Classic trials are important races in their own right, but they are also about potential, and the most visually impressive winner of one of those events in Europe so far this year is Butzje, a filly who won't be physically three years old until May 1st.
She was eased down shortly after being hampered a furlong out in the Group 3 Preis der Winterkonigin over a mile on soft ground at Baden-Baden in October, passing the post over 22 lengths behind the front-running winner Rock My Love.
The second, third and fourth from that race – one of the top juvenile contests in Germany – met again in the Group 3 Karin Baronin Von Ullmann - Schwarzgold-Rennen over the same trip at Cologne this afternoon, also on soft ground. Dina dropped a placing to fifth this time around, and Angelita turned a one-and-a-quarter-length deficit into a four-length margin of superiority over Suada, but she was no match for Butzje.
The Markus Klug-trained bay set off in front, was several lengths clear with a quarter-mile to go, and extended that margin further in the final furlong, winning by seven lengths.
Butzje is a daughter of German Group 2 winner It's Gino (by Perugino), whose final start resulted in a surprise third-place finish in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, beaten two lengths and half a length by Zarkava and Youmzain and dead-heating with Soldier Of Fortune.
He is in his first season at Haras de Rosieres Aux Salines in France, having spent the previous seven years at Union-Gestüt and one year at Gestüt Reitberg, and his offspring include Group 2-placed stakes winners Forgino and Rosebay, plus the Kayley Woolacott-trained Lalor who won the Grade 1 Betway Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree on Friday.
Like Butzje, that talented gelding was bred by Stall 5-Stars – in whose colours It's Gino raced – and both were bargain-basement purchases in Baden-Baden. The filly, now a major contender for this year's German classics, was bought by owner Holger Renz as a yearling for just €5,500.
She is a full-sister to the 12-furlong winner Baby Love, her dam Beltana (by Areion) won a six-furlong listed contest as a two-year-old, and her grandam Bat Sheva (by Dashing Blade), a half-sister to seven-furlong listed scorer Baroness Happyness (by Always Fair), is a daughter of the multiple stakes-placed sprinter Be Happy (by Homing).
Fourth dam Balafallay (by Priamos) was unplaced, but she was out of Friedrichsruh (by Dschingis Khan), the Group 2 Preis der Diana (German Oaks) winner and Group 3 Schwarzgold-Rennen (German 1000 Guineas) runner-up of 1977.
That star only contributes 3.125% of the make-up of Butzje but the produce record of two of her daughters show that Germany's newest rising star comes from a weak branch of what has been a successful family.
Friedrichslust (by Caerleon) was unraced but her blacktype descendants are headed by her notable son Faberger (by Dashing Blade), a somewhat close relative of Butzje's grandam, and winner of the Group 1 Premio Vittorio di Capua and Group 3 Prix Messidor, both over a mile.
Blessed Event (by Kings Lake), on the other hand, won the Listed Ballymacoll Stud Stakes at Newbury and was runner-up in each of the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks, Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes and Group 2 Pretty Polly Stakes before going on to become the dam of dual middle-distance Group 2 scorer Sacrament (by Shirley Heights) and ancestor of a string of talented performers.
They include her Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes-winning granddaughter Chorist (by Pivotal), Group 2 Yorkshire Cup scorer Gospel Choir (by Galileo), 10-furlong listed scorer and 14-time winner Sennockian Star (by Rock of Gibraltar), Group 3 Prestige Stakes heroine Icicle (by Polar Falcon) and her Group 2-placed, pattern-winning son Icelandic (by Selkirk).
Butzje is a fascinating prospect who has shown a hint of brilliance over a mile. It is possible that this may prove to be her best trip, despite her sister's stamina and that of her famous ancestor, but it is just as likely that she could stay middle-distances and so become a Group 1 Preis der Diana or even Group 1 Deutsches Derby candidate.