US racing welcomed its 13th Triple Crown hero last month when Justify took the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes in style in New York, just three years after American Pharoah swept the classic series. The previous horse to achieve the feat had been Affirmed, back in 1978, one year after Seattle Slew.
The original Triple Crown is the English series of the 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger, and no horse has successfully completed it since Nijinsky in 1970. In 1985, Oh So Sharp won the 1000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger – called the Fillies' Triple Crown – something that had not been done since Meld, in 1955.
There have been horses who have won two legs, and since Nijinsky those have been Nashwan, Reference Point and Sea The Stars.
Nashwan, whom Timeform rated 135, bypassed the St Leger in favour of an Arc attempt that ultimately did not happen, whereas many believed that, like Blue Peter in 1939, it was sheer bad luck that denied the Sir Henry Cecil-trained Reference Point his chance at history in 1987. The Timeform 139-rated champion missed the Guineas due to illness. Sea The Stars, of course, did win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe after bypassing Doncaster; Timeform rated him 140.
Camelot, however, ran in all three classics and, in 2012, he came so close to becoming the 13th winner of the Triple Crown (16th if you include the three who won the races when they were all held at Newmarket during World War I). A mile Group 1 winner at two, he won the 2000 Guineas by a neck from French Fifteen, trounced Main Sequence by five lengths at Epsom, and failed by just three-parts of a length to beat the ill-fated Encke at Doncaster. In between those latter two classics he added the Irish Derby at the Curragh, beating Born To Sea by two lengths.
Camelot won the Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes and chased home Al Kazeem in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup from four starts at four, and he retired to Coolmore Stud with a top Timeform rating of 128. Now he is a star member of Europe's sophomore stallions, with seven stakes winners in his first crop, one already in his second, and a first Group 1 classic winner to his name.
That rising star is Latrobe, who beat Rostropovich and Saxon Warrior by a half-length and neck in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh last week. He was ridden by Donnacha O'Brien, the now triple classic-winning teenager whose brother Joseph trained the winner and father Aidan supplied the second, third, fourth and fifth.
Latrobe had been runner-up to James Cook in a mile maiden on soft ground at Leopardstown on his only start at two, was a neck second to Hunting Horn over 10 furlongs on softer ground at Naas in April, then chased home Platinum Warrior in the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes before running away with a 12-furlong Curragh maiden three weeks before his classic success.
Latrobe, who was bred by Sweetmans Bloodstock, was originally bought by Margaret O'Toole for €88,000 in Goffs as a foal and then sold on to Joseph O'Brien for 65,000gns from Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in Newmarket.
He is the third foal of six-furlong, three-year-old polytrack winner Question Times (by Shamardal), who earned her blacktype when runner-up in a listed contest over six furlongs at Newmarket as a two-year-old, and both of his older siblings are multiple winners.
Entangling (by Fastnet Rock) won over 10 furlongs at Yarmouth and 12 furlongs on the polytrack at Kempton last year, whereas that one's full-sister Diamond Fields won the Group 3 Gladness Stakes at Naas first time out as a four-year-old having been Grade 2-placed in the USA the previous season.
Forever Times (by So Factual), the grandam of Latrobe, won six times from five to seven furlongs, all on turf and mostly on good or fast ground, and that mare's other offspring include Group 3 Sceptre Stakes winner and Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes runner-up Sunday Times (by Holy Roman Emperor).
Classical Times (by Lawman), a four-year-old daughter of Sunday Times and, like her dam, trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, won the Listed Cecil Frail Stakes at Haydock in late May and was third in the Group 3 Chipchase Stakes over six furlongs on the tapeta at Newcastle last Saturday.
As you might expect of a daughter of Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes scorer So Factual (by Known Fact), Forever Times is a half-sister to some speedy horses, and although Majestic Times (by Bluebird) won a listed sprint, Welsh Emperor (by Emperor Jones) is the more notable of her half-brothers.
That 13-time scorer was trained by Tom Tate, he won the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes, the Group 3 Bentinck Stakes, and two listed contests, he chased home Toylsome in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret, failed by just a neck to beat Caradak in another edition of that same contest, and he was short-headed by Group 1 Lockinge Stakes heroine and subsequent Group 1-producer Red Evie when bidding for a repeat success in the Hungerford.
Latrobe holds entries in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes and Group 1 Comer Group International Irish St Leger and connections – he is owned by Lloyd Williams – have spoken of a possible Group 1 Melbourne Cup bid. Will he stay 14 furlongs or two miles?
If only his sire mattered then you would have little doubt that such distances would be within his compass, but the amount of speed on the distaff side of his family casts a shade of doubt.
He clearly stays 12 furlongs, however, and that suggests that it is not the speed element of the female side of his family that he has inherited from his dam but, instead, possibly the middle-distance side of his broodmare sire, Shamardal (by Giant's Causeway). That stallion, the son of a star mile to 10-furlong colt and grandson of an Irish Oaks heroine, gets his best winners over a wide range of trips.
It will be interesting to see how the racing career of Latrobe turns out, and with a Timeform rating of 119p he still has a lot of progress to make if he is going to hit the very top, but he is progressive, looks likely to stay at least 14 furlongs, and he could do well on the international circuit.
No horse has won the Triple Crown since Nijinsky swept the 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger in 1970, but Camelot (by Montjeu) came close in 2012. He beat French Fifteen by a neck in the first leg, thrashed Main Sequence by five lengths in the second, and then failed by three-parts of a length to beat the ill-fated Encke at Doncaster.
He won the Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh first time out as a four-year-old, chased home Al Kazeem in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup over a half-furlong farther at that venue three weeks later, and finished fourth behind that same rival in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot on his final start. His top Timeform rating was 128.
He has been an understandably popular member of the Coolmore stallion team since retiring from the track, and although he was not precocious – his only two juvenile outings were over a mile, spaced three months apart, and featured defeat of Zip Top in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy – it was always on the cards that he would get plenty of first-crop winners in the second half of the season.
His final total was 20 winners from a large number of runners, they include the pattern-placed Italian stakes winner Wait Forever and German listed scorer Alounak, plus two stakes-placed individuals, and they are headed by Fighting Irish, who took a three-runner edition of the Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte in mid-October.
The Harry Dunlop-trained colt took that six-furlong contest by a head and three lengths from Nebo and French Pegasus, and this came three weeks after he ran away with a nursery over the same trip at Yarmouth. He got off the mark at the third attempt, when scoring at Salisbury in late July, but has been out of the frame in his other three starts.
Of course, six furlongs is not the sort of trip over which you would expect to see a son of Camelot prove best, even one who, like Fighting Irish, comes from a family that is strongly associated with producing Group 1 milers. It seems likely, therefore, that he will stay that distance and that would give him plenty of options.
Depending on what he has inherited from his sire, it is also possible that he will stay 10 furlongs – Camelot can be expected to get his best winners anywhere from a mile and upwards – and the stallion has already been represented this year by the aforementioned Alounak, who ran away with an 11-furlong listed Derby trial on soft ground at Dusseldorf on Sunday.
Fighting Irish is yet another notable horse bred by Pat O'Kelly's Kilcarn Stud, he made €50,000 in Goffs as a foal, £70,000 in Doncaster as a yearling, and earned almost £102,000 last season. He has an official handicap mark of 104, and Timeform rate him 102, so he clearly needs to show a lot of improvement if he is to be up to winning again in pattern company.
He is entered in Wednesday's Listed bet365 European Free Handicap at Newmarket and presumably a good effort there could see him travel to ParisLongchamp next month to take his place in the line-up for the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas).
He is the best of the first four foals out of Quixotic (by Pivotal), his dam is an unraced full-sister to Group 1 Lockinge Stakes winner Virtual, and the pair are three-part siblings to Iceman (by Polar Falcon), who won the Group 2 Coventry Stakes and earned placings in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes and Group 1 Middle Park Stakes as a two-year-old.
Their dam is Virtuous (by Exit To Nowhere), who earned her blacktype when finishing third in the Listed Oaks Trial at Lingfield, and that mare is a half-sister to Dancing Debut (by Polar Falcon), who was a non-winner on the track but successful at stud.
Her daughter Dance Parntner (by Danzero) won five times over middle-distances including the Listed John Musker Fillies' Stakes over 10 furlongs at Yarmouth, the late Kindlelight Debut (by Groom Dancer) was a stakes-placed winner of 10 races from seven to nine and a half furlongs, and unraced Flames (by Blushing Flame) became the dam of Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes heroine Lahaleeb (by Redback).
That filly, who was sold for 1,000,000gns in Newmarket as a three-year-old, also won the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes and Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes and she was a neck runner-up to Again in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas.
The fourth dam of Fighting Irish is the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Gheest winner Exclusive Order (by Exclusive Native) and it is that high-class sprinter-miler who gave us the star siblings Entrepreneur (by Sadler's Wells) and Exclusive (by Polar Falcon) as well as Oaks-placed listed scorer Dance A Dream (by Sadler's Wells).
Although that last-named one and her stakes-winning full-brother Sadler's Image were middle-distance horses, Entrepreneur won the Group 1 2000 Guineas and classic-placed Exclusive took the Group 1 Coronation Stakes. Both of those milers then went on to success at stud.
Entrepreneur did not get as many stakes winners as would have been hoped, but they included Group 1 Irish Oaks heroine Vintage Tipple and also Damson, the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes-winning dam of Group 2 scorer and blacktype stallion Requinto (by Dansili).
Exclusive, on the other hand, is the dam of Group 1-placed, Group 2-winning miler Chic (by Machiavellian) and of prolific pattern winner Echelon (by Danehill), the Group 1 Matron Stakes heroine who gave us Group 1 Falmouth Stakes and Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes star Integral (by Dalakhani).
This is a famous Cheveley Park Stud family, and Quixotic left that team when sold for 105,000gns at the Tattersalls December Mare Sale in 2010, as an unraced two-year-old.
It remains to be seen just how good her son will be at his peak, but regardless of how his career turns out, his young sire, Camelot, has made an eye-catching start to his stallion career and can be expected to supply more stakes and pattern winners as the year progresses, including some who will perform with credit in Group 1 company.