Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic hero Raven's Pass (by Elusive Quality) was an outstanding miler on turf in Europe. The Kildangan Stud resident has not yet sired as many stakes winners as would have been hoped for, and he is awaiting his first winner at the highest level, but the latter is likely just a matter of time, and his overall number of blacktype scorers is increasing.
The grandson of Gone West (by Mr Prospector) has been attracting increased attention in the past couple of years, on the track and in the sales ring, and the latter results include a Kilcarn Stud-bred €2 million Goffs Orby Sale topper who looked every inch a potential Group 1 star when making a six-length winning debut over 10 furlongs at Naas on Sunday.
Her name is Tocco D'Amore, she is trained by Dermot Weld, carries the famous Moyglare Stud colours, and is out of Spirit Of Tara (by Sadler's Wells), a full-sister to Irish Derby heroine and prolific Group 1 standout Salsabil and half-sister to Derby-placed Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes winner and notable sire Marju (by Last Tycoon).
The top Raven's Pass runner in 2016 was his third-crop son Richard Pankhurst, a lightly-raced and John Gosden-trained chestnut who won the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes over seven furlongs at Newbury. The five-year-old entire holds an entry in next month's Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes over a furlong farther at the same venue.
The stallion's 17 stakes winners also include the Darren Weir-trained five-year-old Big Duke who completed a pattern-race hat-trick when taking the Group 2 Schweppes Chairman's Handicap over 13 furlongs on soft ground at Randwick two weeks ago, winning by two lengths. When based in England, the gelding was known as Swashbuckling.
The 2017 European pattern race programme is rapidly waking up and, in addition to the aforementioned runaway maiden winner, there is another Raven's Pass filly who could be on her way to the top.
Via Ravenna made a winning debut over a mile at Chantilly early last month and followed-up with a one-length defeat of the front-running Thais in Monday's Group 3 Prix Imprudence over seven furlongs on good ground at Maisons-Laffitte. The Andre Fabre-trained bay is a mid-April foal and Haras de Saint Pair's homebred looks like a leading contender for next month's Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas).
Will she stay the extra 500 metres (two and a half furlongs) of the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks)? It is certainly possible – after all, her sire stayed 10 furlongs – although it may depend on what she has inherited from her dam.
Via Milano is a daughter of the top-class international performer Singspiel (by In The Wings), a classic sire whose pattern race stars have come at virtually every distance from five furlongs (e.g. Take Cover) to two and a half miles (e.g. Papineau). And one would usually expect a Raven's Pass – Singspiel cross to produce a 10-furlong horse.
Via Milano, however, is the daughter of a six-furlong listed-placed mare – Salvinaxia (by Linamix) – she was Group 3-placed over six furlongs at two, won the Group 3 Prix des Reservoirs over a mile the same year, was fourth in the following spring's Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, and then finished well-beaten on her only attempt at farther.
Her daughter Via Medici (by Medicean) got her best wins in the Group 3 Prix de Lieurey and Listed Prix de Lilas, both over a mile, and that filly became the dam of Via Pisa (by Pivotal), a mile listed scorer who rounded off her career with a half-length third to Odeliz in the Group 1 Premio Lydia Tesio over 10 furlongs on soft ground at Capannelle.
The other blacktype horses within the first three generations of the family are mostly listed-placed ones, with the exception of Chantilly Creme (by Johannesburg), a daughter of Via Milano's half-sister Creme De La Creme (by Vettori) and who won a six-furlong juvenile listed contest a month after being runner-up in the Group 3 Prix du Bois over five at Longchamp.
The style of racing in France may help Via Ravenna perform with credit in top middle-distance company but, as noted, there is also the chance, on pedigree, that the step up in trip will suit this potential Group 1 filly just fine.