Pedigree notebook: Starspangledbanner yet waves with Papilio, and more

April 11th, 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.

By the time that Papilio got up in Saturday’s Appalachian (G2) at Keeneland, sire Starspangledbanner was already having quite a weekend. The Coolmore stallion was in the midst of a four-continent winning spree.

In Ireland, You Send Me bolted up in a three-year-old fillies’ maiden at Cork, putting herself in line for a classic trial. Earlier Saturday in Australia, Starpangledbanner’s son Spangler rolled in the Provincial-Midway Championships Final on day two of The Championships at Randwick. Then on Sunday in Hong Kong, California Spangle overcame top weight to prevail in the Chairman’s Trophy (G2), his tune-up ahead of another clash with Golden Sixty in the April 30 Champions Mile (G1).

Papilio: Appalachian (G2)

Aside from the theme that all are Irish-breds by Starspangledbanner, Papilio has one specific point in common with California Spangle and another with You Send Me. She is bred on the same cross as California Spangle, and she started her career with the same trainer as You Send Me.

Papilio and California Spangle are both out of mares by dual classic winner and two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) champion High Chaparral. That cross was initially advertised by The Wow Signal, one of the stars from Starspangledbanner’s small first crop, conceived when the new stallion was struggling with fertility problems. The Wow Signal helped put him on the map with victories in the 2014 Prix Morny (G1) and Royal Ascot’s Coventry (G2) (as did fellow Royal Ascot winner Anthem Alexander).

While The Wow Signal was a six-furlong juvenile, California Spangle has excelled over a metric mile, famously denying Golden Sixty a three-peat in last December’s Hong Kong Mile (G1). But California Spangle was also effective over a bit further in the Four-Year-Old Series in 2022. He won the about nine-furlong Hong Kong Classic Cup and went down by a head to superstar Romantic Warrior in the about 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Derby.

The High Chaparral factor could help Papilio stay further too. Moreover, her dam, Glafyra, is a half-sister to globetrotting Balius, multiple Group 1-placed at about 1 1/4 miles, and Delfos, a three-time Group winner at that trip. Glafyra, Balius, and Delfos are all out of Akhla, by the redoubtable Nashwan who swept the 2000 Guineas (G1), Epsom Derby (G1), Eclipse (G1), and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) in 1989.

Indeed, Starspangledbanner has proven more than capable of siring top-level winners in the vicinity of 1 1/4 miles. Evidence is furnished by State of Rest, a Group/Grade 1 star in four countries, comprising Australia’s prestigious Cox Plate (G1) and the Saratoga Derby (G1) in 2021 followed by last year’s Prix Ganay (G1) and Prince of Wales’s (G1) double. The case was bolstered in 2022 by Aristia in the Prix Jean Romanet (G1) and by Rhea Moon in the American Oaks (G1). Beauty Eternal, the favorite in the 2023 Hong Kong Derby, nearly added to the collection, only to be denied in third in the March 19 feature.

Although best known as a champion sprinter in his native Australia, and during his 2010 European campaign, Starspangledbanner stayed a mile emphatically in the 2009 Caulfield Guineas (G1). It’s an intriguing counterfactual to wonder what else he might have achieved in that division. But as a son of trailblazing Australian speedster Choisir, who raided Royal Ascot in 2003 and scooped up both the King’s Stand (G2) and Golden (now Platinum) Jubilee (G1), the sprinting game was his destiny.

Papilio has apparently inherited his speed, in the form of a devastating late kick. But she’s displayed erratic tendencies. In her U.S. bow in the March 4 Herecomesthebride (G3), she was hard to handle. Pulling on Luis Saez and checking on the clubhouse turn, Papilio unleashed a wayward rally and came up a head shy in second.

In the Appalachian, new rider Javier Castellano got her covered up and settled early. When angling out for the drive, however, Papilio cocked her head violently and veered in, sawing off favorite Pleasant Passage (who was going nowhere anyway). Castellano did well to control her enough to collar Cairo Consort at the wire.

“She has an amazing turn of foot,” trainer Mark Casse said. “If she ever learns to run a straight line, who knows how good she is? She isn’t really a tricky filly. She’s actually a sweetie. She just runs in different directions. I think once she ‘gets it’ around here, she’s going to be very tough.”

Papilio had shown talent for her initial trainer in Ireland, Fozzy Stack. She debuted by beating colts, including future Railway (G2) third Apache Outlaw, in a six-furlong maiden at the Curragh. After a sixth in the Airlie Stud (aka Balanchine) (G2) at the same track and trip, Papilio rebounded on the stretch-out to a mile at Killarney. She upended Aidan O’Brien’s favorite Greenland (who wasn’t beaten much in the Royal Lodge [G2] and just closed for an eye-catching third in Sunday’s Prix la Force [G3]). You can see her cocked head and lean-left body language:

“I took a chance running her in the Group 2 the other day,” Stack told, “and I always thought she needed to be running further. She was running against proper sprinters (in the Balanchine) and they took her off her feet and was on her head the whole way. (Jockey) Danny (Gilligan) was cool (at Killarney). I told him to sit and sit and sit and have one pop at the Ballydoyle horse (Greenland) inside the furlong pole. He said she didn't kill herself when she got there, but she is a nice filly.”

Papilio was next runner-up by a half-length to Group 3-placed colt Hellsing in the Churchill S. at Tipperary, where her drifting out caused an inquiry, but no change. Jockey Jamie Spencer interestingly told the stewards that he expected her to hang left as she’d previously done; instead she was hanging right-handed. Papilio concluded her Irish career by attempting the Moyglare Stud (G1), finishing sixth behind the exciting Tahiyra and future Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) romper Meditate.

Stack was equally quotable in his postrace summary of You Send Me, who bounded clear in her second start on Saturday. The Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) hopeful was fifth of 14 in a Curragh maiden last September.

“She (You Send Me) is a big filly and was very weak when she ran last year, so we put her away,” the horseman told

“We'll see how she comes out of this and, if it doesn't take too much out of her, we might look at a Guineas trial. She is very big and still very raw and could even make a better filly next year than this year.

“She wants seven (furlongs) or a mile and I don't think she wants it that soft, as she is a good-moving filly.”

You Send Me’s dam, the Shamardal mare Coco Rouge, is a half-sister to Jacqueline Quest, so unlucky to be demoted as the first-past-the-post in the 1000 Guineas (G1) of 2010.

Jacqueline Quest has since become an excellent broodmare, responsible for four stakes performers, led by 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Line of Duty. Her current sophomore, Jackie Oh, looks set for stakes level herself after a sharp March 26 debut at Naas for O’Brien. Further back, this is the family of Southlawn, who upset the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) to book her spot in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).