John Ingles looks at Stone Age's bid to become his sire's hundredth top-level winner, along with some other potential candidates to bring up his century.
Many in the bloodstock world will be keenly awaiting the result of the Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga, due off at 10.31 tonight British time. That’s because Stone Age, a four-year-old son of Galileo, could become his late sire’s hundredth individual winner of a Group/Grade 1 contest.
Stone Age is probably best known in Europe for being a leading contender for last year’s Derby in which he finished sixth behind Desert Crown as the 7/2 second favourite. While he failed to win for the remainder of the year, Stone Age went closest in his two starts across the Atlantic, beaten less than a length into third in the Belmont Derby and running a career best to finish runner-up to Rebel’s Romance in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland. A reproduction of his Breeders’ Cup form at Saratoga this evening would likely be good enough to bring up his sire’s century.
However, Stone Age hasn’t been seen since finishing last in Qatar in February, since when he has left Aidan O’Brien and joined Chad Brown in the States. Ironically, O’Brien could thwart Stone Age’s bid at Saratoga as he fields Bolshoi Ballet against his former stable-companion. Bolshoi Ballet is also a son of Galileo, but he’s already one of his sire’s 99 Group/Grade 1 winners as he won the Belmont Derby in 2021. That was a poignant success as it came on the same day that his sire’s death was announced at the age of 23.
Galileo’s very first Group 1 winner was the Dermot Weld-trained filly Nightime who won the Irish 1000 Guineas in 2006 before becoming a broodmare of note, her offspring including Godolphin’s top-class middle-distance horse Ghaiyyath.
Subsequent landmark successes in Galileo’s stallion career include Flag of Honour’s win in the 2018 Irish St Leger which was his 73rd top-level winner, equaling the total achieved by his sire Sadler’s Wells, while Peaceful’s success in the Irish 1000 Guineas in 2020 was Galileo’s 85th Group/Grade 1 winner worldwide, breaking the previous record held by Danehill.
It was only earlier this week that Galileo moved onto 99 top-level winners when his three-year-old daughter Warm Heart won the Yorkshire Oaks. Perhaps Galileo’s achievement of also siring the second and third, Free Wind and Irish Oaks winner Savethelastdance, would have got more credit if he hadn’t made rather a habit of similar exploits. His greatest one-two-three in a Group 1 came in the 2016 Arc in which Found beat Highland Reel and Order of St George.
Yorkshire Oaks runner-up Free Wind is perhaps Galileo’s best candidate to become his 100th Group/Grade 1 winner should Stone Age fail in that mission tonight. The Yorkshire Oaks was George Strawbridge’s mare’s first try in Group 1 company, resulting in a career-best effort, and she has several engagements in similar events this autumn, with the Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp and the Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot appealing as perhaps the most interesting. All six of her wins have come on good ground or firmer though, and she certainly didn’t appreciate the heavy ground at Goodwood on her previous start, so that could govern how she’s campaigned in the coming months.
Another of Free Wind’s entries is in the Irish St Leger where she’s one of no fewer than nine sons or daughters of Galileo looking for a first Group 1 victory. They include Changingoftheguard who was third in the Hardwicke Stakes last time, the Queen Alexandra Stakes winner Dawn Rising and former Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle.
Galileo’s three-year-olds in the Irish St Leger include Tower of London, runner-up in the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket last time, who’s also among seven entries who could give Galileo his 100th Group/Grade 1 winner in the St Leger at Doncaster instead. Tower of London is certainly bred for the job as he’s a brother to the 2017 St Leger (and Irish Derby) winner Capri.
Galileo’s current crop of two-year-olds have a record to maintain as all their sire’s previous crops have contained a minimum of two Group/Grade 1 winners. Galileo has had eleven individual two-year-old runners in Britain or Ireland this year at the time of writing, with Bremen, Chief Little Rock and Content the three to have won so far. Bremen is a brother to Warm Heart, while Chief Little Rock is a brother to this year’s Duke of Edinburgh Stakes winner Okita Soushi, so if either of those have Group 1 potential, it’s more likely to be over longer trips next year that they realise it.
The filly Content got off the mark for Ballydoyle in a maiden at Leopardstown this week and it was appropriate that she should do so during Ebor week as her dam is the dual Nunthorpe winner Mecca’s Angel. Content has Group 1 entries in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, Prix Marcel Boussac and Fillies’ Mile, as does stablemate Andromeda who has been runner-up in both her starts to date and is a sister to Irish 1000 Guineas winner Peaceful mentioned above.
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