The last three days of the Saratoga Race Course meet finished with a grade 1 event on each day. The middle race of the three saw a result that was no great shock, the Adirondack Stakes (G2) winner Brightwork maintaining her undefeated record with a determined Spinaway Stakes (G1) triumph. Either side of that race, though, came the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), which fell to Bright Future, who'd never won a stakes of any description and who had been eased in his only previous black-type outing, and the Hopeful Stakes (G1) fell to Nutella Fella, who at 54.5-1 was the second-longest shot in the 10-horse field.
Coincidentally, that duo are from the same immediate family, both going back to Dreamscape, a sister to twice-champion sprinter Housebuster, who in his only two starts at Saratoga won the King's Bishop Stakes (G3) and Forego Handicap (G2), events that now hold grade 1 status (the King's Bishop as the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes).
The Jockey Club Gold Cup was only Bright Future's seventh start. He scored extremely impressively on his debut, a mile maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park in March of his 3-year-old season, but went to the sidelines after finishing third in a Belmont Park allowance event on his next outing. He returned this year from a 10-month hiatus to win a mile allowance/optional claimer in April, then ran third in a similar contest at Churchill Downs, giving the impression that he would benefit from a longer trip. He received that opportunity in the Brooklyn Handicap (G2), but found that two mile races off the long break was an inadequate preparation for that 1 1/2-mile test and was eased after midway. Bright Future rebounded to earn his way into the Jockey Club Gold Cup with a powerful performance to win a nine-furlong allowance at Saratoga on July 21.
Bright Future is the 22nd grade 1 winner for his sire, 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin , himself a two-time winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. As a stallion Curlin had never been represented by a winner of that race, but three of his sons—Vino Rosso , Palace Malice , and Keen Ice —had been second. (Vino Rosso, in the same ownership as Bright Future, was demoted to that spot for interference after finishing a nose to the good of Code of Honor.)
Bright Future is the second foal of his dam, Sophia's Song, who was purchased for $225,000 by Clearsky Farms at the 2017 Keeneland November Sale, in foal to Super Saver . At the time the catalog page showed Sophia's Song to be a black-type winner, and placed third in a grade 3, but there were reasons to think she had more talent than those bare facts indicated.
Winner of a maiden special weight and an allowance contest on the last two of three starts at Woodbine at 2, Sophia's Song then took the Caesar's Wish Stakes at Laurel Park by four lengths on her 3-year-old debut. Away for five months, Sophia's Song returned in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance at Saratoga and finished a good second to the accomplished older mare Irish Jasper after making most of the running. What was notable about that effort is that it earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94, compared to the 90 awarded to Paola Queen for her victory in the 3-year-old filly division's premier sprint, the Test Stakes (G1), at Saratoga just six days earlier. On her next start, the Charles Town Oaks (G3), Sophia's Song was blocked at a crucial juncture but rallied strongly to miss by a neck and a nose.
Bright Future is bred on an extended version of the Curlin cross with Danzig line mares that has produced 12 stakes winners for Curlin, also including champion 2-year-old colt Good Magic and Florida Derby (G1) winner Known Agenda . Four sons of Curlin also have sired stakes winners on the cross, notably Good Magic with this year's Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, Mage , and the once-raced Jess's Dream , getting Kitten's Joy Stakes (G3) scorer Chess's Dream out of a mare by Bright Future's broodmare sire, Bellamy Road. The cross of Curlin's sire, Smart Strike, with a mare by Bellamy Road's sire, Concerto, resulted in Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) scorer Battle of Midway, and notably, Battle of Midway's dam, Rigoletta, goes back to the same tap-root family, Good Example (so same 'L' mtDNA line), as both Bellamy Road and Curlin's broodmare sire, Deputy Minister. The same family has also provided millionaire Skippylongstocking, who is by Curlin's son Exaggerator, out of a Danzig line mare.
Out of Housebuster's unraced sister, Dreamscape, Sophia's Song is half-sister to stakes winner Tax Refund, and to the Adirondack Stakes (G2) runner-up Unbridled Beauty, herself dam of stakes winner Meal Penalty, and granddam of Nutella Fella. She is also half sister to Casey's Dream, the dam of Ontario Derby (G3) scorer Ironstone, and to Denali Dreamscape, dam of stakes winner New Boss. The dam of Dreamscape and Housebuster, Big Dreams, was a four-time stakes winner and is also dam of graded stakes winner and grade 1-placed Quero Quero and stakes winner Cat Buster. She's also ancestress of 23 stakes winners, also including graded scorers Nicole H, Something Extra, Deep Sleep, Elysea's World, Island Commish, and Straight No Chaser.
Nutella Fella had started just once prior to swooping late to claim the Hopeful Stakes, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over 5 1/2 furlongs at Delaware Park. Nutella Fella is from the fourth crop of champion sprinter Runhappy and is his first grade 1 winner, and follows Smile Happy, Following Sea, and Happy American as his fourth graded stakes winner.
He is out of the Candy Ride mare Krissy's Candy, a mating that gives three crosses of Fappiano, two through Unbridled, a Fappiano strain that has worked well with Candy Ride (by Fappiano's grandson Ride the Rails). Fappiano is out of a mare by Dr. Fager (by Rough 'n Tumble out of Aspidistra), and Big Dreams is by Great Above (by a son of Rough 'n Tumble out of a daughter of Aspidistra), with Rough 'n Tumble and Aspidistra both appearing in the female line of Unbridled. We'll also mention that Runhappy comes from the 'I' mtDNA haplogroup, and that Krissy's Candy is virtually homozygous for that family, all four of her grandparents also being from the same haplogroup.