Posts Tagged ‘Big Towner’

Here’s another blog about one of those hard working broodmare sires that add so much value to pedigrees, particulary when they have specific compatibilities to the mare/family.

As I mentioned in my blog about Overtrick, Big Towner is part of a Hambletonian “stub” – one of those Hambletonian lines that struggled to keep extending its siring line. But the Gene Abbe “stub”  has continued to thrive and to drive many of the best aspects of standardbred racing through its potent influence in damsires, much like Tar Heel has done for another “shortened” line of Hambletonian. Thank heavens for the maternal lines of our pedigrees – many of these damsires have enduring influence on the quality of our current and future stock.

Big Towner

So for me, Big Towner makes it to my list of all time greats in terms of contribution to the cause. Just for a start, look at his influence as the granddamsire of Art Major, Perfect Art, Real Artist and Panspacificflight.

Why? The primary reason is that he ADDS something. He doesn’t just lurk around as a ‘nice to have’. What he adds through the maternal lines appears to be heart size (x factor) but also speed. Yes, these are linked, but not always so. Not automatically so.

I’ve mentioned Big Towner’s contribution in some of my other blogs, for example in looking at Big Jim as a potential sire. And in a recent blog about Overtrick, Tony Dickinson examined his foundation mare Ballie Hanover and her Barbara Direct lineage – but Ballie Hanover also has Big Towner as her damsire, potentially adding quite a bit of value there.

Here is a lovely summary of Big Towner’s contribution, made by another blogger very recently – that’s serendipity!! – (and particularly signals Big Towner’s contribution as an outcross sire/damsire for mares with a lot of Meadow Skipper):


I’d also like to reference John Bradley’s Modern Pacing Sire Lines for some insight into this great damsire – and give him a tip o’ the hat as an amazing racehorse in his own right :

As a racehorse, Big Towner was a precocious colt right from the start, as was seen when he made his two-year-old debut at Maryland’s Rosecroft Raceway (then a half mile track) on May 7th 1976. Big Towner  drew post four and made a break right before the start. But in a preview of what was to come, the colt got back on stride, made up lost ground and raced second all the way until the stretch when he took command and pulled away to a twelve-length win in 2:09.3.

Bradley goes on to describe this horse as “a tough, game and fast colt”. After his 3yo season, trainer Lee Broglio said, “Big Towner is better than his record – he didn’t have too many opportunities over a big track last season – and definitely a fast horse.”  And he became a brilliant racehorse – winning his last 9 races over 6 different New York tracks, and  in 14 of 16 starts that year having the lead at the three-quarter pole and refusing to give in.

That is speed underscored by a big heart, toughness and a will to win.

Oh, and did I mention his own damsire is Shadow Wave? And his maternal line goes back to Nedda Guy and Nedda? With a good injection of Volomite in that lineage? Well, check back over my past blogs on Shadow Wave and my series of blogs on Nedda to see why I think Big Towner had a fantastic contribution to make to the engine room of many compatible pedigrees, ready to stoke the coals and keep those lines fired up.

He was a top race horse (48 starts, 31 wins) but is making much more of a contribution along the maternal lines of modern standardbreds.

Coming up:

In another blog soon (hopefully this weekend if my chooks behave and I don’t get too distracted by housework and walking on my favourite beach at Raglan), I want to look at out-crossing in the pacing breed, and what it means ‘down under’ i.e. Australia and New Zealand, compared to North America. Because In The Pocket (mentioned in the” Skipper, Skipper everywhere”  blog link above, now deceased and semen no longer available) became a huge influence on our breeding in New Zealand, and his son Christian Cullen is making a longterm impression here as a racehorse, sire, a damsire and potentially as a sire of sires. From a one-season venture as a sire in North America, his subsequent small number of northern hemisphere foals have just had highly successful 2yo season, and they are a hint of what outcrossing can offer different breeding “pools” when such a quality stallion is involved.

If you have ideas to share on that topic, contact me at email: b4breedingblog@xtra.co.nz (sorry this email addresss appears not to be working yet, so use my contact email at bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz

– or just add a comment to this blog.)

Other links on Big Towner, summaries of his career and contribution:


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This blog continues looking at the two new sire sons of Western Ideal that are being offered to New Zealand breeders this year.

Both Alabar and Nevele R have taken a punt on a son of Western Ideal for the coming breeding season – Big Jim for Alabar and Vintage Master for Nevele R.  How do these two new siring sons of Western Ideal compare? In the previous blog I looked at Vintage Master on pedigree and type and suggestedwhat mares might suit him. Now it’s Big Jim’s turn.

Big Jim is a big black stallion who will be sold as a sire on his speed, particularly his precocious 2yo speed. Whereas Vintage Master couldn’t win a race at 2 and take a record of only 1.57.4 as a 2yo, Big Jim not only won plenty of 2yo races but took a time of 1.49.2. But as we know, sires with great speed themselves may or may not leave it in their progeny.

What gives Big Jim hope in this regard is the strength of his maternal line. He has the medium sized, very fast Big Towner as his damsire, and on both his maternal lines goes back to the speedy trotting mares Nedda Guy and Nedda (see my blogs on them).  His dam Bold Pink reflected that breeding in her own ability, taking a mark of 1:51.6 herself and leaving four sub 1:55 foals, although Big Jim is by far the biggest earner in stakes. The strength of his maternal genetic structure is, in my view, similar to Vintage Master. It’s very good proven quality, solid rather than spectacular. His dam, grandam and great-grandam all won over $100,000 in stakes, in some decent times, and all produced good performers from a range of sires – a sign of quality heart genes being passed down the female line.

However he was not sound, and in the end niggles forced his retirement before the end of his good 3yo season. It appears the problem was in his ankles and was found to be bone bruising, and started to cause problems even before the end of his 2yo season. Whether the soundness factor is something breeders will take into consideration is uncertain – we do tend to rate speed so highly these days and be willing to take the consequences. People will say: genes don’t get sore. That’s true, and I don’t know enough about what might cause bone bruising in ankles to make any comment on whether it signals anything more than the pressures of racing on a young physical skeleton.

There’s been little doubt in Canada where his first book is full and closed.

Big Jim in full flight

He is a big powerful stallion. In terms of mares here who may suit Big Jim, I would look for pedigrees that would be compatible with his Big Towner factor. I think Big Jim could be very compatible for Falcon Seelster mares, for type and genes, as would Christian Cullen mares be. Also Elsu mares, but for a different reason than Falcon Seelster. Going outside the square,  Dream Away mares could be okay, especially smaller ones – there’s a double up to Sonsam which I don’t mind at all and he added value/speed into both sires’ maternal lines. Big Towner of course has my old mate Shadow Wave lurking close behind, and that opens up mares from the quality maternal lines of Shifting Sands such as Grin, Red River/Rustler Hanover –  although many of these were bigger mares and it will be a while before we see if Big Jim stamps his size.  Mares with plenty of Albatross and Meadow Skipper blood will find Big Jim an option, but Big Towner (an outcross sire with no Meadow Skipper) again provides a way of avoiding just too much of a good thing.

And yes, Art Major mares (eventually) would be a very interesting match.

At $4500 Alabar have, like Nevele R with Vintage Master, gone for a price that is affordable for breeders without attracting too many ‘back paddock mares’ desperate for a miracle.

As you can see from this and my previous post, I’m seeing these sires less in terms of the Western Ideal factor, and more in terms of what their overall pedigree might find compatible in our likely broodmare pool, particularly how breeders might build on the strengths in these sires’ maternal lines, which are well structured and have shown speed.

I’d be happy to have any comments from others on what they think of this approach and what matches they think might work.

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