Sunday, December 2, 2012

After the Auction: Graustarkian

As an avid fan of sales with possible aspirations to become an adviser/bloodstock agent, auctions are one of my favorite topics to write about on Past the Grandstand. This is the seventh edition in a blog series called "After the Auction" that will feature horses I selected in sales that have found success after the sale. *Note: If an "After the Auction" features a two-year-old, it will also be listed as a "Juvenile Spotlight."

It took eight times for Well Armed to break his maiden, six times for Charismatic, and four times for Pleasantly Perfect and Ginger Punch. Nonetheless, these horses proceeded to accomplish great things. Graustarkian took seven tries to finally capture a win. This filly is unlikely to ever join this roster, but, like She Sleeps, Graustarkian thrilled me with her maiden victory, as she became my seventh juvenile sales selection of 2012 to obtain a win.

Photo by Terri Cage
One of my top selections at this year’s Fasig-Tipton Texas Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, Graustarkian is a daughter of Mizzen Mast, a grade one-winning son of Cozzene. Notably, Mizzen Mast sired a pair of 2012 Breeders’ Cup winners: Flotilla and Mizdirection. Mizzen Mast is also the sire of such horses as grade one winners Mast Track, Midships, and Ultimate Eagle. As a son of Cozzene, Mizzen Mast shares the same sire as the grade/group one winners Admire Cozzene, Alphabet Soup, Star of Cozzene, Star over the Bay, Tikkanen, and Zoftig.

Graustarkian's namesake is surely Mizzen Mast's damsire, Graustark. The son of the great Ribot was a multiple stakes-winning full brother to His Majesty, a track record-setting stakes winner that became a leading sire. Graustark, who stood at Darby Dan Farm, was syndicated in 1966 for $2.4 million, which was a record at the time. Named for a fictional Europe nation from the novels by George Barr McCutcheon, Graustark stood alongside his brother at Darby Dan. Graustarkian was the fictitious native language of the people of Graustark.

The dam of Graustarkian, Gilty Look, has produced six runners including Graustarkian, all of which have won. Three of those winners have earned more than $120,000. Gilty Look’s dam is the brilliant mare, Laughing Look, who produced the multiple grade one-winning Coronado’s Quest, the grade three-winning and course record-setting Warning Glance, the black type-winning Military Look, the stakes-placed Look to the King, and the dam of the multiple graded stakes-winning Air Support.

Graustarkian’s broodmare sire is the multiple grade one-winning Seeking the Gold, sire of several champions. As a damsire, Seeking the Gold has produced the dams of such horses as the grade/group one winners Blame, Dancing Forever, Excellent Art, Pine Island, Point of Entry, Riskaverse, and She Be Wild. The Cozzene/Seeking the Gold cross on which Graustarkian is bred is similar to that of the grade three-winning Cozzy Corner, the stakes-winning and group stakes-placed Robe Decollete, and the stakes-placed Mayomast.

Notably, Graustarkian’s fourth dam is Shenanigans, the dam of the great champion Ruffian, the multiple graded stakes-winning and track record-setting Icecapade, and the graded stakes-winning and track record-equaling Buckfinder. In fact, Shenanigans’ position in Graustarkian’s dam line begins a series of six consecutive Reine De Course mares.

Following a poor finish in her debut, Graustarkian ran third in a trial for the D.S. "Shine" Young Futurity at Evangeline, but finished sixth in the finals. After two in-the-money finishes at Louisiana Downs, Graustarkian finished fifth behind She Sleeps at Delta Downs.

But four weeks later, Graustarkian finally found the winner’s circle. Racing with blinkers for the first time, the gray filly broke sharply from the fourth post in the six and one-half-furlong maiden special weight. She settled along the inside as the field raced towards the sharp initial turn, rating behind the frontrunners. Several lengths separated Graustarkian and her rivals that raced amidst the vanguard as the juvenile Thoroughbreds galloped into the backstretch.

She inched closer down the backside, maintaining her fourth-place position along the straightaway on the side opposite the grandstand. Her long stride quickened as the track again began to curve, allowing her to shorten the distance between her and the pacesetters. With a notable turn of foot, the gray filly angled to the outside near the end of the final turn, drawing even with the leader as the field turned for home. Graustarkian ran evenly with Pursuitofparadise for a moment before kicking clear, galloping to an easy 1 ¾-length victory despite running on the wrong lead.

With her winning performance, Graustarkian displayed the same imposing stride that, along with her remarkable ancestry, impressed me at the auction earlier this year. This led her to be the ninth-highest-priced horse to sell. Perhaps it was the blinkers that led her to finally find victory, or maybe things finally “clicked” for the filly. Regardless, it seems Graustarkian has finally discovered the right path. I also believe Graustarkian could flourish on the turf, as her pedigree insinuates that she would succeed over the grass.

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