Each year, as is our custom, we comment on and update our Broodmare of the Year files. Sweet Life, the 2009 Broodmare of the Year, is a deserving candidate from a family that has blossomed in recent years.
Tracing to one of the Royal Mare Families (No. 15), Branch 15-C via the ancient Selima (1746) by none other than the Godolphin Arabian, Sweet Life’s family lay all but dormant for quite some time, despite producing 1895 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Belmar.
The sub-branch of this family which is currently doing the best work traces to the winning 1942 Bull Lea mare, Meadow Maid. Out of Bending by Sweep, Meadow Maid was bred by Calumet Farm. From her two main daughter branches, the closely related Maid to Rule by *Nasrullah and Cargreen by *Turn-to, have descended champions Cherokee Run and Sweet Catomine, as well as Breeders’ Cup winners Life Is Sweet and Cherokee Run, plus Venezuelan classic winner Soul Provider.
Meadow Maid herself was a rich source of strong old lines. Owning multiples of Pocahontas (1837) via Stockwell/King Tom/Knight of Kars and linebred to Bonnie Scotland and Musket, her dam also added multiples of Lexington plus a cross of his half sister Rescue.
Then along came sire Bull Lea to contribute a cross of St. Simon and his full sister Angelica, as well as a cross of the very closely related Friar’s Balsam and The Mersey (they share a Stockwell/Orlando/Newminster/Eulogy nexus).
A 7 x 7 cross of full siblings Breadalbane and Blair Athol polishes off a fascinating picture of the origin of a foundation matron, and one whose line has finally come into its own. In fact, it is safe to say she has done what all Thoroughbreds are meant to do and that is account for a notable improvement of the breed, a very nice epitaph indeed.
Sweet Life herself is a daughter of outstanding broodmare sire Kris S. and her most important close inbreeding is a 4 x 6 cross of full siblings Occupy-Draeh (*Bull Dog-Miss Bunting). She now has three daughters in production: Champion Sweet Catomine has a placed A. P. Indy daughter named Sweet Thoughts; Life Is Sweet has been pronounced in foal to Smart Strike and her winning Giant’s Causeway filly Sweet Way has two foals by Smart Strike, one of which is a 2009 filly.
Both Sweet Life and Sweet Catomine produced colts by Unbridled’s Song this spring. Sweet Life has been bred back to Zenyatta’s sire Street Cry, while Sweet Catomine has been bred to Rachel Alexandra’s sire Medaglia d’Oro.
Although we ordinarily do not automatically make Broodmares of the Year Reines-de-Course we have in Meadow Maid a mare whose family has produced not only a top class sire in Cherokee Run, but also a Broodmare of the Year who has produced two excellent, G1 winning daughters. In addition, mares like G1 winner Pirate’s Revenge, already dam of a G1 placed runner, give us hope that the line will continue to produce.
Cherokee Run was pensioned due to declining fertility in 2009. However, he has more than a dozen sons at stud including champion War Pass (standing in Kentucky; his first foals arrived this year) and such good young stallions as Kafwain (in California), Yonaguska (recently exported to Turkey) and Zanjero (standing in Kentucky, his first foals also arrived this past spring) representing him. We are certain with so many good chances that this line, too, should continue to prosper.
Therefore, we are taking this opportunity to name Meadow Maid a Reine-de-Course. We may add a few mares from Maid to Rule’s branch in the future, but it really needs a strong daughter line. Cargreen is another matter. Hail to the Queen, a stakes winner herself, is responsible for the majority of the good things going on here, so she will join Meadow Maid on the list.
Despite our not naming Maid to Rule, don’t overlook breeding Cherokee Run lines back to Cargreen’s branch of the family. Cherokee Run was devoid of Raise a Native and Northern Dancer and that is solid gold. To briefly reiterate: New Reines-de-Course from this family line are Meadow Maid and Hail to the Queen.