First-Crop Sires Update: Mendelssohn progeny start strongly as 3yos

January 20th, 2023

While Bolt d’Oro, Good Magic, and Justify took most of the first-crop plaudits for 2022, the freshman sire that readers voted for us to follow has quietly worked his way into a very nice position as his first progeny turn three.

Mendelssohn finished 2022 in seventh position among first-crop sires. The Scat Daddy half-brother to Into Mischief and Beholder was a Grade 1 performer on both turf and dirt, and his progeny, like him, should improve with age.

Given every opportunity at Ashford Stud, Mendelssohn had more runners than any first-crop sire in North America. From those 91 starters he produced 25 two-year-old winners, a figure exceeded only by Sharp Azteca, Bolt d’Oro, and Justify. His first crop have also made a solid start as three-year-olds, with five of his progeny (more than any other North American first-crop sire at this early stage of the season) having scored victories – four of them being first-time winners.

When we last looked at Mendelssohn’s progress in mid-November, he’d had one stakes winner – the filly Delight, winner of the Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland. That earned her a start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), where she finished 10th. Since then, she finished fifth after being caught three-wide in the Wait a While S. at Gulfstream Park Dec. 10.

Stakes winner number two for Mendelssohn came via Classical Cat. Out of the Not Bourbon mare Conquest Strate Up, Classical Cat had already won twice from three starts when he contested the Eddie Logan S. on the Santa Anita Turf Dec. 30, and he finished strongly to take the race in 1:34.38. In doing so he put up the best Brisnet Speed Rating (94) of any of Mendelssohn’s progeny by some five points, and the second-best Brisnet Class Rating of 117.7.

Classical Cat has now won once on dirt and twice on turf, showing he’s inherited his sire’s versatility, but it may well be the grass where he’s seen most in the coming months.

Mendelssohn also had a fifth stakes-placed runner before his first crop turned three. To the previously-mentioned quartet of Miracle, Ah Jeez, Scottish Symphony, and Congo River we can add Belt Parkway. The son of a Mineshaft mare, Belt Parkway won his debut at Parx Racing in August and after three further starts for two runner-up allowance efforts, he contested the Future Stars S. on the Parx dirt, finishing third.

With the new season just three weeks old, Mendelssohn already has a new stakes winner among his three-year-olds. After finishing second in Maryland in her first two starts, Opus Forty Two headed south to Tampa Bay Downs, where she broke her maiden Dec. 3. She then returned to that track Jan. 14 for the seven-furlong Gasparilla S. on dirt and fought strongly down the stretch to beat Charlie’s Wish. The $195,000 Fasig-Tipton July yearling purchase is out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Laquesta.

Opus Forty Two was one of the seven new juvenile winners for Mendelssohn since we last updated his progress in mid-November, taking his tally of 2022 juvenile winners to 25. Also among those was the aforementioned Scottish Symphony, who built on her stakes placing at Presque Isle Downs in October with a victory on the Woodbine Tapeta Nov. 19. She’s since had one run on the Gulfstream Park turf for a fourth-place finish Jan. 12.

Two more of the new juvenile winners also scored on all-weather tracks: Graceful Fighter, successful at Woodbine Dec. 4, and Storm Daddy, an 8 1/2-length winner on debut at Turfway Park Dec. 9. Among the other three new juvenile winners, two were on dirt (Qia, at Mahoning Valley Nov. 21, and Apropos, at Gulfstream Park Dec. 18) and one on turf (Rotterdam, at Gulfstream Dec. 3).

The first-crop winners for Mendelssohn have come fairly thick and fast since that crop turned three. In addition to Opus Forty Two, he’s had four new winners. Perhaps the most impressive was Caribbean Breeze, who won after a stirring duel with Bernt Again on the Aqueduct dirt Jan. 14, in which the pair pulled 16 lengths clear of the rest. She recorded an 87 Brisnet Speed Rating, better than Delight’s best, and a useful 115.6 class rating.

Mendelssohn’s other three-year-old winners have been Royal Mende, over 7 1/2 furlongs on the Gulfstream Park turf Jan. 7; Aisha R N on dirt at Sam Houston Jan. 15; and Bold Zone, victorious in Japan on dirt over 1 1/8 miles at Nakayama Jan. 15.

Miracle remains the best-performed filly in terms of Speed Rating (76), and the best-performed overall in terms of Class Rating (120.6). She is currently in work at Palm Beach Downs, Florida, and could be one to watch in early turf races for sophomore fillies.

One of the most interesting trends to date has been Mendelssohn’s success with mares by Mineshaft and Speightstown. Both have been broodmare sire to three winners by Mendelssohn; the only other broodmare sire to provide more than one Mendelssohn winner to date is Grand Slam, with two. It’s very early days to claim any sort of trend, but it is worth noting nonetheless.

Given the versatility shown by Mendelssohn’s progeny, and their improvement as they have begun their three-year-old careers, there will be some excitement about their prospects, and they will be watched with interest.