Captin's Lover

(2004 bay filly, Captain Al - Sunshine Lover, by Badger Land)

Champion Filly at 3 in South Africa

Won Cape Fillies Guineas-Grade 1 (S.Africa)
Won Fillies Championship-Grade 2 (S.Africa)
Won Prix du Pin-Listed (France)
Won Matchmaker Stakes-Listed (U.S.A.)
3rd T.B.A. Paddock Stakes-Grade 1 (S.Africa)
3rd Miss Liberty Stakes-Listed (U.S.A.)

Captain's Lover was bought as a yearling in 2005 for about $25,000 by Barry Irwin at the National Yearling Sale in Germiston South Africa. When the filly was bought in April the first crop of her young sire Captain Al were just starting to make a name for themselves. He would become a multiple Champion Sire and perennial Leading Sire of 2-year-olds.

Sent to Justin Snaith, who had trained a filly named Secret Heart for a single race for Team Valor after purchase, Captain's Lover was a hit from the very beginning, winning 4 of her first 5 starts, the lone loss coming when second to subsequent Grade 1 heroine Nania in the Grade 2 Odessa Stud Fillies Championship.

Captain's Lover avenged that runner-up finish next time out by becoming a Classic winner of the Grade 1 Cape Fillies Guineas at Kenilworth over a mile. She was tried next time against her elders over an additional furlong in the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes, when her naughty behavior caused problems in the preliminaries, but she ran well to be third. That was her final outing in South Africa, as she was sent to race in France with Andre Fabre.

The beautifully balanced bay filly finished up in South Africa with a record of 5 wins in 7 starts and was voted Champion Filly at 3 in the Republic.

In a lone outing in Europe, Captain's Lover reappeared 8 months later at Longchamp and beat a good field of males going her best distance of 7 furlongs to account for the Group 3 Prix du Pin. Fabre considered her to be a Breeders' Cuip Mile candidate, brought her over to contest the Group 1 Prix de la Foret, but the filly flipped in the paddock and had to be scratched.

Captain's Lover's behavior before races and in the starting gate worsened with maturity, so she was sent to the consummate horseman Todd Pletcher in New York. Pletcher worked his magic with a few cowboy tricks picked up along the way from his father and D. Wayne Lukas. The filly, racing as a 5-year-old mare stateside due to her Southern Hemisphere birthdate, raced 7 times in America for Pletcher, winning the 9-furlong Vinery Matchmaker Stakes worth $200,000 at Monmouth Park in a race taken off the turf and contested on a sloppy dirt track.

The import also placed 4th in the Grade 1 Beldame Stakes on dirt at Belmont and 3rd in the Miss Liberty Stakes on grass at Monmouth. She never recaptured her best form after her behavior deteriorated.

Barry Irwin said "She became a bit agitated leaving the paddock for the Paddock Stakes, wound up cutting her hind legs near the ankles against some thorny plants and was never the same filly afterwards. It as a shame because she was a top physical specimen with an enormous reservoir of talent."

On a side note, after she had won her first 2 races, Barry Irwin located and bought her dam Sunshine Lover as well as a suckling foal that eventually would make her dam not only South African Broodmare of the Year, but one of the rarest producers on record worldwide as the dam of two Classic winners of the same race.

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