I recently rewatched the 1985 Oaks and I was struck by both the quality of the field and the remarkable success they subsequently enjoyed as broodmares. I am curious if anyone can recall a better collection of broodmares who all competed in the same race? For the record there were only 12 runners in the 1985 Oaks but 4 of them became the dams of Group 1 winners, another the dam of a Group 2 winner and all this success was achieved despite the tragic demise of the great Triptych before she had any offspring.
The race was won by the great Oh So Sharp (Kris- Oh So Fair by Graustark). She is the last filly to win the triple crown and probably the best filly trained by the late Henry Cecil. Her record at stud is very good (although understandably she never produced anything comparable to herself) with a Group 1 winner of the Prix Saint Alary in Rosefinch (by Blushing Groom) to her credit. She is also dam of Grade 2 winner Shaima (by Shareef Dancer) who went on to be the dam of Shantou by Alleged who won the St Leger in 1996 and subsequently added two Italian Group 1’s to his cv. Two of her sons by Sadler’s Wells in Sacho and Savoir Vivre were Group placed and Savoir Vivre found a place at stud in Tasmania.
Second home was Triptych (Riverman-Trillion by Hail to Reason). She was a remarkable racemare in many ways, running 41 times and being a standing fixture in the top European races of the mid 80’s. She was a Group 1 winner every year aged 2-6. She had three different trainers (David Smaga, David O Brien and Patrick Biancone), she was the first filly to win the Irish 2000 Guineas and her dam Trillion was also an outstandingly tough and talented racemare who ran 31 times and her dam Margarethen ran 64 times! Her background was such that she cost over 2 million dollars and she must have been the only European trained mare to earn back such a purchase price on the racetrack. She died in bizzare circumstances when she collided with a truck that was driving without lights whilst carrying to Mr Prospector. It is intriguing to think what she would have produced had she lived to visit Sadler’s Wells.
Third was Dubian (High Line-Melodina by Tudor Melody). She went on to become an outstanding broodmare. Her most successful offspring was Sayeddati (by Shadeed), who won five Group 1 races -the 1000 Guineas, Sussex Stakes, Jacques Le Marois, Cheveley Park and Moyglare Stud Stakes. Sayeddati is in turn dam of Almushahar (by Silver Hawk) who looked destined for great things after winning the Royal Lodge, but unfortunately never ran again.
Dubian is also dam of Golden Snake (by Danzig) who retired to the National Stud in the UK having landed four Group 1 events including the Prix Ganay and Prix Jean Prat.
Dubian almost had a third Group 1 winner in Race Leader (by Gone West) who was runner up to Giant’s Causeway in the Prix de la Salamandre.
In fourth was Kiliniski (Niniski-Kilavea by Hawaii). Kiliniski is a grand daughter of the breed shaping mare Special. When I first published this article, I wrote that she made no impact as a broodmare. However in 2014 her grandaughter Madame Chiang (Archipenko ex Robe Chinoise by Robellino) struck in the British Champion Fillies and Mares race for Kirsten Rausing.
In fifth came Bella Colora (Bellypha- Reprocolor by Jimmy Reppin) who had only been just touched off in a three way finish with Oh So Sharp and Al Bahatri in the 1000 Guineas. Reprocolor was herself fourth in the Oaks before becoming an incredible broodmare whose legacy keeps expanding. Bella Colora did her bit for the family as dam of Stagecraft (by Sadler’s Wells) who won the Prince of Wales Stakes (then a Group 2) before being narrowly beaten in the Eclipse. Another of her sons was Group 3 winner Mullins Bay (by Machiavellian) who is now at stud in South Africa. Her daughters have continued the legacy and a host of good winners including Poet, France, Caspar Netscher and Shirocco Star trace to Bella Colora.
In seventh was Morning Devotion (Affirmed-Morning has Broken by Prince John). She compiled a superb record as a broodmare highlighted by the brilliant Balanchine (by Storm Bird) who followed up her win in the 1994 Oaks with victory over the colts in the Irish Derby. Morning Devotion is also dam of Romanov by Nureyev who was a Group 2 winner of the Jockey Club Stakes and finished third in the 1997 Derby. Red Slippers (also by Nureyev) was also a Group 2 winner, her success coming in the Sun Chariot Stakes and she became the dam of West Wind (by Machiavellian) who gained classic success in the French Oaks.
Last in the Oaks but not to be overlooked was Dance Machine (Green Dancer-Never A Lady by Pontifex. She achieved fame as the dam of Halling who won five Group 1’s for Godolphin in the mid nineties including consecutive runnings of both the Eclipse Stakes and Juddmonte International. He has compliled a decent record at stud see (http://www.montjeu.com/archives/135) .
The Epsom Oaks is meant to be the premier European fillies classic, so in one sense we should expect its participants to pass on their superior racing merit. However racing is rarely so predictable and it is unusual to have such a high percentage of fillies make the grade as broodmares. 1985 may just have been an above average crop of fillies, it could be just one of those statistical quirks or perhaps the explanation lies in the changing nature of European bloodstock in the 1980’s with the old European lines ready to be crossed with potent Northern Dancer blood to subsequent great effect. Whatever the explanation, it is interesting to look back on some very talented fillies whose offspring subsequently made a significant impact on the racing world and to pose the question- when was there a better bunch of broodmares in a single race?