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.