N. C. Goldust (Gold Stage – Arraign, by Judger) was aptly named. Her name did not fit her in the same sense that current Chicago-circuit mainstay Dustem Carolina’s does: after all, she was bred in Ontario and not North Carolina. However, the latter part of her name fits, as her bloodline has been golden.
N. C. Goldust’s own race record was modest. Born in 1985, she only raced 14 times in a career that spanned her three- and four-year-old seasons. She won twice, both times in the claiming ranks at Hawthorne. The interest she drew the one time she entered a sales ring was likewise modest. She went to Keeneland November 1993 in foal to Cozzene, but only attracted bids up to $27,000.
That failed to meet her reserve, with good reason.
Siblings: Cozzene’s Prince and Rain Current
By then, her 1987 half-brother Cozzene’s Prince (Cozzene – Arraign, by Judger) had made his mark. Cozzene’s Prince started racing at age three, finished second in the 1990 Breeders’ Stakes, and won his first stakes race at age 4. In 1993, the same year his older sister went through the sales ring in foal to Cozzene, Cozzene’s Prince won the Sovereign Award for Champion Older Horse. That came on the strength of a win in the Halton Stakes at Woodbine, and a fast closing 2nd in the Grade I Rothmans Ltd. International Stakes. Cozzene’s Prince continued to race — and win stakes races — through age eight.
Of course, Cozzene’s Prince could do nothing to carry on his bloodlines. He was a gelding. But, the two other registered foals out of Arraign were mares.
1986 mare Rain Current (Little Current – Arraign, by Judger), herself a winner of seven out of 32 starts, did have one baby by Cozzene: Osumi Cozzene, a two-time winner in Japan. She also produced a pair of mares. Only one of them, two-time winner Herbal Essence (Talinum – Rain Current), had any registered foals. She had just one: a 2000 mare named Jadester (Alphabet Soup – Herbal Essence). Jadester ran on the Illinois circuit from 2002 through 2004 — and won the 2003 Genuine Risk Stakes at Fairmount Park, going a mile and seventy yards on the dirt. Jadester was the most successful of Rain Current’s progeny — hardly a surprise, as sire Alphabet Soup was a son of Cozzene. However, she was also the last of Rain Current’s branch of this bloodline.
On the other hand, N. C. Goldust has a branch that continues to flourish over thirty years after her birth.
A Kiss Away: N. C. Goldust’s most productive daughter
N. C. Goldust walked through the ring at Keeneland November in 1993. Perhaps to spite the bidders who failed to reach her reserve, the Cozzene foal she bore the following March would go on to anchor the most productive corner of her family tree. That foal, eventually named A Kiss Away (Cozzene – N. C. Goldust), was solid enough on the track. She won five of her eighteen starts, and performed solidly enough against allowance company going two turns on dirt or turf. However, she has shined even more brightly in the broodmare barn.
Her first foal, born in 2000, was Sunset Kisses (Sky Classic – A Kiss Away). She preferred eight to nine furlongs on dirt, but also won on grass. Sunset Kisses raced from ages two through six, and won stakes at Hawthorne, Arlington, and Calder. Among graded company, her best finish was a third-place effort in the 2006 Arlington Matron (GIII).
Sunset Kisses has five foals of racing age, two of whom have won. She has a promising three-year-old filly: Curlin Kisses (Curlin – Sunset Kisses). Curlin Kisses has raced just once, in May of this year. That effort was an impressive maiden special weight victory at Woodbine, and the Mark Casse trainee should be one to watch through this year and beyond.
Looking back at Sunset Kisses, she was not the only one to make a mark in the 2006 Arlington Matron. That renewal was a banner day for this bloodline. The second-place horse that day was A Kiss Away’s 2002 foal: Stop a Train (Devil His Due). In addition to this graded stakes placing, this dirt route specialist was a stakes winner at Hawthorne, Fairmount, and Prairie Meadows.
In the breeding shed, she has produced three winners from three to start. Cow Catcher (Cactus Ridge – Stop a Train) was stakes-placed among Illinois-breds as a juvenile, and has won six of her 29 starts to date. She has done her best work sprinting on dirt, but has stretched out to win at two turns once. Her hard-knocking brother Heart Stopper (Lion Heart – Stop a Train) also remains in training, and has four wins and another 11 money finishes in 30 tries. He does his best work going two turns, and has form on both grass and polytrack.
After Stop a Train, A Kiss Away’s next foal was Romance Dance (Vision and Verse). This 2003 mare never raced, but she has continued her bloodline’s solid legacy through her foals. Not only did her son Four Left Feet (Trippi – Romance Dance) win the 2011 Lightning Jet Handicap (a six-furlong dirt sprint for Illinois-breds), but he has been among the most durable of this line. He continues to race this year at age 8, and boasts a 55-8-12-9 career line with solid form over dirt and polytrack. Though most of his form has come at one turn, he has won going as long as nine furlongs.
Perfect Step (Congrats – Romance Dance) was the second stakes winner out of her dam. This 2009 mare raced from ages two through six, and did her best work sprinting over turf and polytrack. She won nine of her 27 starts, with her stakes win coming at Gulfstream in the 2015 Hard Worker Stakes, a turf dash. Perfect Step is now retired after an injury in her last start, based on a statement from Peter Walder on December 8, 2015.
One other Romance Dance foal still races. Comet Sixty Two (Stroll). her 2011 mare, specialises in sprints and extended sprints over turf. The Florida-bred spent the early part of her career in Illinois, and raced a few times in her native state, but she has been based in New York with Chad Brown over the last year.
Though A Kiss Away had a few foals in the meantime, her next notable foal after Romance Dance came in 2007: A Shot Away (Posse).
Though A Shot Away has not brought the family more black type, she has been the best example of this family’s ability to keep racing for years. This nine-year-old mare has started 76 times, with 14 wins and another 37 money finishes. She has remained in training this year, with a win and a place across three starts. As long as she is going between 5.5 and 6.5 furlongs, she can run on any surface. Though she mainly runs in the claiming and starter ranks nowadays, she has made some successful forays into allowance company. A Shot Away has been the epitome of durability, and the breed would benefit if she passes that on to her foals someday.
Two other of A Kiss Away’s foals currently race. No Flowers (Scat Daddy – A Kiss Away) has been a versatile sort, able to win at two turns on dirt or turf. A winner of five of her 24 starts so far, this 2011 mare has run mostly in the claiming ranks but cleared her open N1X condition in a turf mile this May at Arlington. Three-year-old Something Kinky (Parading – A Kiss Away) debuted at Arlington in a loaded turf route maiden special weight for Illinois-bred fillies on June 19, and finished a professional second. Her debut showed promise, and Something Kinky should be one to watch as she grows up and gains experience.
Though A Kiss Away’s branch has been the mother lode of N. C. Goldust’s lines, she has had some solid performers through other mares as well.
Something Wicked, Shingwedzi, and Nicks
1997 mare Something Wicked (Chimes Band – N. C. Goldust) was a reliable runner, mainly in dirt miles and routes, with seven wins and another 14 money finishes in 36 starts. That included a stakes placing against Illinois-bred company at Fairmount Park.
Once she made it to the breeding shed, though, her connections knew what they had. Four of her seven racing-age foals have a strain of Cozzene. Three are by Mizzen Mast, a son of Cozzene. Another is by Toccet; Cozzene is Toccet’s damsire. The two best of her progeny are both daughters by Mizzen Mast.
Mizzcan’tbewrong (Mizzen Mast – Something Wicked), a mare born in 2005, won 11 times in 36 starts between the ages of two and six. She was as versatile as they come: she could win at dashes or routes, and she could win over any surface. She also brought some class to her family tree: Mizzcan’tbewrong was a four-time stakes winner, with black-type victories over dirt, turf, and synthetic. A good homage to her hard-knocking relatives, one of those stakes wins came as part of the ultimate celebration of the everyday horse: she won the 2009 Claiming Crown Tiara.
Quite possibly the best-known of N. C. Goldust’s entire family tree is Mizzcan’tbewrong’s four-year-old sister: Money’soncharlotte (Mizzen Mast – Something Wicked). As a two-year-old, she won the 2014 Hut Hut Stakes at Gulfstream Park West in gate-to-wire fashion.
Third-place finishes in the Silverbulletday and the Gazelle (GII) were enough to get Money’soncharlotte in the starting gate of the Kentucky Oaks (GI), though she went off the longest shot on the board and ran a well-beaten 13th. Though the best she mustered the rest of her three-year-old year was a second-place finish in allowance company, Money’soncharlotte posted an authoritative N2X allowance victory on June 26 of this year in her second start at four.
Something Wicked may have produced some more of the class of her bloodline, but N. C. Goldust’s 2002 daughter Shingwedzi (With Approval) has produced several more durable members of the family. Shingwedzi herself was a solid allowance-level runner, a two-turn turfer who won three times and hit the board another nine times in 18 starts.
In the breeding shed, however, she has produced several racetrack mainstays. Her first foal, 2008 gelding There’s No Telling (Wiseman’s Ferry), has a 53-4-9-8 career line as of this writing, and remains in training. He is a hard-knocking claiming-level sprinter; as long as he is going no more than six furlongs, he will give it a try on any surface.
2009 mare Somali Byrd (Good Reward) has been another “sprint-on-anything” type, but a significantly better racehorse than her big brother. She trails only A Shot Away by number of starts by a runner descended from N. C. Goldust, having seen the starter 64 times so far. She has won 11 times, and finished in the money another 24. This year at age seven, Somali Byrd remains competitive, with a win and five more money finishes in seven starts.
Shingwedzi has had two other foals to race. Five-year-old Cracking Good Pins (City Zip) has done her best over turf miles, though her maiden win at a turf dash gives her something in common with her salty sprinting siblings. She has five wins and another 14 money finishes in 36 starts to date. Cracking Good Pins has also raced against relatively classier company than her older siblings, with a plethora of money finishes in allowance company earlier in her career, though she has currently found a home in the mid-range claiming and starter ranks. Sugar Talk (Flatter – Shingwedzi) showed promise in 2014 at age two, winning at first asking at Arlington and getting a try in the Arlington-Washington Lassie that year. She only ran five times, though hope remains that she can pass class on to her foals someday.
Nicks (Salt Lake – N. C. Goldust) was her dam’s final registered foal, born in 2004. She ran from ages three through six, and notched an admirable 10 wins over 25 starts. Nicks was unique in several ways. Nicks was her dam’s only direct progeny to win a stakes race, with four wins in Illinois-bred stakes wins. Three came over the Hawthorne dirt, though one also came over the polytrack at Arlington. She has also been the only runner so far from N. C. Goldust’s tree of descendants who has not had any Cozzene in her pedigree to record a stakes win.
N. C. Goldust, by the numbers
As of 2016, she has 61 registered Thoroughbreds of racing age who descend from her female line, 45 of whom have started at least once. Across all racing-age descendants, they average 17.64 starts apiece, with a median of 12. Looking across her starters begins to highlight just how salty her progeny are: if one of her babies makes it to the racetrack, the odds are good that they will be running for a while. Starters descended from N. C. Goldust average 23.91 starts each, with a median of 23.
Her progeny do not just start a lot: they perform reliably. Anyone who follows the Chicago circuit and appreciates the lunchpail horse — the runner who can win their share of races and reliably hit the board over the course of years, against claiming or starter or allowance company — probably follows a few horses in N. C. Goldust’s family tree, already. The 45 starters in this tree have broken from the starting gate a total of 1076 times. 188 times (17.47%) they have won, and 528 times (49.07%) they have finished in the money. With some strain of Cozzene in the bloodline, the numbers are a bit better. Runners with a line of Cozzene account for 615 of the starts. Among those starts, 111 (18.05%) have been wins, and 318 (51.71%) have been money finishes.
Among the 45 starters descended from N. C. Goldust, seven have won stakes races. Among those black-type winners, six have the blood of Cozzene coursing through their veins though none were directly by him. Four of those six descend from the Cozzene mare A Kiss Away: Sunset Kisses, Stop a Train, Four Left Feet, and Perfect Step. Two others, Mizzcan’tbewrong and Money’soncharlotte, are Mizzen Mast daughters of Something Wicked. Thus far, Nicks is the only one from this family tree to win a stakes without a line of Cozzene.
On dirt and turf, going short and long, from salty $5,000 claimers to the Kentucky Oaks, descendants of N. C. Goldust are everywhere. The family stands out for its consistency and its durability. Any single horse as honest as A Shot Away, Somali Byrd, or Four Left Feet merits celebration on his or her own merits. But, to find that they all hail from the same family tree? And, to find that same family tree also produced versatile multiple stakes winner Mizzcan’tbewrong, black-type winner and producer Stop a Train, and the up-and-coming Curlin Kisses? In fewer than thirty years?
This makes her tree golden.
For anyone curious to see a list of N. C. Goldust’s descendants, my spreadsheet is here. It includes all of her registered descendants who are aged two or older as of 2016.