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A Closer Look at Can Group and His Sire, Good Samaritan

Porter on Pedigrees

Can Group and Francisco Arrieta after winning the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland

Can Group and Francisco Arrieta after winning the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland

Mathea Kelley

If we said we were going to review the pedigree of one of last week's graded stakes winning 2-year-olds by a second-season sire and with Hennessy in the pedigree, one might assume we would be looking at one of the offspring of Justify . In that case, one would have plenty of choices, as in the space of a week Justify—a great-grandson of Hennessy—was represented by Opera Singer, successful in the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1); Hard to Justify, winner of the Miss Grillo Stakes (G2); Just F Y I, who captured the Frizette Stakes (G1); and Buchu, heroine of the Jessamine Stakes (G2).

There is, however, another of last week's performers who fits that description. This is Can Group, whose late surge saw him a nose to the good at the end of Sunday's Bourbon Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. That race was the fourth start for Can Group, who finished third in a pair of maiden special weight events on the dirt at Ellis Park before switching surfaces to score in a similar event over seven furlongs at Kentucky Downs.

Can Group is by Good Samaritan , who was from the final Northern Hemisphere crop of the prematurely deceased Harlan's Holiday (by Storm Cat's son Harlan), who is best known through his four-time Leading Sire son, Into Mischief , but who has also been represented by other grade 1 sires Majesticperfection and Shanghai Bobby.

Good Samaritan began his racing career as a turf horse, winning two of three juvenile outings, including the Summer Stakes (G2) and finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). He established his surface versatility the following season, winning the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) by 4 3/4 lengths with that year's Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winners behind him, and taking second in the Clark Handicap (G1) on dirt. He also filled the runner-up spot in the American Turf Stakes (G2) and Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) at 3. He added another main track success at 4, taking the New Orleans Stakes (G2) by 2 1/4 lengths.

From his first Northern Hemisphere crop Good Samaritan is represented by Secret Money, recent winner of the Music City Stakes (G3), and the Tempted Stakes victress Good Sam. Can Group is the second black-type winner in his second crop, having been preceded by Itamut, who scored at that level in Panama. Good Samaritan is also sire of a shuttle crop in Chile, which are now 3-year-olds. They are headed by Yahshua, who led home a 1-2-3 for the sire in the Clasico Dos Mil Guineas (G1), and the three-time graded winner and grade 1 placed filly Entera Good.

Good Samaritan at WinStar
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Good Samaritan at WinStar

Can Group's dam, Blue Gallina, a daughter of Street Sense , never ran, but she's off to a very good start to her stud career. From five foals and four starters, she is already dam of the Flat Out  filly Flat Out Speed, winner of eight of nine starts, five of them in black-type events, including the Iowa Oaks (G3), and the current 3-year-old Bonnieview, a two-time winner and second in the Iowa Sorority Stakes.

Blue Gallina's dam, Miss Del Galo, is the source of the Hennessy in the pedigree as she is a daughter of that horse. A winner of six races, she is three-quarter sister to the minor stakes winner Aspen Hill. Miss Del Galo is out of Ligurian, who was unable to do better than a single third from five starts while racing in England, but who was half sister to a very accomplished performer in Victory Speech, whose five stakes successes included the Strub Stakes (G1), Swaps Stakes (G2), and Dwyer Stakes (G2).

The fourth dam of Can Group, Ida's Image (by Alydar), is from a branch of what was a major commercial family around 50 years ago. The dam of Ida's Image, Bendara, was twice stakes placed, and produced three stakes winners, including Ida Delia, successful in the Ladies Handicap (G1). Bendara was out of What A Treat, a daughter of the imported Tudor Minstrel, who was named champion 3-year-old filly of 1965. She was most notably dam of Be My Guest (by Northern Dancer), who was sold for 127,000 gns—then a European record for a yearling—at the 1975 Goffs Yearling Sales. A high-class miler, Be My Guest was champion sire in Britain and Ireland in 1982.

What a Treat is ancestress of numerous other stakes winners, including Lightning Spear, champion older miler in Britain, and the multiple graded stakes winning American sprinter Tom's Ready. What a Treat's half sister, Exotic Treat, produced the Nijinsky II colt Golden Fleece, a $775,000 yearling at Keeneland July in 1980, and subsequently undefeated in four starts, including the 1983 Epsom Derby (G1). What a Treat's dam, Rare Treat, made a remarkable 101 starts, winning 16 races, among them five black-type events, including the Firenze and Vineland Handicaps. She was a half to champion 3-year-old colt Jaipur, best remembered for his epic duel with Ridan in the 1962 Travers Stakes, a race he won by a nose. The second dam of Rare Treat and Jaipur, Fragrance, is a three-quarter sister to Rare Bloom, the fifth dam of Storm Cat.

This is interesting as Can Group is inbred 4x4 to Storm Cat, once through Hennessy, who like Storm Cat goes back to the imported mare Belle Rose, who arrived in 1894. Belle Rose's daughter, Pink Domino—in the tail female line of Hennessy—appears as granddam of the Belmont Stakes winner and sire Sweep and third dam of John P. Grier. Through that duo we find a 4x3 cross of Pink Domino in Miyako, the granddam of Native Dancer, a horse who appears no less than 15 times in the pedigree of Can Group.

At a more simplistic level, we'll note that Can Group is one of three stakes winners by sons of Harlan's Holiday from just 19 starters out of Street Sense mares (the cross is TrueNicks rated A++).  There are at least 25 other graded stakes winners on a broader Storm Cat/Street Cry cross, including the previously mentioned Just F Y I, and grade 1 winners Con Te Partiro, Skitter Scatter, and Bell's the One (by another son of Harlan's Holiday), and the very important sire Shamardal, who was by a son of Storm Cat out of a sister to Street Cry.