Ny Traffic is one of those improbable success stories that fuel hopes and dreams in racing – a colt who’s risen from humble beginnings to become a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender. The “other” New York-bred in Derby 146, Ny Traffic might not have the flair of favorite Tiz the Law, but the battle-hardened gray enters on the upswing.His existence is at least partly the result of a couple of blessings in disguise, including setbacks that forced the retirements of both his dam and granddam. He’s the first foal produced by Mamie Reilly (pictured with a newborn Ny Traffic below), and Mamie Reilly was herself the first foal from French Song.
French Song was a daughter of 1999 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) hero Silic and Chilean classic queen Quilma, later a multiple graded stakes winner in the United States. Quilma was effective on both turf and dirt, especially at Churchill Downs, where she set a course record on the grass and captured the Louisville Breeders’ Cup (G2) on the main track.
While French Song couldn’t perform up to the level of her parents, she was a hard-knocking type in the claiming ranks in New York. As a newly turned 5-year-old in January 2010, she was claimed for $20,000 by trainer Bruce Brown and Epona Racing Stable.Epona was the nom de course of Brian Culnan’s racing partnership. The name is a nod to his Irish ancestry since Epona is the Celtic goddess associated with horses. French Song was fifth in her first start for her new connections, but went on to win back-to-back starter allowances at Aqueduct. Just when French Song was looking like a good investment, she sustained an injury.“The perils of horse racing,” said Culnan, an Albany, New York, attorney who became a fan of the sport from childhood, through his father and grandfather.A similar scenario unfolded with Mamie Reilly, French Song’s daughter by Graeme Hall. She was entered in yearling sales at Fasig-Tipton, but withdrawn with a throat issue.Named in honor of one of the fight songs of Culnan’s Holy Cross alma mater, Mamie Reilly was showing promise in her early training. “She was a pretty talented filly,” Culnan recalled, but she kept coming up with things that delayed her career debut – “a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” When Mamie Reilly was finally set to premiere at Saratoga in 2015, her connections were hopeful of a good showing. Then came one of the Spa’s sudden storms, a downpour that delayed post time, and Mamie Reilly was a non-threatening eighth. “Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong,” Culnan said. Mamie Reilly made good in her next try at Belmont Park. Despite a troubled start, she rallied from last to prevail by three-quarters of a length. Unfortunately, that was also the end of her brief racing career, for Mamie Reilly subsequently picked up an injury. Culnan’s partners weren’t as interested in her as a broodmare, so he kept her himself.Mamie Reilly started her new life by visiting Cross Traffic, the 2013 Whitney Invitational H. (G1) winner, and the resulting foal was born April 29, 2017, at Gallagher’s Stud near Ghent, New York. He was dark at first, but turned out to be gray like his sire and grandsire, Unbridled’s Song. “Very nice baby,” was how Mallory Mort, the manager of Gallagher’s, sized up the newborn.By the time the colt was about six weeks old, Mort’s notation was “attractive, good leg, good size, correct for age.”Culnan named the youngster Linden Lane, an extension of the Holy Cross theme. The reference to the iconic campus entrance is especially fitting for a son of Cross Traffic.
Linden Lane spent time in Virginia as a yearling before venturing to Lynwood Stable in Florida for his early training. That’s the same Recio family prep school where Derby rival King Guillermo learned the ropes. “Really laid back, very immature type of horse,” Gene Recio said of Linden Lane. “He was very sound, an easy keeper” who never had any kind of problem through the whole process.But his physical immaturity was viewed as a negative when Linden Lane was presented at Fasig-Tipon Midlantic’s 2-year-olds in training sale. Consigned by Top Line Sales, as agent, the gray worked a furlong at the under tack show in :10 4/5.