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A big brother can make his little sister’s life difficult.
Always teasing her and publicly embarrassing her, big brothers are tough to live with.
From this perspective, the good thing for thoroughbred horses is that they rarely, if ever, meet their siblings.
In the case of 2-year-old filly Egyptian Storm, though, she’ll have to deal with her older sibling’s legacy her whole life.
When your half-brother is the 13th Triple Crown winner Justify, he casts a long shadow over everything that you do.
“She’s not been that stressed about her brother,” joked her multiple Grade 1-winning trainer Christophe Clement. “Humans are a lot more excited about her brother than my filly. She’s not shaken up whatsoever, she’s not aware that Justify is her brother.”
A daughter of Pioneerof the Nile out of Stage Magic, the same mare that foaled Justify, Egyptian Storm has gone about her training without knowing that many eyes will soon be on her, or that fans will be following her progress every step of the way. Clement would rather have a horse with a regal pedigree, though, and is used to training top horses like 2009 champion older male Gio Ponti and 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, among others.
“It’s normal, it’s the price of fame,” said Clement. “Her brother is a Triple Crown winner and people are going to look into what’s she’s doing. It’s no stress whatsoever on me. It’s impossible (for her) to match being a Triple Crown winner, but that’s a good problem to have.”
The unraced juvenile filly took a very big step on Wednesday towards getting on the track for her career debut when she recorded her first official timed workout over the famed Oklahoma Training Track at historic Saratoga. All eyes were focused on what baby sis could do as she worked in company on the inside of the 4-year-old mare, Gondora, who competed against group stakes company in her native Germany before shipping to Clement’s barn.
“She worked well,” said assistant trainer Miguel Clement, who has been managing his father’s barn in Saratoga. “She did everything we thought she possibly could do. She was very professional, straightforward, she was moving well, and she came back in good order. It was a good work, and hopefully, we can build up from there.”
The bay filly has taken well to training since showing up at Clement’s Payson Park barn in March and has been with the Saratoga string for most of the summer.
“Today was her most aggressive work,” said Miguel. ”She worked 3 furlongs in (officially) 38.86 seconds. She did it very easy and we’ll bring her right back in a week’s time and do it again.”
Here’s video of her work:
The Clements have brought Egyptian Storm along easily due to her sheer size, but she has great mental capacity, like her famous brother, which is always a good early sign in a race horse’s career.
“We took our time with her,” said Christophe. “She’s been working (at Payson and Saratoga), but all the works so far have been easy, two-minute licks.”
Miguel added, “She’s not the most precocious, we’re going to let her develop into her frame. She’s a filly with plenty of scope and size, and therefore, we’re taking the more conservative path and let her dictate when she’s ready to step it up.”
Egyptian Storm is owned in a 50/50 partnership between Robert Evans (who also owned Tonalist) and West Point Thoroughbreds. The partnership came together under Christophe’s work to purchase the filly at public auction last September.
“At the September sale 2017 at Keeneland, we had different people give us a short list of yearlings to look at for different owners,” said Christophe. “One of these horses was Egyptian Storm. With a pedigree being by Pioneerof the Nile, we offered it to Mr. Evans, and he asked me to find a partner. We found a partner with West Point. She went through the ring and sold for $230,000. Mr. Evans was expecting (her to be) a lot more expensive, like a $400,000 or $500,000 yearling, and after that, we got very good value. I was not aware of Justify (back then). I knew he existed, but we didn’t know he’d be the next Triple Crown winner.”
Christophe was impressed with Egyptian Storm from the outset at the sale and said, “We just knew the filly was a big, tall, backward filly, being by a nice sire with plenty of family behind her. Obviously, we’re very happy that the brother has done so well.”
Sired by Hall of Famer and 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, Stage Magic has foaled three winners out of three starters. Her eldest is a 5-year-old named The Lieutenant, most recently the winner of the Grade 3 All American Stakes at the end of May.
Holiday Music, Stage Magic’s 4-year-old daughter by Harlan’s Holiday, was claimed for $30,000 at Fair Grounds this past New Year’s Day and went straight into a broodmare career. Next came Justify, sired by the late Scat Daddy. Stage Magic has a yearling colt sired by Will Take Charge that her breeder John Gunther has said he’ll race, and she also delivered a second Pioneerof the Nile horse, this time a colt, back in April.
What’s noteworthy about Egyptian Storm’s lineage is that her sire, Pioneerof the Nile, also sired the 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh. Therefore, the sire and the dam of the only Triple Crown winners in the past 40 years together conceived Egyptian Storm, making her pedigree even more elusive. She was conceived several months before American Pharoah made history becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner.
“No one can take her pedigree away from her, and being a filly, her broodmare career is worth more than her race horse career,” said Christophe. “You have to think of her as a broodmare foundation because she’s so well-bred. In the meantime, we’ll try to give her a racing career before that.”
Justify was unraced as a 2-year-old and could be labeled a late developer, so that is one reason why expectations for Egyptian Storm to produce right away may be tempered. After being unraced as a juvenile, the undefeated Justify accomplished much in such a short period of time, winning six straight times over 112 days, including all three jewels of the Triple Crown.
The Clements are managing Egyptian Storm’s career and planning her first race, specifically to how she’s progressing physically and mentally.
When asked about her first possible race, Christophe replied, “At the moment, all options are open: short, long, turf, dirt. She just doesn’t look like a speedy May/June 2-year-old. She looks much more like a 2-year-old that would be (run) in the fall with time. She probably wants to go fairly long first time out. If you look at her, she’s much more a 7-furlong to a mile first-time out than 6 furlongs.”
Fans in Saratoga would love to see her debut at the historic track, but Clement said it’s too early to know if she’ll be ready for the 40-day meet. “She’s not going to run in June or July. The best would be late August or September, and maybe at Belmont Park. She’ll either train here (in Saratoga) or train at Belmont (this summer).”
Just like her half-brother, Egyptian Storm has a large frame and the mental aptitude to succeed. She has shown early signs that she may be able to make a name for herself and not always have to live in her big brother’s long shadow.
“She’s going to be a big filly,” Clement said. “We just have to give her time.”
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