Tuesday, August 27, 2013


One of the things you must know if you breed or buy horses is that genetically you are likely to have just one out of four breedings to the same sire that produce something special. Mind you 25% is a lot better than the 4-5% success rate for breeders overall but be prepared to be disappointed more often than not.

There have been some exceptions to the genetic rule such as the Hall brothers, Conway, Angus and Andover who were three of eight, and there have been exceptions in the other direction such as Albatross and his eight failed full siblings making him one of nine.

Another good case in point is the success of world record 2yo trotter Cooler Schooner 2,1.51.3f who is already over two seconds faster that her full sister Broadway Schooner, a winner of  $895K.  There have been two others with the same breeding who raced but did not beat 1.57.

What was the difference ? The pedigree is the same but the random nature of genes and how they interact defies sameness and indeed if you compared all four individuals you would likely see why. Conformation is a big part in yearling selection especially when you are looking at full siblings to something special.  Deweycheatumnhowe had four full siblings before he came along, all of them raced, but Ray Schnitker claimed that Dewey was much the best conformed of them all. It is generally agreed that Andover Hall was the best conformed of the Hall brothers too and his results as a sire have backed that up although I'm sure there are some contrary opinions regarding Conway Hall whose son Windsongs Legacy could have been one of the greats of all time but for his early death.

Getting back to Cooler Schooner she is by Broadway Hall, another son of Conway Hall, and from a mare that is inbred maternally to Speedy Crown. This is a typical feature of sires that have no Speedy Crown maternally. In the case of Cooler Schooner, however, she also has a double connection to Conway Hall since her dam carries a combination of  Arnie Almahurst and Stars Pride, as does the dam of Conway Hall.

The bigger farms seldom go back to the same sire since they have so many stallion options. It keeps the buyers guessing but it results in a lot of failed breedings, hence the 4-5% success rate. So what do you do as a breeder ?  Make sure that your first choice is your best choice and stick with it. The percentages will repay you accordingly. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Record Smasher

Last night at the Charlottetown Driving Park a Maritime bred two year old filly set a record - not that unusual you say ? In this case, however, with the filly going in 1.55.1h she not only broke the track record for two year old fillies but also the mark for any two year old pacer in the Maritimes as well as setting a seasons record for fillies in Canada on a half mile track.

The breeder of this phenom is none other than my horse owning partner Bill McNeil of Saulsbrook Farms in Windsor, Nova Scotia. The dam of Saulsbrook Alana is Atlanta Girl, purchased by Bill in the 2006 Harrisburg sale for $10,000 and trained down by his son Alan who you might remember as the lad who bought Lis Mara as a yearling on my recommendation, broke and raced him then sold him at four to race on and make oalmost $2.3 million lifetime.  Alan goes to the sales each year looking for reasonably priced fillies to sell as three year olds after they have qualified and shown promise racing. In the case of Atlanta Girl, also bought on my recommendation, she made it to the races at two and took a mark of 1.57.2f  but she did not come back at three so based on her early ability Bill opted to add her to his small broodmare band rather than sell her.

Bill and I get together each spring and go over his mares and it was decided to breed her in 2010 to Western Paradise - Why ?  Western Paradise is Abercrombie - Meadow Skipper maternally, just like Western Ideal, and that sire has done best with Abercrombie line dams and especially those mares with second dams through Most Happy Fella. Atlanta Girl is by Real Artist and from a dam by Cambest, son of Cam Fella. An added bonus was that if the match produced a filly she would be inbred maternally to Helen Hanover through two daughters of Ensign Hanover, son of Helen Hanover.

This was to be her third foal since she had been bred twice to Royal Mattjesty with limited success. Those breedings were made because there was a partner in Atlanta Girl that had a breeding share for that Ontario based stallion which turned out to be not a very good reason for choosing a stallion. Needless to say I was not in agreement on that mating given the pedigree.

Just before Alana went through the Truro yearling sale I got a call from Reg Macpherson asking me about her pedigree. What could I say - "I think she will be just fine Reg" . He bought her for $10,000 and it looks like she is "just fine" and then some.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Gold Cup And Saucer Time - Night of hopes and dreams

The stage and spotlights are set for the 54th running of the Sobeys Gold Cup & Saucer Saturday at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino. The field will be called to the gate at two minutes to midnight over the legendary Charlottetown Driving Park oval. Post time for the 14 dash program is 7 p.m.

The favourite is Hillbilly Hanover by Dragon Again from Hall Of Fame mare Hattie by Abercrombie. Outcrossed on sire line and inbred maternally to Abercrombie he is one of eight %100K plus winners from this great mare who also has two millionaire offspring in Holborn Hanover and Hyperion Hanover.

Customers will have an opportunity to play several promos on the card including a Pick 4 with a guaranteed $10,000 pool beginning on race 11. Players will be able to select Pick 3 beginning on races six, nine and 12 while race 13 will also offer a late double.

The action will be carried live from Charlottetown on the Bell Aliant Race Day broadcast at and from the following locations....

- Rideau & teletheatres
- Sudbury & teletheatres
- Inverness
- Truro
- Saint John (EPR)
- Fredricton
- Western Fair
- Flamboro
- Georgian
- Trois Rivieres
- Assiniboia
- The Red Mile
- Freehold
- Meadowlands
- Yonkers
- The Meadows
- Hoosier
- Suffolk
- Plainridge
- Running Aces
- Los Alamitos

My colt Scarlet Chaser is the favorite to win his O'Brien Gold division in Race #5. His daddy Hussy Chaser won on Gold Cup night in 1999 - Heres hoping
My partner in the colt, Bill McNeil of Saulsbrook Stables, has a three year old daughter of Hattie
by Somebeachsomewhere so if Hillbilly and Scarlet both win it will be a memorable night.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Whos Watching Hes Watching

Last night the world saw it’s first two year old colt to pace in 1:50 over a 5/8 track. Hes Watching, a $3,000 purchase at Harrisburg, was an easy winner and a boost to the fortunes of his sire American Ideal who has struggled to produce top colts. With the exception of Heston Blue Chip the other ones in his top four are all fillies. These four millionaires would be a credit to any sire’s record but with an overall success rate of about 6% in producing winners of over $100K, American Ideal needs this colt badly to further his career.

Bred by Brittany Farms the pedigree of Hes Watching has the stamp of my fellow pedigree guru Myron Bell, the pedigree brain of Brittany Farms, all over it. Myron will tell anyone that he does not care what the sire line is, he is only interested in what the maternal lines are and he is particularly fond of sibling and maternal crosses to great mares. Much of the success of Brittany Farms has come from their initial purchase of the Bill Sheehan farm and its broodmares. Many of these mares featured such maternal powerhouses as K Nora and Golden Miss. The latter is a principal conduit of Helen Hanover and both of these mares trace back on the X-factor trail to By By, a grand daughter of Miss Russell through her son Nutwood. K Nora is actually the maternal family of both American Ideal and his sire Western Ideal. But that is not all that is in play in the pedigree of Hes Watching, or the pedigrees of American Ideal’s current top four.

American Jewel was almost unbeatable before running into atrial fibrillation problems, not uncommon in exceptional individuals. The striking feature of her pedigree was the X-factor maternal cross of the great Three Diamonds, a grand-daughter of K Nora. What is perhaps not so evident is that she also carries an x-factor double to Margaret Parrish through the maternal lines of Matts Scooter in her sire and Big Towner in her second dam.

Heston Blue Chip is a colt and his dam also carries a double to Helen Hanover through his Cams Card Shark dam and Cam Fella third dam. Big Towner is also present in the maternal line in X-factor position.

Idyllic has a maternal line that goes to Emily Guy, a grand daughter of Margaret Parrish through Arion Guy and is a double to the great x-factor mare Margaret Parrish accordingly.. She also has X-factor doubles to both Albatross and Bret Hanover as well as three x-Factor crosses to By By, the x-factor source inbred into Helen Hanover.

Romantic Moment doubles Margaret Parrish twice across her pedigree through her second dam by Nihilator and her third dam by Falcon Almahurst.

So how does Hes Watching’s pedigree compare to these other great horses by American Ideal ?  The first thing you see is a sibling cross of Lifetime Success to her half brother Life Sign. In addition there is another sibling cross with Western Ideal, the grand-sire of Hes Watching being a three quarter brother to Cheer Me Up, the third dam of Hes Watching. These sibling crosses are not an X-factor consideration but interesting features nevertheless especially the latter which is a pedigree pattern that has shown up recently in some top trotters such as Muscle Massive and features a brother and sister on the top sire line and the maternal line respectively.

What is most important though is the makeup of Hes Watching’s dam who is loaded for business with X-factor traces to Helen Hanover. The dam, Baberhood, is by Real Desire whose maternal line traces to the Sheehan mare Golden Miss and Helen Hanover accordingly and his dam is actually a Helen Hanover double with an additional trace through Trenton. Baberhood picks up another Helen Hanover double through her own dam by Jennas Beach Boy whose dam is by Cam Fella as well as tracing to Helen Hanover on his maternal line. Yet another Helen Hanover trace comes from Baberhood’s second dam by No Nukes and then her third dam is the great K Nora, grand dam of Three Diamonds.

This is a loaded X-factor pedigree that is ready to explode.  In my book Queen Among Queens I used both Real Desire and Jennas Beach Boy as examples of the power of Helen Hanover when doubled maternally in the maternal line. I also included the following in the chapter on X-factor:

“In his book Patterns of Greatness, Thoroughbred researcher Alan Porter noted the need to delve deeply into a pedigree to discover the underlying genetic strengths that are not apparent in the first six generations.

This can reveal that one particular background cross has been built up to a point where it dominates a pedigree and reaches a critical mass reinforcing vital genes to the point where they explode in the form of a dynamic performer”.

Perhaps Alan Porter is watching Hes Watching from above and telling his heavenly buddies “I told you so”

Monday, August 5, 2013

First Crop Sires - How are they doing

The major sires with first crops racing this year are as follows:

Trotting Sires

Explosive Matter
Federal Flex
Lear Jetta
Muscle Hill
Swan For All
Windsong Espoir

Pacing Sires

Art Official
Artistic Fella
If I Can Dream
Major In Art
Mister Big
Shadow Play
Well Said

It is always interesting to see if they really do what is expected of them as far as the type of mares they are successful with. It is early yet but as is usually the case first impressions will prove to be lasting ones. Here are the top performers to date:

Explosive Matter

This sire is loaded with Speedy Crown with a Valley Victory top line and a dam that is line bred to Speedy Crown. Past sires with similar pedigrees have been less than successful due to the concentration of Speedy Crown but so far the best by Explosive Matter,  Struck By Lindy, shows how to get around this problem. I discussed her pedigree in an earlier post. Her second dam has the same Valley Victory - Speedy Crown line combination that is present in the dam of Explosive Matter plus a couple of other plusses across the pedigree.

Federal Flex

In an earlier post I discussed this sire as well as a similar sire in Muscle Hill. Both have dams that are line bred to Stars Pride, an unusual circumstance, but there are three previous sires with foals racing that point the way. The mares to look for are either Super Bowl line inbred to Speedy Crown maternally or Noble Victory Line with second dams through Speedy Crown and with Super Bowl maternally. In this care the best by Federal Flex to date, Special Agent Man, is from a Conway Hall (Noble Victory line) mare with a second dam by a Speedy Crown line dam. The third dam is through Super Bowl.

Lear Jetta

This sire has a maternal line with no Speedy Crown. Similar sires breed best to mares with no Speedy Crown or with mares that are either line bred or inbred maternally to Speedy Crown. Abettajetta, his best to date, follows that first pattern with no Speedy Crown in the dam.

Muscle Hill

While Federal Flex has opted for mares with the Noble Victory - Speedy Crown combination in his sire's maternal lines (Muscles Yankee), Muscle Hill seems to prefer the other side of the profile since three of his top four, including his best Hill I Am, are from mares that are Super Bowl line and inbred to Speedy Crown maternally.

Swan For All

With a maternal line that is linebred to Baltic Speed you can expect his best to be from mares that offer Valley Victory - Speedy Crown combinations or mares that have no Speedy Crown at all. Nothing in between. His best to date is Andis Alana from a Yankee Glide (Valley Victory) mare with a second dam by a son of Speedy Crown.

Windsong Espoir

This son of Kadabra has a maternal line of Balanced Image (Noble Victory line) and Speedy Crown. His best to date is Hope For Justice from a mare by Justice Hall (Noble Victory line) and second dam by a son of Speedy Crown

Art Official

This son of Art Major is a bit of a freak with respect to pedigree, He is quite untypical with respect to the other top ones by Art Major. Such things happen. His maternal lines are Falcon Seelster (Bret Hanover line) and Safe Arrival (Volomite line). Bringing back Meadow Skipper into a maternal line such as his is a safe bet and indeed his best two are from mares that are linebred to Meadow Skipper and also have Bret Hanover maternally.

Artistic Fella

With a maternal line of Artsplace (Abercrombie line) and No Nukes (Most Happy Fella line) you could expect mares with Abercrombie - Most Happy Fella line combinations to be his favourite and so it seems so far as Regil Meg is from a mare by Straight Path (Abercrombie) with a second dam by Cam Fella (Most Happy Fella)


This son of Real Artist has a maternal line similar to several other sires being Matts Scooter - Tyler B (Most Happy Fella line). His best to date Weatherly with 29K makes no sense to me but his next best with 23K made, Blacktree, is right on target with a Most Happy Fella line dam and and a Direct Scooter second dam.

If I Can Dream

This full brother to Western Terror has produced something that so far has seldom existed, a colt with a 3x2 maternal cross. This is a pedigree pattern that shows up in exceptional fillies but seldom in colts. In the case of Forty Five Red, the maternal double is Artsplace 3x2 and it is supported with an additional return of Most Happy Fella maternally.

Major In Art

His maternal line is similar to that of his sire, Art Major, being a Meadow Skipper line - Big Towner combination. Art Major did well with Cam Fella line dams and also with mares that had Big Towner maternally so it is no real surprise that Major In Art's best to date, Major Hangover, is from a mare by No Pan Intended with a second dam by Big Towner.

Mister Big

With a maternal line of Jate Lobell - Cam Fella there are many mares that fit Mister Big including the dam of Crafty Master, his second best performer from a Camluck mare with a No Nukes second dam. His best, however, is a good example of breeding a sire to a mare that brings back the lines in the sire's sire, in this case those of Grinfromeartoear whose maternal lines are  Storm Damage (Bret Hanover) - Meadow Skipper. Such is the case with Falcon Justice, his best to date, from a Bret Hanover line dam by Falcon Seelster with a second dam by Most Happy Fella (Meadow Skipper)

Shadow Play

I have already discussed this sire's early confimation of the expected profile based on his similarity to Rocknroll Hanover. His best colt to date is Arthur Blue Chip, with an Artsplace dam inbred to Albatross just like many of the best by Rocknroll Hanover.

Well Said

My previous post highlighted the pedigree of Talkative, the best by Well Said to date and a great example of the high percentage way to produce top performers - outcross on sire line and inbreed maternally.

All in all a great group of well matched individuals. Most of them likely bred with little consideration of the sire lines involved but as you can see they truly reflect what Pedigree Matching is all about.