Pedigree notebook: Grace blooms for Amazing family

April 4th, 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.

Plenty of potential candidates for this week’s installment. Two-year-old colt Doddie’s Impact kicked off the British Flat season by winning the Brocklesby at Doncaster, inspiring fresh hope for the vanishing sire line of the Byerley Turk. On the first day of The Championships at Randwick, leading New Zealand sire Savabeel scored a remarkable double with I Wish I Win in the about six-furlong T J Smith (G1) and Major Beel over twice that distance in the Australian Derby (G1).

Nearer home at Gulfstream Park, Behind Enemy Lines, from the family of champion Modern Games, stamped himself as a turf sophomore to follow in the Cutler Bay S. He could well be profiled down the road, especially since sire Sioux Nation also has Brave Emperor, who could try the Kentucky Derby after earning the European Road invitation.

But Amazing Grace gets the nod, not just because it’s Holy Week. The German import combines all of those themes — an imperiled sire line, excellent family, and connections to current headliners in both Europe and Australia — as well as her individual appeal in the female turf division.

Amazing Grace: Orchid (G3)

Forte wasn’t the only class act who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at Gulfstream on Saturday. Earlier on the Florida Derby (G1) card, 6-5 favorite Amazing Grace overcame a messy trip in her stateside bow in the Orchid (G3).

Trainer Christophe Clement was in confessional mood afterward, revealing that he wished he’d pitched her versus males in the Pan American (G2) instead. Indeed, her sharp kick to overhaul the talented Personal Best, as well as her Clement stablemate (and compatriot) Atomic Blonde, should have been more than sufficient to polish off an arguably weaker Pan American.

Moreover Amazing Grace’s German form said as much. Third to next-out Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) hero Rebel’s Romance and German Derby (G1) winner Sammarco in the Sept. 25 Preis von Europa (G1), she was previously runner-up to Sammarco in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis (G1), beating the Aga Khan’s globetrotting mare Ebaiyra.

Those Group 1 efforts bookended Amazing Grace’s victory in the T. von Zastrow Stutenpreis (G2), where then-sophomore Atomic Blonde was third. During her three-year-old campaign in 2021, Amazing Grace broke her maiden in the Diana Trial (G2), but she reached a new level in 2022. She hinted that when opening the year in France with a third to the high-class Grand Glory in the Prix Allez France (G3) and placing third again in the Prix Corrida (G2).

When Dr. Christoph Berglar’s homebred was to be offered at Arqana last December, racing manager-cum-consignor Ronald Rauscher said in Racing Post:

I think she is a perfect example of the best of German breeding.

No wonder that Moyglare Stud went to €850,000 (about $896,000) to purchase Amazing Grace. The five-year-old mare is eligible to repay that investment both on the racecourse and as a broodmare.

Amazing Grace is the top performer (so far) by Protectionist, whose most memorable score came in the 2014 Melbourne Cup (G1). But he wasn’t just a marathoner. A debut winner as a juvenile who just missed in an about 1 1/16-mile Group 3, Protectionist bolted up in a classic trial at three. Unfortunately, his German Derby ambitions were dashed by injury (in a workout mishap involving a deer), and he was sidelined for the rest of 2013.

Although Protectionist reinvented himself as a stayer at four, he ultimately reverted in trip back home in Germany two years later. In 2016, he regained his crown in the Hansa-Preis (G2) and added the Grosser Preis von Berlin (G1).

Himself a Berglar homebred, Protectionist is by the outstanding stallion Monsun, who has upheld the precarious sire line of Blandford. Monsun descends from Blandford via *Bahram, the penultimate English Triple Crown winner (1935).

It took another 35 years for Nijinsky II (1970) to emulate *Bahram by sweeping the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and St Leger, and more than a half-century later, he remains the last. The Aidan O’Brien-trained Camelot (2012) was a rarity even to attempt it as the Guineas/Derby hero. Few classic winners risk commercial disfavor by stepping up to the extended 1 3/4 miles of the St Leger, and Camelot nearly pulled it off when runner-up at Doncaster. O’Brien has mentioned his current hopeful, Auguste Rodin, as potentially of that timber.

The Blandford male line has been almost as endangered, but hanging on by the German thread preserved by Monsun. Other multiple Group 1-winning sons of Monsun include Novellist, who set a course record in the 2013 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) at Ascot; Shirocco, also victorious stateside in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Turf; Manduro; Schiaparelli; Getaway; Samum; and two more Melbourne Cup scorers, Fiorente (2013) and Almandin (2016). Among Monsun’s leading daughters are Estimate, a poignant winner of the 2013 Gold Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot for the late Queen Elizabeth II, and champion Stacelita, now an important matron in Japan.

Even with Monsun’s lifeline, though, the future of this patrimony remains uncertain, especially in Flat racing, as opposed to the more stamina-oriented jumps sphere. Perhaps Protectionist, the comeback artist in his racing career, can fulfill a similar role at stud.

Protectionist can draw upon a deep female line developed by the Wildenstein family. His dam, Patineuse, sports inbreeding to the noted matron Plencia, who is the ancestress of both of Patineuse’s parents. Patineuse is by record-setting 1997 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) romper Peintre Celebre and out of a descendant of Plencia’s champion daughter Pawneese. After turning the Epsom Oaks (G1)/Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1) double in 1976, Pawneese toppled older males in the King George and reigned as England’s Horse of the Year. More recently, this family has produced star stayer Stradivarius and current classic contender Pensee du Jour (by Camelot), a perfect 3-for-3 after Saturday’s Prix Penelope (G3).

Amazing Grace herself comes from a superb family tracing to Anna Paola, a German champion at both two and three. Her series of influential daughters (a proliferation of “Annas”) begins with Anna Matrushka. By the great Mill Reef, Anna Matrushka is the ancestress of Amazing Grace as well as several major winners for Sheikh Mohammed entities — Adayar, the 2021 Epsom Derby/King George victor; multiple Australian Group 1 scorers Helmet (sire of Thunder Snow) and Epaulette; Pericles, who missed by a nose in the March 18 Rosehill Guineas (G1); and Bullbars, sire of Mr Brightside, who just won the Doncaster Mile (G1) for the second year in a row at The Championships.

Amazing Grace descends from Anna Matrushka’s daughter Annaba (by 1990 Breeders’ Cup Turf hero In the Wings), winner of the 1996 Prix de Royallieu (G2) and Prix du Conseil de Paris (G2) (over males). Annaba’s daughter Antonym was exported to Germany, where she captured a listed race. Bred to the influential Danehill Dancer, Antonym produced Amabelle, likewise a German listed winner and now the dam of Amazing Grace.

As Amazing Grace continues her career on this side of the Atlantic, U.S. fans might come to regard her as Rauscher does. Here’s another quote of his from that Racing Post story of Oct. 20, 2022:

She is one of those fillies that takes your heart and makes you believe in her from day one. I always thought she was full of potential, and she has never let me down.