Gabby's Golden Gal: Santa Monica Handicap winner is one of three Group/Grade 1 winners by Medaglia d'Oro
Gabby's Golden Gal: another gal going places for hot young sire
GABBY'S GOLDEN GAL 4 f Medaglia d'Oro - Gabriellina Giof
AS has been well-documented in recent months, the US breeding industry appears to be facing a more challenging future than that in Europe. The ongoing issue of medication aligned with a lack of US-based stallions capable of regularly siring top-class winners on both sides of the Atlantic has seen European buyers less compelled to spend their money in the US, especially when they have a powerful group of stallions available on their doorstep.
And what is more worrying for leading US breeders is that tenof last year's top 15 US sires by North American earnings are aged 15 or above compared to just four in Britain and Ireland.
However, there is always an exception to the rule and Darley's recent aquisition Medaglia d'Oro is proving tobe just that, a point which was driven home again on Sunday when his first crop daughter, Gabby's Golden Gal, scored in America's first Grade 1 of the year, the 7f Santa Monica Handicap on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface for Bob Baffert and owner-breeder Arnold Zetcher.
As a triple Grade 1 winner who attracted 184 mares in his first year at a fee of $35,000, Medaglia d'Oro has never exactly been under the radar. But it is still hard to describe his rise through the ranks as anything other than meteoric, especially as there was enough in his make-up to rouse the detractors: he never won and only ran once at two, he was a son of then unproven sire of sires El Prado, himself a surprising success in the US given his turf lineage, and although he owned a solid female family, his stakes-winning dam, Cappucino Bay, was a daughter of the unfashionable Bailjumper.
Medaglia d'Oro's first crop have only just turned four but they already include a US Horse of the Year in RachelAlexandra and three Group/Grade 1 winners among 27 stakes performers on turf, dirt and artificial surfaces in the US and Europe. While he is rightly best known as the sire of Rachel Alexandra, he could also be represented by two 2010 European Derby candidates in last year's Criterium de Saint-Cloud winner Passion For Gold and Racing Post Trophy third Al Zir.
So although Medaglia d'Oro himself didn't make his debut until the December of his juvenile year, there appears to be nothing stopping him from siring two-year-olds that don't take long to come to hand, the juvenile stakes victories of Renda, C S Silk and Rachel Alexandra providing other examples.
Little wonder then that a controlling share in the horse was snapped up last June by Sheikh Mohammed, who swiftly transferred him from Stonewall Farm to Darley at Jonabell.The move was vindicated within 24 hours of the announcement by Gabby's Golden Gal's win in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes, and by the end of the year, Medaglia d'Oro lay in sixth position on the leading US sires' list by North American earnings and led the US second crop sires' list by nearly $2.3m over Birdstone.
However, there is no getting away from thefact that the majority of the stallion's best performers are fillies. In fact, Medaglia d'Oro was represented by 11 stakes-performing distaffers before a stakes-performing colt, Frosty Diamond, came on to the scene last May.
Since then, a further nine sons have won or been placed at stakes level led by Passion For Gold, although it wasn't until Al Khali won the Grade 3 Saranac Handicap in September that one actually scored at Graded stakes level. But even though the stallion's stakes-winning representatives currently read ten to four in favour of fillies, it is still too early to start pigeon-holing him as a 'filly sire', primarily because the stallion only has two crops aged three and above to run for him. In addition, history is full of similar examples: look no further than Seeking The Gold whose first nine stakes winners and two champions were all fillies.
A sound and genuine performer at the top level, Medaglia d'Oro finished out of the first four only once in17 starts. After running second on his debut at Turfway Park for trainer David Vance and breeders Albert and Joyce Bell, he opened his account at Oaklawn Park by romping away with a 6f maiden.Thus, when he next appeared in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes, it was in the colours of Edmund Gann and under the tutelage Bobby Frankel.
Medaglia d'Oro duly obliged in his first stakes test by two-and-a-half lengths and only came up a head short on his next start to Buddha in the Wood Memorial. He went on to run fourth to War Emblem in the Kentucky Derby despite bobbling at the start, and after a lack-lustre unplaced effort in the Preakness Stakes, ran longshot Sarava to half-a-length in the Belmont Stakes. Had he not run up to form in that race,Frankel may well have then switched him to turf.
He remained on the dirt however, and next time out turned in a brilliant performance to take the Jim Dandy Stakes by nearly 14 lengths en route to a determined success in the Travers Stakes. After that, he won or ran second in five Grade 1 races, his victories including a near five length win in the Donn Handicap.
Following his close second to Pleasantly Perfect in the Dubai World Cup, Gann sold Medaglia d'Oro to Richard and Audrey Haisfield, who stood him for one year at Hill 'n' Dale Farm before sending him to their Stonewall Farm. His race record and imposing, correct good looks - something which he passes down to nearly all of his stock - saw breeders heavily support him in his first year and again in his second, when Stonewall offered free seasons to Grade 1-winning or producing mares.
His first crop of yearlings went on to average nearly $120,000 at the sales and when they started performingat a high level earlier than expected - Renda was his first winner when scoring in May 2008 - his popularity soared. For instance, last year alone saw him sire sale-toppers at the Tattersalls Craven, Fasig-Tipton Calder, Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Yearling, Canadian Select Yearling and OBS August Select Yearling sales. He was also responsible for $1m yearlings at the Keeneland September Sale and Saratoga.
Gabby's Golden Gal first came to the fore early last year when taking the Sunland Park Oaks by 13 lengths on her first try over further than 1m. Although no match for Rachel Alexandra in the Kentucky Oaks next time out, she rebounded to win the Acorn Stakes at Belmont, making all in a manner reminiscent of her sire.
Two dull efforts at Grade 1 level followed but she was back to her very best on Saturday, making the most of an opportunity to stalk a soft lead - which didn't help the favoured late runners Evita Argentina and Diamondrella - to repel the former French filly Proviso by a length-and-a-quarter.
Despite Medaglia d'Oro's brilliant start, the influence of Gabriellina Giof in the make-up of Gabby's Golden Gal must not be overlooked, especially as the daughterof Ashkalani - an immensely disappointing sire - is also the dam of another high-class filly in last year's Grade 1-placed juvenile Always A Princess, who is the only US-trained stakes runner from the first crop of Medaglia d'Oro's former stud-mate Leroidesanimaux.
Gabriellina Giof was sold to Zetcher following a successful first season in Italy in which she triumphed in half of her six starts including at Listed level. The sale looked to be inspired when she won her US debut, the Manhattan Beach Stakes at Hollywood Park, and then when she ran second in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap, yet surprisingly she failed to win again in 13 starts.
Although bred in Britain, Gabriellina Giof owns a strong South American background as a great-granddaughter of the tough Peruvian stakes winner Cantadora, herself the descendant of a mare who was imported from Britain to Argentina in around 1875.
Gabby's Golden Gal apart, Medaglia d'Oro has so far been more successful with Mr Prospector and Seattle Slew line mares than with those going back to Northern Dancer. But as with Rachel Alexandra and Listed winner Tasty Temptation, Gabby's Golden Gal's background contains Cure The Blues, who is bred on the same Turn-To and Imperatrice (granddam of Secretariat) cross as El Prado's dam Lady Capulet. Gabby's Golden Gal also represents another successful example of inbreeding to an influential mare, in this case Special.
Gabby's Golden Gal will always be in the shadow of Rachel Alexandra while racing but it wouldn't be surprising to see her gain a further Grade 1 success, especially if she is gifted a soft lead. At this stage, the $75,000 paid out for Gabriellina Giof by Federico Barberini just two years ago is already money well spent.
Bred by Arnold Zetcher LLC. $120,000 RNA Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Yearling Sale.
GABBY'S GOLDEN GAL (USA) b f 03-04-2006
SIRE: MEDAGLIA D'ORO
Bred by Albert and Joyce Bell in Kentucky. Won 8 (6f-1m2f) of 17 races, viz. 0 out of 1 at 2 years, 4 (inc. San Felipe S.-Gr2, Jim Dandy S.-Gr2, Travers S.-Gr1) out of 9 at 3 years, 3 (Strub S.-Gr2, Oaklawn H.-Gr2, Whitney H.-Gr1) out of 5 at 4 years, 1 (Donn H.-Gr1) out of 2 at 5 years. Also placed seven times, six at Gr1 level, viz. Wood Memorial S., Belmont S., Breeders' Cup Classic (twice), Pacific Classic S., Dubai World Cup. RPR 125 at 3, 125 at 4, 127 at 5. Earned $5,754,720.
Strong, well balanced, lengthy individual. Top-class runner, most effective from 1m1f to 1m4f. Raced only on dirt.
Quite well bred. By a champion Irish 2-y-o, later a leading sire in the US. Half-brother to three other winners, including stakes-placed Expresso Bay, out of a stakes-winning mare. Grand-dam won six of 42 starts, sister to dam of Gr1-winning 2-y-o Travelling Music.
Stands at Darley, Kentucky, at a fee of $100,000. Sire of 3 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Al Khali (Gr3), C.S. Silk (Gr3), Gabby's Golden Gal (Acorn S.-Gr1), Payton d'Oro (Gr2), Rachel Alexandra (Kentucky Oaks-Gr1, Preakness S.-Gr1, Mother Goose S.-Gr1, Haskell Invitational H.-Gr1, Woodward S.-Gr1), Passion For Gold (Criterium de Saint-Cloud-Gr1) etc
DAM: GABRIELLINA GIOF
Bred by Super King S R L in Britain. Won 4 (5 ½ - 7 ½ f) of 26 starts in Italy and US, viz 3 (inc. Criterium Femminile) out of 6 starts at 2 in Italy, 1 (Manhattan Beach Stakes - Listed) out of 6 starts at 3 in US, 0 out of 9 starts at 4 in US and 0 out of5 starts at 5 in US. Also 2nd G2 San Clemente Handicap, Listed Harold C. Ramser Handicap and Listed Premio Alessandro Perrone. Earned $221,374.
Precocious, fast filly, only tried on fast turf in the US but also proved to be effective on a softer surface in Italy.
Quite well-bred. By a high-class miler but very disappointing sire. Half-sister to nine minor winners in Europe including dam of Italian Listed-placed Vale Mauro. Out of a minor winning daughter of French Group 3-placed Retrousse, herself a daughter of the high-class, tough Peruvian mare Cantadora II. From a family cultivated in Argentina.
$110,000 RNA 5yo Keeneland November 2004, $75,000 10yo Keeneland January 2008.
Retired to stud at six years and dam of: Gabby's Hen (05 f Hennessy; minor winner in US); Gabby's Golden Gal (06 f Medaglia d'Oro; dual G1 winner in US); Always A Princess (07 f Leroidesanimaux; G1-placed in US). She also has a two-year-old by Lemon DropKid that was sent to Italy and a yearling filly by Johannesburg.
Like her sire, Gabby's Golden Gal seems best when able to dominate and if granted favourable conditions again, maybe be able to enjoy further Grade 1 success.