Little changes when it comes to Dubai World Cup night. Back on the calendar after its Covid-enforced hiatus, it marked another celebration of the Godolphin blue, with Mystic Guide handing Sheikh Mohammed’s flagship operation a ninth success in the $12 million event. By coincidence, the colt also hails from the same family as Godolphin’s 2018 and 2019 winner of the race, Thunder Snow. So overall, it was quite an appropriate outcome for the race, a brainchild of Sheikh Mohammed’s now in its landmark 25th year.
Mystic Guide and Thunder Snow both descend from the Florida-bred mare A Wind Is Rising. As a son of Ghostzapper out of five-time American Grade 1 winner Music Note, dirt was always going to be Mystic Guide’s calling and as such, he sits among Godolphin’s American string, in his case in the barn of Michael Stidham.
By contrast, Thunder Snow possesses turf connections, as a son of top Australian runners Helmet, latterly an underwhelming shuttler to Europe, and the Dubai Destination mare Eastern Joy.
Yet with his ability to mix it with the best on turf and dirt, the four-time Group 1 winner was also a remarkably versatile creature. In short, Thunder Snow came to represent much of what we have come to expect from the A Wind Is Rising clan; talented, sound and versatile.
Thunder Snow was retired in 2020 to stand at Darley’s Japanese base, where he was a popular addition as the recipient of 152 mares. Despite losing its flagbearer, however, the extended family has continued to shine on a global scale.
In America, Mystic Guide rose through the ranks to land the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga and Moon Over Miami won the Listed Dueling Grounds Derby (the Malibu Moon colt also ran second in the Grade 2 Pan American Stakes at Gulfstream Park just hours after Mystic Guide’s Meydan romp on Saturday).
In Europe, fellow descendant State Of Rest emerged as a juvenile of note for Joseph O’Brien, notably when running third in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, as did Umm Kulthum, winner of the Firth Of Clyde Stakes and third in the Cheveley Park Stakes for Richard Fahey. Older horses Make A Challenge, a four-time Listed winner last season, and Bahrain Trophy runner-up Dawn Rising also represented the line with credit as did the Group 2-placed Musica in Japan. The family is even the foundation for talented hurdler Song For Someone.
The source of this excellence, A Wind Is Rising, was foaled in Florida in 1969. A daughter of the Royal Charger stallion Francis S., winner of the 1960 Wood Memorial, she was a half-sister to Grade 2 winner and Kentucky Derby also-ran Native Royalty and although A Wind Is Rising was not in that class herself, she did win once as a two-year-old.
🇺🇸 The $12 million Dubai World Cup goes to the USA!
— Meydan Racing (@MeydanRacing) March 27, 2021
The fact that A Wind Is Rising left behind only three fillies makes her subsequent reach all the more remarkable.
Thunder Snow is a great-grandson of her first filly, Morning Has Broken, an unplaced daughter of Prince John. Via her Affirmed daughter Morning Devotion, Morning Has Broken also became the granddam of Balanchine, the 1994 Oaks and Irish Derby heroine who set Godolphin on its way as a global racing force, and great-granddam of Sheikh Mohammed’s 2007 Prix de Diane winner West Wind.
As for Thunder Snow, he is one of five stakes winners out of West Wind’s half-sister Eastern Joy, a living blue hen for Godolphin; others out of the mare include the ill-fated May Hill Stakes winner Ihtimal, Oh So Sharp Stakes winner First Victory, UAE 1,000 Guineas heroine Winter Lightning, Listed handicap scorer Always Smile and the 101-rated Eastern World, who went off favourite for Saturday’s Lincoln Handicap.
While the Morning Has Broken family has become an important cog to the health of Godolphin, it has also fared well in other hands – think Irish Derby winner Sovereign, bred by Barronstown Stud, top Australian colt Trust In A Gust, bred by Adam Sangster, and 2007 Moyglare Stud Stakes heroine Saoirse Abu, who was bred by White Cloud Bloodstock and Omar Trevino (Saoirse Abu did join Darley when sold for 1,950,000gns at the end of her racing career).
While Morning Has Broken’s race record read two unplaced starts, nothing could be further from the case in A Wind Is Rising’s second filly, It’s In The Air.
For the 1975 season, breeder Happy Valley Farm decided to take a chance on Mr. Prospector, an excellent sprinter hindered by soundness issues who had retired to stand at Aisco Farm in Florida. A Graded stakes win had eluded Mr. Prospector but he had been fast enough to break the Gulfstream Park 6f track record and run second to Forego in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap.
Owner Butch Savin installed Mr. Prospector at his farm in Ocala at a fee of $7,500 and out of a first crop of 28, he threw four stakes winners. They included the A Wind Is Rising filly, It’s In The Air, who was America’s co-champion two-year-old filly of her year by virtue of wins in the Arlington-Washington Lassie and Oak Leaf Stakes. Mr. Prospector ended 1978 as America’s leading first-crop sire and by 1980 had shifted to Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, where he continued his development as a breed-shaping stallion.
In contrast to her sire, It’s In The Air was tough as teak, packing in 16 wins in 43 starts from ages two to five.
A good day all round for this special family – Music Note welcomed a colt by Medaglia d’Oro earlier today, before her son Mystic Guide landed the Dubai World Cup! 😍🙌🏻 pic.twitter.com/MVT7lBrQRS
— Godolphin (@godolphin) March 27, 2021
Having shifted from Jerry Frankel to Laz Barrera midway through her juvenile campaign, It’s In The Air had another championship season at three when she won four Grade 1 races – the Vanity Handicap, Alabama Sakes, Delaware Oaks and Ruffian Handicap. She returned at four to win the 1980 renewal of the Vanity.
It’s In The Air ended her racing days in the ownership of Due Process Stable and when that entity was dispersed in 1984, she was naturally a major highlight in foal to Seattle Slew, commanding $4.6 million from Darley Stud Management. She left behind one foal for Due Process, a Northern Dancer filly who became minor American stakes winner Air Dancer.
It proved to be money well spent by Darley. The Seattle Slew filly she was carrying at the time of her purchase was the French Group 2-winning two-year-old Bitooh, a rare scorer at European Pattern level for her top American sire. In later years she would foal Listed winner Monaasabaat (by Zilzal), herself a multiple stakes producer, and the Group 3-placed Sous Entendu (by Shadeed), later the dam of German Group 2 winner Slip Stream and granddam of Australian Group 1 winner Alverta.
Another daughter, Try To Catch Me, foaled Storming Home, whose three wins at the top level included the 2002 Champion Stakes.
To date, 54 stakes horses descend from It’s In The Air, among them the aforementioned Umm Kulthum, State Of Rest, Moon Over Miami and of course, Mystic Guide.
While It’s In The Air foaled nine winners, Mystic Guide’s granddam Note Musicale was not one of them. However, the daughter of Sadler’s Wells more than made up for it at stud, initially as the dam of 2003 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches heroine Musical Chimes, a rare European representative of the Californian sire In Excess who also took the Grade 1 John C Mabee Handicap for Neil Drysdale in the US.
Music Note, her 2005 filly by A.P. Indy, was even more accomplished. Officially trained by Saeed bin Suroor yet campaigned in the US, Music Note won the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks and Gazelle Stakes by daylight during an outstanding three-year-old season and returned to take the Grade 1 Beldame and Ballerina Stakes at four. She also ran third in two renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.
Music Note is now 16-years-old and until Mystic Guide popped up, boasted a stud career that consisted of just two minor winners, albeit led by seven-time scorer Ventura Highway.
Mystic Guide is her sixth foal and in fairness to the mare, is followed by the promising Gershwin, a son of Distorted Humor who won his second start at Fair Grounds for the Stidham barn in February.
Mystic Guide becomes the 13th Group or Grade 1 winner and highest earner by veteran Kentucky sire Ghostzapper.
Frank Stronach’s homebred was a brilliant performer for Bobby Frankel, landing the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Woodward Stakes, Metropolitan Handicap and Vosburgh Stakes – performances that led to an almost unheard of first-year fee $200,000. Ghostzapper hasn’t always lived up to those expectations under the Adena Springs banner but he has made his name as a solid source of talent, with champion sprinter Judy The Beauty leading the way alongside Canadian champions Shaman Ghost, Holy Helena and Hunters Bay.
Now 21-years-old, he was switched across Kentucky to Hill ’n’ Dale Farm at Xalapa for 2021 following the closure of Adena Springs’ Kentucky division, and stands for $85,000.
Ghostzapper has several sons at stud, including Shaman Ghost (at Adena Springs North in Canada) and Grade 2 winner McCraken (at Airdrie Farm in Kentucky), and no doubt Mystic Guide will make a popular addition in due course. However, he is already regarded as a broodmare sire of real note thanks to the high-flying achievements of Justify, Drefong, Bobby’s Wicked One and American Gal.
Incidentally, Mystic Guide’s World Cup victory continued an excellent run for the Awesome Again sire line, also recently represented by the Pegasus World Cup hero Knicks Go (by Paynter) and Louisiana Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie (by Oxbow).