The beautifully-bred Nobel Prize joined the European Road to the Kentucky Derby with a front-running victory in the Ballysax (G3) at Dundalk in Ireland, and while his pedigree suggests switching to dirt at Churchill Downs could be a formidable obstacle, you won’t find anyone questioning the overall class of his immediate family.
|Nobel Prize (IRE)|
|Circles Of Gold (AUS)|
Bred in Ireland by Coolmore, Nobel Prize is a son of Galileo, whose extraordinary dominance of European racing has seen him become the most prolific sire of Group 1 winners in history. Winner of the 2001 Epsom Derby (G1)—and also, coincidentally, the Ballysax—Galileo is known for passing stamina on to his progeny, siring five winners of the 1 1/2-mile Epsom Derby (G1) and three winners of the 1 13/16-mile St Leger (G1).
If Galileo has one shortcoming, at least in the eyes of American racing fans, it’s his lack of success siring dirt horses. Galileo himself struggled when trying dirt in the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), finishing a distant sixth, and his progeny have largely faltered during their infrequent runs over the surface. His sons Churchill and Gleneagles—who won four Group 1 races apiece on the lawn—struggled home seventh and eighth in separate editions of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, while Galileo’s three starters in dirt editions of the Breeders’ Cup Marathon (G2) all finished far off the board.
The dam side of Nobel Prize’s pedigree is similarly packed with classy turf influences. Dam Hveger is a daughter of Danehill (the most successful sire of Group 1 winners until Galileo came along), and Hveger demonstrated talent in her native Australia, finishing third in the Australasian Oaks (G1) running 2,000 meters.
But Hveger’s primary claim to fame has come as a broodmare. To the cover of Galileo she has produced Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Highland Reel plus the capable Group 1 performers Idaho (placed in the Epsom Derby and Irish Derby) and Cape of Good Hope (a gritty winner of the 2,000-meter Caulfield S. in Australia). Hveger has also foaled Valdemoro, runner-up in Australia’s 2,500-meter VRC Oaks (G1) and 2,000-meter Storm Queen (G1).
Hveger herself is a daughter of Circles of Gold, runner-up in the 2,400-meter Caulfield Cup (G1) and a highly productive broodmare in her own right. Her son Haradasun (by Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus) won multiple Group 1 races in Australia before traveling to England under the care of Aidan O’Brien, who conditioned him to win the one-mile Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot. A full brother to Hveger, Elvstroem, likewise achieved success at the highest level with four Group 1 triumphs over distances ranging from 1,400 meters to 2,500 meters, including the rich 1,800-meter Dubai Duty Free.
In short, Nobel Prize is the latest group stakes winner to emerge from a deep and productive family. But whether his classy lineage can translate to success over dirt at Churchill Downs is another question entirely.