Pedigree notebook: Prime time just beginning for Not This Time

August 15th, 2023

It’s been some week for hot young sire Not This Time, from the sales ring at Saratoga to the racecourse at Colonial Downs.

Last Tuesday evening in the sales pavilion, a 2% share in the Taylor Made stallion commanded $2 million. That same night during the boutique Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale, his yearlings continued their penchant of going to some of the elite outfits in the industry. A $900,000 colt was snapped up by pinhooking specialists Hartley/De Renzo (look for him to pop up at a two-year-olds in training sale next spring), and a $725,000 colt was gaveled down to Repole Stable and Spendthrift Farm.

Four days later, Not This Time’s son Gigante sprang a 22-1 upset of the Secretariat (G2) on Arlington Million Day. The sire could have had a top contender in the Arlington Million (G1) itself, in budding turf star Up to the Mark. After stunning victories in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) and Manhattan (G1), Up to the Mark had the Million among his range of options at one point. A setback cost him training time, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to see him consolidate his position as the nation’s top turf male.

As that preamble indicates, Not This Time has been on a roll for a lot longer than a week. In the mark of an elite sire, he’s getting major winners across all surfaces, and over a variety of distances from sprints to marathons. With even stronger books of mares in the pipeline, prime time is just beginning for Not This Time.

Versatility befits him as a son of the great Giant’s Causeway, who has established his own branch of the Storm Cat line. Giant’s Causeway’s sons include Shamardal, responsible for Irish-based powerhouse Lope de Vega (sire of recent Saratoga Derby [G1] hero Program Trading and National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame [G2] romper Carl Spackler) as well as Darley’s successful freshman sire Blue Point; Eskendereya, exported to Japan but not before leaving us champion Mitole and Mor Spirit; Protonico, sire of ill-fated Medina Spirit; Creative Cause; and First Samurai, whose son Lea has a high-profile performer in Nagirroc, runner-up to Gigante in the Secretariat.

Not This Time's headliners

Not This Time got off to a fast start at stud, siring 2020 Del Mar Debutante (G1) and Chandelier (G2) winner Princess Noor in his very first crop. She could well have achieved more on the racetrack, if not for sustaining a career-ending soft tissue injury.

The same what-might-have-been haunts the racing resume of Not This Time, who looked for all the world like developing into a leading Kentucky Derby (G1) contender. The best appeared yet to come, following his 8 3/4-length conquest of the 2016 Iroquois (G3) and close second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Unfortunately, he picked up an injury and had to be retired. Instead of running for the roses, three-year-old Not This Time was already beginning his stud career.

Not This Time underscored what kind of classic campaign he might have had by siring a champion three-year-old, Epicenter, in just his second crop. Denied in the 2022 Kentucky Derby by the 80-1 Rich Strike thanks to a pace meltdown, Epicenter was also a shade unlucky to settle for second in the Preakness (G1). But he clinched the divisional Eclipse Award with a dynamic display in the Travers (G1), to go along with his track-record Louisiana Derby (G2), Risen Star (G2), and Jim Dandy (G2). Also on the 2022 Triple Crown trail, Not This Time had the exacta in the Fountain of Youth (G2) with Simplification and In Due Time.

Among the current three-year-olds from his third crop, Sacred Wish nearly captured the July 22 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). She just got collared by Wet Paint in the final strides, but will try again in Saturday’s Alabama (G1).

Both of Not This Time’s sophomore stakes winners this season have scored going a mile on turf. The aforementioned Gigante prevailed by a nose in the May 17 Caesars H. at Horseshoe Indianapolis, and Game Time landed the May 28 Alcatraz S. at Golden Gate Fields. Both had initially proven themselves as stakes performers at two. Gigante dominated last summer’s Kitten’s Joy S. at Colonial, foreshadowing his Secretariat heroics, and Game Time was a half-length second in the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) during the Bing Crosby season at Del Mar.

Not This Time’s older progeny are still enhancing their records, and bankrolls. Five-year-old Sibelius starred in the dirt sprint on Dubai World Cup night, the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1). In so doing, he became the third top-level winner from that first crop, after Princess Noor and Just One Time, the 2022 Madison (G1) scorer. Four-year-old Cogburn stamped himself as a Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) contender with a good-looking verdict in the Troy (G3) at Saratoga on Aug. 5.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Next contributed to Not This Time’s hot spell at the Spa by running away with the 1 3/4-mile Birdstone S. on July 27. The big gray, who drew 11 3/4 lengths clear, has now won four of his past five since finding his specialty in dirt marathons. The revelation came when the 2022 Cape Henlopen S. was rained off the turf at Delaware Park, and Next won in a laugher by 18 1/4 lengths. He followed up in the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G2) on Breeders’ Cup weekend. His lone loss in these conditions was a comeback third in the May 3 Isaac Murphy Marathon at Churchill Downs. Next duly moved forward to take the Brooklyn (G2) on Belmont Day.

Interestingly, Next is out of an Awesome Again mare, a cross similar to the ones that yielded Princess Noor and Up to the Mark. Princess Noor was produced by Sheza Smoke Show, a Grade 3-winning daughter of the Awesome Again stallion Wilko. Up to the Mark is out of a mare by Awesome Again’s Hall of Fame son, Ghostzapper. Epicenter and Simplification are both out of Candy Ride mares.

A common thread linking Awesome Again and Candy Ride is the presence of Blushing Groom on their respective dams’ sides. Not This Time himself counts Blushing Groom as an ancestor lurking in Giant’s Causeway, so doubling up on that outstanding miler could be a key angle. Sibelius, Cogburn, and Game Time likewise sport a duplication of Blushing Groom from other avenues.

Ta Wee the key

Gigante offers a different pattern that seizes upon one of the fascinating elements of Not This Time’s pedigree. Gigante’s dam boasts three crosses of the influential In Reality (two from her sire, Empire Maker).

Not This Time’s dam, the classy sprinter Miss Macy Sue, herself has three crosses of Intentionally, the sire of In Reality. One comes from Miss Macy Sue’s sire, Trippi, who is out of an In Reality-line mare. But the powder keg might be Miss Macy Sue’s dam, Yada Yada, because she is intensely inbred to Hall of Fame sprinter Ta Wee, by Intentionally.

A half-sister to all-time great Dr. Fager, Ta Wee was a prodigious talent in her own right. She beat older males in the 1969 Fall Highweight H. – as a three-year-old filly carrying 130 pounds – and did it again in 1970, under a staggering 140 pounds. Ta Wee surpassed herself in her finale, shouldering 142 pounds versus fellow distaffers when repeating in the Interborough H. Thus she reigned twice as champion sprinter, decades before there was a separate category carved out for females.

Ta Wee went on to produce four stakes winners from five named foals before her untimely passing at the age of 12. Her Grade 3-winning son Great Above was already likely to endure in pedigrees as the sire of Hall of Famer Holy Bull. By siring the aforementioned Yada Yada, Miss Macy Sue’s dam, Great Above has another vector of influence.

Miss Macy Sue is a direct matrilineal descendant of Ta Wee as well. Yada Yada is herself a granddaughter of Tweak, Ta Wee’s stakes-winning daughter by the legendary Secretariat. Between Great Above and Tweak, Yada Yada is inbred 2x3 to Ta Wee!

Not This Time is a half-brother to Liam's Map

That genetic profile practically invites the addition of Ta Wee’s half-brother Dr. Fager into the mix. Miss Macy Sue has accomplished this in a few of her matings, most significantly in her visit to Unbridled’s Song that yielded her first important son, Liam’s Map.

Unbridled’s Song is by Unbridled, who embodied the legacy of Tartan Farms and their genius trainer/bloodstock maven, John Nerud, the man behind Dr. Fager, Ta Wee, et al. Unbridled inherits Dr. Fager via his Nerud-bred sire, Fappiano, and he adds another strand of In Reality for good measure. Moreover, Unbridled sports a duplication of the dam of Dr. Fager and Ta Wee, Aspidistra.

Liam’s Map showcases the power of converging all those Nerud angles, on both the racetrack and at stud. Hero of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) and Woodward (G1), Liam’s Map has sired multiple Grade 1 turf star Colonel Liam; Juju’s Map, Basin, and Wicked Whisper, all Grade 1 winners on dirt as juveniles; and millionaire Crazy Beautiful.

Even as younger half-brother Not This Time is in the ascendant, Liam’s Map is enjoying a flurry of recent stakes winners too. Roses for Debra won the July 22 Caress (G3) at the Spa, where Dr. Ardito took the Aug. 11 Evan Shipman H. in a prelude to a banner Saturday. Liam’s Map served up an Aug. 12 stakes double with Who Dey in the Best of Ohio Cleveland Kindergarten S. and Roses by Liam in the Minnesota Derby. But the best of the lot might turn out to be Deterministic, a strong-finishing debut winner earlier Saturday at Saratoga.

At this rate, in the future we may well see pedigrees doubling down on Miss Macy Sue, by crossing Liam’s Map and Not This Time.