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Kingmambo reputation on the rise; Lemon Drop Kid and El Condor Pasa could boost sire still further this autumn.

IT has been an odd season in the States as far as the three-year-old colts are concerned. The leading candidates for the Kentucky Derby were so unconvincing that a couple of fillies (Excellent Meeting and Three Ring) and a couple of geldings (General

Challenge and Valhol) were allowed to

take their chances at Churchill Downs.

And, after a Classic bedevilled by traffic chaos, Charismatic's victory was widely regarded as a fluke, with plausible excuses being offered for most of those behind him.

A fortnight later Charismatic confounded his critics in the Preakness. The emphatic surge which took him to the front on the final turn brooked no argument; the colt who had finished second in a Santa Anita claimer three months earlier was championship material-and had the Triple Crown in his sights.

Of course, Charismatic did not win the Belmont, though what would have happened but for his breakdown in the straight is anybody's guess. The dramatic scenes as the stricken hero was tended by vets meant the race would be remembered as the Classic lost by Charismatic, rather than the one won by Lemon Drop Kid.

The scribes could find few positive things to say about Lemon Drop Kid, beyond grudging acknowledgement that he always seemed to run well at Belmont. He was actually quite unfancied on this occasion, and the victory of such an inconsistent colt was treated as a bit of an embarrassment.

It was probably just the extreme distance-in American terms-that enabled him to prevail over the progressive Vision And Verse. And Menifee, runner-up in the Derby and the Preakness, had clearly not run to his form.

The picture has changed again. Lemon Drop Kid reverted to America's classic 10-furlong trip in Saturday's Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga, opposed again by Vision And Verse and Menifee-and once again he emerged on top. Menifee was never going to win in the straight and could only plug on for third, as Lemon Drop Kid wrested the lead from Vision And Verse and kept going for a thoroughly well-merited three-quarters of a length victory.

Having won the Futurity at Belmont last October, Lemon Drop Kid now has three Grade 1 wins, so it is time he was taken seriously as a candidate for three-year-old honours. And as his schedule involves the Woodward Stakes, the Jockey Cup Gold Cup and the Breeders' Cup Classic, it is evident connections do not intend to hide his light under a bushel; the Horse of the Year crown is the target.

Lemon Drop Kid is one of 65 foals from the second crop of Kingmambo, the son of Mr Prospector and Miesque who notched a Group 1 treble in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, the St James's Palace Stakes and the Prix du Moulin in 1993.

Kingmambo, who was never tried beyond a mile, was a good horse, but not a star; on the International Classifications he was rated 7lb behind Zafonic. He was a class below his dam, that wonderful winner of 10 Group 1 or Grade 1 events.

Still, it was quite a pedigree to take to stud, and though his first winner was a while coming, Kingmambo now has major successes in America, Europe and Japan.

Lemon Drop Kid is his only major winner on dirt, though El Condor Pasa did win on that surface in Japan before switching to turf and establishing his high reputation with wins in the Japan Cup and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Bookmakers rate El Condor Pasa the chief danger to Montjeu in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, so there are high hopes that Kingmambo's profile will rise again this autumn on both sides of the Atlantic.

El Condor Pasa is out of a poor runner by Sadler's Wells and, as he is also a grandson of Nureyev, he has a pedigree showing close inbreeding to both Northern Dancer and Special. Lemon Drop Kid, by contrast, has a total outcross background, but one that is certainly no less impressive. Indeed, it is one that was always going to carry stud appeal, if he could prove himself as a runner.

Kingmambo's slow start with his first two-year-old runners was the chief reason for Lemon Drop Kid's comparatively low price of $200,000 at the 1997 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

His dam Charming Lassie was unbeaten, albeit in a single start, and both her runners at that stage were above-average winners.

Charming Lassie was certainly entitled to make a broodmare of consequence. Her half-sister Weekend Surprise was responsible for two Classic winners in Summer Squall and A P Indy, the latter by Charming Lassie's sire Seattle Slew.

In addition, her half-brothers Deerhound, Wolfhound and Foxhound had all shown smart form, Wolfhound as a Group 1 winner in Britain.

This family arrived in America with the importation of wartime Irish Oaks heroine Uvira, who delivered five stakes-winning colts and a number of fillies who went on to distinguished stud careers.

Obedient's branch did well, Missy Baba's significantly better, and even the unraced Oonagh, produced by Uvira at the age of 26, was the dam of Hunza Dancer, third in Grundy's Derby.

Missy Baba bred six stakes winners, headed by champion sire Raja Baba and Sauce Boat. Another was Gay Missile, dam of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud victor Gay Mecene and of Lassie Dear, a Grade 3 winner as a two-year-old.

Lassie Dear now has the distinction of being the grand-dam of three winners of US Triple Crown events-Summer Squall in the Preakness, A P Indy and Lemon Drop Kid in the Belmont.

PEDIGREE ASSESSMENT

SIRE: KINGMAMBO

Bred by Flaxman Holdings Ltd. Won 5 (6-8f) of 13 races, viz. 1 out of 7 at 2 years, 4 (inc. Poule d'Essai des Poulains-Gr1, St James's Palace S.-Gr1, Prix du Moulin de Longchamp-Gr1) out of 6 at 3 years. Also 2nd 3 times (inc. Prix de la Salamandre) and 3rd twice (Prix Jacques Le Marois, Queen Elizabeth II S.). Earned Ff3,980,028. Timeform 110 at 2 years, 125 at 3 years.

Medium-sized (15.3hh), close-coupled, attractive individual. Among the best milers of his generation, game, consistent, with a good turn of foot.

By a good sprinter and outstanding sire, half-brother to Gr1 winner East Of The Moon and Gr3 winner Miesque's Son, out of exceptional racemare, winner of 10 Gr1 races.

Stands at Lane's End Farm, Versailles, Kentucky, at a fee of $45,000. Sire of 3 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: American Boss (Gr3), El Condor Pasa (NHK Mile Cup-Gr1, Japan Cup-Gr1, Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud-Gr1), Parade Ground (Gr2), Admire Mambo (Gr2), Lemon Drop Kid (Futurity S.-Gr1, Belmont S.-Gr1, Travers S.-Gr1).

DAM: CHARMING LASSIE

Bred by Will Farish and William S. Kilroy. Unraced at 2, won her only start (6f maiden) at 3 years. Earned $16,500.

Gifted but unsound. Impeccably bred. By a US Triple Crown winner and excellent sire (for American racing), half-sister to stakes winners Weekend Surprise (Gr3, dam of Classic winners and successful sires Summer Squall and A P Indy [by Seattle Slew]), Spectacular Spy, Wolfhound (Gr1) and Foxhound.

Dam Gr3 winner, half-sister to stakes winners Gallapiat and Gay Mecene (Gr1). Grand-dam Gr2-calibre winner, half-sister to Raja Baba (champion sire) and Sauce Boat (Gr1).

To stud at 4 years and dam of: Sovereign Sage (1992 g by Sovereign Dancer; stakes-placed winner), Captain Charlie (1993 c by Alysheba; winner), Lassie's Gold (1994 f by Seeking The Gold; unraced), Brulay (1995 f by Rubiano; Gr2 winner), Lemon Drop Kid (1996 c by Kingmambo; triple Gr1 winner), Wide Eye Bayou (1997 c by Dixieland Band; unraced). Has a yearling colt by Kingmambo, no 1999 produce, and is in foal to a February service by Storm Cat.

CONCLUSION

Very well bred, a late foal, seemingly progressive, and perhaps a better racehorse than he has been given credit for.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Morris, Tony
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 31, 1999
Words:1307
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