Future Stars Friday Spotlight: The True Meaning of Covfefe
Courtesy of Ren Carothers (@RenCarothers)
Of all the things we may do in life, perhaps one of the most meaningful is giving a name to another breathing entity. A name is not a collection of letters strung together with no rhyme or reason. On the contrary, the process of selecting a name, whether for a child or pet, is nearly always done in earnest, with sound and meaning sacrosanct. How a name will cross the lips, tickle the ear, stir imagination in one’s mind and hope in one’s heart are all questions considered. Imagine if Alexander the Great had been dubbed Perdikkas or if Elizabeth I had instead been called Elspeth (no offense to anyone actually named Perdikkas or Elspeth). In many ways, a name sets a mold into which one grows. That’s why something dignified, with a story behind it, or something whimsical and descriptive is often ascribed. Sometimes, however, it is the being which gives meaning to the name, as is the case with a two-year-old filly registered as Covfefe.
There is a backstory to this assembly of letters, with which most are familiar. Last year, late at night, President Donald Trump posted the following on Twitter: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”
With the inclusion of a word not found in the dictionary, lack of punctuation, and its deletion hours later, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking this to be an abandoned attempt to tweet something about press “coverage”, which was accidentally posted anyway. However, the President subsequently tweeted, “Who can figure out the true meaning of “covfefe” ??? Enjoy!” and then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer told questioning reporters, “The President and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.” Suddenly, “covefefe” was no longer a mere typo. No, it became a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma... and, sometime after the September yearling sale of last year, the name of a horse.
Owned by LNJ Foxwoods and trained by Brad Cox, Covfefe recently made her debut on September 16th, and while parody may have inspired her name, the filly proved no joke. Under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, she decimated her competition by 9-1/4 lengths, completing the six furlongs in 1:10.20, earning a solid 86 Beyer first time out. Making the victory even sweeter is that it happened beneath the spires of Churchill Downs, where the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held in November. Whether she attempts to challenge G1 competition on #FutureStarsFriday or not remains to be decided, but should her connections lean that way, it’s encouraging to know you have a juvenile who, apparently, really likes the surface. It’s also nice when a #FutureStarsFriday prospect is rooted by past luminaries.
Oh, yes, Covfefe has serious talent – and a tremendous pedigree to support it. She is by ultra-hot sire Into Mischief, who won the G1 CashCall Futurity and is, as many know, a half brother to four-time Eclipse champion and Hall of Fame bound Beholder, whose first stakes win was the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and last was a scintillating photo finish triumph over Songbird in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Not to be forgotten, Into Mischief is also a half brother to Mendelssohn, who won the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and ran a game second, having set the pace, in this year’s Travers Stakes.
Adding even more potency to Covfefe’s pedigree is her female family. Her dam, Antics, is an unraced daughter of 1990’s Eclipse champion three-year-old, and Kentucky Derby victor, Unbridled, who also made impact as an exceptional broodmare sire. Supporting this point, Antics has produced Albiano, a multiple graded-stakes winner in Japan, and Going Day, who was third in the Prix de Thiberville in France. Adding further allure to this pedigree is the fact that Antics is a half sister to some pretty notable runners, including the U.A.E.’s 2001 Horse of the Year, Festival of Light, stakes winner Alisios, and G1winners Acoma and Arch. Among Acoma’s victories is the G1 Juddmonte Spinster, which she won before finishing fifth in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (Distaff). As for Arch, before becoming an influential sire, he scored in the 1998 G1 Super Derby and G3 Fayette, the latter of which he completed in 1:53 4/5, a track record time for the 1-3/16th miles.
But wait, there’s more!
Covfefe’s second dam (grandma) is a daughter of Danzig named Aurora. She won the Aqueduct Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap in 1992 and was second in the 1993 G3 Beaugay. Her full sister, Yamanin Paradise won nearly $1.5 million dollars and champion two-year-old filly honors in Japan. Aurora’s half sisters, Destiny Dance and Alyssum, were stakes winners, as well, with the former winning the G3 Sheepshead Bay Handicap in 1990 and the latter taking the 1997 Nassau and graded, runner-up finishes in the Prioress and Honeybee Stakes.
Now, here’s where things get super juicy, for Covfefe’s great-grandma, Althea, a daughter of Alydar, was truly great. She was named 1983’s Eclipse champion two-year-old filly and her conquests in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, Del Mar Debutante – and Del Mar Futurity – Hollywood Starlet, Las Virgenes, Santa Susana, and Arkansas Derby led her to being installed as favorite in the 1984 Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, she faltered that day, finishing 19th, but what a fantastic campaign up to that point. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, and ridden by Pat Valenzuela, Althea was the first filly to win the Arkansas Derby, and she did it by five lengths in 1:46 4/5, which tied the record Wild Again set the previous day in the Oaklawn Handicap. Gate Dancer was third to Althea and Pine Circle in the Arkansas Derby, went on to win the Preakness, and Super Derby, was third to Wild Again in the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and second in the 1985 edition.
Althea’s full sisters, Aishah and Aquilegia, were graded stakes winners. The latter produced Gr3W/Gr1P Bertolini and stakes winner Amelia, who is also the dam of black type contributors Assateague, Kindergarten Kid, Rainha Da Bateria, and He’s Had Enough. Furthermore, Amelia’s unraced daughter, Alittlebitearly, is the dam of 2014’s Breeders’ Cup Classic champion, Bayern. Aishah was a successful broodmare, too, foaling G1W Aldiza, who later produced black type runners Altesse, Where’s the Moon, and Alchemist. Althea’s three-quarters brother, Native Courier, was a multiple G3 winner, with scores in the Seneca, Brighton Beach, and the Bernard Baruch. He also picked up some G1 placings with a second in the 1979 Man o’War and third in the Turf Classic. Another three-quarters sibling, Ketoh, won the G1 Cowdin in 1985. Her half brother, Press Card, was multiple G1 placed, third in the 1992 Champagne and second in the G1 Pegasus Handicap at the Meadowlands. Other half siblings include Ali Oop, winner of the 1975 G1 Sapling, Twining, who picked up G2 wins in the Peter Pan and Withers of 1994, and Princess Oola, whose stakes win came in the 1982 Whitemarsh Handicap.
Althea and her siblings were produced by 1983’s Broodmare of the Year, Courtly Dee. If you explore this tree further, you’ll find its branches are far-reaching and its stakes winners are plentiful beyond those already mentioned. Judy-Rae, Betty Derr, Atelier, Arabis, Alchemilla, Yousefia, Island of Silver, Balwa, Tom Tulle, King of Rome, Defacto, Tea Time, Truckee, Far From Over, Timeline, Super Espresso, Seattle Dawn, Namaqualand, Gr1 winners Green Desert and Azzaam, as well as Kentucky Derby champs Iron Liege, Swaps, and California Chrome all belong to this prolific family.
With so many accomplished names in her pedigree, is it any wonder that the two-year-old, bay filly with the big, white blaze would be gifted with the ability to make a name for herself? Sure, the inspiration for her registration may have been a gaffe, but make no mistake, having “trumped the competition” in her debut, the true meaning of “covfefe” is WINNER – and that’s not Fake News.
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Alice Chandler was one of the most remarkable people ever to work in the Thoroughbred industry. We cherished her outstanding achievements as an owner and breeder, and her service to a wide range of racing organizations over many decades, as well as her engaging personality and dynamic spirit.
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“Cocktails & Conversation,” the weekly virtual happy hour series returns Thursday (April 8) with special guest Tom Durkin; hosted by Britney Eurton and Nick Luck of NBC Sports; and joined by renowned mixologist and creator of Breeders’ Cup’s official cocktails Mark Tubridy.