By Sid Fernando
Ashford Stud’s Giant’s Causeway, the leading US sire of 2009, hasn’t skipped a beat through the first seven weeks of 2010 and was the name of the game (along with trainer Todd Pletcher) in Saturday’s classic preps on both coasts. At Gulfstream Park in Florida, Zayat Stable’s Giant’s Causeway colt Eskendereya was dominant in the G2 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes, winning off by 8½ lengths from the good Florida stakes winner Jackson Bend; in California at Golden Gate, the Giant’s Causeway colt Connemara won the G3 El Camino Real Derby by 1¼ lengths for Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derek Smith – the Coolmore group. Both colts, by the way, are trained by Todd Pletcher, who also was responsible for G2 Risen Star Stakes winner Discreetly Mine at the Fairgrounds in Louisiana on the same day.
Both Eskendereya and Connemara won their races over trips of 9f, but the former won on dirt in 1:48 4/5 while the latter covered the distance in 1:51 1/5 over the all weather to underline the great versatility of their sire, who raced over turf in Europe and not surprisingly is a sire of top-class grass horses, too. But as a son of the great American sire Storm Cat, Giant’s Causeway appropriately stands in Kentucky, at Coolmore’s US satellite Ashford Stud. He’s been here since 2002, after beginning his career at Coolmore in Ireland in 2001. He will always be remembered here for his brilliant last-race performance in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic over dirt, when he gave Tiznow all he could handle in a runner-up performance after a full and busy season in Europe.
It’s become apparent every year that surface isn’t a problem for the progeny of this exceptional sire, who consistently gets high-class runners on turf, all weather, and dirt, despite having covered large books of mares that would ordinarily dilute a sire’s effectiveness statistically. Simply put, however, he is one of the most influential young sires in the world, and his few young sons at stud to date already have made impacts quickly, too. Note that on Feb. 11 at Meydan in Dubai, the Giant’s Causeway sire Shamardal’s 3yo first-crop daughter Siyaadah won the UAE 1000 Guineas on all weather; last year, Shamardal was the leading first-crop sire in Great Britain, while the another son, Footstepsinthesand (25 2yo winners), was ranked among the leaders, too.
Jack Werk wrote an outstanding piece on Giant’s Causeway in this space on Dec. 2, 2009, and I’m not going to regurgitate what Jack wrote about the sire here, except to note that Jack put the stallion’s 2010 stud fee of $100,000 – down from $125,000 in 2009 – in great perspective when he wrote: “Coolmore did breed him to very large books, which made it almost impossible for him to show profitability by yearling median sales, but GC’s absolutely amazing ability to get the ‘big horse’ – isn’t that what breeding is all about? – at a very consistent rate makes him an exceptional stallion at a very reasonable price!” Well put!
At this time of year, the “big” horse is a classics contender, and Giant’s Causeway has two more to date in the US so far.
Click here to read Jack’s Dec. 2, 2009, post.