By Sid Fernando
When Coolmore retired the Australian-bred Choisir horse Starspangledbanner to stud in 2011, it was at the height of Aussie sprinter mania around the world, and Starspangledbanner had all the right credentials. In England, the multiple Australian G1-winning sprinter—who had won up to the mile distance of the G1 Caulfield Guineas—won the 2010 G1 Golden Jubilee Stakes, as had his own Aussie-bred sire in 2003, and the G1 July Cup before running second of 12 to Sole Power in the G1 Nunthorpe. Australian speed merchants Silent Witness, Takeover Target, Scenic Blast, and Choisir himself, to name a few, had put the brand on the map, and such as Ortensia and Black Caviar would follow.
Starspangledbanner, from the male line of Danzig through Danehill, Danehill Dancer, and Choisir, proved to be subfertile, however, and was put back in training in 2012. He made six starts after getting a taste for the mares and was a shadow of his previous self. He placed once in an Irish G3 and ended his career for good in March of 2013 when 14th of 16 in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan. That fall, he quietly began a second tour of stud duty in Australia at Rosemont Stud, where he had been foaled and raised.
A winner of seven races from 23 starts and earnings of nearly Aus$3 million, Starspangledbanner’s fortunes turned this summer at Royal Ascot, where he himself had once starred. Improbably from limited opportunity—he has only 33 first-crop foals—he got two Royal Ascot G2 winners, The Wow Signal in the Coventry on June 17 and Anthem Alexander in the Queen Mary Stakes the next day.
He now has a total of seven first-crop winners, and on Sunday, August 24, The Wow Signal won the G1 Prix Morny at Deauville from a strong field that included Quality Road’s American-trained Royal Ascot SW Hootenanny and the previously unbeaten French G3 winner Ervedya, a daughter of the exciting French first-crop stallion Siyouni.
The Wow Signal is undefeated in three starts, and his success means that Starspangledbanner will get another shot pulling Northern Hemisphere duty at Coolmore. The stallion is currently in his second season at Rosemont, after which he will shuttle to Ireland for 2015. With all that he’s done to date—and it’s a lot—he will be given every chance to build on his early success.
The Wow Signal is bred on the Choisir/Sadler’s Wells cross, which is a B+ Werk Nick Rating. Click here to view. Note, however, that the European GeoNick—the Werk Nick Rating that’s based on the stakes winners from a specific geographic location, in this case Europe—is an A Werk Nick Rating based on the broader Danehill Dancer/Sadler’s Wells cross. Click here to view.