2024 Belmont Stakes: Dornoch, Mage join club of U.S. classic-winning siblings

June 9th, 2024

Dornoch, a full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1) star Mage, put their dam, Puca, in rare company by taking the Belmont (G1).  

Puca became just the fourth mare in the past century, and ninth overall, to have two offspring win a U.S. Triple Crown race. Even more unusual is the fact that both of her classic winners are by the same sire, champion Good Magic, and therefore full brothers. Their particular double of the Derby and Belmont is also rare. There’s only a single precedent in each of those categories. 

The most recent matron to produce two U.S. classic winners was Better Than Honour, a Deputy Minister mare responsible for back-to-back Belmont scorers in 2006-07. Jazil (by Seeking the Gold) captured a less memorable “Test of the Champion” than his champion half-sister Rags to Riches (by A.P. Indy), who outdueled Hall of Famer Curlin a year later. Ironically, Curlin is the paternal grandsire of Mage and Dornoch.

About a decade earlier, Weekend Surprise, a daughter of 1973 Triple Crown record-setter Secretariat, foaled the dynamic duo of Summer Squall and A.P. Indy. Summer Squall (by Storm Bird), the 1990 Derby runner-up, came right back to win the Preakness (G1). A.P. Indy (by 1977 Triple Crown legend Seattle Slew), missed the first two jewels but landed the 1992 Belmont during his Hall of Fame career. 

Then you have to rewind to the 1920s to find Prudery, dam of 1927 Derby winner Whiskery and 1928 Preakness victor Victorian. Until Mage and Dornoch came along, Whiskery and Victorian had been the only U.S. classic-winning full brothers. They were sired by Hall of Famer Whisk Broom II, who swept New York's erstwhile “Handicap Triple Crown” comprising the Metropolitan H., Suburban H., and Brooklyn H. in 1913. 

Prudery had been a two-time champion filly herself, recognized as the co-leading juvenile filly of 1920 and the outright champion of her division in 1921. By 1907 Belmont hero Peter Pan, Prudery won four stakes at two, including the Grand Union Hotel S. and the Spinaway S., and she added the Alabama S. and Miller S. at three. Of greater significance for her sophomore campaign, she finished third as part of the favored entry in the Kentucky Derby. Prudery was also runner-up in the Kentucky Oaks and Travers S.

Interestingly, Prudery descends from another mare who produced two U.S. classic winners – *Cinderella, whose sons Plaudit and Hastings would also leave a terrific legacy as sires. British import *Cinderella (the asterisk is the old style for denoting importation) was sired by either Blue Ruin or Tomahawk, in the era when veterinary technology wasn’t as advanced to determine when precisely a mare got in foal. There’s no doubt, though, about her influence. 

Hastings (by Spendthrift) won the 1896 Belmont and went on to sire Fair Play, the sire of all-time great Man o’ War. Plaudit (by Himyar), successful in the 1897 Champagne S. at two, prevailed by a nose in the 1898 Derby. Although Plaudit’s sire line is precarious, he is still extant as a tail-male ancestor through Hall of Famer Holy Bull. Another exponent of Plaudit’s male line, the incomparable Dr. Fager, factors in pedigrees chiefly through his daughters. 

Puca joins *Cinderella as the only mares to produce winners of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont. The four remaining matrons on the list were involved with Preakness scorers, mostly during a weak period in the race’s history.

Both of Leisure’s classic winners landed the Preakness – the well-named Royal Tourist (by Sandringham) in 1908 and Holiday (by Broomstick) in 1914. Neither accomplished much else of note. Leisure, by *Meddler, was out of the celebrated racemare Yorkville Belle.

Ignite, the 1892 Alabama heroine by *Woodlands, was responsible for 1900 Preakness hero Hindus (by Volante) and 1906 Derby victor Sir Huon (by Falsetto). Sir Huon compiled a better resume than his half-brother, as a six-time stakes winner whose placings included the Saratoga Cup. 

Puca shares a matrilineal ancestress in common with Ignite. Lady Lumley, Ignite’s maternal grandmother, established another branch that proved to have a greater long-term impact through her descendant Remembrance. Puca traces to Remembrance, whose tribe is responsible for U.S. classic winners Twenty Grand (1931 Derby and Belmont), Avatar (1975 Belmont), and Afleet Alex (2005 Preakness and Belmont) in addition to Puca’s sons. 

Lady Margaret, a daughter of *The Ill-Used and 1880 Champagne victress Lady Rosebery, foaled 1896 Preakness winner Margrave (by *St Blaise) and 1902 Belmont scorer Masterman (by Hastings). Margrave won more stakes than Masterman, but left no greater historic impression.

The 19th-century blue hen Maggie B B inaugurated the classic producers club while setting a standard yet to be equaled by the other club members. Not only did she furnish two U.S. classic winners in Harold and Panique, but her best son, Iroquois, made history on the other side of the Atlantic. 

Iroquois, by *Leamington, became the first American-bred to star in the Derby at Epsom in 1881. Also collecting trophies at Ascot in the Prince of Wales’s and St James’s Palace, Iroquois took the St Leger to rank as a dual English classic winner. 

Harold, a full brother to Iroquois, won the 1879 Preakness. Their younger half-brother Panique (by Alarm) captured the 1884 Belmont. 

Maggie B B, whose matrilineal descendants remain influential, was sired by *Australian. A granddaughter of the outstanding matron Magnolia, Maggie B B hailed from the great Kentucky statesman Henry Clay’s Ashland Stud.

Dornoch and Mage were bred and raised by Clay’s distant relations. Bred by Robert N. Clay’s Grandview Equine, they grew up at the historic Runnymede Farm operated by another cohort of the Clay family, Catesby and now his son Brutus. 

Puca, by 2008 Derby and Preakness champion Big Brown, has since been acquired by John Stewart for a Keeneland November Sale-topping $2.9 million. The 12-year-old mare could gild her already historic resume. She has a two-year-old colt named Baeza, from the first crop of McKinzie, who commanded $1.2 million as a Keeneland September yearling. This spring, Puca welcomed another full brother to Mage and Dornoch. Expectations will be at a fever pitch.