(Photo : Greig Muir)
Grand Slam (USA) - Scarlet Tango (USA)
It’s been a sad old weekend for our friends at Ireland’s Coolmore Stud, the world’s most powerful stallion station. While there were odd shafts of light at a Dubai World Cup meeting where they amassed close to USD$3 million in earnings, courtesy mainly of a win in the UAE Derby and some frustrating seconds in the Sheema Classic and the Godolphin Mile, the big disappointment of the meeting for the Aidan O’Brien’s contingent must’ve been So You Think’s lacklustre 4th in the World Cup itself. Not that it was the end of the world at all for an operation which bestrides racing’s biggest meetings like a colossus, but that wasn’t all.
The news of the extraordinarily successful sire, Montjeu’s passing on Friday (reported elsewhere in these columns within hours of it happening) was a mortal knock to John Magnier’s outfit at a time when their dominance of world affairs in the stallion department, was at an all-time high. And then, as if someone out there was waiting to administer the sledgehammer blow, Visionaire’s sire, Grand Slam, suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 17. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas and owned by Robert and Christina Baker, William Mack and David Cornstein, the son of fellow Lukas-trained MGSW and MGISPBright Candles, kicked off his juvenile campaign with a track-record setting 11-length romp going 5 ½ furlongs at Belmont Park.
Later that fall, the bay added victories in the GI Champagne Stakes and GI Futurity Stakes before failing to finish in a problem-laden running of the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. At three, he added a score in the Gr.2 Peter Pan Stakes, finished second in the Gr.2 Swaps Stakes and Gr.3 Jerome Handicap and was also third in the GI Haskell Invitational Handicap. The Overbrook Farm-bred rounded out his sophomore campaign, and his career, with a runner-up finish in the 1998 GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint. At stud, he was the sire of 2003 GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Cajun Beat, and Canadian turf champion Grand Adventure, though his best performer was arguably the Summerhill Stud resident and 2008 GI King’s Bishop Stakes hero, Visionaire. His other standouts, among a highly commendable 73 Stakes winners from 11 crops (an average of almost 7 per crop), include Limehouse and Strong Hope.
Ashford Stud manager Dermot Ryan said, “Grand Slam was a pleasure to have here and he was very popular with breeders, as he sired nearly 800 winners and has progeny earnings of over $64 million.