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By Anne Peters

Sky Mesa's early stallion success is no surprise considering his qualifications on pedigree, by performance, and conformation. He's a son of the top class Pulpit and out of a Grade 3-winning sister to Bernstein, by Storm Cat. His second dam is by Affirmed and hails from one of the greatest female lines in the American stud book, going back to La Trioenne. Sky Mesa was one of the best bred colts of his crop, arguably the finest 2-year-old of his year, although an untimely injury prevented him from proving his point in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile-G1, won in his absence by Vindication.

Sky Mesa's first crop hit the ground looking as spectacular as their sire, and they sold that way as weanlings, yearlings and two-year-olds. After a surprisingly slow freshman sire year, Sky Mesa bounced back as his first crop turned three in 2008, and it's been smooth sailing ever since.

The first clues to success
From his first 3 crops, Sky Mesa now has 13 stakes winners, 8 Graded stakes winners, and 2 Grade 1 winners. His leading runner to date is General Quarters, winner of the 2009 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes-G1, and looking strong this year as a 4-year-old. General Quarters was produced from a mare by Unbridled's Song, and Sky Mesa's other Grade 1 winner, Sky Diva was produced by a mare by Unbridled, so there's the first clue to a superior cross. Pulpit's other exciting young sire son, Tapit, is also out of an Unbridled mare.

Sky Mesa sired the classy stakes winner/Grade 1-placed filly Third Dawn, out of a mare by Quiet American, who is, like Unbridled, a son of Fappiano, so that makes 3 of his best stakes winners from Fappiano-line mares. Quiet American is also the sire of the second dam of 2009 juvenile Grade 3 winner Thiskyhasnolimit. Sky Mesa has 3 other stakes winners from mares by Carson City, Forty Niner and Woodman; for a total of 6 of 13 stakes winners from Mr. Prospector-line mares.

But let's back up in time, to Sky Mesa's first 2 stakes winners, the fillies Sky Mystic and Storm Mesa (G2), both produced coincidentally from daughters of Pleasant Colony. There is no Mr. Prospector, Fappiano or Unbridled in their dams' pedigrees, but Pleasant Colony has something significantly in common with Unbridled and Unbridled's Song, and that is height. These sirelines are both noted for getting tall, leggy types, which seems to be something with which Sky Mesa does particularly well. Even though he stands 16.2 hands, he's pretty massive and could use a little more daylight under him.

The same leggy phenotype applies to Broad Brush, dam's sire of Sky Mesa's Grade 2 winner Skylighter; also to Devil's Bag, dam's sire of Grade 2 winner Satan's Quick Chick and Graded placed Join In The Dance; also to Grade 3 winner Thiskyhasnolimit's dam's sire Deputy Minister; and stakes winner Sapphire Sky's dam by Silver Charm.

This phenotype does not seem to apply to the 3 other stakes winners out of Mr. Prospector-line mares by Carson City (Beethoven-G2), Forty Niner (Terrain-G3) and Woodman (Sky Haven), all broodmare sires who were on the smaller side. Likewise it doesn't seem to figure with Sky Mesa's stakes winner Matchless Orinda, out of a mare by the smallish Silver Deputy (although he was a son of Deputy Minister who could throw bigger than himself).

Other bloodlines that represent the desirable tall, leggy look include Dynaformer, Tiznow, Indian Charlie, and Kris S.. These might be broodmare sires that we find working well with Sky Mesa in the future.

Pedigree patterns
Sky Mesa is bred on the A.P. Indy/Storm Cat cross, and is inbred to Secretariat 4x4. A pair of his stakes winners, Sky Diva-G1 and Sky Mystic both have Secretariat's son General Assembly in their second dam, giving them 3 crosses of Secretariat 5x5x4. General Assembly's dam was a half-sister to the stamina influence Exclusive Native (the sire of Affirmed, in Sky Mesa's second dam), so this results in linebreeding to the great broodmare Exclusive (6x5). Deputy Minister also goes back in tail-female line to a half-sister to Exclusive, so this mare seems to play a key role in Sky Mesa's pedigree.

Besides Secretariat, Sky Mesa has a lot of other linebreedings which hook him up with much of the American gene pool. He's 4x5 to Raise a Native and is also linebred to Northern Dancer, Bold Ruler, Bold Ruler's sire Nasrullah, Round Table, Round Table's sire Princequillo, as well as carrying a cross of Monarchy (a full sister to Round Table) and the half-siblings Buckpasser and Finance, both out of the mare Busanda.

Sky Mesa has Raise A Native through his sons, the speed oriented Mr. Prospector (dam's sire of Pulpit) and the more stamina gifted Exclusive Native. Sky Mesa's proven cross with Mr. Prospector-line mares carries this linebreeding forward with strength. He's had much more success than his sire Pulpit with Mr. Prospector-line mares, perhaps because the closer inbreeding using Pulpit directly has not been as favorable as it is a generation removed in Sky Mesa. Alydar should also work here, representing a rangier Raise A Native type that would desirable, and is found in the second dam of Sky Mesa's stakes winner Matchless Orinda. Majestic Prince and Majestic Light are similar staying strains of Raise a Native that could work here, and in fact, stakes winner Sapphire Sky has Majestic Light in her second dam.

Sky Mesa's linebreeding to Northern Dancer is 6x4, through sons Nijinsky II and Storm Bird. Their dams are similar, both having Bull Page and Gallant Fox close up. Besides Raise a Native, Northern Dancer is one of the chief conduits for the blood of Native Dancer, so Sky Mesa has 4 strains of Native Dancer in his favor. Returns of Raise a Native or Northern Dancer have already proven useful to Sky Mesa.

Deputy Minister-line mares have accounted for Sky Mesa's Thiskyhasnolimit-G3 and Matchless Orinda, but Northern Dancer appears in the second dam of 6 other stakes winners. Returns of Nijinsky II, who seems to have the ideal rangy look, appear in the dams of Beethoven, Satans Quick Chick, and Sky Haven. Look for the similarly-bred The Minstrel, Far North or the mare Fanfreluche. Summer Squall, bred on the same Storm Bird/Secretariat cross as Storm Cat, might have particular appeal.

Northern Dancer's son Danzig appears in the second dam of General Quarters; El Gran Senor in the second dam of Storm Mesa; and Dixieland Band in the second dam of Third Dawn. It's worth noting that the smaller Northern Dancer sons like Danzig and Dixieland Band appear in supporting roles with bigger horses like Pleasant Colony and Quiet American.

Sky Mesa is loaded with Bold Ruler (4 strains) and his sire Nasrullah (7 strains), which is pretty intense, even for an American pedigree. His stakes winners with additional Bold Ruler in their dams include General Quarters, Sky Diva, Thiskyhasnolimit, and Sky Mystic.

Nasrullah is almost perfectly balanced in Sky Mesa's pedigree by 6 strains of his "alter ego" Princequillo, who had a famous nick with both Nasrullah and Bold Ruler. In Sky Mesa's background, this combination appears 4 times 2 through Secretariat (Bold Ruler/ Princequillo) and 2 through the Round Table/Nasrullah crosses found in Poker and La Mesa. Sky Mesa's success with Secretariat's son General Assembly is already noted. The favorable cross with Pleasant Colony may have some correlation since his dam Sun Colony has a variation of the Nasrullah/Princequillo cross. General Quarter's third dam is bred on the Round Table/Bold Ruler cross. Storm Mesa's third dam is also by Round Table.

Seattle Slew, a prime source of Bold Ruler, Nasrullah, and Princequillo, (and other good things for Sky Mesa like War Admiral/La Troienne) is far enough back in Sky Mesa's pedigree to try a return of that. The resulting foal would have Slew in its fourth generation on Sky Mesa's side of the equation. The best sources are sires who are themselves out of Seattle Slew-line mares like Tiznow, Lemon Drop Kid, and Dixie Union. Doubling up the Seattle Slew male line on male line is something that hasn't had great success as of yet but this will probably change as the blood gets a generation further away.

It would be worth looking for mares with crosses of Sir Gaylord, already found in Sky Mesa's grandsire A.P. Indy, since Sir Gaylord was a half-brother to Secretariat, and this would return yet another strain of their dam, Somethingroyal. Prominent sources include Sir Ivor through Bates Motel and El Prado. It's possible to find additional strains of Monarchy, the sister to Round Table already found in Pulpit's female line. The best sources right now are Tale of the Cat and Johannesburg, both Storm Cat-line sires which might not be ideal, especially since Tale of the Cat is another big bodied horse on rather short legs. Other sources of Monarchy include Robellino, Blade, Envoy, and Fabled Monarch.

Sky Mesa is linebred 6x4 to the important mare Busanda through her son Buckpasser and his half-sister Finance (Sky Mesa's fourth dam). Busanda and Buckpasser have done well when their blood was crossed back on other sources of War Admiral/La Troienne. Sky Mesa is already doing well with mares carrying additional Buckpasser, found in the dams of 7 of his 13 stakes winners: General Quarters, Sky Diva, Storm Mesa, Beethoven, Terrain, Sapphire Sky, and Sky Haven. Look for stallions out of Buckpasser mares like El Gran Senor, Seeking the Gold, Woodman, Miswaki, Private Account and Polish Numbers. Buckpasser-line stallions which have worked here include Silver Charm (dam's sire of Sapphire Sky) and Wheatley Hall (in the second dam of Beethoven). Others from this male line include Silver Charm's sire Silver Buck, Wheatley Hall's sire Norcliffe, and Buckaroo's sons Spend A Buck and Montbrook.

Crosses of the sire Better Self (with La Troienne on War Admiral) have worked well, too, and are found through his daughter Aspidistra in the Fappiano/Unbridled/ Unbridled's Song descendants. Terrain also goes back tail-female to Aspidistra. Better Self is found in Silent Screen (in Matchless Orinda's second dam), and Medaglia d'Oro also has a prominent cross of Silent Screen and might work here, as well as being by El Prado. Seattle Slew is already tagged as a good return for Sky Mesa, and it's worth noting that his dam is inbred to the War Admiral/La Troienne combination.

Bloodlines that have worked with Sky Mesa but aren't directly tied in to his pedigree include Broad Brush (dam's sire of Skylighter) and Devil's Bag (dam's sire of Satans Quick Chick). Both of these have strong Turn-to connections, with Broad Brush being inbred 3x3 to Turn-to, and Devil's Bag going back in male line through Halo and Hail to Reason. Sky Mesa's dam is a full brother to Bernstein, who has worked well with Southern Halo. The Turn-to/Hail to Reason line can sire the right physical type for him, and some representatives we've already noted for other reasons include Dynaformer, Kris S., and Bates Motel, as well as Cox's Ridge.

Broad Brush's dam was by Hoist The Flag (by Tom Rolfe), who was a very tall, leggy horse much like his fellow Ribot-line cousin, Pleasant Colony (by His Majesty). Forty Niner, who has also worked with Sky Mesa as a dam's sire was out of a mare by Tom Rolfe. This shows a possible nick with Ribot, who crossed very well with Bold Ruler. Another good Ribot source, Majestic Light (dam by Ribot) is in the second dam of Sapphire Sky. Look for more Broad Brush, Majestic Light, or Hoist the Flag. Hoist The Flag's son Alleged might be useful, likewise other His Majesty blood, or His Majesty's big brother Graustark.

Sky Mesa's best nick is with Mr. Prospector-line sires, with the Fappiano branch leading the way, and the Unbridled strip off that accounting for his 2 Grade 1 winners to date. Pleasant Colony mares have produced a pair of his stakes winners. Deputy Minister-line mares have also produced a pair of stakes winners. Other bloodlines that seem useful include Nijinsky II/Northern Dancer, Buckpasser, General Assembly, Nasrullah/ Princequillo crosses, Bold Ruler, Round Table, and Ribot.

Most of these bloodlines reflect a certain favorable conformation a rangy, leggy factor that seems to add some height to Sky Mesa's muscular build. A blend of key bloodline strains and suitable conformation will hopefully come up with the best results for this scion of the Seattle Slew male line.