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Sadlers Wells - Coolmore - Jan 2007

Sadler's Wells: Medaglia D'Oro's sire El Prado is a son of the Coolmore ace

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

Passion For Gold: top prospect for the Classics

Passion For Gold
2 b c Medaglia D'Oro - C'Est L'Amour (Thunder Gulch)

THE Criterium de Saint-Cloud, the 1m2f juvenile event which brings the European Group 1 season to a close, has only rarely provided significant clues to what might happen in the middle-distance Classics of the following season.

And it was perhaps partly due to that fact that it was still possible to back Saturday's winner, Passion For Gold, at 25-1 for the 2010 Derby after his victory. 

But the race'spatchy record, which must have put its top-level status at risk for some years, has improved somewhat lately. Soldier of Fortune, runner-up to Passage in Time in 2006, went on to take the Irish Derby, and last year's winner, Fame And Glory, also triumphed at the Curragh after his honourable second to Sea The Stars at Epsom.


So perhaps it is time for a rethink about a race that we formerly considered inconsequential. We cannot now automatically assume that its late date andthe likelihood of a quagmire make it a no-go area for the best representatives of leading stables. Maybe the Ballydoyle and Godolphin challengers were not there at the weekend just for a shot at a cheap prestige prize.

As it turned out, the ground was heavy for the 2009 renewal, and no doubt that did not suit some of the nine contenders. Johnny Murtagh was certainly adamant that Don Carlos, his pick from the O'Brien trio, was inconvenienced by the underfoot conditions.

But that should not lead us to conclude that the easy winner owed his success just to his ability to act on a soggy surface. He is an improving colt with a great deal of scope, and who is to say that he will not progress further and prove his Group 1quality on faster ground?

Passion For Gold was not seen in action until the end of August, when he overcame his greenness and some inferior rivals in a 1m maiden at Thirsk, eventually drawing well clear for a five-length victory.

The decision to send him, only a month later, for the Group 2 Beresford Stakes suggested that the Godolphin team must have held him in high regard, and they had to be well satisfied with his effort at the Curragh.

Once again his inexperience showed, as he hung fire when the pace quickened up front, but Alan Munro finally got him to rally to some purpose, and he wound up a highly respectable third, little over two lengths behind St Nicholas Abbey.

Thewinner's subsequent impressive victory in the Racing Post Trophy resulted in his becoming a hot ante-post favourite for the Derby, and, not unnaturally, Passion For Gold's win on Saturday has been hailed as a tribute to St Nicholas Abbey.

That is certainly one way of interpreting the form, but when the pair clashed in Ireland one was clearly further down the road to becoming a complete racehorse than the other. Horses mature at different rates, and the evidence of what occurred in the Beresford Stakes may well appear worthless next summer.

What we can be sure of is that Passion For Gold gave a much more professional display at Saint-Cloud. Frankie Dettori held him up in fifth place, brought him smoothly around the outside to take command at the entrance to the straight, and it was plain sailing thereafter.

The colt stretched clear without being asked a serious question, strolling home with six lengths to spare over Mikhail Glinka, the best of the Ballydoyle party.

Passion For Gold comes from the second crop of his sire, Medaglia D'Oro, who began at stud at a fee of $35,000, soon advanced to $40,000, and was standing at $60,000 this spring. In early June it was announced that he had been bought by Sheikh Mohammed and relocated from Stonewall Stallions in Versailles down the road to Darley in Lexington. He will cover at $100,000 next spring.

The sudden swoop for Medaglia D'Oro was prompted in part by the rapid rise to superstar status of his first-crop daughter Rachel Alexandra, who in May had become the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes for 85 years.

At the time, the stallion had got only two other Graded stakes-winners, but within days Gabby's Golden Gal added the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes to the tally, and other from the same crop, Al Khali, won a Grade 3 at Saratoga in September.

Meanwhile, of course, Rachel Alexandra enhanced her reputation with two further Grade 1 triumphs over male competition, in the Haskell Invitational and the Woodward Stakes.

Assured of one title as the season's leading three-year-old, she now vies with Breeders' Classic heroine Zenyatta forthe coveted Horse of the Year crown. 

However, Rachel Alexandra had not won above Grade 2 level at the time Passion For Gold joined the Godolphin team. He had been pinhooked for $125,000 as a Keeneland September yearling and re-offered at Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up auction, where Dick O'Gorman made the winning – and sale-topping – bid of 260,000gns.

Prior to that, Godolphin had bought the highest-priced two-year-old at Calder, the $1.6 million Medaglia D'Oro colt who acquired the name Al Zir, won his first two races, and took third place in the Racing Post Trophy.

Sheikh Mohammed was clearly quick off the mark in identifying the young stallion's potential, and, unsurprisingly, he has been in the market for his yearlings this autumn; he has acquired 11, including the $1.5 million filly out of Cat Dancer at Saratoga.

Medaglia D'Oro's rise to prominence might have been predicted in light of his excellent racing record, which included Grade 1 wins in each of three consecutive seasons and second places in the Breeders' Cup Classic (twice) and the Dubai World Cup.

But he was by a sire, El Prado, who had become a surprise success atstud, and who offered no guarantee that he would succeed again as a sire of sires.

Just why El Prado, whose own sire Sadler's Wells was notoriously unable to get a good winner on dirt, should thrive in the US remains a mystery.

Nevertheless he was champion there in 2002 and has featured prominently ever since, and while some of his best performers needed grass, like Kitten's Joy and Artie Schiller, others proved quite at home on dirt. Medaglia D'Oro earned $5,754,720 and never competed on turf.

Passion For Gold's dam, C'Est L'Amour, had just one unsuccessful outing on grass, earning her name as a smart performer on dirt up to 1m.  As well as a Grade 2 win in the Nassau County Handicap (7f), she had a second in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes (1m) in her record.

But C'Est L'Amour's half-sister was effective on both dirt and turf, and she is the dam of Madeo, a Grade 2 winner who has excelled on grass and synthetic surfaces in California.  


PEDIGREE ASSESSMENT

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 7 times, 6 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 who became a surprising stud success in USA. Half-brother to 3 other winners (1 stakes-placed) out of a stakes-winning mare. Grand-dam won 6 of 42 starts, sister to dam of Gr1-winning 2-y-o Travelling Music.

Stands at Darley, Lexington, Kentucky. Covered at $60,000 in 2009, will be at $100,000 in 2010. Sire of 2 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).

Dam: C'Est L'Amour

Bred by Keswick Stables in Virginia. $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Timonium yearling. Won 4 of 13 races, viz. 2 out of 8 at 2 years, 2 (inc. Nassau County H.-Gr2) out of 5 at 3 years. Also placed 2nd 4 times, inc. in Gr1 Acorn S. Earned $265,137.

Smart performer on dirt tracks up to 1m, unplaced only run on grass.

Well bred. By a dual Classic winner and successful sire. Half-sister to 4 other winners, inc. Passion Flower (by Deputy Minister; minor stakes-winner, useful on dirt and grass; dam of Madeo, Gr2 winner on grass). Dam won 4 races, inc. 1 Listed in France, half-sister to 5 lesser winners, inc. grand-dams of Gr3 winners Queen of Money, Liscanna and The Bogberry. Grand-dam Gr2 winner in France, from high-class US family.  

To stud at 4 years and dam of: Amoureux (2002 f by Deputy Minister; placed), Lightning Pilot (2003 c by Dixieland Band; winner in Barbados), Talleyrand (2004 g by Deputy Minister; unplaced), Lamar Valley (2006c by El Prado; placed), Passion For Gold (2007 c by Medaglia d'Oro; Gr1 winner). She has a yearling colt by Arch. Barren in 2005.

CONCLUSION

Well bred, high-class performer with scope. Promises to reach Classic standard over middle distances in 2010.

 

 

 

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