Black Caviar's challenge to Exceed and Excel as a mum
RAY THOMAS RACING EDITOR THE DAILY TELEGRAPH JULY 25, 2013
SHE was the closest racing has ever seen to a certainty on the track but what are the chances of her being successful as a broodmare?
Bookies were hardly generous when framing prices for the mighty Black Caviar during her unbeaten 25-race career. However, the odds seem stacked against her at stud.
There is a long-held belief in racing which suggests champion race mares don't become super mums.
Since the Australian Horse of the Year awards were introduced in 1969, 13 mares have won the title - Leilani, Surround, Maybe Mahal, Rose Of Kingston, Bounding Away, Emancipation, Research, Let's Elope, Sunline, Makybe Diva, Miss Andretti, Typhoon Tracy and Black Caviar.
Black Caviar aside, Makybe Diva and Miss Andretti are only just starting their broodmare careers, while sadly Sunline died after producing just four foals and Typhoon Tracy lost her life when giving birth to her only foal, a colt by Street Cry last year.
Of the remaining eight champion race mares, only Rose Of Kingston produced a Group 1 winner at stud, the 1990 Melbourne Cup hero Kingston Rule who was by American super horse Secretariat.
But Arrowfield Stud's John Messara maintains there is no reason why Black Caviar won't prove herself a champion broodmare.
"It is a generalisation to say that great racemares don't do well at stud," Messara said.
"This really is a case-by-case situation, so many factors come into play."
He's right, of course. Hall of Famer Wakeful, often regarded as the best race mare this country has ever seen, was an exception to the rule, producing Night Watch (Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Stakes) and Blairgour (Futurity Stakes, Oakleigh Plate).
Flight, another champion mare of yesteryear, was an abject failure as stud but the only filly she foaled, later named Flight's Daughter, was the dam of two champions, Sky High and Skyline.
Chicquita was a wonderful racemare, winning the Edward Manifold Stakes, Thousand Guineas, Wakeful Stakes and Victoria Oaks in 1949, before developing into an outstanding weight-for-age performer as an older mare and also finishing second to Comic Court in the 1950 Melbourne Cup.
A mating between Coming Court and Chicquita produced Comicquita, which ran second in the 192 Melbourne Cup, while Chicuqita was also the dam of 1964 Golden Slipper winner Eskimo Prince.
In more recent times, champion Kiwi mare Horlicks, winner of the 1990 Japan Cup, was the dam of 2000 Melbourne Cup winner Brew, outstanding racemare Romanee Conti (1992 Queen of the Turf Stakes, 1993 Hong Kong International Cup) produced 2001 Caulfield and Melbourne Cups heroine Ethereal, and six-time Group 1 winner Triscay is the dam of two stakewinners including La Baraka (The Galaxy).
Perhaps the most celebrated broodmare in world racing in the modern era is the incomparable Urban Sea, herself winner of the 1993 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the dam of champions Galileo (English and Irish Derbies, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and sire of the invincible Frankel) and Sea The Stars (English 2000 Guineas, English Derby, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe).
Then there is Miesque, a 10-time Group 1 winner including successive US Breeders Cup Miles, before her remarkable broodmare career including as the producer of champion racehorse and super sire Kingmambo.
The decision of Black Caviar's owners to send the great mare to Darley's Exceed And Excel has met with almost universal approval by breeding experts.
Exceed And Excel is having a tremendous season as the sire of Overreach (Golden Slipper) and Guelph (ATC Sires Produce Stakes, Champagne Stakes), and with his progeny earning more than $11.2 million this season, he will be crowned the nation's champion stallion.
Black Caviar's part-owner Gary Wilkie said an influencing factor in the decision to send the great mare to Exceed And Excel was the fact the stallion is already proven with the mare's family as he is the sire of Wilander, who is out of Black Caviar's grand-dam Scandinavia.
"Sometimes these great race mares aren't particularly well-mated but Black Caviar's owner are not mating her for commercial outcomes," Messara continued. "They are mating her with the sire they feel will suit her best.
"She has been well-managed right through her race career, she never really had long race preparations, so all this will help her."
If Black Caviar can impart even a small percentage of her extraordinary racetrack ability to her progeny, then she will be a success at stud.
As Lee Freedman once said, comparing champion racehorses of different eras is an exercise in futility - but that doesn't stop racing enthusiasts from debating the merits of the turf's greatest gallopers.
There are very few statistical measures that can be used to accurately compare the best racehorses although Group 1 successes at least provides an historical perspective to the debate.
The great Black Caviar, unbeaten in 25 starts, was retired earlier this year after winning her 15th Group 1 race in the T.J. Smith Stakes at Royal Randwick.
Black Caviar now holds the Australasian record for most major race wins, eclipsing Kingston Town's 14 wins that had stood for more than 30 years.
In recent years, Sunline and Tie The Knot (13 Group 1 wins) and Lonhro (11) have recorded their share of major race wins but Black Caviar's feat is exceptional and likely to stand the test of time.
Timeform expert Gary Crispe from Racing And Sports doubts Black Caviar's 15-wins at Group 1 level will be matched again for many years.
"She is a once-in-a-lifetime horse," Crispe said.
"It takes some doing to win 15 - Kingston Town won 14 majors and that was 30 years ago.
"Even though there are more Group 1 races now, Black Caviar's effort is extraordinary. She was very well-managed during her race career and that helped her to get such a great record.
"The point is that horses don't tend to race on for years. The good gallopers are preserved for stud, particularly if they are stallions like Pierro and All Too Hard."
Even this method is far from an exact science as many feature races from past eras are now no longer run, others have been recently introduced to the turf calendar, and there are a number that have been upgraded to Group 1 status in recent years.
In fact, the Memsie Stakes, Makybe Diva (formerly Craiglee) Stakes, Schweppes (Moir) Stakes and Canterbury Stakes have all been elevated to elite race status in the last 12 months, bringing the total number of Group 1 races run in Australia next season to 72.
So, how does Black Caviar's Group 1 record compare with the greats of yesteryear if the records of past champions are updated with retrospective major race wins?
Manikato, the mighty sprinter who won Group 1 races from 1978 to 1983, is officially credited with 11 Group 1 wins but if his race career is updated with retrospective Group 1 wins, then suddenly he vaults to 24 majors.
If Manikato had raced today - just imagine a clash with Black Caviar! - his record would have been enhanced as he numbered among his wins five William Reid Stakes, three Orr Stakes, two Freeway (now Manikato) Stakes, Canterbury Stakes, Memsie Stakes and Moir Stakes when those events were classified as Group 2 races.
Sunline would have one more major than Black Caviar as the former's 13 Group 1 wins do not include her dual Memsie Stakes wins and her Turnbull Stakes triumph.
A few years ago, the authoritative Bloodhorse Review Magazine did a complete analysis of the race records of all Australian racing's great champions, allocating retrospective Group 1 wins to each horse's career.
This analysis included now-defunct races like the Randwick Plate, AJC Plate, VRC Champion Stakes, Cumberland Stakes, VRC All-Aged Stakes and Lloyd Stakes which would have been regarded as Group 1 events by today's standards.
Phar Lap is generally regarded as the nation's best ever racehorse but his official race record includes "only" 10 Group 1 wins.
However, when Phar Lap's career is updated retrospectively, the legendary champion tops the overall Group 1 standings with an incredible 28 majors.
Phar Lap's big-race record would include his wins in races such as the Craven Plate, Cumberland Stakes, Fisher Plate, Randwick Plate, Spring Stakes and the Memsie Stakes among others.
Tulloch and Ajax are next with 27 majors then Carbine on 25 Group 1 wins.
CHAMPION RACEMARES AND THEIR STUD RECORD
Mares who were voted Racehorse of the Year since the award's inception in 1969
1975 Leilani - five foals, four to race, three winners, zero stakeswinners
1977 Surround - eight foals, seven to race, all winners, 1 stakeswinner
1978 Maybe Mahal - eight foals, six to race, two winners, 1 stakeswinner
1982 Rose Of Kingston - nine foals, seven to race, five winners, 2 stakeswinners
1984 Emancipation - seven foals, five to race, three winners, 1 stakeswinner
1986 Bounding Away - two foals, one to race, 1 winner, 1 stakeswinner
1989 Research - 11 foals, six to race, four winners, zero stakeswinner
1992 Let's Elope - eight foals, six to race, six winners, 1 stakeswinner
2000-01-02 Sunline - four foals, three to race, two winners, zero stakeswinners
20005-06 Makybe Diva - two foals, two to race, 1 winner, zero stakeswinners
2007 Miss Andretti - one foal, zero to race, zero winners, zero stakeswinners
2010 Typhoon Tracy - one foal, yet to race
2011-12 Black Caviar - booked to Exceed And Excel
OFFICIAL GROUP 1 WINNERS
Black Caviar 15 wins
Kingston Town 14 wins
Sunline 13 wins
Tie The Knot 13 wins
Manikato 11 wins
Lonhro 11 wins
Rough Habit 11 wins
Octagonal 10 wins
Northerly 9 wins
Super Impose 8 wins
Better Loosen Up 8 wins
Intergaze 8 wins
Mahogany 8 wins
Schillaci 8 wins
Veandercross 8 wins
More Joyous 8 wins
OVERALL GROUP 1 WINS
Phar Lap 28 wins
Tulloch 27 wins
Ajax 27 wins
Carbine 25 wins
Manikato 24 wins
Eurythmic 20 wins
Gloaming 19 wins
High Caste 19 wins
Sky High 19 wins
Beau Vite 18 wins
Wakeful 18 wins
Amounis 17 wins
Chester 17 wins
Hydrogen 17 wins
Limerick 17 wins
Trafalgar 17 wins