Who breeds two Derby winners in a year from a handful of mares?.
The $500,000 Group I SAJC South Australian Derby was run at Morphettville last Saturday with victory going to progressive three year-old colt Zabeelionaire, a $250,000 Inglis Easter purchase from the draft of Yarraman Park that was bred by Australian Derby winner Ethiopia's owner/breeder Trevor Delroy.
Fourth in the Group I VRC Victoria Derby in the spring, the Leon Corstens trained colt broke his maiden at Geelong when scoring by eight lengths and then tuned up for his Derby assault with a stylish win at Caulfield two weeks ago.
Settled back in the field by Damien Oliver from barrier one, Zabeelionaire (pictured Racepix Vic) travelled well before accelerating along the inside in the straight when allowed clear running to win the 2500 metre staying test by half a length.
Purchased by Corstens/Sadler Racing, Zabeelionaire runs for a big group of owners led by Brad Spicer of Starspangedbanner fame and has won three of 11 starts earning $467,780 in prizemoney.
Zabeelionaire is certainly bred to stay all day and is the first foal of Group II placed Carnegie (IRE) mare Kisumu, who comes from the family of Group I winner Vialli.
Harry Mitchell remembers the colt well as he arrived at Yarraman Park in the Hunter Valley not long after being weaned, having been born in New Zealand.
"He was always a beautiful, quality colt and very correct, but he was immature and a real baby for a long time, which I guess is what you expect with a Zabeel," Mitchell recalled.
"At the sales, he was a nice yearling, but not overly big and you'd have been hoping he would continue on growing the right way, which he has, so it's great to see him come out and win a Group I."
A Derby victory for Zabeelionaire (pictured as a yearling) has put the icing on the cake for Yarraman Park, who have enjoyed a great season in terms of the yearlings they have prepared and sold.
Stakes-winning graduates of Yarraman Park this season include Jade Marauder, Soft Sand, Celebrity Girl, Bliss Street and Facile Tigre, who runs tomorrow in the Group I BTC Cup.
"We've had a particularly good group of three year-olds come off the farm which is very pleasing as it's all about getting results on the track. That's the reason buyers keep coming back," Mitchell said.
Zabeelionaire was bred by Trevor Delroy's Wyadup Valley Farm, which was also responsible for breeding Group I ATC Australian Derby winner Ethiopia(pictured), which they retained to race.
"You've got to take your hat off to Trevor… Who breeds two Derby winners in a year when they own only a handful of mares? It just doesn't happen, but it has for him," Mitchell said.
"Trevor is very big on his pedigrees and has a great knowledge of bloodlines. He follows his own path and is not worried about what is or is not commercial and that is probably why he's achieved what he has."
Mr Delroy has some interesting theories about breeding stayers and they are obviously paying dividends.
He bought Kisumu, the dam of Zabeelionaire, for $67,500 at the 2005 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale and she was able to win a maiden at Sale over a mile before gaining Black Type with a couple of minor placings including a third to Miss Finland in the Group II MRC Angus Armanasco Stakes.
"I loved her pedigree, she has that Sadler's Wells, Darshaan cross that has been so successful, which I believe results from the influence of a very famous mare called Lalun," Delroy explained.
"When I bought Kisumu, I always had it in my head that if she was good enough, I could one day send her to Zabeel and to my mind that would be a magic mating.
"Kisumu traces back to a mare called Vali and that's the key to it I think. Vali goes back to a mare called Goody Two Shoes and she's also the ancestress of Sadler's Wells and Nureyev."
Mr Delroy has put great faith in his theory and Kisumu has been to Zabeel every year she has been at stud. Coming along behind Zabeelionaire are two year-old and yearling fillies, plus a weanling colt and she was covered by him again last year.
"I'm so glad that the first one worked as otherwise you'd be looking a bit of a goose!" Delroy said.
"The plan is to keep the others and the two year-old filly has come across here to Australia and is now in work with Pat Carey, who trains Ethiopia for us.
"We've named her Gondokoro, which is a trading station in the Sudan just south of Khartoum. It's hard to find good names, but I thought it sounded a bit like Goldikova, so hopefully she can do the name justice."
Zabeelionaire is the 142nd stakes-winner for champion Cambridge Stud based sire Zabeel, who will be 26 this year.