The Grey Panel

Mizzen’s mastery

Many of the good horses who have been raced by Prince Khalid Abdullah have ended up as excellent stallions. It is very likely that the best of these will always have been , even though there has to be a slight chance that might end up challenging him for this title. In truth, though, Frankel will do well to establish a similar reputation for consistently siring good horses as has been put together by the 15-year-old US-based sire , whose profile received another good boost when his Breeders’ Cup-winning daughter landed the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches at Longchamp, writes John Berry.

Danehill raced for Prince Khalid Abdullah in the ‘80s, in which decade the Juddmonte breeding operation was still in its infancy. Nowadays, it is rare to see a horse bearing the Prince’s colours who is not a home-bred (under the names of either Juddmonte or Millsec Ltd) but in the early ‘80s the majority of his good horses were still ones whom he had bought. Danehill, who was a top-class sprinter/miler in the late ‘80s when trained for the Prince by Jeremy Tree, summed up the Juddmonte transition from buyer to breeder, being a first-generation Juddmonte-bred. He was the first foal of , a talented filly (notwithstanding the fact that she never won a race) whom the Prince had bought as a yearling for $350,000 in 1982 and who left Jeremy Tree’s stable to join the burgeoning Juddmonte broodmare band at the end of her racing career in the autumn of 1984.

Most of the good families who thrived for Juddmonte in the early days are still thriving for the operation now, with Razyana’s brood being a good example: her descendants currently racing for the Prince include the high-class three-year-old . Frankel is another example. The Prince bought his third dam as a yearling in 1980, two years before she was placed in the Lingfield Oaks Trial from Jeremy Tree’s stable. Sent to the Prince’s 1985 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner in 1989, Rockfest bred Frankel’s Lancashire Oaks-winning second dam who, sent to Danehill in 2000, bred Frankel’s Listed-winning dam . Mizzen Mast, though, is slightly different in that, although he is also a Juddmonte home-bred, he comes from a family which is not instantly identifiable as a Juddmonte breed.

Mizzen Mast’s dam was an American yearling purchase for the Prince in 1983, the year after he had bought Razyana. Unlike Razyana, Kinema remained in America, where she won one race. She had been an obvious purchase as her sire (a full-brother to Razyana’s sire ) was very popular at the time, while her family was then the height of fashion. Kinema’s dam had been a Grade Three winner in the States. At this time, Mrs Peterkin’s Grade Two-winning son was getting going as a stallion in South Africa (where he ended up being hugely successful) and, most pertinently, her Kentucky Oaks-winning daughter had just made the headlines by breeding , a top-priced yearling in 1981 (at $3,300,000) and winner in 1983 of the Irish Derby in the colours of Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum. Shareef Dancer, of course, ended up siring some very good racehorses including the Italian and Irish Oaks winner before becoming even better known as a broodmare sire, courtesy of the likes of , , , and this year’s 1,000 Guineas winner .

Kinema won one race in America before joining the Juddmonte broodmare band, for which she bred seven winners, headed by Mizzen Mast. She did not, though, become a notable Juddmonte matriarch, Mizzen Mast being her only Group/Grade winner and only one of her daughters () having bred a Group/Grade/Listed winner (, a Listed winner in England). The family in general, though, continues to throw up very good winners for other people, the best of whom has been the mighty (America’s Horse of the Year in 2010 and a great-great-grand-daughter of Mrs Peterkin) as well as Zenyatta’s year-older Grade One-winning half-sister .

Kinema visited an interesting selection of the more popular stallions in America (but not generally the most popular ones, which was fair enough as she hadn’t been a stakes performer and for most of her breeding career she did not appear to be a star producer). She was aged 14 when Mizzen Mast was conceived in 1997 and she hadn’t bred a Graded or Listed winner by the time. At that stage, her best sons had been the colts and , both of whom won in Europe before heading to America, where they each recorded a Grade Three minor placing. Kinema’s mate in 1997, therefore, was a good sire but not one of the most fashionable. She had not proved herself worthy of a place in the court of one of the really top stallions, but she still visited a decent sire: the grey Caro horse , who had won the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1985 and who had already produced top-liners on both sides of the Atlantic including , , and (who was particularly topical as he had won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996). This mating with Cozzene produced Mizzen Mast, who finally established Kinema as what she was bred to be: a distinguished broodmare .

Conceived and born in Kentucky, Mizzen Mast was brought to Europe as a yearling in 1999 so that he could join the stable in Chantilly of Criquette Head-Maarek. He made his debut the following summer at the Deauville August Carnival, the trainer entering him for a prestigious two-year-olds’ race, the Prix de Crevecouer. Only four colts lined up for this 1600m contest, but all four came from good stables and subsequent events showed that two of them (Mizzen Mast and the Pascal Bary-trained ) were on the threshold of Grade One-winning careers. Ridden by Olivier Doleuze, Mizzen Mast got off the mark at the first attempt.

It didn’t take long for it to become clear that the form of the Prix de Crevecoeur was strong, with , who finished last, breaking his maiden next time at Maisons-Laffitte, with Domedriver (who two years later would beat in the Breeders’ Cup Mile) following suit at Chantilly a week later. Mizzen Mast was duly pitched into Group company second time out, finishing second (beaten only a nose by , with two and a half lengths back in third) in the Group Three Prix des Chenes over 1600m at Longchamp in the second week of September. Disappointingly, his next run was not so good: he beat only one home when finishing sixth behind in the Group One Grand Criterium (still run over 1600m in those days) at Longchamp.

Although well beaten behind in a Listed race on his resumption as a three-year-old in 2001, Mizzen Mast went on to enjoy a successful season. Second time out he strolled home by six lengths in the Group Three Prix de Guiche over 1900m at Longchamp, while his third run of the year saw him finish second in the Group One Grand Prix de Paris (run at that time over 2000m and sponsored by Juddmonte) beaten one and a half lengths by . This run emboldened Head-Maarek to send him across the Atlantic for his next start, the Grade One Secretariat Stakes on the turf at Arlington on Arlington Million Day in the middle of August. He ran badly in that, but that did not deter connections from keeping him in America, a decision which was vindicated at the end of the year when - prepared by the Prince’s (now tragically deceased) American trainer Bobby Frankel, after whom Frankel was named - he landed the Grade One Malibu Stakes over seven furlongs on the dirt track at Santa Anita on Boxing Day.

Mizzen Mast seemed set to enjoy a rewarding four-year-old campaign in 2002, an impression which was strengthened when he slammed (who had also chased him home in the Malibu Stakes) by four and a half lengths in his first run of the year, the Grade Two Strub Stakes over nine furlongs on the dirt at Santa Anita in February. However, sadly that was that: injury intervened and he went through the rest of the year without racing, stumps being drawn on his racing days to allow him to start his stud career at Juddmonte’s American farm in Kentucky as a five-year-old in 2003, at a fee of $15,000.

During the subsequent decade, Mizzen Mast has consolidated his position as a stallion who, although in the second division of fashion, consistently sires good winners. His fee has alternated slightly on either side of its opening figure (its zenith to date came in 2008 when he commanded $20,000, while its nadir was in 2011 and ’12, when he covered for $12,500) and he is currently back at $15,000, its recent resurgence having come as a result of Flotilla’s victory in the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last autumn.

Mizzen Mast clearly progressed well as he matured, until injury intervened during his third season in training. His stock seem similarly progressive, with even the best two-year-old whom he has sired to date (Flotilla) clearly having shown further improvement from two to three. The star of his first crop, the Bobby Frankel-bred and –trained , landed his best victory (in the Grade One Hollywood Gold Cup in 2008) as a four-year-old and recorded a Grade Three victory at five; while another first-crop graded stakes winner (the Juddmonte home-bred ) landed the Grade Two Raven Run Stakes as a three-year-old before taking two Grade Three races aged four. Interestingly, though, his first graded stakes winner came in Japan, his first-crop son having made his way to Japan in time to run there as a two-year-old in 2006, when he won the Grade Three Hyogo Junior Grand Prix before finishing second to the following year’s Japan Dirt Derby winner in the Grade One Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun.

Mizzen Mast has been supported by Juddmonte throughout his career, but not with Juddmonte’s best mares. He has similarly not attracted star matrons from other breeders, but even so his tally of stakes victories is good. He recorded his second Grade One strike in 2009 when his second-crop son landed the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (trained by Bobby Frankel for Prince Khalid Abdullah) as a four-year-old; while his third Grade One scorer won the Hollywood Derby in 2011. Flotilla, of course, became his fourth Grade One winner when winning at last year’s Breeders’ Cup Meeting – and she now ranks as his first European Group One winner, courtesy of her Poule d’Essai des Pouliches triumph. Previously, the closest his relatively few European representatives had come to Group One glory had been in 2007, when (trained, as his sire had been, by Criquette Head-Maarek for Prince Khalid Abdullah) had finished third in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

Flotilla is proving a fine advertisement for Mizzen Mast, a very good stallion who continues to provide good value for American (and international) breeders. It is particularly fitting that Flotilla has provided her latest advertisement by winning one of France’s biggest races: the sire-line, from which Mizzen Mast hails, has been hugely influential on French racing over the past six decades or so, and Flotilla has become merely the latest of many products of the line to post a victory in one of France’s ‘Guineas’ equivalent Classics. Granted more of Mizzen Mast’s stock coming to Europe, there is no reason why there should not be more of the same to follow suit in years to come.

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