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Background Check: CCA Oaks

In this continuing series, we examine the past winners of significant filly/mare races by the lasting influence they’ve had on the breed. Up today is the GI Coaching Club American Oaks, a significant 3-year old filly event on the Saratoga calendar.

The CCA Oaks is one of the revered traditions in the sophomore filly ranks. Like so many other races that have a century’s worth of history, it has changed both distances and venues multiple times. The race began at nine furlongs in 1917 and was shortened to that distance again in 2010 after spending most of its tenure at 11 and 12 furlongs, in addition to 15 years at 10 furlongs. It’s primarily been a fixture at Belmont Park, spent a few years at Aqueduct in the 1960s, and has now been at Saratoga since 2010. August Belmont, Jr.–breeder of Man o’ War and a key builder of Belmont Park–was instrumental in molding the event after the Epsom Oaks. Many of the most celebrated fillies of the sport, including the legendary champions Ruffian and Twilight Tear, have won the CCA Oaks. The 106th edition of the storied race will be run Saturday.

Following are the most compelling CCA Oaks winners in reverse chronological order. They haven’t been reviewed by their own pedigrees or race records, but simply by what impact they have delivered through their sons and daughters.

Music Note (2005, AP Indy–Note Musicale {GB}, by Sadler’s Wells): This still-active mare in the Godolphin broodmare band produced last year’s wildly impressive G1 Dubai World Cup winner Mystic Guide, as well as last year’s GIII Penn Mile winner Gershwin. She delivered a full-sister to Mystic Guide Apr. 23.

My Flag (1993, Easy Goer–Personal Ensign, by Private Account): This Phipps family mare did her bit to continue the legacy of her Broodmare of the Year dam. She had four stakes performers, including champion Storm Flag Flying, and her daughters and granddaughters have already produced 14 additional black-type horses, including July 9 GII Suburban S. winner Dynamic One.

Sky Beauty (1990, Blushing Groom {Fr}–Maplejinsky, by Nijinsky II): She is another mare who hailed from a wonderful family. Although her de ella only stakes-winning foal de ella was MGSW and Argentinean leading sire Hurricane Cat, she’s leaving her mark in North America as well through GISW and sire Violence.

Chris Evert (1971, Swoon’s Son–Miss Carmie, by TV Lark): This lovely chestnut is probably best remembered today for her grandson, champion and eight-time Grade I winner Chief’s Crown, but the long list of other horses descended from her five daughters include MGISWs Classic Crown, Sightseek, and Tates Creek; GISWs Dominican and Etoile Montante; and more recent stars like May 7 GI Derby City Distaff winner Mandatory, as well as MGSW/MGISP Bonny South.

Music Note is the most recent CCA Oaks winner to turn into a notable producer | sarah andrew

Lady Pitt (1963, Sword Dancer–Rock Drill, by Whirlaway): It may be a surprise to learn Lady Pitt was never a Broodmare of the Year since she’s so prevalent in pedigrees today, but just two of her 10 foals were stakes winners: GISW The Liberal Member and MGSW/MGISP Blitey. The latter launched a Phipps family dynasty all on her own. Among her important descendants of her are champion Heavenly Prize, MGISWs Dancing Spree, Finder’s Fee, Good Reward, and current sensation Flightline, as well as GISWs Furlong, Fantastic Find, Oh What a Windfall, Persistently, and Instilled Regard.

Bramalea (1959, Nashua–Rarelea, by Bull Lea): A number of stakes winners trace to this mare, but it’s her son, Irish and English champion Roberto, who put her on the map as a factor in pedigrees and will keep her there. Roberto was a leading sire in both the US and the United Kingdom, as well as a leading broodmare sire. His continued influence on him through one of his major sons, Lear Fan, was recently detailed in TDN. Roberto has played a major part through both his sons and daughters in pedigrees of several significant stallions, including Giant’s Causeway and Kitten’s Joy.

Levee (1953, Hill Prince–Bourtai, by Stimulus): Named Broodmare of the Year in 1970, her foals included champion Shuvee (who also won the CCA Oaks in 1969 and has a Grade II event named after her, which will be run Sunday at the Spa) and three other stakes winners. Among the high-class horses produced by her daughters and granddaughters are champion Sacahuista, MGISW Raging Fever, and G1 Irish St. Leger winners Meneval and Strategic Choice.

High Voltage (1952, Ambiorix {Fr}–Dynamo, by Menow): Her three stakes winners included champion Impressive and eventual notable sire Bold Commander. Among the best foals produced by her daughters de ella was MGISW and sire Majestic Light.

Cherokee Rose (1951, Princequillo {GB}–The Squaw II {Fr}, by Sickle {GB}): The brilliant Horse of the Year Ack Ack traces directly to her, as does Venezuelan champion Sweet Candy (Ven) and GISWs Reluctant Guest and Just the Time.

Real Delight (1949, Bull Lea–Blue Delight, by Blue Larkspur): This Calumet mare produced three stakes winners, but tracing to her through her daughters are Broodmare of the Year Sweet Tooth and her foals, including champion Our Mims, MGISW and leading sire Alydar, and GISW Sugar and Spice; plus champion Christmas Past, MGISWs Codex and Grand Slam, and many more high-class runners.

How (1948, Princequillo {GB}–The Squaw II {Fr}, by Sickle {GB}): A full-sister to fellow CCA Oaks winner Cherokee Rose (above), How produced just three foals, but one of them was 1965 Broodmare of the Year Pocahontas, who in turn produced champion and important sire Tom Rolfe, MSW and sire Chieftain, and a number of other accomplished runners.

Scattered (1945, Whirlaway–Imperatrice, by Caruso): The dam of Alabama winner Here and There and Hempstead winner Disperse, this King Ranch mare may not remain a significant force in Thoroughbred pedigrees, but her great-grandson is the breed-shaping Quarter Horse racing stallion Dash for Cash. According to the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), he “defined Quarter Horse racing from the time he stepped onto the track” until his death. His ashes of him are buried at the foot of his life-sized bronze of him at the breed’s Hall of Fame and Museum. Dash for Cash’s trainer nearly 50 years ago was one D. Wayne Lukas.

MGISW and $3.2-million Fasig-Tipton sales mare Hard Not to Love traces to 1921 CCA Oaks winner Flambette | benoit

Vagrancy (1939, Sir Gallahad III {Fr}–Valkyr, by Man o’ War): This Belair Stud champion produced English champion Black Tarquin, as well as Test and Diana winner Vulcania. Her descendants of her include Broodmares of the Year Banja Luka and Natashka. Among the most notable stakes winners tracing to her are Horse of the Year Ferdinand, multiple European champion Distant Relative (Ire), and champion Questing, who also won the CCA Oaks in 2012.

Black Helen (1932, Black Toney–La Troienne {Fr}, by Teddy {Fr}): Although she didn’t produce any stakes winners herself, Black Helen originated her own branch of the immortal La Troienne line through her daughters. Among her descendants of her were US champions But Why Not, Princess Rooney, and Pleasant Tap; Canadian Horse of the Year Traveling Victor; and GI Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin.

Flambette (Fr) (1918, Durbar II {Fr}–La Flambee {Fr}, by Ajax {Fr}): A Belair Stud foundation mare, Flambette produced Gazelle winner Flambino and two other stakes winners. Her daughters de ella produced champion and Triple Crown winner Omaha, Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Johnstown, and champions Gallorette and Jacola. Among other top horses descended immediately from her were champions Phalanx and Nadir, Kentucky Derby winner Decidedly, and G1 Two Thousand Guineas winner Mark of Esteem (Ire). More recent GISWs tracing to her hers include Hard Not to Love, Avenge, Union Strike, and Secret Spice, in addition to Canadian Horse of the Year Wonder Gadot.

Cleopatra (1917, Corcyra {GB}–Gallice {GB}, by Gallinule {GB}): Three of this mare’s foals were black-type winners, including champion Pompey. Her descendants of her include Broodmare of the Year Gaga, who produced not only Horse of the Year and good sire Tom Fool, but also champion Aunt Jinny.

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