First-Crop Sires 2022: Promising Start for Mendelssohn

November 17th, 2022

The first-season sire that readers voted for us to follow hasn’t let anyone down, producing a nice crop of horses that promise much for the future.

Mendelssohn had pretty much everything as a sire prospect: he was an expensive $3 million yearling purchase, a half-brother by Scat Daddy to champion sire Into Mischief and multiple champion racemare Beholder, and he was an outstanding racehorse that performed at the highest level on turf and dirt.

Unsurprisingly, the Ashford Stud resident's stallion services have been much in demand, and he’s made a very good start.

As at mid-November, Mendelssohn was seventh on the list of first-crop North American sires by Northern Hemisphere earnings, the criteria most commonly used for stallion titles, and 12th on the overall list for all sires of two-year-olds. Of his 74 runners to date, 18 were winners; only Sharp Azteca, Justify, Bolt d’Oro, and Army Mule among first-crop sires had produced more.

First Stakes Winner Delight

To date Mendelssohn has had one stakes winner. That was the filly Delight, who earned her black type laurels with a decisive victory in the Jessamine (G2) on turf at Keeneland in October. The victory earned her a start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), but she was unable to reproduce her Jessamine form, finishing 10th.

Delight had earlier run third at her first two starts before breaking her maiden at Delaware Park Aug. 27. Her Jessamine victory earned her a Brisnet Speed Rating of 86 and a Class Rating of 117.2.

A $400,000 purchase at the OBS March Sale of two-year-olds, Delight is out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Honey Trap, a granddaughter of Hollywood Oaks (G1) winner Pacific Squall. She should be competitive in good company as a three-year-old.

Though Delight is Mendelssohn’s only stakes winner to date, he has had four of his progeny earn black type placings. The most prolific of them at black type level has been Miracle, a filly out of the Smart Strike mare Good Omen. After winning on debut, she’s had three attempts in stakes races for New York State-breds, finishing third in the Seeking the Ante S. at Saratoga, second in the Joseph A. Gimma S. at Aqueduct, and second again at Aqueduct in the Maid of the Mist S.

Miracle’s efforts, all on dirt, earned her an 89 Speed Rating and a 119.9 Class Rating, both higher than Delight, so she has clearly got some potential.

The best colt by Mendelssohn to date has arguably been Ah Jeez. Out of the Violence mare Poetic, Ah Jeez was fourth on debut at Del Mar before returning to that course to take out a turf maiden Aug. 26. He then had three attempts at stakes races, his best effort a third-place finish behind Speed Boat Beach in the Speakeasy S. at Santa Anita Oct. 2, before stepping down a level to win a Del Mar allowance Nov. 11. Racing exclusively on turf, he has a peak SR of 88 and a peak CR of 116.4.

Mendelssohn’s other North American stakes placegetter is the filly Scottish Symphony, who finished second at her only start to date in the Finest City S. for Pennsylvania-breds on the Presque Isle Downs all-weather track, earning a 75 SR and 113.6 CR.

Given that he began his career in Europe, it’s not surprising Mendelssohn’s first crop has been seen to advantage in Europe. His best runner there has been Congo River, a colt out of the Grand Slam mare Tessie Flip. A $400,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase for Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier, Congo River has raced six times in Ireland for trainer Aidan O’Brien. His best efforts have been on the Dundalk all-weather track, where he won a five-furlong maiden and was third in the EBF Legacy S., earning a CR of 117.1.

Also successful in Europe for Mendelssohn was the filly Priyanka, trained in France by Andre Fabre. An $80,000 weanling purchase at Keeneland in November 2020, Priyanka recorded two third-place finishes from her first four starts before breaking through for a victory at Saint-Cloud over one mile Sept. 9.

Two other juveniles by Mendelssohn have won outside North America. As mentioned in the previous update, Mendelssohn’s first winner came on dirt in Saudi Arabia courtesy of Shaqra’a Sultan June 30; he’s raced one more time since then for a third-place finish. The other victory outside North America came via Celadonite, who at her only start was successful over seven furlongs on dirt at Chukyo Racecourse in Japan Sept. 24.

Of Mendelssohn’s other winners highlighted in the earlier story, only Classical Cat has won again, recording his second victory on the Santa Anita turf Oct. 23. The son of the Not Bourbon mare Conquest Strate Up had won his debut on dirt at Del Mar Aug. 20; in between his two victories he took on the best in the Del Mar Futurity (G1), finishing seventh of nine. His Speed Rating of 90 is the highest recorded by any of Mendelssohn’s progeny.

Another early winner by Mendelssohn, Wound Up, has also been taking on top company, finishing ninth of 10 runners in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). But the previous winner whose form arguably has looked the best of the Mendelssohns is Pink Hue.

A daughter of the Speightstown mare Involved, Pink Hue’s only run to date was when successful at Saratoga Aug. 7 on turf, where she recorded an 86 SR and 115.4 CR. It’s the horses she beat that day that have made her look better; she won by 2 3/4 lengths that day from Xigera, the subsequent Alcibiades (G1) third-place finisher, and the aforementioned Delight.

Mendelssohn’s other winners to date have been B Minor (Speed Rating 85, Class Rating 114.4), successful at Churchill Downs Sept. 16; Mendelian (SR 78, CR 115.0), victorious in her only start at Parx Oct. 24; Mendel’s Secret (SR 78, CR 112.3), a winner at Kentucky Downs Sept. 1; and Alla Breve (SR 73, CR 112.2), whose sole start was a successful one at Laurel Park Oct. 28.

Mendelssohn’s pedigree and performance suggested he could get runners on all surfaces, and that’s very much proven the case. To date, he’s had eight winners exclusively on dirt, eight winners exclusively on turf, one winner on a synthetic track, and one horse, Classical Cat, with victories on both dirt and turf.

Given that his progeny have followed him in their versatility, there should be a decent chance they will follow him in being competitive as three-year-olds. Their progress will be followed closely.