For a family so strong in the sale ring, there is an irony in the fact that the latest celebrity to descend from Best In Show, Saturday’s Belmont Stakes winner Arcangelo, is something of a bargain.
Arcangelo is out of a mare, Modeling, who was bought by his breeders Don Alberto Corporation for $2.85 million. Her siblings include the $1.475 million filly Achieving, herself dam of a Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale-topper in the $3.65 million colt Cezanne, and Streaming, whose War Front colt topped the 2018 Keeneland September Sale at $2.4 million. In turn, they are out of Teeming, who was knocked down for $1.5 million as a foal. And Teeming is a daughter of blue hen Better Than Honour, who set a world record for a broodmare at auction at Fasig-Tipton in 2008 when Mike Moreno’s Southern Equine Farm bought out John Sikura on a valuation of $14 million.
By all accounts, the colt was immature at the time of his sale – he is after all a mid-May foal
By contrast, Arcangelo was snapped up by Jon Ebbert of Blue Rose Farm for just $35,000 as a Keeneland September Book 3 yearling.
The auction values of various family members underlines the high regard in which this family is held and indeed Arcangelo is the third Belmont Stakes winner to descend from its immediate reaches in recent years following Rags To Riches and Jazil, both out of Better Than Honour.
So what happened to Arcangelo? By all accounts, the colt was immature at the time of his sale – he is after all a mid-May foal – while it is on the record that vet reports showed the presence of sesamoiditis, all of which requires a patient approach.
It must also be remembered that the market was cold to his sire Arrogate at the time. The strapping son of Unbridled’s Song had required plenty of patience and his progeny, which tend to be tall individuals like himself, are not dissimilar. Indeed, not one of his first-crop two-year-olds landed black-type. With the disappointments of various high-profile sire sons of Unbridled’s Song also fresh in the mind, the market approached his second crop with some disinterest, as can be deduced by his Keeneland September median that year of $97,500 – off a second-year fee of $75,000.
Then it all changed. In early January 2022, Alittleloveandluck became Arrogate’s first stakes winner in the Ginger Brew Stakes at Gulfstream Park. All the while, another daughter, Secret Oath, was making her way to the top of the three-year-old fillies division, a progression that would culminate with a victory in the Kentucky Oaks for D Wayne Lukas. That first crop has also come to include another top filly in the Grade 1 La Brea and Santa Monica Stakes winner Fun To Dream, co-bred by Arrogate’s trainer Bob Baffert.
Arrogate’s second crop has been even more successful and interestingly, more precocious
Arrogate’s second crop has been even more successful and interestingly, more precocious. The Del Mar meeting last September was lit up by the Grade 1 wins of two-year-olds Cave Rock in the Del Mar Futurity and And Tell Me Nolies in the Debutante Stakes. Then earlier this year, Affirmative Lady jumped into the Kentucky Oaks picture by taking the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks.
As for Arcangelo, he has taken time as anticipated but has rewarded the patience of Ebbert and trainer Jena Antonucci in return, initially progressing from a Gulfstream Park maiden to win to a hard fought victory in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park. That performance earned him a shot in the Belmont Stakes and the step up in trip did him no harm, with the colt staying on well to hold off the late challenge of champion two-year-old Forte in a historic victory that handed a first American Classic success to a female trainer.
The Belmont was only Arcangelo’s fifth run so it stands to reason that there is a bit more to come. Arrogate, a $560,000 yearling purchase by Juddmonte, didn’t break his maiden until early June of his three-year-old season. However come the end of the year, he was the country’s champion three-year-old colt thanks to that incredible 13 ½ length victory in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes in a time of 1.59.36, the fastest ever 1m2f run at Saratoga, and defeat of California Chrome in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was brilliant again early the following year when snaring the inaugural Pegasus World Cup before a successful raid on the Dubai World Cup, won despite a horribly awkward start. The winning run ended there, with the colt failing to fire on his final three starts in the US; but that shouldn’t detract from the memory of his golden run between the summer of 2016 and spring of 2017 when nothing on dirt could touch him.
The sadness, as we know, is that Arrogate was dead before his first crop had hit the track
As the sun set on the 2018 breeding season at Juddmonte Farms’ Kentucky division, the operation could bask in the satisfaction of having successfully launched the stallion career of Arrogate, one of the most iconic American racehorses in living memory. The sadness, as we know, is that Arrogate was dead before his first crop had hit the track, succumbing to an illness in June 2020 that had left him unable to stand.
Such a runner of Arrogate’s magnitude was always going to be assisted a depth of quality mares. That first book included a number of Grade 1 winners and producers belonging to outsider breeders, among them champion Songbird, as well as those from Juddmonte, some of whom had been sourced specifically for the job. The end result was a first book that consisted of 63 Graded stakes winners or producers, including 30 at Grade 1 level.
As a result, there was little excuse for failure but in return he has delivered, certainly more effectively than plenty of other sire sons of Unbridled’s Song.
Arcangelo’s female family certainly fits into that category of high-quality. His fifth dam is the blue hen Best In Show, from whom an array of stars descend. A daughter of Traffic Judge bred by Philip Connors in 1965 out of Stolen Hour, herself a daughter of champion handicap mare Late Date, Best In Show won the Comely Stakes during a busy career for Clearview Stables and Jack Skirvin before changing hands to Anne Forsythe.
Forsythe bred her first seven foals, the majority of whom would go on to leave some kind of legacy. Her first foal, Sex Appeal (by Buckpasser), bred El Gran Senor and Try My Best and is the ancestress of Group/Grade 1 winners such as Almond Eye, Domedriver and Bahamian Pirate. Her fourth, Malinowski (by Sir Ivor), was the Irish champion two-year-old colt of 1975 for Vincent O’Brien. Her sixth, Minnie Hauk (by Sir Ivor), foaled Group 1 winners Chief Contender and Aviance (dam/ancestress of such Niarchos-bred stars as Denon, Chimes Of Freedom, Spinning World, Aldebaran and War Of Will) while her seventh, Show Lady, also by Sir Ivor, spawned a major legacy in Australia led by champion sire Redoute’s Choice.
Best In Show was subsequently purchased by Darrell and Lindy Brown, owners of Stonereath Farm in Kentucky, and her successful association with Sir Ivor, then at Claiborne Farm, continued. In 1977, she foaled another Sir Ivor filly in Monroe, winner of the Ballyogan Stakes for Robert Sangster. Monroe was later bought privately by Khalid Abdullah, for whom she bred Xaar and founded a dynasty that today includes Bated Breath, Cityscape, Logician and Siskin among many others.
Better Than Honour pulled off the remarkable feat of producing back-to-back Belmont Stakes winners in Jazil and the filly Rags To Riches
Champagne Stakes winner Gielgud, foaled in 1978, was the final foal for Best In Show by Sir Ivor. She was switched to Blushing Groom that season and with great results when the resulting filly turned out to be the 1982 Kentucky Oaks winner Blush With Pride. Like her half-sisters before her, Blush With Pride became a producer of immense influence, initially as the dam of Paul de Moussac’s 1995 Prix d’Astarte heroine Smolensk and then Better Than Honour, a daughter of Deputy Minister bred by Carl Icahn’s Foxfield operation who won Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct. By that time, Blush With Pride was in the hands of the Coolmore partners, for whom she bred the Beresford Stakes winner Turnberry Isle and Fillies’ Mile runner-up Maryinsky, herself dam of champion Peeping Fawn and fellow Group 1 winner Thewayyouare.
That merely provide a snapshot of this powerful family, which has also been enhanced significantly by the deeds of Better Than Honour, who pulled off the remarkable feat of producing back-to-back Belmont Stakes winners in Jazil (2006) and the filly Rags To Riches, who defeated Curlin to win in 2007 – hence Better Than Honour’s $14 million valuation in November 2008. Another foal, Casino Drive, won the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes for Japanese connections.
Better Than Honour’s Storm Cat daughter Teeming didn’t land black-type but she was talented enough to win three of her four starts in Canada and California for John Sikura. The Hill ’n’ Dale owner has since cultivated this line to good effect as the breeder of no fewer than five stakes horses out of the mare headed by Streaming, winner of the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes as a two-year-old. The aforementioned Achieving has also foaled three Graded stakes winners topped by Cezanne, who backed up his lofty breeze-up valuation by winning the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes.
Modeling, the sixth foal out of Teeming, never made it to the track. In fact, the daughter of Tapit was put in foal to Distorted Humor as a two-year-old and sold later that year for $2.85 million to the Solari family’s Don Alberto Corporation. The first American-bred Grade 1 winner for his breeder, Arcangelo is her fifth foal and the best of two winners out of the mare after Montmartre (by Distorted Humor).
Of course, Modeling’s sire Tapit deserves plenty of credit in all this. He’s been remarkable for Gainesway Farm, rising from a $12,500 stallion to multiple champion sire. The Belmont Stakes has been a key race in that body of work thanks to four winners, namely Tonalist, Creator, Tapwrit and Essential Quality. One of Tapit’s sons, the high-class young sire Constitution, is also responsible for the 2020 winner Tiz The Law.
Now in the twilight of his stud career, Tapit has a range of successful sons at stud and is well established as a broodmare sire of the highest order; Arcangelo is his 13th Group/Grade 1 winner in that department, a list that also includes the Kentucky Oaks heroine Pretty Mischievous, also successful in Friday’s Grade 1 Acorn Stakes, and Saturday’s impressive Metropolitan Mile winner Cody’s Wish.
The cross of Arrogate over Tapit results in inbreeding to Unbridled, a pattern that also appears in the background of Belmont Stakes third Tapit Trice and the 2019 runner-up Tacitus, another descendant of Best In Show. Secret Oath, meanwhile, is inbred 4×3 to Unbridled’s sire Fappiano.
Arcangelo’s background also carries inbreeding to Deputy Minister, in keeping with Affirmative Lady and first-crop son Artorius, the wide margin winner of last year’s Curlin Stakes for Juddmonte. In fact, Artorius is inbred 4×4 to Deputy Minister and 3×4 to Unbridled, just like Arcangelo.
In Arcangelo and Cave Rock at least, there is hopefully a chance for Arrogate’s sire line to live on at stud. As far as Arcangelo is concerned, he comes supported by one of the world’s deepest families – and for Jon Ebbert, all for the drop of the hammer at $35,000.