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Archive for February, 2012

When Peter O’Rourke (of Spreydon Lodge and Nevele R) put his mare Let’s Scoot Franco to Bettor’s Delight the stallion was a new young sire with great credentials as a racehorse. There are many stallions that start that way, and few achieve the heights of siring that Bettor’s Delight has done so quickly in both hemispheres.

But all that was in the future. When Peter made his decision Bettor’s Delight was unproven. “I wanted to take a chance with a champion racehorse and a proven family,” he says.
The result was a filly called Lena Franco, who is now the dam of Lot 283 named Lexus Franco on the second day at the Premier Sales, a filly that Spreydon preparer Zane Gregg describes as a nice size from a good family.

It is a solid family, with 4th dam Lancia being a 10 win mare who got 3rd in the Messenger amongst many group placings. The 3rd dam Looks OK was unraced but produced the tough filly OK Rock (1998/99 3yo pacing filly of the year). The 2nd dam by Live or Die took a fast time trial and retired with 3 wins under her belt, and has gone on to be the dam of 14 win Franco’s Lancelot and the very nice Falcon Seelster pacer Franco Ledger.

Bettor's Delight

Sire and now damsire, Bettor's Delight with Kevin Foley at Woodlands Stud open day 2012 (photo Bee Pears)

I’m laying out the family credentials so that Bettor’s Delight doesn’t get all the credit!

Peter O’Rourke says the filly Lena Franco, foaled 2005, is a good sized mare and would probably have won a race but was more valuable as a broodmare – by then the signs were starting to look good for Bettor’s Delight so Peter says he was “very happy to have a Bettor’s Delight filly.”

Lot 283 is her second foal.

Peter says the choice of Falcon Seelster for this Bettor’s Delight mare was a combination of looking at compatible US stallion bloodlines and confidence in Falcon Seelster as a proven sire leaving good colts and fillies of value. The fact that the talented Franco Ledger (by Falcon Seelster) is close in the family didn’t enter into the equation, as the timing meant he was yet to show up at the races.

The first foal from Lena Franco was a filly by Lis Mara so there was a bit of doubling up in that combination on the male lines with Cam Fella and on the female lines with Albatross, and a mix of both lines with Abercrombie.

The second foal, this filly at the 2012 yearling sales, is more of an outcross.

It’s interesting to note that as a sire Bettor’s Delight has forged good percentages of starters to foals (44%) and winners to foals (37%) with Falcon Seelster mares. So not unlike the Bettor’s Delight colt in the previous blog, Peter O’Rourke has a reverse cross to a successful “click”.

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After a 3-blog diversion into “Neddaland” I’m back looking at the new damsires in the 2012 yearling sales. In previous blogs I’ve covered Elsu, Courage Under Fire and McArdle. Now I’m focusing on the two damsire credits for Bettor’s Delight.

Lot 132, Premier Day One, is a colt named Full Disclosure by Christian Cullen out of Maddison Lee. He is one of only two yearlings in the 2012 yearling sales catalogue with a Bettor’s Delight dam – but he certainly won’t be the last.

With Bettor’s Delight building such a strong reputation as a sire now, and as a sire of good fillies, the next few years will see more of his earlier (frozen semen) mares getting in foal  to commercial sires and appearing in the sales catalogues.

And in the future his huge crop numbers will see a swarm of Bettor’s Delight broodmares, all looking for the sire/s that will ‘click’.

And that’s an interesting thing to ponder on, as I will over next couple of blogs – and I invite your thoughts (please post as comments and share your ideas).

Because it’s a bit like Sundon mares in trotting – the sires that unlock that Bettor’s Delight treasure trove of mares will write themselves a chapter in NZ standardbred history.

What proven, new or potential sires do you think will take up that role successfully, and why?

Lot 132 Full Disclosure

Lot 132 Premier Yearling Sales, a Christian Cullen colt from a Bettor's Delight mare

But for now, let’s take a closer look at Lot 132. Lyn O’Connell of Twisted Stick Lodge is the breeder and is very familiar with the family – in fact (as Lyn McLachlan) bred the very good filly Adios Dream from Deborah Dundee, this yearling’s 3rd dam.

Lot 132’s dam Maddison Lee was one of Bettor’s Delight’s first frozen semen crops via Nevele R Stud. She was a 2004 foal, when Lyn recalls the stud fee was around $10,500, so she was bred with a longer view as a quality broodmare. Lyn describes the mare as ’round and not very athletic’ and although she did qualify she didn’t show enough to pursue as a race horse.

She says the choice of Christian Cullen as the sire for Maddison Lee was strongly influenced by the success of Christian Cullen mares going to Bettor’s Delight (with Highview Tommy being one example). “That cross is well regarded and successful, so I am just doing the same in the opposite direction.”

However the yearling has thrown more to the dam’s family, and is neither a big bold Christian Cullen replica, nor the solid round type that Bettor’s Delight can produce. She describes Full Disclosure as a racy type, very athletic, who “paces fast and free legged around the paddock, and wants to be on the go. ”

“In fact he reminds me a lot of Adios Dream and Courage Under Fire as a type – it’s the smaller ones from this family that seem to turn into the good racehorses.”

In the next blog I’ll check out Lot 283, Lexus Franco, the other yearling with a Bettor’s Delight dam. In the meantime, start gazing into your crystal balls and give me some thoughts on who you see as a good future cross for Bettor’s Delight mares, particularly for the many who have In The Pocket and Holmes Hanover as their damsire.

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The qualities that Nedda had, she passed on to her daughter Nedda Guy, and Nedda Guy passed them to On Time who passed them on to the great racehorse and sire Good Time, his full sister Our Time, and several of her other nine foals (all winners). These enduring qualities were a result of several factors – but probably the most significant one is a thoroughbred mare called Esther.According to www.worldclasstrotting.com entry (this site has a great section on foundation mares/remarkable dams)

“Esther is the only thoroughbred that ranks as a foundation mare with the harness horse. And it all started with Leland Stanford, who wanted to experiment by crossing thoroughbred mares to his sire Electioneer 125.”

Expressive

Expressive, dam of Atlantic Express (sire of Nedda)

In 1879 he bought several mares, one of which was Esther, and the resulting foals were all raised as trotters.

One of Esther’s daughters was Expressive (by Electioneer) who was a great racing mare and left some good progeny later in her broodmare career including Atlantic Express, the sire of Nedda.  Atlantic Express is also the damsire of Dean Hanover, one of trotting’s quality racehorses of the 1930s who became a good sire and such an influential damsire. It is Dean Hanover who sired Goddess Hanover, the dam of super mares Cassin Hanover and Arpege – a ‘golden family’ of trotting that led to Angus Hall, Andover Hall, Texas, world champion Ayres,  and many more.

Another of Esther’s daughters was Mendocita (by Mendocino, a son of Electioneer), who didn’t race but whose own daughter Cita Frisco was the dam of the outstanding Volomite.

Volomite, sire of On Time

Volomite, mated with Nedda Guy to produce On Time, Olympia and Mighty Ned

So when Nedda’s daughter Nedda Guy was bred to Volomite, her progeny were 4×5 to Esther on maternal lines. The results are covered in my previous blog.

(Nedda herself was bred once to Volomite for a colt called Prologue who took a mark of 2.10 as a 3yo in 1932 and later stood in a very small way as a sire, first in US and then in Sweden.  But that’s breeding, it doesn’t work 100% of the time for many reasons.)

But let’s get back to Esther – what makes her so special? Followers of standardbred breeding will be familiar with the “x factor” theory, which points to strong evidence of large hearted lines being carried on the x chromosone, and thus able only to be passed from from dams to sons and daughters, but not from sires to sons. Esther is a thoroghbred mare that traces back through her dam Colisseum to Glencoe, sire of Pochahontas – and Glencoe is one who is recognised as a primary carrier of the giant heart of Eclipse. If you want more on this, find the books by Marianna Haun which although mainly about applying the theory to thoroughbred lines also cover trotting examples.

Nedda had another card up her sleeve – her own great-grandam was Ethelwyn (the great trotting family also known as Kathleen) who traces back in two directions on x lines to Eclipse.

Now none of this would have guaranteed Nedda the ability, speed and courage that she showed and that she passed on. But it certainly would have helped maximise her chances.

Sometimes harking to the best of those great heart lines even well downstream can work. That might be by double ups, or it might be by referencing very compatible bloodlines again.

For example, as John Bradley points out in Modern Pacing Sire Lines, some of Good Time’s most successful sons and daughters had 3×3 crosses to Volomite (e.g. Race Time, Good Counsel) and others had 4×4 or similar double ups to Guy Axworthy who was Nedda Guy’s sire.

But I’d like to finish by returning to where this 3-part blog began – a salute to wonderful mother and daughter trotters, Nedda and Nedda Guy.  They had speed, determination, public affection, and even the ability to give punters a fright by making a slow getaway in a race…. Some things never change! For Nedda, born almost 100 years ago, to trot a mile in 1.581/4 is something to marvel at. What a sweetheart! What a trotter!

I was wondering what modern day mother-daughter combination has caught the trotting imagination like this? Petite Evander-Pride of Petite in New Zealand  immediately sprang to mind.

Any others you can think of? Comments please!

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Nedda Guy was one of Nedda’s five foals and by far the most significant. She inherited her mother’s speed and toughness – and her ability to win public admiration as well as races. She was the star of the 1931 trotting season until a career and life-threatening injury occured – but even that didn’t stop her.

Henry McLemore, writing a column in The Huntingon Daily News on August 18 1932 sums up her public affection nicely:

“The roar goes up when Nedda Guy won the first heat of the Shepherd Stake… “A game little filly,” someone explains. “She’d a won the Hambletonian last year but for injuries in the opening heat.”

There are several accounts of that 1931 Hambletonian, but The Milwaukee Journal of August 16, printed this report from Goshen, NY where the heats were held at W H Cane’s farm on a three-corned one-mile track:

“Nedda Guy, 3-year-old filly owned by W H Cane, which went lame during the running of the second heat of the Hambletonian Friday, probably never will start in another race. The little bay filly, which was pre-race favourite, is thought to have suffered a fractured pelvis bone during a warming up mile prior to the first heat….If Nedda Guy was injured before the start of the Hambletonian, her performance was remarkable. She finished fifth in the first heat and then staged a great stretch drive to land second place in the second heat back of Calumet Butler, which stepped the mile in 2.031/4.”

Nedda Guy was assisted off the track, but first had to be paraded in front of disbelieving favourite punters to show how lame she was.

The story has a happy ending, as reported in The Evening Independent the following year:

“When examination disclosed the fracture she was to suffer the usual fate of seriously injured racing horses, but Walter Cox gave her such excellent care that she is now in sound condition and an outstanding contender for honors in the four-year-old division.”

It’s as a broodmare that Nedda Guy is now remembered – one of her five foals was On Time (by Volomite) born in 1938 who was developed as a pacer. She went on to be the dam of fantastic race horse, sire and damsire Good Time, and thus appears in the pedigree of many top racehorses of both sexes and in many leading sires and broodmares. On Time produced not only Good Time, but a younger full sister Our Time who set a world record for 2yo fillies in 1948 and won over $50,000 that year. Our Time was ranked by Frank Irvin alongside Adios, Bret Hanover, Good Time and Good Counsel as the five best horses he had trained, and she pops up in some pedigrees as grandam of Whata Baron (himself a world champion racehorse).

Another of Nedda Guy’s daughters, Olympia (by Volomite), led to a less illustrious line but one that finishes with a flourish – as the bottom line of Big Towner’s pedigree – notice my old favourite Shadow Wave as the damsire, adding his contribution! Big Towner was a horse with tremendous speed who hardly ever raced on the big tracks where he could use it to full advantage.

Yet another of Nedda Guy’s foals by Volomite was Mighty Ned, born 1942, who appears to have been exported to Italy as a trotter where he won the Prix d’Amerique at 6 and 9 years old and was also second in that race at 7 years old (before having a career at stud).

At its best, this  line appears to really stamp progeny – small in stature (Nedda the “little mare”, Nedda Guy the “game little filly”, Good Time who notoriously started racing at 13.1 hands and ended it as a 14 hand sire) but with a big motor (heart), real speed and excellent gait. As a sire, Good Time often passed on those attributes, and the big heart (through his x line to his female foals) has helped him be such a positive factor in many modern bloodlines.

John Bradley’s book Modern Pacing Sire Lines has an excellent chapter on Good Time

Where did that big heart come from?

This is where Volomite comes in.

And Atlantic Express.

That’s what I’ll look at in the next blog – which is also about a thoroughbred mare called Esther.

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In my last few blogs I’ve been peeking into the future, looking at some of the new damsires appearing at the yearling sales. In the next few blogs I want to dive back almost 100 years and celebrate two exceptional trotters, a mother and daughter, and the damsire that added so much value to their pedigree.

As breeders and owners, we are delighted when our filly or mare takes a record of, say, 1.58 mile rate. Just going 2 minutes these days doesn’t really stand out from the crowd.

So imagine a trotting mare who went 1:591/4 in race conditions and 1.581/4 in a speed trial – 90 years ago.

Her name was Nedda, and she was an outstanding world champion trotting mare who took her record in 1922. This wasn’t a fluke – although in today’s standards her lifetime stake earnings of $12,294 look small, she won 23 of her 43 starts. Incredible!

Nedda is the great-grandam of the wonderful sire and broodmare sire Good Time, so you will find her in many pedigrees of top pacing sires wherever Good Time appears – including Most Happy Fella, No Nukes, Jate Lobell. Through a slightly different route, she’s also in the bottom line of Big Towner’s pedigree.

At Lexington on October 4 with Harry Fleming in the cart (trainer and driver for many of her races), Nedda lowered the world’s record for trotting mares to 1:581/4, which held good for 16 years until Rosalind reduced it to 1:563/4 in 1938.

A New York Times article of August 13 1922 indicates she was in great form that season:

“Sensational Trotter Will Make Speed Trial At Philadelphia Grand Circuit Races.
Nedda, the sensational trotter by Atlantic Express, that stepped to a mark of 1:591/4 last week over the Toledo track, will be one of the features in the Grand Circuit meet at the Belmont Driving Park here the coming week….”

About a month previously, at another Grand Circuit meeting in Toledo, she competed in three heats of The Maumee 2:05 Trot (value $2,620) winning the first heat and coming second in the others, but still pipped for the purse by a gelding called Peter Coley who won two of the three heats. The Lewiston Daily Sun of July 14 records:

“In the first heat, Nedda overtook the field at the quarter post after a bad start and pulled away for a length win…Nedda trotted a great race in the second heat after getting away fully four lengths behind the others at the flag. Peter Coley won by a nose from the fast stepping favourite but Nedda went the fastest mile of the year, separately timed, completing the circuit in 2.023/4. The little mare made the first half in 59 seconds, the fastest half of the year.”

If you think she sounds tough, just wait till you read about her daughter, Nedda Guy, in my next blog!

It is hard to find photos of these historic race horses unless they became sires. I’ve located one of Nedda on the front cover of a USA trotting magazine from the 1930s (appears to be her rather than daughter Nedda Guy) but cannot reproduce it at this stage – will do so later.

I’ll cover Nedda’s breeding record briefly in the next blog, but any photos or other Nedda anecdotes are welcome – searching the web on dial up is a little frustrating (visualise smiley face with gritted teeth..) 

A quirky footnote: Also at that same July 1922 meeting in Toledo where Nedda was competing in trotting heats, a pacing event was run over four heats. The third placed horse overall (with a 1st, 9th, 3rd and 3rd) was a black pacing entire called Abbedale, who of course went on to many great things including siring Hale Dale, one of the most important sires in our pacing history. You can never tell how things will turn out!

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Lot 140 Christchurch – Getting Closer, a filly from a McArdle mare bred to Courage Under Fire (Withdrawn)

Although withdrawn from the sales, this lot is worth discussing as it is only the second foal from a McArdle dam to show up in a yearling sales catalogue. (last year’s Lot 30 at Karaka was the first, and I’ll mention a bit about that at the end of the blog.)

In this instance, the McArdle dam is Roanne who was bred by Jack Smolenski from Laurent Perrier, and therefore a half sister to the top mare Lancome. Tony Barron bought Roanne at the 2007 yearling sales for $41,000 mainly as a potential broodmare investment. She’s part of Jack Smolenski’s Regal Guest family that regularly produces top performers from its branches, often the fillies showing up at group level.

At the time, the pedigree page shows Roanne’s half brothers The Phantom Guest and In Monaco as good performers but half sister Lancome was yet to start her wonderful career. Since then Laurent Perrier produced the talented Smo, also by Courage Under Fire. So in hindsight the purchase of a smallish McArdle filly in 2007 has turned out to be a very canny move.

Roanne was tried as a racehorse and showed some speed (taking a 1.59.2 winning mark, and 1.57.9 best placed time), but once the win was achieved Roanne was always going to be heading to a breeding career.

Tony Barron describes the choice of Courage Under Fire as Roanne’s first mating as “100% because of Lancome” – who is, of course, a Courage Under Fire mare. “At first I wondered about putting a smaller mare (Roanne) to a smaller sire (Courage Under Fire), but the result is a nice sized filly,” he says. “We bred the mare back to Courage Under Fire the next season and I was clear with PGG Wrightson that if the resulting foal was a colt, we would withdraw the filly from the sale.”

And that’s what has happened, and what Tony Barron describes as a very nice full brother (by Courage Under Fire from Roanne) born this season will be heading for the yearling sales next year.

McArdle has been a bit of a puzzle as a sire so far, and it seems a lot of his fillies need time (and that’s been the same with his colts too, in spite of a couple of precocious ones like Tintin In America).  

His own sire, Falcon Seelster, produced a handful of truly outstanding fillies in New Zealand – Coburg, Hot Shoe Shuffle, De Lovely spring to mind – but Falcon Seelster’s longer term reputation will be more for his colts, his overall quality and quantity of competitive foals and increasingly as a damsire.  (Already his damsire stats are equal to In The Pocket in terms of foals to winners). So it is quite possible McArdle will go the same way.

Having said that, there are some nice McArdle fillies like Elusive Chick showing up now, and that’s what McArdle really needs at this point in his siring career – a few more winners that go on to perform at the group level and excite us rather than just good overall percentages.  

There were only 7 McArdle fillies for sale in the 2007 yearling catalogue, 6 of them at Christchurch. Interestingly that $41,000 price that Tony Barron paid for Roanne that year was equalled by Lot 129 Zenardle (McArdle-Zenara), who was also from a longstanding good family founded on Zenover (grandam of Elsu and 4th dam of Tintin In America, so that filly had a strong Falcon Seelster/McArdle connection in terms of successful sires).

Zenardle had only one race start before embarking on her broodmare career, and she can claim the very first damsire credit for McArdle at the yearling sales. That was last year (2011) when a Bettor’s Delight filly from Zenardle was bought for $10,000 by Steve Clements of Brisbane Pastoral Company Ltd and is now an unraced 2yo in Australia.

So in both cases, these two McArdle mares (Roanne and Zenardle) were originally sold at the same yearling sales  in 2007 and for the same good price. They both come from strong old families that can produce top performers. They have both been put to quality proven sires, and both are smaller sires with reputations for speed and more chance of producing early types.

It will be interesting to follow them and their offspring  in the years to come.

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Continuing my look at some of the new damsires in the yearling sales catalogue for 2012:

Lot 14 and 101, Karaka – Courage Under Fire mares from same family, both bred to Jereme’s Jet

These yearling colts are bred by David Phillips – and he’s saved me investigating why by writing an extremely detailed advertisement in the Feb 9 Harness Weekly: “Jereme’s Jet: the Golden Cross”.

These are the only Courage Under Fire mares with yearlings in the catalogue this year, although there were three last year and I would expect more to start turning up in coming years.  If David Phillips is right, they will be lining up at the door of Jereme’s Jet! However I reckon Courage Under Fire mares will be well positioned to go to a range of quality sires.

The advert is typically idiosyncratic, but it is refreshing to see a breeder openly explaining to anyone who wants to read the small print exactly why he has bred along these lines. David lists “the wonderful reverse sex of Sampson Hanover…in mid pedigree, the fact that JJ and Vance Hanover (sire of dam of CUF) are from the same dam’s family; the relationship of Adios Butler and his sister, and Light Brigade and his sister; the reverse sexed Albatross; and more.”

Phew! On the catalogue page none of them show up – and that’s to do with the limitations of space because most of the double ups or brother/sister connections in the yearlings’ pedigree are 6 or more generations back. So I guess he’s saying that the nature of these double-genetic double-ups and the positions they are in will result in a higher likelihood of genetic excellence in the yearling colts, even though they are relatively far back in the current yearling’s pedigree.

I’m not a fan of double-ups for their own sake, but good on him for making a call on the Jereme’s Jet x Courage Under Fire cross and putting it out there in print for all to witness. It’s refreshing to see someone committing to that, and being very open about their breeding decisions. Whether we agree or not is up to us. Some buyers and trainers will ignore it and simply like Jereme’s Jet as a potential ‘early’ sire, and see a Courage Under Fire mare as adding potential “gait speed” and “heart” to the equation. Either way, the combination might work well.

I’ll be interested to see the colts themselves at the yearling sales auction. Jereme’s Jet is an exciting sire, with a slightly different twist on pedigree which is great,  and he is a very muscular horse.

What David Phillips doesn’t mention in the advert is the maternal family of both these mares – the genetic match is almost entirely about the Courage Under Fire aspect of their pedigree rather than their maternal family, i.e. the recent entrance of Courage into the mix which he has obviously done with purpose. Both mares were lightly raced and indicated some speed. It’s an interesting maternal line, coming from a full sister to Soky’s Atom (Jef’s Galleria). More recently there have been ups and downs getting Red Electric Moon in foal. It would be great to see Courage Under Fire and then Jereme’s Jet injecting a real revival into the family fortunes. 

 

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