Dr Devious stud record failed to live up to excitement of racing career
Martin Stevens appraises the stallion exploits of the late Derby hero
The colourful tale of Dr Devious on the track – the myth attached to his name, his sale by Robert Sangster, his Kentucky Derby foray, Epsom Classic triumph and great rivalry with St Jovite – was not replicated in his career as a stallion. It was peripatetic, as he stood in Japan, Ireland and Italy, but largely inconsequential bar a few notable successes.
Dr Devious, who has died aged 29, marked the apotheosis of his sire Ahonoora's remarkable rags-to-riches stud career, from inexpensive source of speed to respected Classic stallion. He was bred by John Magnier, Vincent O'Brien and John Horgan out of Rose Of Jericho, an unraced daughter of Alleged out of Rose Red, a winning but non-black type daughter of Northern Dancer. This was a relatively dormant branch of an excellent family and the intention was that Ahonoora, recently purchased to stand at Coolmore, would inject vigour into the mating.
Rose Of Jericho, incidentally, has proved to be a most important broodmare. She produced three other stakes winners – Archway, Royal Court and Shinko King – while her unraced daughter Rain Flower, by Ahonoora's son Indian Ridge, is responsible for Oaks heroine Dancing Rain and Listed scorer Sumora, who is the dam of champion two-year-old filly Maybe. She in turn has produced Racing Post Trophy winner and Derby favourite Saxon Warrior.
Dr Devious was pinhooked as a foal by Paul Shanahan for 52,000gns at Tattersalls in December 1989 and, on the recommendation of Demi O'Byrne, was bought by Robert Sangster for 56,000gns at the following year's Highflyer Yearling Sale back in Newmarket. According to Horsetrader, Patrick Robinson's biography of Sangster, the new owner named the colt in honour of the astute vet O'Byrne.
Sangster installed Dr Devious with Peter Chapple-Hyam, who was training in his first season at the owner's Manton estate, but after the colt won the Superlative and Vintage Stakes he made an uncustomary poor business decision by selling him to the Italian Luciano Gaucci halfway through his two-year-old season.
Dr Devious went on to win the Dewhurst Stakes but at three was sold again, this time to American weight-loss guru Jenny Craig as a present for her husband Sidney, so he could have a runner in the Kentucky Derby. The stateside venture proved fruitless – he finished seventh in the Run for the Roses behind Lil E Tee – but it took nothing out of him and he returned home to take the Derby, beating St Jovite by two lengths.
St Jovite reversed the placings in the Irish Derby – and how, with Dr Devious 12 lengths adrift in second – although the runner-up that day got his revenge in the Irish Champion Stakes, where he scored a last-gasp short-head victory over Jim Bolger's charge.
After lacklustre efforts in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Breeders' Cup Turf and Japan Cup, Dr Devious was retired at the end of his Classic season to stand alongside Sunday Silence at Shadai Farm in Japan.
Dr Devious left little of note in Japan and was repatriated to Ireland to stand at Coolmore in 1997. He spent five seasons there before being sold on to his final country of residence, Italy, where he would be crowned champion sire, due to quantity more than quality, on three occasions.
The best of the sire's Irish-conceived crops were Alan Swinbank's globetrotting Group/Grade 1 winner Collier Hill and Prix de l'Opera heroine Kinnaird, who has produced Royal Lodge Stakes winner Berkshire and the dam of high-class two-year-old Ivawood.
The pair were rare highlights of a largely disappointing stallion career, although we might give Dr Devious a little extra credit for his daughters having produced the top-level winners Seal Of Approval and Shamdinan – both out of Aga Khan-bred mares – and black-type scorers Air Pilot, Circumvent, Midnight Soprano and Realtra.
Another daughter, Where We Left Off, won at Grade 3 level in the US and produced stakes performers Polished Rock and Stay De Night.
In one respect, however, the stallion career of Dr Devious was as remarkable as his storied racing record: in its longevity. Even at the age of 29, and in his 26th season at stud, he was covering mares this year at his final home of Stazione di Fecondazione Equina di Romina Pinna in Sardinia. He had served ten mares there in 2017.
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