Irish War Cry Bred for Derby Glory
By Casey Laughter
The 2017 Holy Bull Stakes (GII) was supposed to be a successful bow for the 2016 Eclipse Award-winning juvenile champion Classic Empire to reaffirm his early favoritism for the Kentucky Derby (GI) and show just how good he really is, but instead another runner – Irish War Cry — came from virtually nowhere to steal the show.
Isabelle de Tomaso’s homebred Irish War Cry made his first start of the year at Gulfstream Park after winning his first two races late last year at Laurel Park — a maiden and a listed stakes. And not only did Irish War Cry win the Holy Bull, he did so impressively, earning a 97 Beyer, a 102 BRISnet speed number and 110 figure on Equibase. Irish War Cry went off at odds of nearly 9-2 and led every step of the way. He was never challenged nor pressed, and Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (GIII) winner Gunnevera was the only horse who seemed able to keep up with the big son of Curlin and finished 3 3/4 lengths behind Irish War Cry and five lengths in front of Classic Empire.
While Classic Empire’s excuse for a poor run was discovered to be due to a foot abscess that broke open two days later, Irish War Cry emerged from his initial graded stakes score in top condition, according to trainer Graham Motion.
What is even better about Irish War Cry is the fact that he has displayed two completely different running styles. In his maiden voyage, the colt came from off the pace to win at odds of more than 8-1 going six furlongs. Obviously the colt wanted more distance so Motion ran him in the Marylander Stakes at Laurel, where he went off as the favorite in the seven-furlong contest. He went to the lead and never looked back, wining by a nose. In the Holy Bull, Irish War Cry bounded out of the gate with his massive stride and again never looked back. None could keep pace with him, so jockey Joel Rosario just kept his mind on business later in the stretch just to give him some education.
Irish War Cry is likely to stay in Florida and follow that route to the Kentucky Derby, which proved successful for multiple winners of the Kentucky Derby, most recently Orb in 2013 though Nyquist did win the Florida Derby before taking the Run for the Roses a year ago.
So what makes Irish War Cry so successful and promising this early in the game? His sire, Curlin, has been represented by a Kentucky Derby starter in every one of his crops to race thus far. Additionally, Curlin has sired several classic runners — and winners — Exaggerator (2016 Preakness), Palace Malice (2013 Belmont) and Keen Ice (2015 Travers). He also has top fillies Curalina, Stellar Wind and Terra Promessa.
As a racehorse, two-time Horse of the Year Curlin won the 2007 Preakness and barely lost the Belmont Stakes to the filly Rags to Riches. He went on to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI), Dubai World Cup (GI) and the Breeders’ Cup Classic so it’s safe to say Curlin is a top stamina influence.
Irish War Cry’s dam, the Polish Numbers mare Irish Sovereign, was an allowance runner for the majority of her career, winning just three times in 13 starts with all those starts at sprint distances of six furlongs or less and all on dirt. As a broodmare, Irish Sovereign has six foals of racing age and all are winners. Irish War Cry is her first graded stakes winner, but has produced other stakes-placed foals.
Polish Numbers has proven to be quite influential through his daughters and also is the broodmare sire of California Chrome. As a racehorse, Polish Numbers was a solid allowance horse, but was only stakes placed. His female family is quite flashy, however, as he is out of the champion Buckpasser mare Numbered Account and therefore a half-brother to influential sire Private Account. Both are members of the highly influential Phipps breeding program.
Irish War Cry is inbred to only Northern Dancer (5Sx4D), but does have influence from Mr. Prospector as he is the grandsire of Curlin, and from Bold Ruler through the Boldnesian line. It is safe to say Irish War Cry likely has plenty of stamina to survive the Kentucky Derby preps, the historic race itself and also the other classics and beyond.
For the latest Future Wager Odds on this trainers like to make the Kentucky Derby, go to: