Eskendereya pedigree constructed for classics

By Sid Fernando

Eskendereya, impressive winner of the G2 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Saturday, actually sold at Keeneland, for $250,000 as a yearling to Zayat Stable. High marks to the Zayat crew for another remarkable auction purchase, but the official breeder of the colt is Sanford R. Robertson, and he gets the full credit.

I don’t know Mr.Robertson personally, but by reading Eskendereya’s family tree, I’m impressed with his knowledge of pedigrees, his understanding of theory, and his patience — which has rewarded him now with a legitimate classics contender.

The breeder got into this family when he purchased the Alydar mare Altair — Eskenderya’s 2nd dam — in 1993 as an unraced 2-year-old at the Keeneland November sale, from the consignment of her breeder, Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm. Though unraced, she was classically bred, descending in tail-female to her 4th dam, Almahmoud, through Cosmah, her 3rd dam. Cosmah, among others, produced Halo — the sire of Sunday Silence. Cosmah’s half-sister was Natalma — the dam of Northern Dancer.

Cosmah’s daughter Queen Sucree — Altair’s 2nd dam — produced Derby winner Cannonade, as well as the Northern Dancer mare Stellar Odyssey, Altair’s dam. Stellar Odyssey, bred by North Ridge Farm, also was unraced, but she had an interesting pedigree pattern: As a daughter of Northern Dancer from the immediate family of Northern Dancer, she was inbred 3×3 to Almahmoud.

Bred to Alydar, she produced the unraced Altair, the filly that Mr. Robertson purchased in 1993, 17 years ago.

He decided to breed his young mare first to Seattle Slew, adding more classic blood to a pedigree rich in it — even if the first two dams were unraced. This mating, in 1996, produced Aldebaran Light, who won 3 of 5 starts but no stakes races.

Aldebaran Light is Eskendereya’s dam. Before him, she produced the European G2 sprinter Balmont, by Stravinsky (by Nureyev, by Northern Dancer). Balmont was raced by Mr. Robertson in partnership with Hatta Bloodstock and also was multiple G1 placed, too.

The pedigree pattern that produced Balmont is similar to that of Eskendereya, as both are by Northern Dancer-line sires from the family of Northern Dancer. In Eskendereya’s case, Mr. Robertson bred Aldebaran Light to one of the best young sires in the country, Giant’s Causeway — the best son of his exemplary sire, Storm Cat.

Click here to take a look at this pedigree
. Note the surface classic strength of this pedigree: by Giant’s Causeway, a champion at 9.5 to 10f, out of a mare by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of a mare by Alydar, out of a mare by Northern Dancer, out of a mare by Ribot, from the immediate family of Derby winners Cannonade and Northern Dancer.

Now look at the pattern again: Mr. Robertson has inbred to the sire of a member of the tail-female line, notably Stellar Odyssey, the Northern Dancer 3rd dam of Eskendereya. Therefore, Eskendereya is inbred 4×4 to Northern Dancer. This specific pattern of inbreeding has been utilized through the years by some of the greatest breeders in the world; in Eskendereya’s case, there’s also been a layering of repitition to other points of Northern Dancer’s female family, obviously with Stellar Odyssey having Almahmoud 3×3.