A few months ago, following the victory of his 3-year-old son Forbidden Kingdom in the San Felipe Stakes (G2), we advanced a hypothesis or two about the stud career of American Pharoah. One was that his early success has been on a very international basis and that has had the effect of diluting his impact in North America, meaning domestic breeders are tending to underappreciate him. The second is that although he was very much the absolute model of the long-striding, powerful cardio, on-pace American dirt classic type, as a sire—perhaps as a function of an outcrossed pedigree—he is more a factor for class than for specific aptitudes or traits.
The validity of those hypotheses—and the Triple Crown winner's burgeoning stud career—received another boost over the weekend, when in the space of a few hours on May 29 American Pharoah was represented by two new major-stakes winners of very different kinds on two continents.
The first was Above The Curve, a 3-year-old filly who on just her fourth start captured the 10-furlong Prix Saint-Alary (G1), the premier prep for the Prix de Diane Longines-French Oaks (G1). The second was American Theorem, a 5-year-old from American Pharoah's first crop, who prevailed in the seven-furlong Triple Bend Stakes (G2).
As a classic distance turf runner, Above The Curve is clearly taking after her family. A sister to Thinking of You, three times group-placed in Ireland, Above The Curve is one of five group/graded-stakes performers and three stakes winners from only 14 starters by American Pharoah out of mares by Galileo. Her dam, Fabulous, never ran but is half sister to European Horse of The Year Giant's Causeway, successful in six group one events, five consecutively, and beaten just inches in the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), and subsequently crowned leading sire in the U.S. on three occasions. Fabulous is also half sister to a pair of mares who have produced no less than seven stakes winners by Galileo, all of whom are therefore three-quarters related to Fabulous. Six are out of Giant's Causeway's three-time group-winning sister, You'resothrilling, and they are headed by Gleneagles, whose victories include the QIPCO English 2,000 Guineas (G1) and Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas (G1); Joan of Arc, successful in the Prix de Diane Longines-French Oaks; and Marvellous, who took the Etihad Airways Irish One Thousand Guineas (G1). Another sister to Giant's Causeway and You'resothrilling, Pearling, failed to win, but produced Galileo son Decorated Knight, winner of the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (G1), Emirates Airline Jebel Hatta (G1) and Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1).
Above The Curve's second, third and fourth dams, Mariah's Storm (Rahy), Immense (Roberto) and Imsodear (Chieftain), were all black-type winners in the U.S. Mariah's Storm and Immense scored at the graded level, six times in the case of Mariah's Storm, and Imsodear produced a real star in Dearly Precious, the best daughter of Dr. Fager, and the Champion 2-Year-Old Filly of 1975. This has been a prominent family in North America since the mid-1800s, and it also includes Australian, founder of the Fair Play/Man o' War sire line; Tanya, a filly who took the 1905 Belmont Stakes; Rhine Maiden and Broomspun, winners of the Preakness Stakes in 1915 and 1921, respectively; Ben Ali, the Kentucky Derby winner of 1886; and Above The Curve's direct tail-female ancestress, Spinaway, Champion Two-Year-Old Filly of 1880.
American Theorem is a horse of a very different color, both literally and figuratively. The gray ridgling had at one stage looked to be the most likely U.S. classic contender from the first crop of his sire, with two juvenile starts yielding a maiden special weight victory over 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar and a second in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1). He then, however, made just one start in 2021, an unplaced effort in the Rebel Stakes (G2). American Theorem returned for two starts late in 2021, finishing second in a six-furlong allowance at Los Alamitos—won in 1:07.86—in December. After winning an allowance/optional claiming event over 8 1/2 furlongs on Jan. 2, American Theorem stretched out for a trio of stakes over nine and 10 furlongs but was unplaced in all three, failing to finish within a dozen lengths of the winner each time. The Triple Bend confirmed what the second in the fast allowance sprint had suggested, that American Theorem's future lay in going shorter, not longer, and after tracking a fierce pace duel, he wore down a game Principe Carlo to gain his first stakes victory by a nose.
American Theorem is the fourth stakes winner for his dam, the Maria's Mon mare Mighty Renee. The other three are by sons of Storm Cat (grandsire of American Pharoah's dam), and are led by the Sorrento Stakes (G3) scorer Mighty Caroline. The second dam, Margy (by Theatrical), was also unraced, but is half sister to the Lexus Raven Run Stakes (G2) winner For All We Know, and to the multiple-track, record-breaking stakes winner Hustler. Her dam, Over All, was one of Mr. Prospector's most outstanding juvenile fillies, winning five graded events at that age, including the Matron Stakes (G1) and Spinaway Stakes (G1).
Full Tigress, the dam of Over All, was a tough performer who won 10 of 32 starts, including the Egret Handicap and Alma North Stakes. She was bred in Arkansas, and by the relatively obscure sire, El Tigre Grande (a non-winner by the Nasrullah line stallion Hempen). Despite that she actually has some prominent Calumet bloodlines close up, and her dam, Miss Fullhouse, was a half sister to the dam of the 1982 Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Conquistador Cielo (by Mr. Prospector, so quite closely related to Over All). The family goes back to Whirl Right, a sister to Whirlaway, who in 1941 preceded American Pharoah as a Triple Crown winner.