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Empire Rose's daughter leaves Derby winner

Rosie's Star may have just become a group one-producing mare, but Tim Bodle still thinks he might sell her.
New Zealand breeding's 7th Derby winner for the season EMPIRES CHOICE takes out the Queensland Derby G1.
PHOTO : Graham Potter/NZTM

The daughter of Melbourne Cup-winning mare Empire Rose became a group one producer when Empires Choice outstayed his opponents in the Queensland Derby (Gr 1-2400m), establishing himself as a possible contender to emulate his granddam and win a Melbourne Cup.

But Bodle, of Whakanui Stud, says he's considering selling Rosie's Star even though she's just become more valuable due to Empires Choice's win.

"We had an offer from an Australian client," Bodle said.

"I haven't made a decision yet but we will consider it carefully. We do still have a Nassipour half-sister of hers, Rose Delight, so the family won't be lost to us if we do decide to sell."

Bodle said it was important for Whakanui Farm to maintain a small but select band of broodmares.
"We have about 20 broodmares and about 15 to 16 would be K1 (Karaka Premier Sale) level broodmares," he said.

"It's important for the farm to keep that quality up so we sell all our colts and a good number of the fillies. Some of the fillies we race and it's usually only if we think they are good enough to stay at the top that we keep them."

Rosie's Star descends from Summerosa, an Oakville mare from the family of top South Island stayer Quite Able that Bodle's father Fred bought for $3750 as a yearling at Trentham in 1970. She was a good winner, her six triumphs including the Waikato Cup in 1973.

Her first foal was Summer Fleur, a Sovereign Edition mare. Leased to clients of top Melbourne trainer Geoff Murphy, she won eight races, including the Launceston Cup, before returning to Whakanui Stud. There she bred Empire Rose, who became a national treasure when she won the 1988 Melbourne Cup.

Aside from her ability, most remember Empire Rose for her huge size, and several foals in the family have been very large. However, she proved difficult to breed from, leaving just four live foals.

"She had a very bad time with her second or third foaling," Bodle said. "She had problems foaling a Star Way colt and had a lacerated cervix, which caused a lot of problems in later years as well. She didn't really get a fair go at breeding.

"But we're grateful for what we did get, and sometimes the daughters of the top racemares are the ones that produce the goods as broodmares rather than the top racemares themselves."
Rosie's Star, Empire Rose's first foal, has been back and forth across the Tasman in her breeding career – among her progeny to be sold were a Thunder Gulch filly in 1999 for $350,000 and a Woodman filly in 2000 for $160,000 – and it was Australia that Bodle eyed again in 2002 towards Redoute's Choice.

At that stage Redoute's Choice was serving his third season at stud, often the most difficult one for stallions, and none of his progeny had hit the track. "I remembered him as being beautifully bred and as a great racehorse, so I got him for a $35,000 service fee."

Rosie's Star was brought back to New Zealand after being served and gave birth to Empires Choice in 2003. "He was a nice foal but perhaps a little big for some people at the yearling sales, which is why Bart Cummings was able to get him for $210,000. Bart said he had a nice stride and we were delighted with the price."

From there Empires Choice developed so well that he ran fifth in the Golden Slipper last year, even though staying seemed likely to be his forte. A setback prevented him from contesting autumn features in Sydney, but he has well and truly made his mark in Brisbane.
"Given the difficulties we have in getting foals in the family it was a great thrill to see one of the family win a Derby," Bodle said.

The year after foaling Empires Choice, Rosie's Star produced an even bigger foal to another son of Danehill, Keeper, which went for just $10,000 at the Select Sale last year. She now has a Viking Ruler foal at foot and is currently in Australia in foal to Stratum, the Golden Slipper winner by Redoute's Choice. At $A30,250, Stratum is easier to send a mare to than Redoute's Choice himself, whose current $330,000 service fee makes him a little difficult to go back to given that the mare's best sale return is the still the $350,000 for the Thunder Gulch filly in 1999.

Whether Rosie's Star remains part of the Whakanui Stud broodmare band or not, she's made a contribution to a famous family and added more lustre to the stud's already very proud record.

"He's the second Derby winner we've bred in two years after Headturner won the AJC Derby last year," Bodle said.

"To breed two Derby winners in two years from a farm which only has about 20 mares in a foal crop of about several thousand in Australia and New Zealand is something we're very proud of."

- Alastair Bull