Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Pedigree Power

New to the Bluegrass: Bullet Train

Bullet Train StallionBreeders and race fans alike were excited at the announcement that Bullet Train, ¾ brother to the English Superhorse Frankel, was headed to Kentucky. Bullet Train started his stud career at the historic Wintergreen Stallion Station in January 2013 for $7,500.

Overseas horse racing rarely captures the attention of the average American racegoer unless a special horse such as Giant's Causeway, Black Caviar or Frankel comes along. Americans were transfixed by Frankel and became used to seeing his beautiful ¾ older brother Bullet Train setting the pace in prestigious events such as the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes, Juddmonte International and Champion Stakes, all Group 1 races.

On the racetrack, Bullet Train possessed precocious miler speed. He beat a full field of maidens at mile in his only start as a two year old. In April of the following year, the Juddmonte home-bred placed second in the 1 ¼ mile Conditions Stakes in his first start of the season. Bullet Train came back in less than three weeks in an exciting renewal of the Derby Trial Stakes (Gr. 3), a race his sire had captured in 1984. Leading every step of the way of the one mile race, Bullet Train turned back all challengers and flashed a brilliant turn of foot in the stretch, widening his advantage by 2 ¼ lengths. This lightning acceleration would later become a trademark of Frankel. Conditioned by Sir Henry Cecil, Bullet Train spent the majority of his career as a pacemaker for his more illustrious younger brother. Despite being used early against elite company, Bullet Train finished fourth in the Lockinge Stakes and Sussex Stakes, both held at a mile. Bullet Train raced for four years and compiled a 14-2-1-0 (£114,824)race record.

BULLET TRAIN (Sadler's Wells - Kind (IRE), by Danehill) carries a blend of natural miler speed combined with stout staying power. His sire Sadler's Wells was France's 1984 Champion Miler. He earned victories in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas, Coral Eclipse and Phoenix Stakes.

Sadler's Wells' sire Northern Dancer revolutionized breeding worldwide and his sons passed along the great stallion's attributes. Sadler's Wells dominated the breeding world in Europe leading the sire lists a record 14 times, 13 of which were in succession from 1992 – 2004. Only one horse, Bullet Train's damsire Danehill, dethroned Sadler's Wells for one of those years as leading sire.

Sons of Sadler's Wells are carrying on the legacy of their sire. Galileo is the sire of Bullet Train's ¾ brother Frankel and he has been a leading sire in England/Ireland for the last four years. Montjeu sired 112 stakes winners, including three Epsom Derby winners in his short eleven year stud career. Other sire sons of Sadler's Wells include High Chaparral, Yeats, Beat Hollow, El Prado, Perfect Soul and Bullet Train's close relative, Powerscourt.

SADLER'S WELLS(Northern Dancer – Fairy Bridge, by Bold Reason)
bullet train sire Sadler's WellsRace Record: 11-6-4-0 ($663,423)
Career Highlights:
1st - Coral Eclipse Stakes (Gr. 1) 1 ¼ miles
1st - Phoenix Stakes (Gr. 1) 1 ¼ miles
1st - Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Gr. 1) 1 mile
1st – Derby Trial Stakes (Gr. 2) 1 ¼ miles
1st – Beesford Stakes (Gr. 2) 1 mile
2nd – Prex du Jockey Club (Gr. 1) 1 ½ miles

Female Family:
Bullet Train is the result of careful planning through four generations of Juddmonte breeding. This distaff line is a clever blend of speed and stamina, which has been successfully passed along to Bullet Train and his siblings. Bullet Train's free--running style may also be inherited from his female family.

Going back to Bullet Train's fifth damsire, Persian Gulf was a front-running colt who was successful at 1 ½ miles. He was a useful sire who passed along speed and stamina to his offspring. The aptly named Roan Rocket, Bullet Train's fourth damsire, won at 1 ¼ miles, but he was best as a miler due to physical aliments. Bullet Train's fourth and fifth dams Rock Garden and Nasira inherited speed from their sires and were sprinters.

Rock Garden was sent to the US to be bred to the Champion Three Year Old Stage Door Johnny (Solid/Professional Chef-de-race). The mating yielded their daughter Rockfest who placed in the 11 ½ furlong Lingfield Oaks Trial Stakes (Gr. 3). Rockfest joined the Juddmonte broodmare band at the end of her racing career. She was bred to the English/French Champion Older Male, Rainbow Quest (Classic/Solid Chef-de-race) and bore her best foal Rainbow Lake, Bullet Train's second dam. Rainbow Lake won a pair of stakes races, one at 1 ¼ miles and the Group 3 Lancashire Oaks at 1 ½ miles. She was a prolific broodmare, producing 14 foals and six winners, with three blacktype winners.

Powerscourt (by Sadler's Wells) is Rainbow Lake's most accomplished foal. A multiple group/graded stakes winner on two continents, Powerscourt won from 1 ¼ to 1 ½ miles. He's best known to American racegoers as a two-time winner of the Arlington Million. Powerscourt was disqualified at the wire of one edition of the race in 2004. Powerscourt also finished third in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf.

It's important to note that Powerscourt, a full brother to Bullet Train's dam Kind, kicked off his stud career with an Irish Group 1 winner in his first crop. The stallion's US offspring are best over turf and synthetics, however he has sired eight dirt stakes winners, mostly Chilean breds.

Rainbow Lake's son Last Train (by Rail Link) now a four year old, placed in the Grand Prix de Paris (Gr. 1) and Qatar Prix Neil (Gr. 2) both at 1 ½ miles.

That brings us to Rainbow Lake's daughter Kind. She is likely responsible for the sprint-like quickening trait of her sons. Despite her stamina-laden pedigree, Kind won her maiden at seven furlongs. She was victorious the Flower of Scotland Stakes at five furlongs and the Kilvington Stakes at six furlongs. She also placed in two sprint stakes.

As a broodmare, Kind is on her way to blue hen status. Kind has produced only four foals of racing age. All four are colts and three of them own group stakes blacktype. This is a remarkable feat for such a young mare. Bullet Train is her oldest son. His brother Frankel earned superstar status during his racing career. Noble Mission, Frankel's full brother, has finished in the money seven of eight times, including a victory in the 1 ¼ mile Newmarket Stakes and the 1 ½ mile Gorden Stakes (Gr. 3). The youngest, Morpheus, a 2010 son of Oasis Dream, was unplaced in his only start.

Bullet Train Dam KindKIND (Danehill – Rainbow Lake, by Rainbow Quest)
Race Record: 13-6-0-4 (£72,402)
Career Highlights:
1st - Kilvington Stakes 6F
1st - Flower of Scotland Stakes 5F
3rd - Ballyogan Stakes (Gr. 3) 6F
3rd - Landsdown Fillies Stakes 5F

Broodmare sire:
Danehill, Bullet Train's damsire, won one of three starts as a juvenile. At three, he placed third in the English 2000 Guineas Stakes and fourth in the Irish counterpart stakes at a mile. Shortening up to sprint distances, the son of Danzig scored three stakes wins including a victory in the Group 1 July Cup. These exploits earned Danehill highweight sprinter honors for his age group.

As Sadler's Wells did in Europe, Danehill revolutionized the Thoroughbred breed in Australia. As one of the first shuttle stallions from England, Danehill lead the sire ranks down under for nine years. Danehill was so prolific, he ended Sadler's Wells consecutive run as leading sire in England/Ireland, grabbing the title for himself three times. Danehill was also named leading sire in France twice.

Danehill earned his first recognition as a leading broodmare sire in 2011 due in part to the exploits of his son Frankel and daughter, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Danedream. Danehill is currently represented as a damsire by almost 200 stakes winners worldwide. Pretty impressive for a stallion whose daughters bore their first foals roughly 13 years ago.

Danehill is one of the most influential stallions in modern history. His success may be attributed to his unique 3 x 3 inbreeding to the blue hen Natalma. Danehill's second dam Spring Adieu (by Buckpasser) is a half sister to Northern Dancer, Danehill's second tail sire.

Bullet Train damsire DanehillDANEHILL (Danzig – Razyana, by His Majesty)
Race Record: 9-4-1-2 (£177,465)
Career Highlights:
1st - Sprint Cup (G-1) 6F
1st – Cork and Orrery Stakes (G-3) 6F
1st – European Free Handicap 7F

The cross of Sadler's Wells and his sons with Danehill sire line mares has produced 34 stakes winners, including seven Group 1 winners.

Breeding Recommendations:
With the out-flux of precious endurance attributes from a stamina challenged US, Bullet Train is a much needed addition to the gene pool. He brings a whopping 26 Classic, 11 Solid and one Professional attributes to the breeding shed. Very few stallions in America carry as many Classic influences and even less of those elite carry Solid and Professional influences.

Bullet Train has a triple dose of 3 x 5 inbreeding to Natalma through his sire and damsire line, both of which trace back to Northern Dancer. The stallion also carries the bloodlines of Blushing Groom, Hail To Reason, His Majesty (Ribot and Buckpasser) and Stage Door Johnny (Princequello). Duplicating these sire lines is fairly easy in the US and has resulted in numerous stakes winners.

Bullet Train is a total out cross for two of the three most prevalent sire lines in the US, making him a very attractive prospect for breeders.

Sadler's Wells and his sons are proven with mares from the Mr. Prospector sire line. Rachael Alexandra, duel English/Irish Derby hero Camelot, Breeders' Cup Turf Champ Red Rocks and the recently injured Kentucky Derby hopeful Violence are all examples of this breeding. Consider breeding mares by these sires and their sons to Bullet Train: Candy Ride, Carson City, Crafty Prospector, Gone West, Kingmambo, Miswaki, Quiet American, Seeking The Gold, Smart Strike, and Unbridled and Woodman.

Other stallions descended from Raise A Native, such as Affirmed, Alydar, Forty Niner (Distorted Humor) and Majestic Light (Majestic Prince) are also an option and have precedent with the Sadler's Wells sire line.

Sadler's Wells works well with the Bold Ruler sire line, primarily through A.P. Indy and his sons. Horses bred along this line include Kentucky Oaks heroine Plum Pretty, Remsen Stakes winner O'Prado Again and Jessamine Stakes winner Wind In My Wings. Obvious choices here are mares by Pulpit, Tapit, Malibu Moon, Bernardini, Secretariat, Is It True, Doneraile Court and Raja Baba.

Breeding back to the Northern Dancer line is also proven, especially when the damsire is a great-grandson of Northern Dancer. Mares by Deputy Minister, Dixieland Band, Giant's Causeway, the Nureyev and Nijinsky lines, Storm Cat, and Unusual Heat could work well with Bullet Train.

Sadler's Wells is also proven with mares by other sire lines especially In Reality (Honour And glory, Known Fact, Tiznow) Roberto (Dynaformer, Kris S., Rock Hard Ten, Arch), Blushing Groom and Halo (Saint Ballado).

Key names found in Bullet Train's pedigree are Natalma, Almahmoud, Native Dancer, Hyperion, Nasrullah, Nearco, Buckpasser, Flowerbowl, Herbager, Princequillo, Raise A Native, Red God, Ribot, Royal Charger, Tom Fool and Turn To.

Overall, Bullet Train's pedigree should compliment a variety of mares in the US.
Bullet Train pedigree
Bullet Train ConformationBullet Train is a durable, sound horse who raced without medication. He doesn't look like the typical lean European turf horse and his conformation should mesh well with American mares. At 16.1 hands high, he's medium sized, yet solid and muscular. Bullet Train is very correct with good bone. He has a beautiful head and an alert, kind eye. The dark bay stallion has powerful, muscular shoulders, slightly larger than his hindquarters, yet he is still balanced. Bullet Train has excellent feet with good angles and decent heels. His hooves are large and well- shaped, not the typical flat hoof found on most turf runners. This is a major indicator that his offspring may handle surfaces other than turf. Personality wise, Bullet Train is a very laid-back, intelligent horse.

His conformation could correct smallish or fragile mares or those with bad feet.

Bullet Train was a natural miler on the track, yet he carries the pedigree of a stayer. These types of stallions magnify the best of their progeny's distaff lines. Based upon his pedigree and conformation, we should expect Bullet Train's babies to handle most surfaces and be adept across a range of distances. Some of his progeny could be win early types, depending on the individual female families. Bloodstock manager Sean Field stated, “With his excellent speed, athleticism and outstanding pedigree, Bullet Train really suits American racing and should be well-received by breeders from coast-to-coast.”

Bullet Train's initial fee of $7,500 is extremely reasonable given the appeal of his pedigree and his durable soundness. Some have called Bullet Train the “Poor man's Frankel.” For those who can afford Frankel's initial fee, plus the costs associated with shipping a mare, that may well be. For the rest of the breeding community, Wintergreen Stallion Station offers the chance to breed to a quality stud that could turn out to be a very solid investment.


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Older Comments about New to the Bluegrass: Bullet Train...

Watch out for that looooooooooooong back, otherwise very nice shoulder, power haunches, good neck.
WORLD WIDE it is becoming the STANDARD to be required to list mecdications in sales catalogs and many are now being thought considerable less of as the result. Was it the horse or the pharmalogical boost we all saw on the track? Why guess and go with those without the history of being "hooked" by their frightened and paranoid connections.
It is interesting that he is being advertised as "Lasix Free"', I wonder how important that is to American breeders?

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Meet Laurie Ross


I've been around horses for most of my life, working in racing stables as a hot walker and exercise rider in my teenage years, and later as a volunteer with rescued and retired racehorses. I became interested in pedigree when the sons and daughters of my favorite horses started their racing careers.   


For more than a decade, I've passionately studied pedigree, how it applies to handicapping and breeding theories. In 2010, I joined Horse Racing Nation as their Pedigree Analyst, focusing on juvenile stakes winners, Triple Crown contenders and first crop sires from a handicapping perspective.   


In 2011, I accepted the role of South Florida Coordinator and Advisory Board Member for the national non-profit Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association (ThoroFan). Working closely with Gulfstream Park management and other race fans, we created a ThoroFan Chapter at Gulfstream Race Track. Our main project is assisting Thoroughbred rescue and re-training groups.


I continue to maintain my website Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds and blog of the same name. As a pedigree consultant, I specialize in assisting small to mid-size breeding/training operations with broodmare breeding reports, sales catalog analysis and recommendations on claims and private sales. 10 - 20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue and retraining groups.
I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic please contact me at lross@horseracingnation.com.

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