Kingmambo – Bred To Succeed
Breeding in Thoroughbred racing is everything. Oh sure there have been horses who became champions that were from families containing very few stakes winners, or were regarded as “unfashionable” in their pedigrees, but generally breeding is the key to winning the top level races worldwide. As a son of the great race mare Miesque and sired by the epoch sire Mr. Prospector, Kingmambo came into the world with a lot more going for him than most.
Kingmambo would parley his blue blooded genes into a great career on the track and then pass on his class to many, many top level stakes winners. He became a stallion of global importance. He was bred by the Niarchos family of Thoroughbred enthusiasts under the name of Flaxman Holdings. He was foaled in the U.S., but was based in France during his racing career.
Francois Boutin became the trainer of Kingmambo. So not only was the colt impeccably bred, he also had top class connections giving him every chance to succeed. And succeed he did. Boutin had Kingmambo ready for his first start, which came at Maisons-Laffitte. The son of Miesque won the six furlong race and then would finish second in the group three Prix de Cabourg two weeks later.
Kingmambo followed these races with two more second place results in the Prix Morny and the Prix de la Salamandre. In both of these group one races he was beaten by Zafonic, who was later named as the Champion two year old in Europe that season. Kingmambo finished his two year old season with a disappointing fifth place finish in the Grand Criterium, and a second in the Prix Thomas Bryon.
Boutin worked on Kingmambo throughout the winter and had him ready for the seven furlong Prix Djebel in early April. Kingmambo won the race, turning the tables on second placed Zafonic. He followed this up with his biggest win in his career. Kingmambo won the Poules d’Essai des Poulins at Longchamps, thus adding a classic win to his resume.
Kingmambo made it three wins in a row by taking the group one St. James Palace Stakes at Ascot five weeks later. In fact, Boutin kept his charge in group one races for the remainder of the year. Kingmambo added the Prix du Moulin, a victory which was sandwiched between a pair of third place finishes in the Prix Jacques le Marois and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Kingmambo was retired from racing and entered stud at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky.
Here Kingmambo established himself as one of the best sons of the great sire of sires Mr. Prospector. In a curious twist, Kingmambo was an excellent sire for many of the top distance horses in the past twenty years. It is curious to me as his own pedigree showed speed above all other attributes. His dam was a world champion miler who was sired by a champion miler, while his own sire was noted as one of the best sources for speed in breeding.
Another curious twist was that Kingmambo not only got good stayers, but also good two year olds and good sprinters/milers as well. His get was a very divergent type, capable of all sorts of racing distances. The one attribute that did seem to be across the board through his offspring was class. Kingmambo passed on his class as good as any stallion had ever done before.
The first crop of Kingmambo foals hit the track in 1997 and contained El Condor Pasa. This world class colt won the Japan Cup and the Hong Kong Mile as a three year old. He was named as the 2000 Horse of the Year in Japan. He followed this good year with another taking the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and the Prix Foy, with second place finishes in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Prix d’Ispahan. El Condor Pasa stood only three years in Japan before his untimely death from severe colic. However he did leave us with Vermillion (Japan Dirt Cup), Song Of Wind (Kikuka Sho) and Alondite (Japan Dirt Cup).
The second crop of Kingmambo contained his first of eight classic winners. Lemon Drop Kid won the Belmont Stakes and then later in his three year old season the Travers Stakes. As a four year old, Lemon Drop Kid won the Eclipse Award as the champion older male horse thanks to his wins in the Whitney Handicap, Brooklyn Handicap, Woodward Stakes and the Suburban Handicap. He is a current member of the Lane’s End stallion roster, standing beside his sire until Kingmambo’s death. He is the sire of Cannock Chase (Canadian International), Somali Lemonade (Diana Handicap), Lemons Forever (Kentucky Oaks) and Citronade (Gamely Handicap) so far in his stud career which has seen him sire eighty-six stakes winners to date.
The other classic winners by Kingmambo are King’s Best (2000 Guineas), Henrythenavigator (English and Irish 2000 Guineas), Divine Proportions (French 2000 Guineas, French Oaks), Light Shift (Epsom Oaks), Bluemamba (French 1000 Guineas), and Russian Rhythm and Virginia Waters who both won the 1000 Guineas in their respective years. Furthermore Kingmambo sired two winners of the St. Leger Stakes in Encke and Rule Of Law, showing the versatility of his get.
Another Derby winner sired by Kingmambo was the Japanese horse King Kamehameha. While the Japan Derby is restricted to Japanese breds, King Kamehameha left his homeland to add the NHK Mile Cup to his victory totals. His final racing totals is seven wins from only eight starts. King Kamehameha is standing stud at the Shadai Stallion Station and has become one of the best sons of his sire in breeding. He led the Japanese sire list twice, thus breaking the domination of Sunday Silence and his tribe. King Kamehameha is responsible for the likes of Rose Kingdom (Japan Cup), Rulership (Queen Elizabeth II Cup), Apapane (Victoria Mile, Yushun Himba, Oka Sho) and Belshazzar (Japan Dirt Cup).
Alkaased is another son of Kingmambo that has done the line proud. He is the winner of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and the Japan Cup, setting a world record in the latter race of 2:22 1/5 for the twelve furlong distance. Archipenko won the group one Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin. He currently resides at Lanwades Stud in England and has already sired G1 stakes winner Madame Chiang and multi stakes winner Kingston Mines from only three crops of racing age.
More G1 stakes winners sired by Kingmambo are Thewayyouare (Criterium International), Dubai Destination (Queen Anne Stakes), Malhub (Golden Jubilee Stakes), Okawango (Grand Criterium), Voodoo Dancer (Garden City BC Cup Handicap, Diana Handicap), Tawqeet (Caulfield Cup, Australian Metropolitan Handicap), Campanologist (Preis von Europa, Italiano Jockey Club), and Student Counsil (Pacific Classic, Pimlico Special).
The daughters of Kingmambo are making him a very desirable broodmare sire. Already there are four very notable horses produced by Kingmambo broodmares. Midday won the Breeder’s Cup Filly and Mares Turf as a three year old, adding the Nassau Stakes three times, Yorkshire Oaks and Prix Vermeille to her G1 stakes wining totals. Duke of Marmalade won five group one races, the Juddmonte International, Prix Ganay, Tattersalls Gold Cup, Prince of Wales Stakes and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
The optimistically named Ruler Of The World won the Epsom Derby in 2013, following the win by the most notable grandson of Kingmambo. This would be Camelot, winner of the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby in 2012. Camelot took a sporting run at winning the English Triple Crown. He ended second in the St. Leger thus just missing to become the first horse since Nijinsky in 1970 to accomplish the feat. Camelot also won the Irish Derby, making him a three time classic winner. Both of these two Epsom Derby winners were sired by sons of Sadler’s Wells, Galileo and Montjeu respectively.
For followers of breeding patterns I should note that Kingmambo and his get do very well with mares from the Sadler’s Wells sire line, and the true seems to be the case with Kingmambo broodmares with Sadler’s Wells’ sons. From the Sadler’s Wells nick there are nine G1 stakes winners alone so far, a list that includes 2010 Epsom Derby winner Workforce sired by King’s Best. Another nick that had good success with the blood of Kingmambo is with mares from the Seattle Slew line.
One nick that has not been of much success is with his sons or daughters matched to the opposite sex on the Mr. Prospector line. It seems that inbreeding to his own sire for some reason just is not working out.
The Kingmambo branch of the Mr. Prospector male line has been a workman like branch, getting many very good graded/group one stakes winners, without one particular son standing out. King Kamehameha, King’s Best and Lemon Drop Kid still have a ways to go and could possibly sire an heir to the line. These three have been the most productive sire sons so far. We shall wait and see.
Where Kingmambo is really admired is as a sire of classic winners. While most of his get did have more success in Europe, his influences span the entire world in Thoroughbred racing. Good stakes winners such as George Vancouver (Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf), Pedro The Great (Phoenix Stakes), Asserting Bear (Summer Stakes), and Eishin Flash (Tokyo Yushun, Tenno Sho) are all sired by various sons of Kingmambo.
Kingmambo had much of his mother Miesque’s temperament. He was somewhat strong willed and became a tough sort during his stud career. After his retirement from stud, he mellowed considerably and became much more sociable with people. He was a handsome dude, a bit close coupled, but was well balanced and had strong hind legs helping to support his 15.3 hands frame.
It always sad when we lose an admired horse, for whatever the reason of their demise. Kingmambo was very well respected and has a strong following among not only fans but also within the hierarchy of the breeding world. While there are some detractors, no one can deny that Kingmambo passed on his superb class, inherited from his genes, to a plethora of outstanding runners. Only time will tell if he has a legitimate heir or two to carry on the line.
Kingmambo sired ninety-five stakes winners in total, and at the time of writing, he is the broodmare sire of one hundred and eight stakes winners. Many of these stakes winners have won in some of the richest and most prestigious races around the world. The classics are full of winning descendants of Kingmambo.
The son of Mr. Prospector – Miesque by Nureyev has been a beacon of class, there’s that word again, to the fortunate sons and daughters he sired. There is a life sized statue of Kingmambo on the grounds of Lane’s End, a fitting monument to a sire that meant so much to this great breeding establishment.
(Photo courtesy of Lane’s End Farm)