ULTIMATE EAGLE Pedigree Insights
RSS Feeds Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Courtesy of the TDN

Just over 10 years ago the late great Bobby Frankel gambled that the accomplished turf performer Mizzen Mast would adapt to Santa Anita’s dirt track in the GI Malibu S. The gamble paid off, with the gray son of Cozzene powering away in the stretch to score by two and a half lengths. His performance earned a headline in the Blood-Horse which read “Monster Mast.”

That Malibu display suggested that Mizzen Mast-- a veteran of nine races on the turf--had even more to offer on the main track. This was confirmed when he reappeared at the beginning of February in the GII Strub S. over an extra quarter mile. This time the Blood-Horse’s two-word headline was “The Master,” after the 4-year-old had scored by four lengths, bettering Silver Charm’s stakes record in the process. "I had so much horse going down the backside, I was pulling on him as hard as I could to slow him down,” winning rider Kent Desormeaux reported.

The colt’s trainer described Mizzen Mast as “a really good horse” and admitted that he had had no idea whether the switch to dirt would work: "He’d worked good on the dirt, but you never know until they race on it. Sometimes you get lucky,” said Frankel.

At this stage the future looked distinctly exciting for Mizzen Mast. His next step towards stardom was expected to be in the Santa Anita H., but a quarter crack ruined that plan and an intended return at Del Mar also went by without him. A Atouchy ankle” was cited as the reason for his 2003 campaign being brought to a premature end and it wasn’t long before his retirement was announced. There is therefore a certain synchronicity to the fact that, 10 years after Mizzen Mast’s Strub S. victory, his son Ultimate Eagle has made a similarly spectacular switch from turf to dirt.

Like his sire, Ultimate Eagle had become a Grade I winner late in his sophomore year, taking the GI Hollywood Derby over a mile and a quarter. But unlike his sire, he was making his debut on dirt when he stormed home more than seven lengths clear in the Strub S. three days ago.

It seems that Ultimate Eagle has inherited not only his sire’s talent, but also his eagerness. Mizzen Mast attempted to lead throughout when he put up two of his best performances in France and Desormeaux’s comments after the Strub show that the colt remained keen after his move to California, even though the Frankel team managed to control him.

Ultimate Eagle had enough in reserve to win the Strub impressively, even though he covered the first six furlongs in a 1:10.03. His Hollywood Derby victory showed that he can carry his speed at least a mile and a quarter.

No wonder his trainer Michael Pender commented that "this is a special horse and people have to start realizing it. Just because he wins on the turf, it doesn’t mean that he can’t do it anywhere else.”

Pender had explained after an earlier victory that Ultimate Eagle had been his Kentucky Derby horse before he got colic as a 2-year-old. "It’s a miracle he’s even here," he said at the time.

It is a measure of Mizzen Mast’s talent that Ultimate Eagle was conceived in 2007, before Mizzen Mast’s abilities as a stallion had become apparent. His first runners in 2006 had largely slipped under the radar, the most notable winner being a colt who won a Japanese Group 3 on the dirt. With this colt’s earnings not being included in Jockey Club figures, Mizzen Mast languished down in 20th place on the 2006 first-crop sires’ list.

As he wasn’t represented by his first American Graded winner until Jibboom won the Raven Run S. in October 2007, you can imagine that the 2007 covering season wasn’t the easiest for Mizzen Mast. He had 66 foals in 2007, but one of these 66 is Ultimate Eagle and another is that fast filly Mizdirection, who started 2012 with a victory in the GIII Monrovia S.

Needless to say, Mizzen Mast’s fortunes took a distinct turn for the better thanks to the efforts of such as Mast Track, Madeo and Midships, and consequently his current crop of 3-year-olds should be well worth keeping an eye on. Not only is it his largest crop, but it was also sired at his highest fee of $20,000.

His 2012 2-year-olds should also be a talented group. Ultimate Eagle is comfortably the best of the first three foals produced by Letithappencaptain, a solid performer who won four stakes races from six furlongs to a mile as a 3-year-old in Louisiana and Texas. She is only the second daughter of Captain Bodgit to produce a graded winner, her predecessor being Nurse Margaret, dam of the Grade III winner Livin Lovin.

The Florida-bred Captain Bodgit was one of the first to advertise the merits of Saint Ballado as a sire. Having won five of his six starts as a juvenile, he progressed to win the Florida Derby and Wood Memorial before being narrowly beaten by Silver Charm in the Kentucky Derby. Stamina clearly wasn’t a problem for Captain Bodgit, but Ultimate Eagle’s next three dams were sired by Dayjur, Habitat and Tudor Music. Dayjur and Tudor Music were top sprinters in Europe, where Habitat was a tremendous source of speed.

Ultimate Eagle has shown that he has plenty of speed at his disposal, but he has another dimension to his talents, no doubt thanks to the fact that both his sire and broodmare sire were capable of very good form over a mile and a quarter.

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