Pedigree notebook: ‘Classic' patterns recur

February 21st, 2023

There’s a lot of pedigree coverage for contenders on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail, but what about all the other divisions in Thoroughbred racing? This is a space to highlight a wider range of pedigree musings.

Classy Edition – Royal Delta (G3)

Champion Classic Empire celebrated a graded stakes double on Saturday. Two hours after his four-year-old daughter Classy Edition won the Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream Park, his three-year-old Angel of Empire captured the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds to become the new Kentucky Derby (G1) points leader.

Moreover, the two are bred along the same lines. Classy Edition’s dam is by champion Bernardini, while Angel of Empire is out of a mare by Bernardini’s millionaire son To Honor and Serve. (You can read all about Angel of Empire in J. Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby pedigree profile.)

That’s a variation on the theme of Classic Empire’s first graded winner, Morello. The 2022 Gotham (G3) hero, Morello is out of a Congrats mare. Congrats, like Bernardini, is a son of Hall of Famer and influential sire A.P. Indy. Bernardini and Congrats themselves share a similar cross, both being produced by Mr. Prospector-line mares.

Classy Edition echoes Morello’s pedigree in another way. Morello’s second dam (maternal grandmother) is by Runaway Groom, the Canadian Hall of Famer best known for his 1982 Travers (G1) upset of Conquistador Cielo. Classy Edition’s second dam is by Runaway Groom’s champion son Cherokee Run, winner of the 1994 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

It’s especially appropriate that Classy Edition scored her graded breakthrough in the Royal Delta. The stakes honoree was herself an example of this breeding pattern, combining the same sire/broodmare sire lines that Classy Edition represents in later generations.

Hall of Famer Royal Delta was sired by Empire Maker, who is also the paternal grandsire of Classic Empire. Royal Delta’s dam, multiple Grade 3 winner Delta Princess, is herself by A.P. Indy.

Classic Empire is by Empire Maker’s son Pioneerof the Nile, most revered as the sire of 2015 Triple Crown star American Pharoah. Both Classic Empire and American Pharoah are out of Storm Cat-line mares. American Pharoah’s dam is by the brilliant sprinter Yankee Gentleman, while Classic Empire’s dam is by $3.9 million-earner Cat Thief, the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) victor.

Classic Empire’s own pedigree pattern factored prominently in other Saturday stakes. Pioneerof the Nile sired Pioneer of Medina, who earned his first stakes win in the Mineshaft (G3) on the Risen Star undercard. American Pharoah’s son Ocean Atlantique, once an Arqana Sale topper and French classic contender, continued his renaissance for Mike Maker in the Dust Commander S. at Turfway Park.

Both Pioneer of Medina and Ocean Atlantique feature the cross with Storm Cat-line mares. In their case, the Storm Cat vector is the great Giant’s Causeway. Pioneer of Medina’s dam is by the Giant’s Causeway stallion Eskendereya, while Ocean Atlantique’s dam is by the “Iron Horse” himself.

Thus Saturday’s banner day for Classic Empire also underscored the influence of his late sire, Pioneerof the Nile. The hot sire line trend continued into Sunday, when Cairo Sugar, by Pioneerof the Nile’s son Cairo Prince, landed the Maddie May S. at Aqueduct. Cairo Prince was responsible for the third-placer as well, Sweetest Princess, who advertised the Storm Cat cross again, thanks to her dam by Giant’s Causeway.