Giant’s Causeway was his sire Storm Cat’s best racetrack performer, and he quickly became the best son of Storm Cat at stud, too. Now, he is turning into a sire of sires himself at a very early age (13) with his first few prominent sons at stud and is emulating his illustrious sire in this department.
Giant’s Causeway stands at Ashford Stud (Coolmore). His notable young sons are Shamardal at Kildangan Stud in Ireland (Darley) and Footstepsinthesand at Coolmore in Ireland. Both were represented by their first-crop 2-year-olds in 2009, and both were successful out of the gate: Shamardal was the leading first-crop sire on GB/Ire sire lists by progeny earnings, and Footstepsinthesand was represented by 25 juvenile winners and was not far behind the leaders by money won, either. Both have continued on this season, too, with the Shamardals flashing the class they had exhibited at 2 to full effect at 3 with three classic winners and a classic-placed colt among his best, all over the world.
Now add First Samurai at Claiborne behind these two as another promising Giant’s Causeway: On July 23 at Saratoga, on the opening day of the meet, First Samurai’s daughter Le Mi Geaux won the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes. It wasn’t a shock to see First Samurai off the mark so quickly because he was a top-class 2-year-old himself and he’d been a talking horse for a while at the sales, but given the quick successes of Shamardal and Footstepsinthesand, First Samurai must be taken extra seriously now. He started for $40,000 in 2007 and 2008 and has been at $30,000 in 2009 and 2010.
First Samurai shares some traits with the other two Giant’s Causeway stallions. Like them, he was a winner at the highest class, taking four of five races at 2, including the Grade 1 Champagne at a mile and the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes over 7 furlongs. His only loss as a juvenile came in the Breeders Cup, where he was third to Stevie Wonderboy and Henny Hughes–a colt he’d defeated handily in the Champagne. Injury cut short his career, though he did win the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes over 9 furlongs at 3 and was definitely a classics contender up until his career ended before the classics began.
Up to that point in Giant’s Causeway’s career, his best runners were in Europe on turf and were the classic-winning duo of Shamardal and Footstepsinthesand. The former won the French Guineas and Derby (at 10 1/2 furlongs), while the latter took the 2000 Guineas and was undefeated in only three starts, never racing again after the Guineas. Shamardal, by the way, was only once-defeated in seven starts, losing on the dirt in Dubai, but his racing career was over after the French Derby. Like First Samurai, he was a Group 1 winner at 2, so all three were accomplished 2-year-olds and Group/Graded winners at 3; none of them lasted more than their spring 3-year-old seasons, and Shamardal was actually sent to Australia to begin stud duty as a 3-year-old in August.
Giant’s Causeway is a sire who can put quite a bit of stamina into his foals–enough to sometimes win Cup races in Europe!–but these three were quicker types for him, classic miler types, maybe a little more in Shamardal’s case though the French Derby is looked down upon as far as Derbys go in Europe for its frou-frou distance of 10 1/2 furlongs. This profile, however, is useful for evaluating other sons of Giant’s Causeway at stud.
Click here to read another post on Shamardal.
Click here to read another post on First Samurai, by Frank Mitchell.