Photo: Harris Equine Photography
If you thought the breeding of Belmont Stakes winner, Tonalist was rock solid, check out the bloodlines of the same day’s Epsom Derby winner, Australia. Bred by Lord Derby, he is the successful answer to the question … What happens when you breed arguably the world’s top sire to one of the top racemares of the 21st century?
In the most important three-year-old race in Europe, Australia (Galileo-Ouija Board) was ridden confidently by Joseph O'Brien, as the pair stayed on the outside to avoid trouble in mid-pack early. His top rival Kingston Hill, meanwhile, was in a perfect stalking position behind a pair of longshots. When the 16-horse field bounded out of Tattenham Corner, Australia was gearing up and ready to pounce. The long Epsom stretch quickly produced a two-horse battle, and while Kingston Hill tried hard, it was clear that the royally bred Coolmore charge had too much engine to be denied.
The winning margin for Australia was a length and a quarter with Romsdal more than three lengths back in third. The English Classic victory came as his third win in five lifetime starts, having finished a strong third in his only previous start of the season, also a classic, the English 2,000 Guineas at one mile. Allowed to stretch his legs at a more favorable distance, the Aidan O’Brien conditioned runner would seem to be on the fast track to a big career.
For Ouija Board, Australia represents the first evidence that the superior race mare will produce offspring as brilliant as she was. American race fans should remember the great mare well. Owned by Lord Edward Stanley Derby, and trained by Ed Dunlop, the daughter of Cape Cross won 10 of her 22 races in a racing career which spanned four seasons. In so doing, she took her show on the road to just about everywhere.
She won her first of seven grade/group 1 races at the same venue where her son broke through, winning the Epsom Oaks in romping style in 2004 as the only runner in Lord Derby’s stable. Later that year, and after an unlucky defeat in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, she made her first trip across the Atlantic a winning one, when she scored in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf deep in the heart of Texas.
2005 would see more big wins for Ouija Board including the Princess Royal Stakes back in England, and the rich Hong Kong Vase late in the year. In between those, a second consecutive victory in the Breeders’ Cup was not meant to be, though, as her late run could not catch the loose on the lead Intercontinental at Belmont Park.
In 2006, the five-year-old globetrotting mare was even better. In perhaps her greatest victory, she bested a top field of males in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. She also accounted for the Group 1 Nassau Stakes, and ran big, also against males, when just missing to Dylan Thomas in the Irish Champion. Her third trip to the U.S. reconfirmed her excellence to American fans, when she scored her second victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf for trainer, Ed Dunlop. Her victory that day at Churchill Downs was vintage Ouija Board.
Having produced three winners to begin her career as a broodmare, it is Ouija Board's fourth foal, Australia, who demonstrates her fantastic potential as a broodmare. The English Classic winner has a long way to travel before matching or even surpassing the heights reached by dear old mom, but with a huge win already under his belt, his potential seems limitless. His success could not happen for a better racemare, now broodmare.