Bloodlines Presented By Walmac Farm: Dubai World Cup Winner Laurel River Furthers Juddmonte Farms’ Golden Cross

With a merciless cadence, the blaze-faced bay Laurel River (by Into Mischief) ground his opponents into the dust of Meydan for the second time in succession.

Having won the Group 2 Burj Nahaar on March 2 by 6 ¾ lengths, Laurel River returned to win the G1 Dubai World Cup on March 30 by 8 ½ lengths.

Now a winner in five of his last six starts, Laurel River has lost only the G3 Al Shindagha Sprint, which was the brawny bay’s return to the races after an absence of 17 months. Built like a muscular miler, Laurel River had won his last U.S. start, the G2 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar, and might have needed the race earlier this year.

The strongly built horse did not appear to need anything more than a perceptive jockey in his first attempt at 10 furlongs at Meydan on Saturday.

Bred in Kentucky by Juddmonte Farms, Laurel River is the result of a conscious plan set in motion by Khaled Abdullah several years ago. 

“At the time, we were looking for a cross with the Empire Maker mares we had from our best families,” noted Juddmonte’s Garrett O’Rourke.

The choice fell on Harlan’s Holiday and his son Into Mischief, and as part of that, Juddmonte became a supporter of the multiple leading national sire early on. The results include classic winner Mandaloun and now Laurel River.

“The Into Mischiefs are lovely horses to be around: happy, healthy, eager to go to the track,” O’Rourke said. “Some can be high energy, but they love what they do every day, and horses like that are important for the breed. They have great enthusiasm for racing and are very healthy to train and race.

“It would have been after his first 3-year-olds had shown their ability that we bought into him, and we did that specifically to breed him to our Empire Maker mares that lacked that little bit of zip, toughness, and zest, which Into Mischief supplies in spades,” O’Rourke added.

Whereas the family of Mandaloun had been acquired by Juddmonte when forming its broodmare band back in the 1980s, the second dam of Laurel River, Soothing Touch (Touch Gold), had been purchased at auction in only 2005, bringing $550,000 at the Keeneland September sale.

Racing for Juddmonte with trainer Bobby Frankel, Soothing Touch was once second from six starts at four different racetracks, but that was as close as she came to winning. O’Rourke said that “the Prince never referred to her by name. He always referred to her as ‘Teddy’s mare.’”

As little as “Teddy’s mare” managed to accomplish on the racetrack, she was not judged “surplus to requirements” and has done rather more in the paddocks. As a broodmare, Soothing Touch produced three stakes winners, including Hofburg (Tapit), who also was second in the G1 Florida Derby and third in the Belmont Stakes.

But most importantly, “Teddy’s mare” became the dam of multiple G1 winner Emollient and her full-sister Calm Water.

“Trainer Bill Mott and all of us here at Juddmonte thought quite a lot of Emollient,” O’Rourke said, “and a group of us went to Gulfstream for [her stakes debut at three in] the Florida Oaks.” Dreaming of Julia (A.P. Indy) won by 21 ¾ lengths, with Emollient fifth of six.

“Emollient never ran her race,” O’Rourke said. “We were all disappointed with it, and we didn’t talk much afterward. Then the next thing we saw, she was entered in the Ashland here at Keeneland, and she went wire to wire. Bill just smiled.”

A four-time G1 winner, Emollient has produced a pair of stakes winners by Juddmonte superstar Frankel (Galileo), most notably Raclette, winner of the G2 Prix de Malleret.

Her full-sister, Calm Water, did nothing noteworthy on the racetrack, with her best effort a second in a maiden special at Keeneland, but has produced Laurel River as her third foal. Calm Water has a two years’ younger full-brother to the Dubai World Cup winner named Castlewarden. He won his maiden at Oaklawn Park on March 15.

The mare has a 2-year-old filly named Long Waves (Constitution) and a yearling colt by the same sire. Calm Water produced a full sister to Laurel River and Castlewarden last month, and the mare returns to Into Mischief.

This is the family of Almahmoud through Natalma (Native Dancer), and E.P. Taylor sold the fifth dam of Laurel River to Stavros Niarchos for $825,000 at the 1983 Keeneland July sale. Named Coup de Folie (Halo), the filly was inbred to Almahmoud 3×3; racing for Flaxman Holdings, Coup de Folie won the G3 Prix d’Aumale and was twice G1-placed, with four victories from seven starts.

For Flaxman, she produced G1 winner and leading sire Machiavellian (Mr. Prospector), as well as his full sister Coup de Genie, who won twice at the G1 level (Prix Morny and Prix de la Salamandre against colts).

Coup de Genie became the dam of four stakes winners, including French highweight juvenile filly Denebola (Storm Cat) and Glia, the third dam of Laurel River.

When Flaxman Holdings sent Glia’s daughter by Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold (Deputy Minister) to the sales, “this filly had a pedigree that we would love to get into,” O’Rourke noted. “Teddy Grimthorpe had come over here with Prince Khaled, and at the sales, she made quite a bit more than we valued her at, and yet Teddy kept bidding.

“We bought her essentially as a breeding prospect, because horses from these families can run on dirt, on turf, and this is a pedigree that stays good all the way through. All credit to Prince Khaled for being such a sound decision-maker and for his family for carrying on in the same manner,” O’Rourke concluded.

Pedigree counts in that too.

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