With all the recent hype about the racecourse debut of Cunco, the first ever runner for the great Frankel (by Galileo), I was reminded of similar hype 14 years earlier.
Dubai Millennium (by Seeking The Gold) was one of the most brilliant racehorses of the modern era, but the Timeform 140-rated champion died during his first season at stud. It was widely hoped that at least one member of his sole crop would become a star and keep his name alive, and so there was great excitement on 4th June 2004 when the Saeed bin Suroor-trained juvenile Dubawi made his debut in a six-furlong Goodwood maiden.
He duly won, he added the Group 3 Superlative Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket a month later, and his only other outing that year was in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh, which he won by three lengths. Timeform rated him 123p, and although he was only fifth in the Group 1 2000 Guineas on his seasonal reappearance at three, he went on to prove himself to be one of the best horses in training, moving up to a Timeform figure of 129.
Dubawi beat Oratorio by two lengths in the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas, he was not disgraced when finishing an eight-length third behind Motivator in the Group 1 Derby at Epsom, and two months later he beat Whipper by a length and a half to take the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois over a mile at Deauville. He was runner-up to Starcraft in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, run that year at Newmarket, on his final start, and then took up the vacancy left by his late sire at Dalham Hall Stud.
Dubawi has been a phenomenal success. Almost two-thirds of his tally of 106 stakes-winning progeny is made up of group race winners and 23 of them have won at least once at the highest level somewhere in the world. His earliest stallion sons include the Group 1 2000 Guineas and Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois scorer Makfi, whose first crop features the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) and Group 1 Prix de la Foret star Make Believe (stands at Ballylinch Stud), and the Dubawi stallions also include Dalham Hall Stud resident Poet's Voice.
Poet's Voice was a 10-length winner over seven furlongs at Newmarket on his second start, he finished third to Elusive Pimpernel in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes, beat Viscount Nelson by three-parts of a length in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes and then finished a two-length fourth behind Awzaan in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes. He finished that season on a Timeform figure of 114, but as a three-year-old he raised that to 126.
He was unplaced in his first two starts that year but showed signs of a return to form when failing by a nose to beat Sea Lord in the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes over a mile at Salisbury in August. Just over two weeks later he won the Group 2 Celebration Mile by four and a half lengths at Goodwood, and a month after that he beat Rip Van Winkle by a nose in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
His four-year-old campaign paled in comparison, as he was without a win in five starts, and the better of his two Group 2 placings was his neck second to Wigmore Hall in the Group 2 Jebel Hatta over nine furlongs at Meydan. His early progeny proved popular at the sales and the oldest of them are three-year-olds.
Poeta Diletto (dam by Selkirk) and Voice Of Love (dam by Tale Of The Cat) gave him a one-two in the Group 3 Premio Guido Berardelli at Capannelle in November, the latter has a San Siro listed success to his name and was runner-up in a similar contest over 10 furlongs at heavy ground on Sunday, while the former won the Group 3 Premio Parioli (Italian 2000 Guineas) last month.
Whitman (dam by Sunday Silence), a Mark Johnston-trained colt who holds an entry in the Listed Investec Surrey Stakes at Epsom on Friday, won the Listed Ripon Champion 2yo Trophy in August, and the stallion's other blacktype horse is Ode To Evening (dam by Nedawi), another Kingsley Park resident, who was beaten by a nose in a listed contest over a mile at Lingfield in April.
This is not quite the exciting start for which we might have hoped, but it should not be forgotten that his career as a racehorse really took off in the summer of his three-year-old season, so perhaps the best members of his first crop will show a similar pattern.
Poet's Voice is out of a winning full-sister to Chief Honcho (by Chief's Crown), a millionaire and 10-times scorer who won the Grade 1 Brooklyn Handicap, the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes and the Grade 2 Excelsior Handicap. The races in which he was placed included the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes, the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes, the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap and another edition of the Grade 1 Brooklyn Handicap, his progeny included several stakes winners and horses with high win tallies, but he died at the end of his fourth season at stud.
The mare's name is Bright Tiara, she won once as a two-year-old, and the better of her other two stakes winners is Gold Tiara (by Seeking The Gold) who is very closely related to Poet's Voice. She was a blacktype winner over seven and nine furlongs in Japan as a three-year-old and hit her peak at four when her stakes victories featured the Mile Championship Nambu Hai, which carried local Group 1 status. Gold Tiara's son Golden Hind (by Kurofune) was a stakes winner at the age of six and his full-sister Kokoshink is the dam of Staphanos (by Deep Impact), an eight and nine furlong pattern scorer at the age of three and twice Group 1-placed over 10 furlongs at four.
Queen's Park (by Relaunch), who is the other of Poet's Voice's stakes-winning siblings, got her listed success at three and the best of her three blacktype progeny is Gemswick Park (by Speightstown) who was third in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes over a mile as a juvenile and won a Grade 3 sprint at Gulfstream Park three months later.
Expressive Dance (by Riva Ridge), who is the grandam of Poet's Voice, won a dozen of her 23 starts from two to four years of age, and in addition to her afore mentioned star son Chief Honcho, this triple Grade 3 scorer is the ancestor of a string of stakes winners. Two of them are of particular note, namely American Chance and Dance To Bristol.
American Chance (by Cure The Blues) won the Grade 2 Jersey Derby and the Grade 2 Forego Handicap, he was placed in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes and in the Grade 1 Meadowlands Cup Handicap, and his tally of over 30 individual stakes winners include the multiple Grade 1-placed dual Grade 2 scorer Bending Strings (best at three and four), the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes winner America Alive (best at four), and high-earners such as Eye Of The Tiger, Devine Wind and Mor Chances, who also got their best wins as older horses.
Dance To Bristol (by Speightstown), on the other hand, won six-furlong listed contests at two and three years of age but hit her peak as a four-year-old when she won the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes, Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap, Grade 3 Bed o' Roses Handicap, and a couple of listed contests, bringing her career earnings to over $980,000.
If you look at the third generation of the pedigree then you will find a lot of Grade 1 form, starting with General Assembly (by Secretariat) who was a half-brother to Expressive Dance. He was a star at two and three years of age, won the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes and Grade 1 Travers Stakes, was runner-up to Spectacular Bid in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, and although he got some stakes and pattern-winning offspring without making big impact at stud, he does still appear in the pedigrees of some notable winners. His son Presidium, for example, is the broodmare sire of classic and multiple Group/Grade 1 star Cape Blanco (by Galileo) and his Grade 3-winning daughter Gather The Clan is the dam of Breeders' Cup- and Kentucky Oaks-placed dual Grade 1 star Pure Clan (by Pure Prize).
The other top-level winners that appear in various branches of the third generation of the family include Gold Fever (by Forty Niner), Boisterous (by Distorted Humor), R Heat Lightning (by Trippi) and George Vancouver (by Henrythenavigator) – all of whom, like Poet's Voice, represent the broad Mr Prospector (by Raise A Native) sire line – and others include Versailles Treaty (by Danzig) and Bellamy Road (by Concerto).
Poet's Voice was a talented juvenile but a much better performer in the second half of his three-year-old season. Top form at three and four years of age is something of a tendency in his family, even though some of his near and distant relations also excelled at two, and it is possible that some of his early progeny will show a similar pattern of development. With three juvenile stakes winners among his first crop he has already proved that he can sire talented two-year-olds, and with everything about him taken into account, we should probably wait until the end of the year before making pronouncements about his long-term potential.
POET'S VOICE (GB) – b.2007 – Dubawi – Bright Tiara, 4 wins inc Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Gr1), Celebration Mile (Gr2), Champagne Stakes (Gr2), 2nd Jebel Hatta (Gr2), Sovereign Stakes (Gr3), 3rd Joel Stakes (Gr2), Acomb Stakes (Gr3). Sire in England & Australia. First foals in 2013. 3 SW inc POETA DILETTO (Gr3), VOICE OF LOVE, WHITMAN, etc.