Friday, January 10, 2014

After the Auction: Screen Goddess

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. “After the Auctions” feature horses I selected in sales that have found success after the sale. These posts are generally just brief overviews of these horses’ racing records and pedigrees.

A disappointing sixth in her debut at Hollywood Park, in which she finished behind my grade one-winning sale selection Streaming, Screen Goddess sought redemption one day before the doors to Hollywood Park forever closed. On the final Saturday of racing at the Track of Lakes and Flowers, Screen Goddess went to post with Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens aboard as the heavy favorite in a field of eight.

In her previous start, Screen Goddess had traveled six furlongs over the all-weather track. Now, however, she had moved to the turf and stretched to the distance of one mile. Just as her pedigree would suggest, this change was perfectly suited for the daughter of Giant’s Causeway.

After exiting the gate in slightly sluggish fashion, Screen Goddess settled into position near the rear of the field. Stevens tucked the blaze-faced filly into a place along the rail as the pair trailed the field into the first turn while the bettors’ second choice, Abide in Me, led by a breathtaking margin into the backstretch. As Abide in Me lengthened her lead to twelve lengths, Screen Goddess gradually inched closer to her adversaries as the backstretch began to surrender to the far turn.

Steering his mount through traffic, Stevens split horses around the final bend before angling Screen Goddess to the outside as the field entered the homestretch. Although Abide in Me’s lead had dwindled drastically, several lengths still separated Screen Goddess from the vanguard with less than a quarter of a mile between her and the wire.

But the filly unleashed a remarkable turn of foot, surging forward to erase the distance that separated her from the leaders. Despite changing to the wrong lead in the final stages, Screen Goddess glided past her remaining rivals to draw away to win by a widening 1 ¾ lengths.

Pedigree Analysis

A daughter of three-time leading sire Giant’s Causeway, Screen Goddess shares her sire with twenty-five grade/group one winners, such as Aragorn, Eskendereya, First Samurai, Ghanaati, Giant Oak, My Typhoon, Our Giant, Shamardal, and Swift Temper. This bodes well for Screen Goddess, as eleven of Giant's Causeway's grade/group one winners are fillies or mares.

Screen Goddess’ dam, Topliner, is a daughter of the graded stakes-placed To the Hunt, who has also produced the grade one winners Starrer and Stellar Jayne. Topliner has carried on the ability to produce top-class runners, having yielded the grade one-winning Star Billing.

Topliner’s sire, Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Thunder Gulch, has found success as a broodmare sire, producing the dams of the graded stakes winners Crown of Thorns, Daddy Nose Best, Five Iron, and, of course, Star Billing. Although only sixteen other horses bred on the Giant’s Causeway/Thunder Gulch cross have raced, the cross has produced five stakes winners, including the graded stakes-winning Excited.

Her ancestry makes Screen Goddess’ success on turf come as no surprise. Giant’s Causeway, winner of six group ones on the turf in Europe, has found himself within the top five on the turf sires list for five of the past eight years, topping the list in 2006. In addition, Screen Goddess’ half-sister, Star Billing, excelled on the turf, winning the Matriach Stakes (gr. I) and the Senorita Stakes (gr. III) and placing in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. I), American Oaks (gr. I), and Honeymoon Handicap (gr. II) – all of which were contested on the turf.

Perhaps Screen Goddess’ debut was not the most inspiring, but once she found her home on the turf, she displayed spectacular promise. In fact, her maiden victory was so inspiring that it earned her a spot as a TDN Rising Star. Could she join my growing list of stakes-winning sale selections?

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