Pierro's Levendi captures the Australian Derby
He becomes the second classic winner for his sire
The margin was only a nose and he had to survive a protest but Levendi was a deserving winner of last Saturday's Group 1 ATC Australian Derby at Randwick.
Levendi staged a soul-stirring battle with VRC Victoria Derby winner Ace High in the closing stages, the two coming together in the heat of battle, but stewards, correctly in my view, let the result stand after the pair had drawn almost six lengths clear of third placed Tangled. On a good track, race time was 2:28.73 compared to the race record of 2:28.41 set by champion Octagonal in 1996 but it should be pointed out most Australian Derbies in recent years have been run on rain affected going.
Only a week earlier Levendi had won the ATC Tulloch Stakes (and last spring he took the VRC Carbine Club Stakes at Flemington, so had already established that he was a colt of some class.
Levendi was bred by Robert Anderson and reared at Widden Stud, which presented him at the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast January Yearling Sale where he sold for $140,000 to Manny Gelagotis, brother and assistant to the colt’s Victoria-based trainer Peter Gelagotis.
The success of Levendi in the Australian Derby showed that Australian breeders can produce winners of this autumn classic, which in recent years has been dominated by New Zealand-breds, who have won eight of the previous 11 renewals.
Even more significantly for the Australian breeding industry, Levendi is the second classic winner to come from the first crop of Coolmore Stud's sire Pierro, an unbeaten champion two-year-old who never won beyond 1600 metres but possesses ample stamina through his imported dam Miss Right Note.
Last spring, Pierro's daughter Pinot captured the VRC Oaks at Flemington and other members of the stallion's first crop like Pierata, Tulip, Satin Slipper, Kentucky Breeze, Roy Had Enough (in South Africa), Furore and Holbein have given their sire a great start as they matured at three years and tackled longer distances.
Pierro himself did not look like the typical, early coming juvenile star he proved to be, nor was he bred that way yet he came out early to win the ATC Breeders' Plate and progressed through the autumn of 2011 to win the Sydney Triple Crown for two-year-olds, the Golden Slipper Stakes, Sires' Produce Stakes and Champagne Stakes.
He trained on at three years to win another five stakes races, two at Group 1 level, he was only narrowly beaten in the Doncaster Handicap and in the MRC Caulfield Guineas and finished third in Ocean Park's Cox Plate.
Before discussing Levendi's female line, special mention should be made of three-time champion Australian sire Redoute’s Choice, sire of the dams of both the winner and runner up in the Australian Derby as well as being paternal grandsire of third placed Tangled.
Levendi's mother Lipari failed to win but placed third in the Morphettville Guineas. Her first foal, 2013-foaled gelding Wu Gok, has won two races in Sydney and Levendi is her second foal.
Now owned by Olly Tait, Lipari has an unraced two-year-old gelding named Marcel From Madrid, a yearling filly by Sebring catalogued as Lot 207 at this week's Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, and a weanling filly by More Than Ready.
Lipari's dam Tully Thunder is by a Kentucky Derby winner and, like him, stayed 2000 metres, her four wins highlighted by success in the 2002 SAJC Australasian Oaks while among her five stakes placings was a second in that year's South Australian Oaks.
This is a distinguished New Zealand family as Levendi’s stakes-winning third dam, Fleur De Chine, was bred and raced there. She became the dam of stakes winner Sufficient, stakes-placegetter Fleur De’here, herself the dam of stakes winner Zamzam, and stakes-placed Londehero. She produced 11 winners overall and is also the second dam of Thunder Lady, winner of the 2014 VRC Wakeful Stakes and second in the VRC Oaks.
Older readers would remember Levendi's fifth dam Sanderae taking the Wakeful Stakes/VRC Oaks double in 1970 for legendary trainer Bart Cummings. Levendi is an outcross at four generations but in his fifth remove carries a double of Mr Prospector through sons Straight Strike and Gulch and a central cross of Northern Dancer via his celebrated sire sons Sadler's Wells and Danzig.
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