The Ubiquitous Green Desert

The first day of the Tattersalls December Foal Sale (held on November 27) had no special fireworks, though three of the top five lots were from the first crops of sires El Kabeir (Scat Daddy), Territories (Invincible Spirit), and leading first season sire Night of Thunder, all of which sold in the 60-65,000 guineas range. Examine the pedigrees of these three foals, however, and one will find the one presence they have in common: Green Desert, whose ubiquitousness in European and UK pedigrees is stunning.

The El Kabeir colt is inbred on his dams’ side to Green Desert, 3 x 4, through his son, Invincible Spirit, the colt’s broodmare sire, and through his daughter, Sahara Star, the colt’s third dam. The Territories colt has Green Desert as his great-grandsire, through the same Invincible Spirit, the sire of Territories. Night of Thunder has had a convincing first year, with 30% of his first crop starting, and 27 winners (17%), and seven black type two-year-olds, with an AEI of 2.05. The Night of Thunder colt features Green Desert in his sire’s dams’ side, as Night of Thunder’s second dam, Quiet Storm, is by Green Desert’s son, Desert Prince.

How do we account for Green Desert’s presence in so many top pedigrees? First of all, his sire, Danzig, loved being mated with Sir Ivor mares; his statistics with these are phenomenal. Danzig bred 23 Sir Ivor mares, resulting in 38 foals. There were 27 starters from these 38, a remarkable 71%. Twenty of them were winners (53%), while nine were black type winners (24%), for a 5.74 AEI. Remember, 10% black type winners is considered excellent, while an AEI of one is considered above average. Danzig Connection, a successful North American sire, was also out of a Sir Ivor mare. It should be noted that Danzig crossed with Secretariat mares demonstrates similarly high numbers, with an even higher AEI of 6.93.

The North American stallion and two-year-old champion Chief’s Crown represented this cross. What’s clear is that Danzig wanted little more than a dose of the Princequillo mare Somethingroyal, through her son Secretariat or her grandson Sir Ivor, to produce winners and stakes winners. The El Kabeir co-session topper is inbred 8 x 6 x 6 x 7 to Somethingroyal, twice through Green Desert, and twice through Storm Cat’s Secretariat dam, Terlingua, creating a remarkable balance and strength.

Danzig’s potency as a leading sire cannot be underestimated. However, his matings with mares featuring Somethingroyal were superior, even for him. The cross that created the great (but terribly infertile) Lure was Danzig on the Alydar mare Endear, but the AEI for that cross was 4.53. As well, Danzig on Mr. Prospector mares must be considered a strong cross, but that AEI was only 3.90. So, although Danzig crossed extremely well with a wide variety of mares, putting him together with Somethingroyal in a mare had extra special results.

It must also be noted that the El Kabeir colt is inbred to Blue Hen Courtly Dee, 5 x 5, she the second dam of Green Desert. Her daughter Foreign Courier brings the riches to her son’s pedigree, being by Sir Ivor (Somethingroyal) and out of Courtly Dee, two of the greatest Blue Hen mares of the twentieth century, in close proximity. So every dose of Green Desert in these session-topping foals offers the Danzig/Somethingroyal/Courtly Dee breed-altering cross. The Night of Thunder foal has another dose of Somethingroyal through Habitat, on her dams’ side.

One more important mare must be noted in Green Desert’s pedigree: the Spearmint mare Plucky Liege. There are three doses of her son Sir Gallahad III, and one dose of his half-brother Admiral Drake, giving any pedigree with other offspring of Plucky Liege, most notably Sir Gallahad III’s full brother Bull Dog, added power. Both the El Kabeir and the Territories foals offer this through Nijinsky II.

Of course, there are many influential sires dotting these three pedigrees, Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer among them. But the pre-eminence of Green Desert, a much lesser known stallion, and his rich pedigree, may be the defining element of all of these session-topping foals.

-- Roberta Smoodin




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