Even against the week’s plethora of top-level racing, the action from a bloodstock perspective arguably belonged to Sacred Shield, who achieved the distinguished feat of producing high-profile stakes-winning fillies on both sides of the Atlantic.
The elder of the pair, Viadera, added to her haul on Saturday with a late charge to snatch the Grade 2 Ballston Spa Stakes at Saratoga. Viadera began her career with Ger Lyons, for whom she won the Cairn Rouge Stakes at Killarney, and has continued to progress Stateside with Chad Brown, winning a further four races including last year’s Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar. The five-year-old mare sits atop a stud record for Bated Breath that consists of 12 Group or Graded stakes winners, and indeed perhaps it won’t be long until she is joined at the head of that list by her younger sister Sacred Bridge.
The two-year-old has swept through her first four starts unbeaten for the Lyons team. Uncomplicated and with a smart turn of foot, she won the Listed Tipperary Stakes prior to landing the valuable Ballyhane Stud Stakes and was even more impressive at the Curragh on Friday when putting the colts firmly in their place in the Heider Family Round Tower Stakes, scooting clear for a near four-length success.
As is so often the case with Juddmonte runners, the siblings’ background bears the stamp of Prince Khalid Abdullah from top to bottom.
Their sire Bated Breath is, of course, by Dansili and descends from the Juddmonte foundation mare Monroe via Tantina, a daughter of former Juddmonte Kentucky stallion Distant View.
As for Sacred Shield, she is a daughter of another former Juddmonte stallion in Beat Hollow and a granddaughter of Lost Virtue, who joined the fold when purchased for $375,000 in 1986.
“The siblings’ background bears the stamp of Prince Khalid Abdullah from top to bottom”
As such, it is a background that blends the influence of Juddmonte matriarchs Sookera, Seven Springs, Monroe, Bahamian and Lost Virtue. It also results in inbreeding to Blushing Groom via Nashwan, the sire of Bated Breath’s granddam Didina, and Quandary, dam of Sacred Shield.
Lost Virtue wasn’t a young mare when purchased out of the Mill Ridge Farm draft in November 1986 while in foal to Topsider. Unraced and by a nondescript sire in Cloudy Dawn, the mare – then a ten-year-old – earned attention having produced two smart horses, American Listed winner Full Virtue and French Group 3 winner Over The Ocean, to a pair of average stallions in Full Out and Super Concorde. She also boasted a fine back pedigree, being out of a half-sister to the brilliant American colt and influential sire Damascus.
Lost Virtue’s second living foal for Juddmonte was the wonderful Riverman filly All At Sea, who went from Wolverhampton maiden winner to Group 1-winning miler within a year for Sir Henry Cecil. One of the best three-year-old fillies of 1992, she also ran second in the Oaks and Juddmonte International in a testament to her versatility.
Lost Virtue also foaled Quandary, who was trained by Cecil to win the Listed James Seymour Stakes at Newmarket, while the Topsider colt that she was carrying at the time of her purchase, Doubtful Motive, is also worthy of mention as a 14-time winner in a career that spanned 126 starts.
In all, Lost Virtue left behind nine winners. All At Sea was by far the best and although she bred nothing more accomplished than a Listed winner in Insinuate, her own line today encompasses the French and American top-level winners Mutual Trust and Antonoe.
— NYRA (🎪) (@TheNYRA) August 28, 2021
Another daughter outside the Juddmonte fold, Quack A Doodledoo, also became the granddam of Banshee Breeze, the champion American three-year-old filly of 1998 by virtue of wins in the Alabama Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks and Spinster Stakes.
Yet as we saw again at the weekend, it is the influence of Quandary that remains a driving force behind the fortunes of this family.
Her daughter Double Crossed won a messy three-runner Lingfield Oaks Trial in 2001 and in later life produced the popular Twice Over, an admirable horse saddled by Cecil to win no fewer than 12 races including the Eclipse Stakes, Juddmonte International and two renewals of the Champions Stakes. The son of Observatory is now based at Klawervlei Stud in South Africa, where he has thrown South African Horse of the Year Do It Again.
Cecil also handled much of the stock out of Quandary’s Sadler’s Wells daughter Clepsydra. A minor winner who was rated 75 herself, Clepsydra foaled Passage Of Time (by Dansili), winner of the 2006 Criterium de Saint-Cloud and 2007 Musidora Stakes, 2011 Falmouth Stakes winner Timepiece (by Zamindar) and 2009 King Edward VII Stakes winner Father Time (by Dansili). In turn, Passage Of Time remains in the news as the dam of Group 2 winner Time Test, already a stakes sire with his first crop of two-year-olds at the National Stud.
Passage Of Time was from the third crop of Dansili, then standing inexpensively at £12,500, and as such, acted as a valuable guide as to the family’s ability to work with his line, a cross that was latterly repeated in the case of Father Time.
And now such thinking is bearing fruit in the case of their Beat Hollow half-sister Sacred Shield. Foaled in 2008, the mare was a consistent although limited runner for Cecil. In seven starts at three, she never ran out of the first four, winning at Wolverhampton and Newbury and rising ten pounds in the handicap to 79 in the process. Yet on one occasion at Salisbury, she was also beaten off 69.
“It is a background that blends the influence of Juddmonte matriarchs Sookera, Seven Springs, Monroe, Bahamian and Lost Virtue”
Her first foal, the Zamindar filly The Begum, won an Ayr maiden in the colours of Rhydian Morgan-Jones, having been a withdrawal from the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale, while Draw Swords, her second foal and first by Dansili, was placed on multiple occasions for John Gosden.
The Dansili cross, however, clicked in the case of her third foal, Crossed Baton. At one time a Classic hope for Gosden during the spring of 2018, he won the Listed Blue Riband Trial at Epsom and later ran second in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot and Prix Eugene Adam at Deauville. A brief four-year-old season also included a win in the Listed Churchill Stakes at Kempton Park.
In Dansili’s son Bated Breath, Sacred Shield has found an even greater ally. Viadera is the first by Bated Breath out of the mare and interestingly one of only two Juddmonte-bred stakes winners for the stallion – the other is Sacred Bridge.
However of Bated Breath’s other stakes performers, Juddmonte did breed the Group 3-placed Buffer Zone (also latterly trained by Ger Lyons) – like Viadera and Sacred Bridge, out of a Beat Hollow mare. Between them, they head a group of only five named foals bred on the cross, and looking at the broader picture, further confirmation of the fact that Bated Breath acts effectively with Sadler’s Wells-line mares. Group 2 winners Space Traveller (dam by Galileo) and Worth Waiting (dam by Sadler’s Wells) are other examples.
For several years now, Bated Breath has been one of the most popular stallions in Newmarket. Attractively priced at £12,500 and good-looking, breeders are on proven ground when they use him, firm in the knowledge that he is an effective option to get a young mare going and also well-regarded commercially. Even without Viadera and Sacred Bridge, he would be having a fine season as the sire thanks to the Aga Khan’s Prix de Guiche winner Makaloun and Gift List, a Grade 2 winner in the US. Now in Sacred Bridge, there is also the very real prospect of an European two-year-old Group 1 winner coming his way before the year is out.