Pedigree analysis: Cairo Cat and Serengeti Empress

Pedigree analysis: Cairo Cat and Serengeti Empress
Photo: Bee Buck Photography

Cairo Cat added his name to the growing list of colts eligible for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Saturday with his decisive victory in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. kept Cairo Cat reserved on the rail for most of the race. After stealthily sneaking up behind the pace setters, he angled out in the final yards to steal the race rom gallant pace setter Tight Ten. The Kenny McPeek trainee edged under the wire a half length in front, getting 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.35.  

Cairo Cat (Cairo Prince - La Belle Cat, by Tale of the Cat) was bred by Clifton Farm and sold as a Fasig-Tipton July yearling for $130,000 to Walking L Thoroughbreds. Cairo Cat wasn’t ready for prime time in his late-July Saratoga debut, but returned three weeks later to capture a seven-furlong maiden race at Churchill by a head. The dark bay colt has earned $133,750 in three starts.

Cairo PrinceCairo Cat’s victory propelled his sire, Cairo Prince, to second place by earnings in the First Crop Sire standings. Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile - Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull) won or placed in three stakes, including the Remsen, Nashua and Holy Bull. The pretty gray colt was the early favorite for the 2014 Kentucky Derby before injury struck and he was retired.

Cairo Prince’s offspring are slower maturing types, and they should be cropping up in the winner’s circle more often as late 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds over. They’re capable over all surfaces, and should handle longer sprints to middle and classic distances.

Cairo Cat is the second foal and first stakes winner out of La Belle Cat (Tale of the Cat - La Belle Danse, by Beau Genius) The Chestnut mare was an allowance/claiming class competitor, in the money 11 of 25 starts as a dirt sprinter. There’s little black type in Cairo Cat’s distaff line in the first three generations. His dam’s half sister, Palace Pier, captured the restricted Ontario Lassie Stakes as a juvenile, and placed in the Stonerside Beaumont (G2) and restricted Fury Stakes, all between seven furlongs and 1 1/16 miles.  

Cairo Cat’s second dam La Belle Danse is restricted stakes placed at 1 1/8 miles. The most accomplished runner in third generation is Grade 3 stakes winner Union Place, a winner from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles over the lawn.

Tale of the CatCairo Cat’s damsire Tale of the Cat is a solid sire of sprinters to middle distance runners. His daughters produce offspring that follow suit. Tale of the Cat’s offspring as a damsire include multiple graded stakes winner It’s Tricky (Mineshaft), a winner at 1 1/8 miles, Santa Anita Derby hero Dortmund (Big Brown) and Ashland Stakes winner Sailor’s Valentine (Mizzen Mast).

The only Iroquois Stakes winner to finish in the Top 3 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was Not This Time, who placed second by a neck to Classic Empire in 2016. However, with a victory at Churchill Downs under his saddle cloth, Cairo Cat should enjoy the 1 1/16 miles of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and could be a solid competitor on next year’s Kentucky Derby trail.

After Cairo Cat’s performance in the Iroquois, race fans were treated to a blowout victory by Serengeti Empress in the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes. The Tom Amoss trainee bounced out of the gate, and galloped home 19 1/2 lengths ahead of the competition, strolling under the wire in 1:45.47 for 1 1/16 miles under Corey Lanerie.

Serengeti EmpressSerengeti Empress has captured three of four starts by a combined 38 1/2 lengths. She brings to mind the exploits of Ruffian, as both are dark bay fillies with jockeys in red and white silks. Of course, there will never be another Ruffian, but it’s nice to imagine, for the instant of the race, that we’re seeing her again. The only mark on Serengeti Empress’ otherwise perfect record was a rough trip in the Schuylerville Stakes (G3), where she was mugged coming out of the gate, pressed a sharp pace while racing three-wide, and although her rider lost his whip, she still finished fourth. The youngster has earnings of $187,870 and an invitation to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Serengeti Empress (Alternation - Havisham, by Bernardini) was bred by Tri Eques Bloodstock and went through the auction ring twice, bringing $25,000 as a weanling before current owner Joel Politi purchased for $70,000 as Keeneland September yearling.

AlternationAlternation (Distorted Humor - Alternate, by Seattle Slew) captured the Oaklawn Handicap (G2), Peter Pan Stakes (G2) and Pimlico Special (G3), all at 1 1/8 miles to 1 3/16 miles. Alternation has sired this year’s Super Derby winner Limation, plus listed stakes winner Altered Moon and Diamonds R.

Serengeti Empress is the first foal out of her unraced dam. Her second dam is a Group 3 winning turf sprinter from Argentina, who also placed in the 1 1/8 mile UAE Oaks.

BernardiniDamsire Bernardini  (A.P. Indy - Cara Rafaela, by Quiet American) earned the 2006 Eclipse Award for Champion Three Year Old Colt. As a damsire, he’s represented by  stakes winners from sprint to classic distances, including recent Travers hero Catholic Boy.

Serengeti Empress should love the 1 1/16 miles of the Juvenile Fillies, and her pedigree indicates that the 1 1/8 miles of the Kentucky Oaks is within her scope. There’s yet to be a Pocahontas winner to capture the Juvenile Fillies, but this year, Serengeti Empress has a head start on the competition, with a victory over the Churchill Downs track.



Meet Laurie Ross


 HRN Pedigree Analyst 

 Handicapper 

 Published Author

 Pedigree Research/Consultation/Sales 

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 Member – NTWAB


Through hands-on work at barns, I learned valuable lessons about Thoroughbred conformation, gait, and temperament and later worked withThoroughbred rescue/re-train organizations. I have committed my passion for horses to the intensive study of pedigree and breeding theory for the last 20 years. 


I support clients with all aspects of pedigree/breeding analysis, research, sales, catalogue review, and recommendations on claims or private sales. Clients include national leading owners, racing/breeding syndicates, the little guy with one mare, and everyone in between. 10-20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue & retraining groups. Check out my website, Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, and the IMTBreds blog.

I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping, and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic, please contact me. 

Twitter: @IMTBreds
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