Sir Dudley Digges was bred heavily for the turf, but also has dirt prowess thanks to Storm Cat from the incomparable Northern Dancer line.
When Sir Dudley Digges (Gio Ponti) upset favoured Amis Gizmo (Giant Gizmo) in the 157th running of the Queen’s Plate July 3, he reversed their finish in the Queen’s Plate Trial. Students of pedigree will note that both are sired by grandsons of the great sire Storm Cat — himself a grandson of the great foundation sire Northern Dancer. It was just the second win from nine starts for Sir Dudley Digges, whose pedigree is strongly slanted towards turf racing. Bred in Ontario by Bernard and Karen McCormack, he sold for $72,000 (U.S.) in the Keeneland Yearling Sale of 2013, and a year later for $110,000 in a two-year in training sale, going to owners and noted turf breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

His sire, Gio Ponti, was a two-time turf champion in America, where he won 12 times from 29 lifetime starts, good for $6,169,800. Remarkably, Gio Ponti won stakes races every year from ages two through six, including a victory at three in the Virginia Derby (Grade 2). He followed with four Grade One wins at four including the Arlington Million, when he was both champion Turf Horse and Older Male in the U.S. He also raced second to the great mare Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt that year.

As a five-year-old, Gio Ponti won the Man o’ War Stakes (Grade 1) on turf, and ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile to the champion mare Goldikova. At six he won the Shadwell Turf Mile (Grade 1), before capping off his career with a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and retiring to stud at Castleton Lyons in Kentucky. Gio Ponti stood for $12,500 in 2016, and Queen’s Plate winner Sir Dudley Digges is from his very first crop.

Gio Ponti, was by the very successful Tale of the Cat (Storm Cat), and still stands in Kentucky for $30,000. Tale of the Cat has now sired 74 stakes-winners from 15 crops to race, with 26 graded stakes-winners.

On the female side, Sir Dudley Digges shows his first three dams all bred by the noted Pennsylvania breeder George Strawbridge Jr. Sir Dudley’s dam, My Pal Lana (Kris S.), was a stakes winner of $465,538 (U.S.), including the River Memories Handicap at Woodbine. On the racetrack she won six of 25 starts. As a broodmare, she now shows six foals, five winners, and one stakes-winner. Her sire, Kris S. has become an unusually good broodmare-sire.

Sir Dudley’s second dam, Palana (Gulch), won three of 11 starts and $36,760, including the Fern Hill Stakes at Ascot in England. As a broodmare, she produced 10 foals, six winners, and one stakes winner, My Pal Lana. Sir Dudley’s third dam, Cor Anglais (Nijinsky II) was a modest winner of one race from 13 starts and $11,613. As a broodmare she produced nine foals, four winners, and two stakes winners.

All of which makes for fairly modest production from the immediate female family.

Looking at the larger picture, Sir Dudley’s sire Gio Ponti was not only Storm Cat line, but also inbred 4×3 to Raise a Native, and history suggests such inbreeding often helps a stallion stamp their offspring. While the powerful Storm Cat male line has tended to produce sprinting speed on dirt, Sir Dudley shows grass champions Gio Ponti, Roberto, and Nijinsky II all close up in his pedigree, which probably creates a favorable genetic balance. Sir Dudley also shows inbreeding 4×4 to Mr. Prospector, as well as linebreeding 5×5 – Northern Dancer, and 5x4x – Raise a Native.