Pedigree notebook: Talk of the Nation another one for Zenyatta's family

March 14th, 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.

Recent Rebel (G2) winner Confidence Game put Zenyatta’s family back in the spotlight, since his dam is a half-sister to the Hall of Famer. Not to be outdone, another Zenyatta relative has produced a high-profile three-year-old who’s turning heads, but on turf – Talk of the Nation.

The Shug McGaughey pupil looked like one to follow after his smart allowance score Feb. 4 at Tampa Bay Downs, and he ratified that impression in Saturday’s Columbia S. on Tampa Bay Derby Day. Talk of the Nation blitzed the mile in 1:33.45, just a tick off Winfromwithin’s course mark of 1:33.23, to extend his record to 2-for-2 on turf (and 3-for-4 overall).

“When we get him stretched out, I think he’s going to be even better,” McGaughey told track publicity. “He’s exciting. I would think that he could be a real player this year in that division.”

Tampa’s leading rider, Samy Camacho, was effusive in his praise.

“I know from the last time he is an amazing horse,” Camacho said, “and I told my agent, ‘Try to keep me on that horse.’ But the trainer gave me the call already, so he knows he’s a nice horse. I’m just very happy and thanks to God for winning that race.”

Co-owned by Joseph Allen and his breeder, CHC Inc. (China Horse Club), Talk of the Nation is out of She’s Not Here, who is a three-quarter sister to Zenyatta. Both mares are by the global influence Street Cry, and She’s Not Here was produced by one of Zenyatta’s older half-sisters, Where’s Bailey. A younger half-sister, Eblouissante, is responsible for Confidence Game. Zenyatta, Eblouissante, and Where’s Bailey are all out of Broodmare of the Year Vertigineux, who also foaled millionaire Balance.

Vertigineux might have earned black-type on turf herself if her career had lasted longer. Trained by Michael Dickinson, best known stateside for bringing Da Hoss back two years later to regain his Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) title in 1998, Vertigineux won twice going 1 1/4 miles on Belmont Park’s inner course. She was a close fourth in the 1999 Robert G. Dick Memorial, after bearing out on the far turn at Delaware Park, and finished a subpar sixth in the Glens Falls H. (G3) at Saratoga.

Where’s Bailey was a turf performer initially for Keith Desormeaux, whose connection with the family therefore goes much further back than Confidence Game. By the multiple Group 1-winning miler Aljabr (a son of Storm Cat), Where’s Bailey scored her stakes victory in the 2005 Remington Park Oaks for Bret Calhoun.

Given the stellar career of Zenyatta, it made sense for Where’s Bailey to visit Street Cry. Their daughter She’s Not Here spent most of her career on turf, and her highlights were back-to-back scores in the 2015-16 Yellow Ribbon H. (G2) at Del Mar.

Talk of the Nation is the latest advertisement for Street Cry as a broodmare sire. The late Darley patriarch figured to excel in this department, considering he sired all-time great racemares Zenyatta and Winx. Street Cry has sired the dams of champion Vino Rosso, current Hong Kong superstar Romantic Warrior, reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) hero Rebel’s Romance, and Kentucky Oaks (G1) pro tem points leader (and Future Wager favorite) Wet Paint, to mention barely a few. Just recently, Street Cry added more stakes wins as a broodmare sire at Gulfstream Park, thanks to Dude N Colorado in the Colonel Liam S. and Cairo Consort in the Sweetest Chant (G3) and Ginger Brew S.

Street Cry was himself out of an exceptional mare, 1985 Irish Oaks (G1) heroine Helen Street, from a deep family nurtured for generations by Ballymacoll Stud in Ireland. Helen Street was also by a truly great Ballymacoll homebred, Troy, a stunning winner of the bicentennial Derby (G1) at Epsom. Troy also swept the Irish Derby (G1), King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond (G1), and Benson & Hedges Gold Cup (since rebranded the Juddmonte International) (G1). Sadly, he died far too young, prompting the question of how much greater his influence could have been with an average life span.

Amid the excitement surrounding the dam’s side, however, we must give Talk of the Nation’s sire his due as well. Quality Road can get dirt stars (e.g., Abel Tasman, City of Light, Caledonia Road, Corniche, and Emblem Road) as well as turf aficionados like Bleecker Street, Astronaut, British-based Missed the Cut, and unbeaten sophomore filly Junipermarshmallow.

A case in point is Quality Road’s son Cairo, winner of the Killavullan (G3) on the Leopardstown turf and the Patton S. on the Dundalk Polytrack. The Aidan O’Brien pupil will try to establish himself as a triple-surface threat in the UAE Derby (G2) on Dubai World Cup night, which would launch him to the Kentucky Derby. Quality Road has several other sons on the Triple Crown trail, including multiple Grade 1-placed National Treasure, Gun Runner S. scorer Jace’s Road, Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) hopeful Wadsworth, and highly-regarded First Defender in a Fair Grounds allowance this upcoming Sunday.

The “intersection” of Quality Road and Street Cry might turn up more often, with Talk of the Nation getting the word out.