Pedigree Analysis: Nellie Delaney

A talented mare conquers the Winter Championship field.

Q-Racing Journal

Nellie Delaney wins the Los Alamitos Winter Championship. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

Going in to the $156,250 Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1), the past performances promised a good race. The entire field consisted of six-figure earners (most Grade 1 winners or Grade 1-placed), with the exception of Rylees Boy, who is a seven-figure earner with more than $1.5 million banked.

When the gates burst open, J. Garvan Kelly and Nancy Yearsley’s homebred Nellie Delaney hit the ground running, and it was nothin’ but taillights for the rest of the field. Raul Valenzuela rode her home 1 1/2 lengths the best, opening ground the whole way and crossing the line going away. With the victory, Nellie Delaney improved her record to 15-5-4-3 and earnings of $168,683. In December, she won the Southern California Derby (G1) in a dead-heat with Jabuti Eagle SA. She also earned a spot in December’s Champion of Champions (G1).

Nellie Delaney is by FDD Dynasty and out of the Tres Seis mare Fleeting Touch.

FDD Dynasty will spend his 10-year-old year at stud at Bob Moore Farms at Norman, Oklahoma. The syndicate-owned stallion is a son of all-time leading sire First Down Dash out of the good Tolltac mare Dinastia Toll BRZ. One of the best of his generation, FDD Dynasty was a champion both years that he raced. He won or placed in all 11 career starts and earned $1,173,001.

Nellie Delaney was sired in FDD Dynasty’s second crop. She is one of 21 stakes winners, 143 winners from 218 starters (a 66 percent win percentage) and the earners of more than $5.8 million. The stallion closed last year as the sport’s No. 2 third-year crop sire, with progeny including champion 2-year-old filly Kates Dynasty.

Dam Fleeting Touch is also a homebred for Kelly and Yearsley. The mare, also 10, did not have quite as notable of a racing career as FDD Dynasty. She ran on the same track at the same time – she even ran seventh in FDD Dynasty’s Golden State Million Futurity (G1) trial – but she closed her career with one win and six placings from 14 career starts and earnings of $15,245.

Nellie Delaney is Fleeting Touch’s second foal and is first one winner from four starters and eight foals. She also has a 2-year-old by One Famous Eagle named Symbol Of Freedom.

Nellie Delany’s sire, Tres Seis, was the No. 21 broodmare sire of 2013. Among his standouts was Grade 2 winner Especially Tres ($385,380), a filly by Dashair out of Tres Seis’ daughter Delightfully Tres.

Fleeting Touch is out of the Dashing Val mare Sheeza Lil Val. Sheeza Lil Val is out of the Zevi (TB) mare Sheeza Zevi Lady, and she was bred by Gordon and Juanita Crone. Horses produced from this immediate mare line include Restricted Grade 2 winner Toastin To Memory ($139,199); and stakes winners Sheezespeciallyfast ($117,825), Grab Your Glass ($88,514), Junos Back ($65,096), Pofiado ($55,195) and Toastin To Memory ($51,095).

Sheeza Lil Val won or placed in nine of 19 starts, including three stakes, and earned $19,413. Kelly and Yearsley bought her in partnership as a yearling, and got full ownership in 1997. She has 10 starters from 12 foals. Like her daughter, her first big runner was her second foal. This was a Corona Cartel filly named Valiantly, who would win the PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and earned $203,754. Her fifth foal was the Heza Fast Man gelding Value The Man, who won the 2005 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1) and earned $732,399. Voulez Vous (by Ocean Runaway) would twice be a Grade 1 finalist and earned $173,576, while her final foal, Emperor Valerian (by Heza Fast Dash) would be a multiple stakes winner and earner of $134,636.

While Sheeza Lil Val was herself a producer, she is also having good luck with the second generation. In addition to Fleeting Touch, Sheeza Lil Val is also the dam of Ity Bitty Rarity (by Rare Form), the dam of Grade 1-placed runners Knuckles O Toole (by Country Chicks Man, $245,795) and Bannow Bay (by Tres Seis, $130,336).

I have come to recognize many of the Kelly/Yearsley partnership horses first by their clever and unique names, and get a chance to learn more about history in the process. Take, for example, Dutch Schultz – the human namesake was a Great Depression-era mobster, the horse an earner of $356,668. Or maybe Anna Pavlova – a stakes winner who derived her name from a famed Russian ballerina. Or even Knuckles O Toole, who in the equine form was a hard-knocking earner of $245,795, and the human form a pseudonym for a famed jazz musician.  

Nellie Delaney’s name comes from a more personal source.

“Nellie Delaney was grandmother’s best friend back in Ireland,” Kelly told Los Alamitos’ Orlando Gutierrez in a post-race interview. “She took a shine to me when I was kid. This was back in the days of World War II when I lived in Ireland. Everything was scarce in those days, but Nellie always took good care of me. I would ride my bike to her farm to help her with the cows or with her yard. She would give me a treat or make me pancakes. She was always nice to me.”

Both the human and the equine Nellie Delaney has been good to Kelly. The mare will take a well-deserved break, then at the other end of 2014 look to earn her owners a victory in the sport’s most prestigious race for aged horses. 

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