Mohaymen, a $2.2 million yearling owned by the Shadwell Farm of Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, and Smokey Image, a California homebred for Betty Irvin’s Irvin Racing Stable, made auspicious season debuts Saturday as they begin the demanding task of securing a berth in the Kentucky Derby the first Saturday in May. Both colts are undefeated but obviously come from opposite sides of the track. One, by the best and most expensive stallion in the country, Tapit, stud fee $300,000, was the co-highest price at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale and is a half-brother to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day. The other is by a stallion, Southern Image, whose 2016 fee is $2,500, and from a dam, Special Smoke, who sold for $10,000 in foal to Lucky Pulpit at the 2015 Barretts January mixed sale.
Lucky Pulpit, of course, is the sire of California Chrome, the California-bred Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner that reminds local observers of Smokey Image. In fact, Chrome’s rider, who piloted Smokey Image Saturday, said just that in post race reports. He’s even got the requisite nasal flare.
Smokey Image’s 6th dam is the blue hen Special — the dam of Nureyev and the 2nd dam of Sadler’s Wells. Just as interesting, his 3rd dam, Madame Sunshine, is by Nureyev, thereby making her 2×3 to Special. You’ll recall that California Chrome, too, had a distinguished dam line tracing to 7th dam Judy-Rae — the family of Swaps, as well as Courtly Dee, Arch, Green Desert, Bayern, etc.
Smokey Image’s immediate female family, including 3rd dam Madame Sunshine, was heavily influenced by the racing and/or breeding operation of John Toffan and Trudy McCaffery.
For all the noise around him so far, Smokey Image isn’t a Graded stakes winner yet. Mohaymen is a multiple G2 winner and acts like a G1 winner, something expected of him from the beginning.
And here he is at 2, before making his first start.
Mohaymen was bred by Clearsky Farm, established in 2009 by the late Eamon Cleary. Clearsky, remarkably, didn’t consign its own draft of yearlings to Keeneland until 2012 but had two it bred, Derby second Firing Line and G2 San Vicente Stakes winner Lord Nelson, on the classic trail last year.
Videos of the Saturday races are available in the tweets of TDN (Mohaymen) and Jay Privman (Smokey Image).