Donegal Racing


August 16, 2018

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How do you measure greatness in a stallion? Traditionally, the number of stakes winners, graded stakes winners, Grade 1 winners, and sire championships have been the yardsticks by which great sires are measured.

By any of those metrics, the late Giant’s Causeway, who died earlier this year at age 21, measures up. His 3-year-old son Carrick won the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on Saturday and is his 184th black-type winner, 108th group/graded stakes winner, and 31st Grade 1 winner. Giant’s Causeway led the American sire list in 2009, 2010, and 2012.

Bred in Kentucky in 1997 by Michael Tabor and Orpendale, one of many noms de course of the ubiquitous John Magnier, Giant’s Causeway was the first foal of the outstanding racemare Mariah’s Storm, by Rahy, whom Magnier had purchased for a sale-topping $2.6 million in foal to Storm Cat at the previous November’s Keeneland breeding stock sale. Mariah’s Storm was half-sister to French Group 2 winner Panoramic, by Rainbow Quest, and Japanese stakes winner Air Zion, by Groom Dancer, and from a good female line, but the family has exploded with Mariah’s Storm as a taproot mare.

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Giant’s Causeway’s Group 2-winning full sister You’resothrilling’s first five foals, all by Galileo, are all group stakes winners. Her offspring Gleaneagles and Marvellous are classic winners, and current 3-year-old Happily was the highweighted filly at 2 in France last year. Another full sister to Giant’s Causeway, Pearling, is the dam of Group 1 winner Decorated Knight, by Galileo. A half-sister top Giant’s Causeway, Love Me Only, by Sadler’s Wells, is the dam of Group 2 winner Storm the Stars, by Galileo’s champion half-brother Sea The Stars.

Giant’s Causeway began the family’s ascent by going unbeaten in three starts at 2, including victory in the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre. At 3, he was upset in his first two starts, finishing second in both the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas, but then embarked on a five-race Group 1 win streak that earned him the sobriquet “the Iron Horse.” Giant’s Causeway’s biggest margin in any of those five victories was three-quarters of a length, and he repeatedly fought back to win after being headed in the final furlong. He finished second in his final European start, the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, when jockey Kevin Darley wisely brought his mount Observatory down the middle of the course so that Giant’s Causeway did not see him until it was too late. Giant’s Causeway exhibited those same battling qualities in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in his final start, perhaps sticking his head in front of Tiznow briefly before ceding a head defeat to America’s champion at the wire.

Retired initially to Coolmore in Ireland, Giant’s Causeway was transferred to his birthplace Ashford Stud in 2002. His one Irish-bred crop proved a sensation, led by once-beaten European champion 2-year-old and dual French classic winner Shamardal (out of Helsinki, by Machiavellian), undefeated English 2,000 Guineas winner Footstepsinthesand (Glatisant, by Rainbow Quest), and Group 1 winner Maids Causeway (Vallee des Reves, by Kingmambo).

He was an immediate success at Ashford as well, siring Grade 1 winner First Samurai (Freddie Frisson, by Dixieland Band) in his first crop, and the flow of top-level winners has never ceased. In his long career he has sired champions in Europe, America, Canada, New Zealand, Chile, and Peru, and his sons have established him as a valued sire of sires, with Shamardal, Footstepsinthesand, and, more recently, Creative Cause leading the way.

Carrick will have to win a few more Grade 1’s to receive a genuine chance to join Giant’s Causeway’s list of sire sons, but with three wins in his first four starts, he is just getting started. Bred in Kentucky by Patricia Pavlish, he is the second foal out of How Far to Heaven, a winning daughter of Distorted Humor. His second dam, Beyond Venus, by War Chant, did not contribute a black-type earner, but is a half-sister to multiple graded winner Saudi Poetry, by Storm Cat.

Carrick’s third dam, Gone to Venus, by Gone West, is a half-sister to the high-class turf mare Rokeby Rose, by Tom Rolfe, dam of champion Silverbulletday, by Silver Deputy, and two other stakes winners. Gone to Venus’s dam, Rokeby Venus, by Quadrangle, was a half-sister to Horse of the Year Arts and Letters, by Ribot.

How Far to Heaven has since produced the unraced 2-year-old colt Zoso, by Union Rags, a $62,000 purchase by Stanley Dunn at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale. He was resold for $120,000 to Calumet Farm at the 2018 OBS March sale. How Far to Heaven also has produced a 2018 filly by Sky Mesa. She was covered by Constitution this year.

Carrick himself was a $75,000 purchase by Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing at the 2016 Keeneland September sale, and he is trained by Thomas Morley.

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