Last weekend’s Kentucky Derby (Gr 1), America’s greatest race (and some might argue, the planet’s greatest) revealed once again how the world of racing has changed in terms of its global nature.
In the space of seven days the family of the great filly, Lianga, served up the winners of two Classics, one in South Africa, the other in America. The week before the Kentucky Derby, this column drew attention to the giant-killing exploits of Dynamite Mike in lowering the colours of South Africa’s then-highest rated Three Year Old, Jay Peg, in the KZN Guineas at Greyville, and for the past five days the world’s racing press has been alight with commentaries on the breeding of last weekend’s Kentucky Derby hero, Street Sense, who is also a descendant of the same family (his fourth dam is Lianga).
As it happens, Dynamite Mike’s third dam is a sister to the dam of the great Lianga, whose exploits at the races included the title of European Champion Sprinter/Miler (when her victories included the G1 Prix Robert Papin (as a Two Year Old), the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois, the G2 July Cup, the G2 Prix de l’ Abbaye de Longchamp and the G2 Vernon’s Sprint Cup. Of course, all of the July Cup, Gr 2 Prix de l’ Abbaye and Vernon’s Sprint are now Grade Ones, and while this family has been asleep for decades, very much in the way that Rumplestilskin was, it’s now just as much alive.
In the process, Street Sense trampled 23 years of history into the long stretch at Churchill Downs, as he charged to a 2.75 lengths victory in the Kentucky Derby, becoming the first Gr 1Breeders Cup Juvenile winner to wear the blanket of roses. Like Bruce Springsteen, he was “Born in the USA”, and has thus far enjoyed his greatest moments in his home country. By contrast, our man, Dynamite Mike was “born in the RSA”, and his forthcoming target is the Gr1 Gold Circle Challenge over 1600 m at Clairwood Park in early June. Depending on how he fares there (in terms of whether he gets the trip against his elders or not) he will either take his place in the Vodacom July, or will be looking to earn his first Grade One brackets in the Champions Cup over 1800m at Clairwood, in the last meeting of the season. Either way, we have it from his conditioner, Mike Azzie, that he’s come out of the Guineas in better shape than he was before he cruised to his emphatic victory.