Coolmore Stud's classic winner and juvenile Group 1 star Power (by Oasis Dream) got his first stakes winner when the Aidan O'Brien-trained Peace Envoy held on to beat his stable companion Lundy by half a length in the Listed Coolmore War Command Rochestown (C&G) Stakes over six furlongs at Naas.
The colt was bred by Team Hogdala A B, he made a winning debut over five furlongs at Dundalk in April and was then runner-up, at odds-on, over the same trip in soft ground at the Curragh. Both he and the colt he beat on Sunday hold Group 1 entries.
Peace Envoy is a €125,000 graduate of the Arqana Deauville October Yearling Sale and his siblings include Kadyny (by Zamindar). That colt was third in the Group 3 Prix des Chenes as a two-year-old and won the Czech Derby over 12 furlongs the following summer, a race that carries local Group 3 status but does not give its winner blacktype as per the International Cataloguing Standards.
His dam ran three times at two, finishing well-beaten at Newmarket and at Redcar and picking up fourth place over eight and a half furlongs at Windsor, beaten by nearly six lengths. Her sole win from seven starts at three came in a 10-furlong handicap on firm ground at Brighton.
Hoh My Darling (by Dansili) is, in turn, out of an unraced mare called Now And Forever (by Kris), and that full-sister to Group 3 May Hill Stakes runner-up and Listed Middleton Stakes third Everlasting Love is a half-sister to the Group 3 Curragh Cup scorer and successful National Hunt stallion Witness Box (by Lyphard).
These are the highlights of the first three generations of the pedigree, and it is not the sort of profile that one would expect of a mare who would go on to produce a precocious six-furlong listed scorer. This would suggest that Peace Envoy's young sire is largely responsible for his aptitude.
If you go back another step in the family's history then you will find that his third dam, Excellent Alibi (by Exceller), was a half-sister to the great racehorse and broodmare Dahlia (by Vaguely Noble), the classic and prolific Group/Grade 1 star whose progeny feature the top-level winners Dahar (by Lyphard), Dahlia's Dreamer (by Theatrical), Delegant (by Grey Dawn II) and Rivlia (by Riverman), and whose descendants include the Group 1 winning stayers Nedawi (by Rainbow Quest) and Rite Of Passage (by Giant's Causeway).
In a remarkable coincidence, Peace Envoy and Vona, the filly who won the season's first juvenile stakes race, come from branches of the same family, although their actual relationship to each other is remote; they merely share a fourth dam in Charming Alibi (by Honeys Alibi).
Peace Envoy earned a Timeform figure of 102p for his recent success and it will be interesting to see how far up in the rankings he can go by the end of the year. He has plenty of pace, and he could do well in some of the season's better two-year-old sprint events, but his pedigree gives him prospect of staying further than that.
The Listed Cold Move European Breeders Fund Marble Hill Stakes is no longer the first juvenile blacktype contest of the season, but it is still the first one in Ireland and the 2016 edition was won easily by the odds-on favourite Caravaggio.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained colt, who was bred by the partnership of Windmill Manor Farms Inc and Petaluma Bloodstock, was an even shorter price when beating Lundy on their debut over five furlongs at Dundalk last month. His two and a quarter length defeat of Mister Trader at the Curragh impressed Timeform and his figure of 112p puts him clear at the top of their rankings for his age group.
Caravaggio is a son of the late Ashford Stud stallion Scat Daddy. Winner of the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes over a mile as a juvenile and of the Grade 1 Florida Derby over a furlong farther at three, the son of two-year-old champion Johannesburg (by Hennessy) has sired 70 individual stakes winners, 16 of whom have won at least once at the highest level, and his sudden death came shortly after his fee for 2016 had been raised to $100,000. He was only 11 years old.
His high total of Grade 1 winners may surprise some, but he was a shuttler to Chile and 13 of his progeny have achieved the feat in South America. Nine of the 13 are classic stars, several others have been classic-placed, and the roll of honour includes the Chilean Derby winners Solaria (2014; filly) and Il Campione (2015).
Scat Daddy is also responsible for Lady Of Shamrock, whose wins include the Grade 1 American Oaks Stakes and the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, for the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes scorer Nickname, and for a trio that are well-known to European race fans: No Nay Never, Daddy Long Legs, and Acapulco.
No Nay Never was trained in the USA by Wesley Ward but he made two trips to Europe, winning the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and then the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville. His overall career record was four wins and two seconds from six starts, and his final appearance was when a half-length runner-up to Bobby's Kitten in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. He is now a member of the Coolmore Stud stallion team and some of his first foals will be in the auction ring later in the year.
Ward is also the trainer of last year's Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes winner and Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes runner-up Acapulco. She is one of the ante-post market leaders for both the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes and the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and she has been an easy winner of both her starts in the USA this year.
Daddy Long Legs began his career with Aidan O'Brien, he won the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes, which was run at Newmarket that year, and also the Group 2 UAE Derby at Meydan, and the best of his subsequent performances was when fourth behind Power in the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas, just a neck away from earning the accolade classic-placed. He is now at stud in Florida.
None of these horses is related to Caravaggio, but he does come from a blacktype family whose members include a Grade 1 scorer.
He is the sixth foal out of the juvenile sprint listed winner Mekko Hokte (by Holy Bull) and his successful siblings include My Jen (by Fusaichi Pegasus). Her four wins, from nine starts, were headed by the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap over six and a half furlongs at Belmont Park, and she was also a six-furlong listed scorer as a two-year-old.
Stakes winner Silver In Flight (by Silver Series), whose placed efforts featured the runners-up spot in the Grade 2 Black Helen Handicap over nine furlongs on turf at Hialeah, is the third dam and so Caravaggio's winning grandam Aerosilver (by Relaunch) is a half-sister to Theatre Flight, a mare who won in Ireland.
She was trained by Dermot Weld and, as one might expect of a daughter of Group 1 Irish Derby runner-up and multiple Grade 1-winning US turf champion Theatrical (by Nureyev), she stayed a bit farther than might be expected of her young relation. She won an 11-furlong maiden at Killarney and a 10-furlong handicap at Listowel, her ill-fated son Sharp Performance (by Kris S) won the Grade 3 Lawrence Realization Stakes over 12 furlongs and he finished third in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes over a mile and a quarter at Arlington.
Middle-distance stamina is also evident in the fourth generation of the pedigree as Stark Winter (by Graustark), a stakes-winning half-sister to Silver In Flight, was the dam of Bien Bien (by Manila). He won the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup and the Grade 1 San Luis Rey Stakes over 12 furlongs and also the Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap over a quarter-mile farther.
Caravaggio, however, is bred for speed, and given the talents of his dam and half-sister, and his sire's northern hemisphere record, it is likely that he will be a sprinter or maybe even a colt who will eventually stay a mile. He would be a leading contender for whatever Royal Ascot event he might try, and his big race entries for later in the season include the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes and the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes.
For many years the first juvenile blacktype event of the season was the Listed Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh, but now that five furlong contest is preceded by a race at York.
The 2016 edition of the Listed Langleys Solicitors EBF Marygate Fillies' Stakes attracted 11 runners, and although the combination of an unremarkable time on fast ground with the first four finishers being within two lengths of each other at the line suggests that considerable improvement will be needed from them if they are to make the progression to pattern level, each of the first three has boosted her future paddocks value by earning blacktype.
The honour of being the first two-year-old stakes winner of the year goes to the Richard Fahey-trained Vona, a daughter of Yeomanstown Stud stallion Dark Angel (by Acclamation). She beat the Mark Johnston-trained favourite Boater (by Helmet) by a length, Perfect Madge (by Acclamation) was a head back in third, and this victory makes her look like a bargain buy.
She was bred by Colm McEvoy and she made just €15,000 when sold at the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale. Being the daughter of such a notable sire one might suspect that the distaff side of the family must be light on blacktype to result in such a price, but this is not the case.
She is the seventh foal out of an unraced mare called Trading Places (by Dansili) yet has just two winning siblings and one of those was still a maiden when the filly went through the ring. He is the five-year-old gelding Dynamo (by Galileo) who has won twice in recent weeks for the Richard Hughes stable, including a two-mile handicap at Lingfield.
The mare's poor strike-rate is a little surprising given that she could be described as being a three-parts sister to a Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe hero, and that relation is Rail Link. His wins also included the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris, his stakes-winning progeny feature the Group 1 Australian Cup scorer Spillway and Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud winner Epicuris, and he stands at Haras de Cercy in France.
Rail Link is a half-brother to the Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris winner Crossharbour (by Zamindar) and to Group 3 scorers Chelsea Manor (by Grand Lodge) and Mainsail (by Oasis Dream), and his five-times winning dam Docklands (by Theatrical) is a half-sister to Trading Places.
The two mares are also half-sisters to the Listed Prix de Lieurey winner Mooring (by Zafonic), who has a listed-placed daughter of her own, to Group 3 July Stakes winner and Group 2 Lockinge Stakes runner-up Wharf (by Storm Bird), and to a trio that have produced blacktype winners at stud.
Fonage (by Zafonic) won twice and is the dam of the Listed El Gran Senor Stakes winner Zafonical Storm (by Aljabr), Galley (by Zamindar) was placed a few times but is the dam of the 10-furlong listed scorer Cape Magic (by Cape Cross), and Colza (by Alleged), who won a mile maiden on her only start at two, is the dam of the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud winner Linda's Lad (by Sadler's Wells). He stands at Haras de Grandcamp.
Not only is the amount of blacktype in the second generation of Vona's pedigree striking, but it is almost all mile and middle-distance talent, so quite different from what is required to win a five-furlong listed event for precocious two-year-olds.
The stars in the fourth generation of the family are quite distant from her, but as her fourth dam is the 16-times scorer and multiple blacktype winner Charming Alibi (by Honey's Alibi), they have to be mentioned because, in addition to Vona's third dam Golden Alibi (by Empery), that mare's progeny included Dahlia (by Vaguely Noble). The classic and prolific Group 1 star was one of the greatest fillies of all time and she went on to become one of that select group of mares to get at least four Group/Grade 1 winning progeny. Her quarter were Dahar (by Lyphard), Dahlia's Dreamer (by Theatrical), Delegant (by Grey Dawn II) and Rivlia (by Riverman), and her descendants also include the Group 1 St Leger winner Nedawi (by Rainbow Quest) and Group 1 Gold Cup scorer Rite Of Passage (by Giant's Causeway).
By remarkable coincidence, Charming Alibi is also the fourth dam of today's Listed War Command Rochestown (C&G) Stakes winner Peace Envoy (by Power), although he and Vona represent very different branches of the family.
The speed from Vona's sire is clearly a factor in her aptitude, and as not all of his progeny are sprinters, one would imagine that the amount of stamina present in the distaff side of her pedigree must give her a chance of staying seven furlongs or a mile in time.
It will be interesting to see how much she can improve on this winning effort or if it will be a performance-of-a-lifetime one as there was good reason why she was sent off at 33/1 that day. She was last of nine at Southwell in early April and then fourth behind the promising Mehmas at Chester, that run coming just eight days before York. And yet what you would expect of the bulk of the distaff side of her pedigree is that she might not have been ready to race until the autumn, possibly over six or seven furlongs.
Vona is catalogued as Lot 39 for the Goffs London Sale on 13th June.