For the notebook

A regular look at promising maiden winners by Darley stallions. This week: Royal Ballade by Elusive Quality

A group of eight from Elusive Quality's current juvenile crop, has readily stepped past the maiden ranks. His Kentucky foaled runners, in particular, are quite useful on both sides of the Atlantic. The very promising Listed winner in England, Honest Quality has boosted her sire’s status yet again to the top of the juvenile sires' roll in North America (by SPI, thus far in 2008) and the Darley homebred Huntdown was an impressive seven-length winner at Newbury on 19 September.

Another Elusive Quality two-year-old with ostensible talent is Royal Ballade. At first asking, Darley Stable’s debutante demonstrated that she too may well be a cut above the rest; taking a $52,000 Maiden Special Weight by an undemanding six-and-three-quarter lengths. In the race at Belmont Park on September 13, the bay first foal of French Classic winner Musical Chimes broke on cue. In the first sixteenth of a mile (100m), she darted ahead of the pack in come-and-catch-me fashion and persisted through fractions of :22 1/5 and :46 1/5 under the guidance of jockey Javier Castellano. Coming off Belmont’s sweeping turn, she was permitted an unfettered burst which stretched her lead to five lengths passing the eighth pole. Momentum alone kept Royal Ballade gliding under the wire in a total time of 1:11 flat for six furlongs (1200m).

One day earlier, Javier Castellano won aboard Music Note, another dynamic filly from Royal Ballade’s immediate female family. She too was bred by the late brother of Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum, at his Gainsborough Farm. Music Note, the three-year-old half-sister to Musical Chimes, enhanced her case for a championship by romping in the G1 Gazelle S. She now has three Grade One victories among her five wins; all from seven starts. Her course may well collide in October with her rival Proud Spell and Street Cry's phenomenal filly Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita Park.

In 1999, Gainsborough Farm delivered Note Musicale, an untested image of her sire Sadler’s Wells, to Vessels Stallion Farm in Bonsall, California to be covered by In Excess, a top handicap frontrunner and the state’s leading sire. She quickly fulfilled the faith of her breeder with the foal, subsequently named Musical Chimes. The filly started her career in France, winning the G1 Gainsborough Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and placing in the Prix de Diane. She returned to the United States and ran second to Tates Creek in the G1 Yellow Ribbon and Heat Haze in the G1 Matriarch S. She did however soundly suggest that she had more to give. With a late rallying charge in the G1 John C. Mabee H., under the tutelage of her new trainer Neil Drysdale, she found her way back to winning form. Musical Chimes’ tenacity was truly tested in the G2 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile S. against five males when she battled as a quartet for the entire stretch before nodding out the win over Buckland Manor and three-to-two favorite Singletary. From 20 starts, she gained $965,489.