly, Scat Daddy's record has been noticeably enhanced by runners inbred to Storm Cat, among them Lady Aurelia and Harmonize, who contributed to an outstanding weekend for the late Coolmore sire when successful in the Prix Morny and Del Mar Oaks.

The pair head a list of six Group/Graded stakes winners for Scat Daddy, who is a great-grandson of Storm Cat via Johannesburg and Hennessy, that are inbred to the stallion. Others include three top Chilean colts in The Dream, whose dam is by the nondescript Storm Cat stallion Sir Cat, and the Group 1-winning brothers Fantasmagorico and Flyer, whose granddam Snow Kitten was a daughter of the great stallion himself.

Some may argue that inbreeding to Storm Cat comes with risks, not least the invitation of the questionable knees associated with the stallion. Perhaps then, it is no coincidence that aside from Scat Daddy, one of the highest rates of success has come with one of his more durable sons in Giant's Causeway.

It was Giant's Causeway who supplied the first Group 1 winner bred on the pattern in Giant's Steps, the Chilean Derby and 2,000 Guineas winner of 2012 who was out of a Hennessy mare.

Less than a year later, Winning Cause, another by the Ashford Stud stalwart inbred to Storm Cat, recorded the first of his three Grade 3 victories.

Meanwhile, the trend has surfaced in the records of a number of Giant's Causeway's sons, namely First Samurai (sire of Grade 2 winner Last Gunfighter; inbred 3×3), Heatseeker (Peruvian Group 1 winner Ryans Charm; inbred 3×3) and Giant Gizmo (Grade 3 winner Brooklynsway; inbred 3×3).

Not to be outdone, Giant's Causeway's brother Freud, a perennial leading sire in New York, has sired two stakes performers on the pattern in Sensacion De Verano and Uwe Seeler.

In all, there are 48 stakes winners worldwide listed as inbred to Storm Cat led by the Group/Grade 1 winners Fantasmagorico, Flyer, Giant's Steps, Harmonize, Lady Aurelia and The Dream.

Lady Aurelia is the only foal of racing age by Scat Daddy out of a mare by Forest Wildcat, who is probably best remembered in Europe as the sire of Prix de l'Abbaye winner Var. She was bred by Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Farm in Kentucky out of D'Wildcat Speed, a Horse of the Year in Puerto Rico who racked up 14 consecutive wins, including seven at Grade 1 level over 7f to 1m1f, before travelling to the US, where she won the 2005 Grade 2 Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream Park. She was acquired by Stonestreet at the end of that year for $1 million at the Keeneland November Sale.

Lady Aurelia, a $350,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by George Bolton and partners, is the best of her dam's three winners. The trio also includes Listed-placed Titletown Five, by Tiznow.

She is also the second European juvenile Group 1 winner this month for Scat Daddy following Caravaggio, who sealed his current dominance over his contemporaries with an easy victory in the Phoenix Stakes.

It is plausible that both will continue to confirm their superiority over their peers in the months to come. If that is the case, Scat Daddy has a legitimate shot of ending 2016 as Europe's leading two-year-old sire, a feat that will have been achieved with only a handful of runners.

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