Pedigree Review: The Flying Battaash
How is it possible that any other horse has beaten Battaash? His record is 22/12/2/3, but his performance in the 2020 King George S.-G2 was overwhelming, with the second-place horse, Glass Slipper, behind by 2 ¼ lengths. It was his fourth winning of the King George S.-G2, and just to put a cherry on top, he did so in a new track record for five furlongs at Goodwood, setting his own personal best time in the race. The handsome Battaash easily made the front in the stretch, and didn’t look back. This is indeed a super horse.
His sire, Dark Angel, (pictured) was a Group One winner at two, and stands for €85,000 at Yeomanstown Stud in County Kildare, Ireland. By Acclamation, and out of the Machiavellian mare Midnight Angel, he has a raft of Group Stakes winners on his resume, but nothing like Battaash. Battaash is his claim to fame, and is lauded on Dark Angel’s page in Weatherby’s as “the fastest horse in the world.”
It seems almost unfair to inflict Battaash upon Group Two company. Dark Angel’s pedigree is strong in its offering of Almahmoud, through both of her important daughters, Natalma (in his two doses of Northern Dancer, 7 x 6, and through Machiavellian’s second dam, Raise the Standard, providing a female dose and the desired zigzag), and Cosmah, the dam of Halo, who is the sire of Machiavellian’s Blue Hen dam, Coup de Folie.
Anna Law, Battaash’s dam, by Lawman, provides more Natalma, as she is 5 x 6 x 4 Natalma through Northern Dancer, offering the usual assortment of Northern Dancer in Battaash’s pedigree, through Try My Best, Night Shift, Danzig, and Nijinsky II. But one of these strands stands out, because it is offered both on the sires’ side and on the dams’ side. Battaash is 4 x 3 Night Shift, a very unusual occurrence. Night Shift (1980) was by Northern Dancer, and out of Ciboulette, making him a full sibling to the great mare and Canadian Horse of the Year in 1970, Fanfreluche, as well as the sire Barachois.
Nightshift’s strengths include inbreeding to Bull Dog and his full brother Sir Gallahad III, which enhances, doubly, the other strains of these brothers in the pedigree (notably through Nijinsky II), along with the appearance of an anomaly, his third dam’s sire, Windfields, utterly insignificant unless paired with Northern Dancer. With Northern Dancer, this combination created Vice Regent and his son, Deputy Minister.
On Battaash’s dams’ side, he is inbred to Sir Ivor 6 x 6, with the first dose being through the Blue Hen Courtly Dee, providing two strands of Turn-to, and two of another Blue Hen, Somethingroyal, the dam of Secretariat and Sir Gaylord. It should be noted that Fanfreluche, the Horse of the Year daughter of Ciboulette, was twice bred to Secretariat, indicating the enticing nick with Somethingroyal, and that one of these colts, Medaille d’Or, was a champion and stakes winner. In 1977, while in foal to Secretariat, she was kidnapped from Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, and was found five months later, still in foal, living on a small farm in southern Kentucky. The resulting foal, named Sain et Sauf (Safe and Sound), did not achieve what his brother did, but one can’t help but wonder at the difference in care this formidable mare received at Claiborne, as opposed to at this tiny, country farm whose owners said they found the mare wandering near their farm.
Battaash is also inbred to Mr. Prospector, top and bottom, 4 x 5, through Machiavellian on his sires’ side, and through the speedster Gulch on his dams’ side. One can’t help but wonder if sprinter Battaash doesn’t get some of his speed from Gulch, a far coarser looking horse than Battaash. Gulch had a huge hind end and short back, and looked like the ultimate sprinter, while Battaash is long-backed, but this dose of Gulch through Battaash’s broodmare sire, Lawman, stands out as an important sprinting influence. It should also be noted that Battaash’s fourth dam, Krakow, was by Malinowski, a Juddmonte-bred stalwart, by Sir Ivor, out of the Blue Hen Best in Show.
As usual, if one mines the dark reaches of Battaash’s pedigree, one can find gold. Though on first glance, this pedigree seems unlikely to give us “the fastest horse in the world,” unusual elements combine to offer important Blue Hens and important sires with unique gifts. Battaash is a poster child for examining the sixth through tenth layers of pedigree, which still have such profound influence today.
-- Roberta Smoodin