Ms Catherine… You Should Be So Lucky

Ms Catherine wins the Group Three Typhoon Tracy Stakes at Moonee Valley (Ross Holburt/Racing Photos)


There was something ‘new’ about the bold win of Ms Catherine in Friday’s night’s Group Three Typhoon Tracy Stakes at Moonee Valley.

Having just her third outing since her debut in late November, the unbeaten Ms Catherine notched up her first stakes win, while it was also the initial black type success for a beaming jockey, Georgina Cartwright.

What’s more, the Henry Dwyer trained filly becomes the first stakes winner for Godolphin’s Caulfield Guineas winner, Shooting To Win.

However, for breeder/owners Tony and Joe Bongiorno, Friday night’s success dates back nearly 50 years when the brothers first acquired Ms Catherine’s fourth dam, Susan’s Luck … and it’s been a helluva ride ever since.

“We purchased Susan’s Luck in 1973 from the father of a friend who wasn’t interested in breeding from her and she was our first horse,” Tony Bongiorno recalls. “She had won nine races and was a half sister to the best horse in the country in Century who would go on to become Champion Australian Sire.

(Susan’s Luck is also a half sister to the dam of Group One winner Gamine).

“Century is by Better Boy, so that’s who we sent Susan’s Luck to in her first year and she produced Better Be Lucky.”

Better Be Lucky won three in town for the Bongiornos but it was her fourth foal – Lucky Witch – that really got the ball rolling.

Lucky Witch is the brothers’ favourite and little wonder why. A daughter of Voodoo Rhythm, Lucky Witch won the Listed Red Roses at Flemington and Listed Christmas Handicap at Caulfield, but her legacy at stud is phenomenal: Lucky Diva was a multiple stakes winner of 11 races and is the dam of Ms Catherine; Spirit of Westbury was a Group winner in Queensland and ran third in the Group One Sydney Cup; Gina Lollawitcha won a stakes race in Melbourne; while Duke of Westbury – sold by Bongiornos as a yearling – was a 2YO stakes winner at Flemington.

Other stakes winners from this incredibly ‘lucky’ pedigree include Singapore stakes winner, Lucky Tycoon and 5-time stakes winner Catechuchu (both bred and sold by Tony and Joe), along with Group winner Toy Image.

Running the successful Bongiorno Group in Melbourne – a team of financial planners and accountants – the brothers have scaled back their breeding and racing operation in recent years but were over the moon at adding another black type winner to the family.

“It was a huge thrill to win the Typhoon Tracy … not just for us, but for Henry and Georgina as well,” Bongiorno adds. “She (Ms Catherine) is probably our best horse since (2011 Group One Goodwood Handicap winner) Lone Rock.

“A very exciting filly and hopefully she’ll go on from here.”

According to her trainer, Ms Catherine will be given a short let up before tackling the Group Two Euclase Stakes over 1200m at Morphettville in May.

“When they win two from two at this time of the year you’ve got to throw them in at the deep end, particularly with fillies,” Dwyer believes. “There was some question mark at the 1200m but Georgie gave her a couple of cheap sectionals mid-race and she kicked on late.

“She puts herself in front and did everything right.”

Shooting To Win, a son of the ill-fated speed source, Northern Meteor, has covered 724 mares in his five seasons at stud: the biggest book of 177 last spring on the back of first crop 2YOs such as Group One JJ Atkins runnerup and inaugural $1 million Bondi Stakes winner, Kubrick, and the stakes placed Shotmaker.

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