This year has been a good one for the family of the mare Nijinsky Star, a half-sister to stakes winner Six Crowns (by Secretariat) who became the dam of champion Chief’s Crown (Danzig). Nijinsky Star herself became the dam of three stakes winners who all produced stakes winners themselves.
In addition, her unraced daughter Willstar (Nureyev) also produced a pair of stakes winners, (Etoile Montante and Uno Duo), and this branch of the family has been making hay in 2021. In addition to the graded stakes winners Bonny South (Munnings) and Obligatory (Curlin), Country Grammer (Tonalist) added further laurels to this set of the family by becoming its first G1 winner since Etoile Montante.
That Miswaki filly won the G1 Prix de la Foret, as well as taking seconds in the Prix Marcel Boussac, Prix Maurice de Gheest, and Matriarch. Speed was her forte, but Country Grammer has shone over more extended trips, and his best effort to date came in the Hollywood Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 31.
This branch of the Miss Carmie family through champion Chris Evert (Swoon’s Son) has been developed by Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms from the Nijinsky mare mentioned above, Nijinsky Star. Juddmonte purchased her for $700,000 at the Keeneland November sale out of the consignment of Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services (John Stuart), agent for Carl Rosen.
Entrepreneur and sportsman Rosen had purchased Chris Evert as a yearling, named her for the tennis star who had branded a line of sportswear through his clothing business, and bred both Six Crowns and Chief’s Crown, among others.
Juddmonte bred the subsequent generations of mares leading to Country Grammer, including his second dam Prima Centauri (Distant View), a half-sister to Etoile Montante who had been unplaced in two starts in France. That put Prima Centauri among those who were surplus to needs for Juddmonte, and the mare subsequently sold for $270,000 at the 2005 Keeneland November sale to Dixiana Farm, carrying a foal by Forestry (Storm Cat). Prima Centauri’s best racer was the Marju gelding Bodes Galaxy, who ran second in the G2 Richmond Stakes and third in the G2 Gimcrack as a 2-year-old.
The mare’s later Forestry filly of 2008 was Arabian Song, a winner at three. She is the dam of Country Grammer and his half-sister Joyful Cadence (Runhappy), who is a winner this year and was third in the G3 Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in May.
Bred in Kentucky by Dixiana Stables, Arabian Song had sold for $40,000 to Rabbah Bloodstock at the 2009 Keeneland September sale, won a maiden claiming race ($40,000) at three, and subsequently changed hands privately prior to foaling Country Grammer, who was bred in Kentucky by Scott Pierce and Debbie Pierce.
A May 11 foal, the 4-year-old Country Grammer is from the first crop by Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist (Tapit) and is his sire’s first Grade 1 winner. The breeders sold the bay colt as a yearling for $60,000 at the Keeneland September sale, and he resold as a 2-year-old in training to Bradley Thoroughbreds, agent for Paul Pompa, for $450,000 out of the Wavertree Stables consignment at the 2019 OBS April sale.
Country Grammer raced for Pompa, winning the G3 Peter Pan last season, but after his death in 2020, Pompa’s Thoroughbreds were dispersed by his estate. At the 2021 Keeneland January sale, Country Grammer sold for $110,000 to WinStar Farm, was sent to trainer Bob Baffert, and made his first start of the year in the G2 Californian, finishing second.
The Hollywood Gold Cup was the colt’s second start of the year, and he won by a head over the Brazilian-bred Royal Ship (Midshipman), who had won the Californian on April 17 by a neck from Country Grammer.
One of a half-dozen stakes winners to date by Tonalist, who won four G1 races and earned $3.6 million, Country Grammer appears to be the best athlete from this branch of his famous family for a couple of generations and is the best racer to date for his young sire, who stands at Lane’s End Farm outside Versailles, Ky.
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