Monday, May 26, 2014

How to breed a World Champion - Marg Told You So

What do the trotter Market Share and the pacer Somwherovrarainbow have in common - besides setting world records in the past few days over a five-eights track in Pennsylvania ?

One of the first people to inspire my interest in pedigrees was a lady named Marg Neale. She was the first lady of pedigrees in Canada for many years. She worked for the Canadian Trotting Association, the predecessor of Standardbred Canada. If Marg Neale was still around she would tell you in no uncertain terms - I told you so.

Here is an excerpt from an interview of Marg by Dean Hoffman and published in Hoofbeats over twenty years ago. I have referenced it before on an earlier post but it bears repeating.

“There is a model of breeding that is like a pattern, and the pattern persists over generations, although, of course, the names change. I like to see a mare that is inbred, and a sire that is not.”
Two World Champions - two great examples of the wisdom of Marg Neale.
Market Share is by the Swedish sire Revenue, an outcross sire by Reve D`Udon,  a French stallion ,but from a dam that has totally North American bloodlines. The only common element between the sire and the dam is Peter Scott, the paternal line of the dam of Reve D`Udon, and also the paternal line of Sugarcane Hanover, sire of Revenue`s dam. Clearly a sire that is not inbred.
The dam of Market Share, however, is very much the opposite. Classical Flirt by Yankee Glide and her dam is by Donerail, both sons of Valley Victory and thus a 2x3 linebred. She is also maternally inbred to Speedy Crown as is her dam, Show Me Leg,  and her Bonefish second dam also adds another degree of inbreeding since he is also the damsire of Valley Victory. Clearly a mare that is extensively inbred.
If you look back over the pedigree of Classical Flirt you will see what Marg means by a "pattern that persists over generations" as the maternal inbreeding persists for several generations although, as Marg noted, the names involved change.
Market Share, himself, is outcrossed on sire line and inbred maternally to Speedy Scot and Bonefish and as such is a typical good pedigree match..
Somwhrovrarainbow is a four year old mare by Somebeachsomewhere, arguably the top sire currently in North America, despite being from a much maligned sire line that was on the verge of extinction before he came along. Her sire line is through a family of pacing sires originating with the epochal trotting sire Volomite who is also responsible for the resurgent Noble Victory line in trotters.
SBSW is by Mach Three, an Ontario, Canada, based sire that was ignored by major North American stud farms, and out of a mare by Beach Towel, another sire held in low esteem by North American breeders. Beach Towel is also inbred maternally to the Volomite pacing line of sires. While Mach Three`s sire line represents an outcross and this is further enforced by the additional presence of Volomite in Beach Towel and also by two sire lines through Direct which have essentially died out in modern breeding. Clearly again a sire that is not inbred to the conventional pacing sire lines through Meadow Skipper and Adios.
The dam of Somwhrovertherainbow is Rainbow Blue, a world champion mare that is inbred maternally 3x2 to On The Road Again in the same fashion as the historic X-factor mares Helen Hanover and Margaret Parrish. She also carries a maternal cross to Adios being x-factor crossed to his son Bret Hanover and both she and her dam are x-factor inbred to Tar Heel, whose dam is by Volomite. Clearly a mare that is extensively inbred and like Market Share the inbreeding pattern extends back several generations maternally..
Also like Market Share she is outcrossed on sire line and inbred maternally, in her case to Most Happy Fella and his sire Meadow Skipper - another good pedigree match.
It is amazing to see how the standardbred breed reinvents itself with the success of unknown or less than popular sires like Mach Three, Revenue and Garland Lobell, none of whom had the advantage of the "best" broodmares to breed. The same could be said for the thorobred breed with the success of California Chrome by little known sire Lucky Pulpit setting the TB establishment on their ears. He too fits the pattern that Marg Neale believed in. Looks like there is still room for the little guy to make an impact on the future of both breeds.
And we can thank Marg Neale in part for that.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

California Chrome

The winner of the Kentucky Derby is California Chrome who extends the recent trend of winners that are inbred maternally to either Mr Prospector or Northern Dancer. His pedigree has been described by others as plebian, ordinary, non classic, etc, as pundits struggle to understand where his racing excellence is coming from. Many thought he did not have the pedigree to go the distance but a closer look proves otherwise.

He is outcrossed on sire line - Nearco to Native Dancer and has a maternal inbreeding from his dam to his grandsire of Mr Prospector 4x3.  His sire, Lucky Pulpit whose stud fee is $2500 is another source of puzzlement to the thorobred pedigree experts. In addition to standing in California he was a modest racehorse although his dam is inbred maternally to Princequillo 4x4 and to Royal Charger (Nearco) 6x4 in a pattern of success familiar to standardbred breeders.

It is the dam of California Chrome, though, that likely provides the key to his excellence. Love The Chase was a low level claimer, bought for $8000, but her bargain price disguised a million dollar pedigree. She is outcrossed on sire line Mr Prospector to Northern Dancer and inbred to Northern Dancer maternally. That alone is sufficient to attract attention since mares inbred to Northern Dancer have been producing significant numbers of top horses in recent years. The real point of interest in the dam, however, is the mare Numbered Account who is 3x3 in X-factor position and thus Love The Chase is sibling inbred to a son, Polish Numbers (Northern Dancer) and a daughter, Dance Numbers (Danzig, son of Northern Dancer) of Numbered Account.

Numbered Account is by two time Horse Of The Year Buckpasser who was undefeated at three but not eligible for the Triple Crown races, although he soundly beat the top three year olds. Her dam is Intriguing by a Kentucky Derby winner in Swaps, and Intriguing is well named since she could well be the key to the pedigree of California Chrome.

In her book The X-Factor, Marianna Hahn detailed the search for the "large heart gene" supposedly responsible for the performance of Secretariat whose dam was by the same Princequillo that is doubled up maternally in Lucky Pulpit. She traced the genetic trail back to a mare called Pocahontas 1837, whose three sons, Stockwell, King Tom, and Rataplan, are noted maternal influences through their daughters. As I showed in my book "Queen Among Queens" the trail actually does not stop there but goes back through Diomed, the first winner of the English Derby and whose two best daughters, Young Giantess and Young Noisette, are doubled in X-factor position in Marpessa, the dam of Pocahontas.

Swaps, the sire of Intriguing, has an x-factor double to Stockwell maternally in his dam but more importantly his second dam is by Triple Crown winner War Admiral, who also is from a mare that has an x-factor double to Pocahontas through two of her sons, Stockwell and King Tom. But it gets better than that since the second dam of Intriguing is also by War Admiral making her a 4x3 x-factor inbred to a triple crown winner and double inbred to Pocahontas and to the two best daughters of Diomed accordingly. Now that is maternal power.

By the way, California Chrome's second dam is also inbred maternally to Princequillo, sire of the dam of Secretariat.  Not bred to go the distance eh?

Intriguing isn't it ?