I've had my eye on Karakontie
(JPN) ever since he went to stud at Gainesway Farm in 2016, so to see him rising
in reputation as a good American-based turf sire makes me happy. With the recent
losses of Kitten's Joy and English Channel, we certainly need one. A proven sire
standing for just $10,000 looks like a bargain if you want to breed a good grass
Early in his career, I tried to get several clients to use Karakontie
(JPN) to no avail, because there were several factors that probably put breeders
off him when he retired. First, he was a European-raced horse, which meant turf,
and that tends to eliminate a lot of breeders right off the top. Second, he had
that pesky (JPN) behind his name which Americans have a hard time taking very
seriously. Third, he was a son of Bernstein, which didn't excite many even when
that very good sire was still alive. Fourth and finally, he was not the gigantic,
flashy, muscular beast of a stallion that the commercial market seems to demand.
On the other hand, Karakontie (JPN) had a lot of good qualities charging his
resume. His race record alone should have drawn more attention. He was a top class
runner at two in France, winning the Prix la Rochette-G3 FR and Prix Jean-Luc
Lagardere-Grand Criterium-G1 FR. At three he won the Poule d'Essai des Poulains
(French Two Thousand Guineas)-G1 FR, and when brought to Santa Anita in the fall,
won the Breeders' Cup Mile-G1. So we have a Group 1 win at two, a classic mile
win at three, and a Grade 1 win at Santa Anita in a Breeders' Cup race. You have
Karakontie (JPN) was bred by Flaxman Holdings, the establishment
that brought you Kingmambo, East of the Moon and Miesque from this very same family.
In fact, Miesque is his third dam. These people don't breed rubbish. His sire
was Bernstein, an Irish Group 3-winning sprinter who went to stud in Kentucky
in 2001 with a modest $10,000 fee and shuttled with great success to Argentina.
His Kentucky reputation is fairly described as "underrated" while he
became the Leading Sire in Argentina twice. He died in October of 2011, leaving
a final crop on the ground that included Tepin (two-time Champion Turf Female)
and Karakontie (JPN) (French 2,000 Guineas/Breeders' Cup Mile), too late to do
him any good. Earlier crops included Grade 1 winning fillies Dream Empress and
Miss World, and good colts Signature Red and Bern Identity to name a few. His
Argentine crops produced no fewer than 14 Group 1 winners, including champions
and classic winners. In all, Bernstein sired 85 black type stakes winners, and
that's nothing to sniff at.
Karakontie (JPN)'s dam was Sun Is Up (JPN), who
was unplaced in France. She was a daughter of Sunday Silence, the remarkably prepotent
perenially Leading Sire in Japan and iconic stallion, Sunday Silence. She produced
minor stakes winners Sunday Sunrise (by Lemon Drop Kid) and Bottega (by Mineshaft)
before Karakontie (JPN) came along. Sun Is Up (JPN)'s dam was the French stakes
winner/Group-placed Moon Is Up, a daughter of another influential sire, Woodman.
Moon Is Up also produced the South African Group 1 winner Amanee (AUS) (by Pivotal
(GB)). Moon Is Up's dam was another iconic horse, Miesque the great daughter of
Nureyev, who won the Breeders' Cup Mile-G1 twice among her many G1 wins. This
is a huge and ever-expanding family of international caliber, and Karakontie (JPN)
is a perfect example of that.
Physically, Karakontie (JPN) is a good-sized
horse, topping out at 16.1 hands. He's an attractive, racey-looking type, well-made,
with a good shoulder, long forearm, short cannon, long barrel, and long hip. The
worst you can say about him is that he might benefit from a mare who has some
heft and bone.
Be that as it may, Karakontie (JPN) has already proven himself
as a sire of top-class runners, with ten stakes winners listed in the table to
the right, five of those being Grade/Group winners. His leading runner so far
is the good filly Spendarella, winner of the Del Mar Oaks-G1T and two other Graded
stakes. Spendarella's dam, Spanish Bunny, is by the good turf horse and sire Unusual
Heat, whose sire Nureyev is also found in Karakontie's cross of Miesque. Spendarella
is linebred 5x3 to Nureyev. Spanish Bunny is herself inbred 3x3 to Northern Dancer,
sire of both Nureyev and her broodmare sire El Gran Senor were sons of Northern
Dancer. Spanish Bunny has produced a second turf stakes winner by Karakontie (JPN)
named Spanish Loveaffair.
Karakontie (JPN) seems to do well with mares carrying
a lot of Northern Dancer, and in particular with Nureyev as we'll see. He's already
linebred 4x5 to Northern Dancer through Bernstein's sire Storm Cat, and grandsire
Storm Bird; on top of that cross of Nureyev. This is not particularly close but
worth noting, especially since Northern Dancer tends to pass on a lot of turf
ability. This is also backed up by a cross of Sunday's Silence's sire Halo, who
was, like Northern Dancer, a grandson of the important mare Almahmoud. Halo and
Northern Dancer have worked well together, and she might be part of the reason.
(JPN)'s next best runner and leading earner is Princess Grace, a Grade 2 winner
on both dirt and turf. She's out of a mare, Masquerade, by another Japanese-bred
horse, Silent Name (JPN), by Sunday Silence. This gives Princess Grace 3x3 crosses
of Sunday Silence, which you would think might be significant. Silent Name (JPN)
is also out of a mare by Danehill, by Danzig, by Northern Dancer, so there's that
Halo/Northern Dancer cross again.
Karakontie (JPN) is the sire of None Above
The Law, a gelding and Grade 2 winner on turf and stakes winner on all-weather.
His dam, Legally Blanca, is by Northern Afleet. Northern Afleet is notable since
he was by Afleet (by Mr. Prospector) out of a mare by Nureyev, which is a similar
cross to Karakontie (JPN)'s dam Moon Is Up, by Woodman (by Mr. Prospector) out
of Miesque by Nureyev. Nureyev is 5x4 in this mating. Legally Blanca is 4x4 Northern
Dancer since her dam is by Lyphard's Wish, by Lyphard.
Almost on cue, we come
to Sole Volante, a Grade 3 winner on dirt by Karakontie (JPN) out of Light Blow
by Kingmambo, by Mr. Prospector out of Miesque by Nureyev. Kingmambo is bred on
the same Mr. Prospector/Nureyev cross as Moon Is Up, so the mating has Nureyev
5x4 and Miesque appears 4x3 in the mating. Sole Volante's dam Light Blow was also
inbred (4x3) to Northern Dancer, since besides her cross of Nureyev, her second
dam was Northern Trick, a champion daughter of Northern Dancer.
the left column under the table of stakes winners)
WINNERS BY KARAKONTIE (JPN)|
(through December 22, 2022)
sire ||2nd dam's sire|
2019 f.||G1T||Unusual Heat |
|Princess Grace, 2017 f.||G2D/T||Silent
(by Sunday Silence)
Above the Law, 2018 g.||G2T||Northern Afleet|
|Lyphard's Wish |
Volante, 2017 g.||G3D||Kingmambo|
Miesque by Nureyev)
|Shirley Heights |
Warrior, 2017 c.||G3 ENG ||Lemon Drop Kid|
2018 f.||SWT||Unusual Heat|
|Karak, 2017 c.||SWT||Mujadil|
2017 f.||SWT||Galileo (IRE) |
|Ocean of Wisdom|
2019 f.||SW IRE ||Lemon Drop Kid|
|Tale of the Cat|
2017 f.||SWNT||Not For Love||El
| || || || |
from right column)|
in consideration is Karakontie (JPN)'s colt Kenzai Warrior, who won a G3 stakes
in England at two, and one of two juvenile stakes winners from Karakontie (JPN)'s
first crop, along with Karak. Kenzai Warrior's dam, Lemon Sakhee, is by Lemon
Drop Kid, a son of the aforementioned Kingmambo. We have the same Mr. Prospector/Nureyev
cross and Miesque is 4x4 in the mating. Lemon Sakhee's dam was inbred to Northern
Dancer through Nijinsky II and Sadler's Wells, so Lemon Sakhee actually had three
crosses of Northern Dancer (5x5x4). Sadler's Wells was by Northern Dancer out
of a half-sister to Nureyev, which might have made him a strong player in Kenzai
Warrior's pedigree, too.
Kenzai Warrior is the Karakontie (JPN) runner who caught
my attention back in 2019, because the spring previous, I had a client with a
couple of Lemon Drop Kid mares. I suggested they might suit Karakontie (JPN),
since Lemon Drop Kid mares had some success with Storm Cat-line sires and doubling
up Miesque (and so Nureyev as well) might be a good idea. When I noticed Karakontie
(JPN) was piling up with stakes winners out of mares carrying additional Nureyev,
I felt pretty good about my selections for those Lemon Drop Kid mares, even though
I knew the client was going to go another direction.
Karak became Karakontie
(JPN)'s first stakes winner in North America when he won the Tyro Stakes at Monmouth
as a two-year-old. He's out of a mare by Mujadil, who was by Storm Bird. That
doubles up on Storm Bird 4x3, and of course, adds more Northern Dancer.
(JPN)'s stakes winner Tournesol is out of a mare by Galileo, by Sadler's Wells,
bred similarly to Nureyev being by Northern Dancer and out of a half-sister to
Nureyev. Galileo's dam Urban Sea was the best runner by Woodman, bred on thes
same Mr. Prospector/Buckpass cross as Woodman, sire of Moon Is Up. Tournesol's
third dam was a half-sister to Miesque, being out of Pasodoble (5x4 in the mating).
stakes winner Cigamia is another by Karakontie (JPN) out of a mare by Lemon Drop
Kid, so 4x4 Miesque in the mating. Her second dam is by Tale of the Cat, adding
another cross of Storm Cat (3x4) and Storm Bird (4x5). Cigamia's dam is inebred
5x5 to Northern Dancer, through Nureyev and Storm Bird.
Lastly is Karakontie
(JPN)'s non-black type turf stakes winner Chambeau, out of a mare by Not For Love
(Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer), with a second dam by El Gran Senor (by Northern
Dancer), so 3x3 to Northern Dancer. El Gran Senor is also found in the second
dam of the full sisters Spendarella and Spanish Loveaffair.
So to summarize,
while only four of Karakontie's 10 stakes winners are out of Northern Dancer-line
mares, mares by Unusual Heat Mujadil and Galileo, fully six of them have a second
cross of Northern Dancer's son Nureyev. These come, through Unusual Heat (two),
Kingmambo (three, with two via Lemon Drop Kid), and two have a cross of Nureyev's
close relative Sadler's Wells. Seven are out of mares who are inbred to Northern
Part of this might be because Karakontie (JPN) would appeal
more to European breeders and North American breeders who like a good turf horse,
and perhaps not so obviously, Northern Dancer is the predominate strain in Europe
and most turf pedigrees. That said, only two of his stakes winners so far raced
in Europe. On the other hand, I think the success of matings with duplications
of Nureyev and Miesque through Kingmambo are not just the result of random breeding.
A horse like Karakontie (JPN) who has his pedigree and race record backed up
by the production of multiple Group/Graded stakes winners is starting to work
his way out of the "up and coming" category. He's the real deal. If
you want a good turf runner, he's worth more than a second look.
by Anne Peters 2022.|