Archive for July, 2012

There are many horses in modern day pedigrees that have become familiar names to us, and yet we’ve lost a connection with them as real racehorses who were stars in their day and who you could see perform live at your local racetrack.

In past blogs I’ve dug up newspaper reports from the 1920s and 1930s on the amazing mother and daughter trotters Nedda and Nedda Guy, who appear in the maternal line of many great sires.

I’d like to do the same with two great racetrack colts who were rivals in that the same era – Scotland and Spencer, who both went on to be very good sires and superb broodmare sires – a pivotal part of many maternal lines of top horses and sires of the modern era.

Scotland over Spencer mares became a popular cross, so these two horses turn up in many of the best trotting and pacing pedigrees including Direct Scooter, Albatross and Cambest (see footnote to this blog).

But hang on, I’m making them into “names in the pedigree” again!

Let’s find them as “heroes on the racetrack”. And to do that I want to take you back to the Hambletonian trot of 1928 as reported by Tom Gahagan in The Trotter and Pacer magazine 6 September 1928. Remember that this is time in pacing and trotting where horses raced in heats on the same day – usually two but often three and sometimes even four to find an overall winner.

In the first heat of the Hambletonian for 3yo trotters (described below), Spencer wins, Scotland is second. In the second heat, Spencer wins again, and Scotland seventh, tiring after a slow start and an amazing recovery. This was only the third Hambletonian raced, and it endures today as one of the highest staked prestigious races for 3yo trotters in America. (I strongly recommend the website of the Hambletonian Society, particularly the wonderful collection of photos in their gallery: http://www.hambletonian.org/gallery.php).

“Another Hambletonian stake, the third to be raced, has passed into history and the honors go to Spencer, owned and bred at Castleton by David M. Look and driven by the eastern reinsman William H. Leese. In a spectacular battle, the son of Lee Tide and Petrex vanquished a field of nine of the very best three year olds in the classic event at the New York State Fairgrounds track today (27 August) where nearly 30,000 people had assembled to witness the battle for a fortune and the racing honors of the season…..

“They fussed a lot in the scoring for the first heat…When the word was finally given Billy Leese shot Spencer across and took the pole in the turn, right in front of Scotland, while Otzinachson placed alongside the black, Gaylworthy and Guy Abbe next, Coburn with them while Red Aubrey had been shuffled well back. The clip was terrific, the quarter in 291/2 seconds, Scotland right in behind the leader for the first time in his race career, the black having heretofore refused to stand the flying dirt. The order was maintained up the back stretch, the half passed in 1:001/2 with Spencer leading, Scotland trailing him and Otzinachson pounding along on the outside. Around the upper turn they went and at the three-quarters the timers flashed 1:313/4. Otzinachson was by this time flying distress signals while Gaylworthy and Guy Abbe were moving up. Leese gave Spencer his head and he moved away, followed by Scotland. Midway of the homestretch it was seen that Spencer was trotting strong with a two-length lead and the question was only who would finish second. Spencer came breezing to the wire in 2:021/2 with Scotland under a drive beating Gaylworthy for the place, Coburn fourth, while Guy Abbe, breaking at the distance stand when trotting very fast, was fifth.”

Spencer after winning Hambletonian in 1928

Spencer after winning Hambletonian in 1928

For his efforts over the two heats, Spencer’s share of the stake was $40,549.71. Not a bad pay day.

Tom Gahagan describes Spencer as “..at least one of the greatest three-year-olds of which the turf has ever boasted.”

Although Scotland didn’t win the Hambletonian, in future five of his progeny would achieve that prize – including the wonderful Rosalind.

Two years later (1930) the same writer in the same magazine reported on Scotland’s attempt on the Syracause track record when he went under 2 minutes for the first time in his career, going on his own against the clock. It was a perfect day weather-wise and the course in record-breaking condition.

“Scotland, driven by Ben White, and paced by a runner with Gibson White as the pilot, trotted a beautiful mile. He was away from the wire fast, the quarter in 291/2 seconds, the half in :59, both quarters alike, then trotted the third in :293/4, making the three quarters in 1:283/4. The Pittsburgh stallion then had steam enough to come home in 301/2 seconds. The mile in 1:591/4 and he had joined his brother and sister, Highland Scott 1:591/4 and Rose Scott 1:593/4, in the two-minute list.”

The dam of all three was Roya McKinney (one of three wonderful sisters, but more on them another time). On the pedigree side, because I can’t resist, it’s also of interest to see Spencer’s dam is Petrex, who was a grand-daughter of Ethelwyn and so traces back to the x factor heart gene of Eclipse. See my blog on Nedda, who also traced back to this great Ethelwyn/Kathleen family).

Scotland as a 2yo

Scotland as a 2 year old in Tom Murphy’s stable. He took his 1:591/4 mark in Septemeber 1930 as a 5 year old, driven by Ben White. He was bred and owned by Henry Oliver.

Three of the runners in that 1928 Hambletonian (Spencer, Scotland and Guy Abbey) became highly regarded sires, and they can often be found combined as sires and damsires and grandsires in the pedigrees of  many top pedigrees. Hoot Mon, for example, has Scotland as his sire, and is from a Guy Abbey mare who has Spencer as her grandsire! Which goes to show the extended and successful siring careers these talented three year olds went on to achieve.

Footnote:  Just to jog your memory, Spencer was the sire of Spinster and therefore the damsire of half-sisters Lady Scotland (by Scotland) and The Old Maid (by Guy Abbey).  Lady Scotland was the dam of Harold J (damsire of Cambest) and Breath Of Spring (dam of Race Time and many subsequent credits). And Old Maid was the dam of Dancer Hanover, Thorpe Hanover and Bachelor Hanover (who stars in so many New Zealand pedigrees) – and what wonderful broodmare sires they all turned out to be!  Another excellent Scotland over a Spencer mare cross produced Emily Scott (dam of the very good trotting mare Emily’s Pride and grandam of the great trotting sire Noble Victory) and her full brother Spencer Scott (sire of Hoot Mon and Rodney) .
In New Zealand of course we had U Scott (with Scotland as his sire) and Light Brigade (with Spencer as his damsire) and what a contribution they made.

Photos in this blog are from the front covers of The Trotter and Pacer magazine of September 1928 and September 1930.


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Cam Fella 3×3

Kevin asked this question of me recently: “Could you give me your thoughts on 3 x 3 Cam Fella breeding lines, and which Grandam bloodlines would best suit this breeding.”

Well, I am definitely not a pedigree matching expert, and if the question relates to a specific mare then that involves a lot of different aspects like other influences in the pedigree, what type of mare she is physically and in temperament, and the attributes of her family, etc.

I’m not sure that I’ve got my head around the question, without actually seeing the pedigree set out. So I’ll just put down a few thoughts that keep it at a very general level i.e. what overall is Cam Fella adding to the mix, and what sort of crosses seem to bring out the best of his contribution?

In my very humble opinion, any pedigree with multiple doses of Cam Fella needs to keep getting speed inputs, at each generation. At 3 x 3 cross to Cam Fella, that is a lot of tough, courageous Cam Fella close up in the pedigree. Proven speed lines (like Direct Scooter/In The Pocket) or bloodlines that have injected speed when crossed with Cam Fella are what I would keep looking for.

I am presuming he would mainly be in 3×3 pedigrees through the male lines i.e. via his siring sons rather than as a damsire himself (which would be rare in this part of the world). So the dam would be a daughter of Armbro Operative, Presidential Ball, Fake Left etc, and on the male line it would be a sire who is the grandson of Cam Fella, perhaps Bettor’s Delight, Blissful Hall, DM Dilinger etc. That would get progeny with a 3 x 3 to Cam Fella. And then presumably it is a filly/mare that might be bred on from?

That’s a pedigree scenario which would be a lot more common in Australia than in New Zealand (see below for a recap on the different Cam Fella histories in each country), so again my knowledge is quite limited and my suggestions of a tentative and general nature.

What leaps out at me, looking at the pedigrees of many of the successful sons and grandsons of Cam Fella in Australia, is the presence of Albatross, Big Towner and Shadow Wave in the maternal lines. If you are looking for suitable grandams in potential sires, there are many that would offer the proven reputation of speed you need plus a dollop of those bloodlines. Doubling up on this blood is great – Albatross, Big Towner and Shadow Wave seem to thrive on multiple crosses of themselves and their own bloodlines. Art Major is an obvious sire who fits the bill in his maternal lines, Major In Art is another, Mach Three and Grinfromeartoear offer Shadow Wave. There will be much more choice in Australia of sires with these bloodlines.

Australia has a very different history of Cam Fella sires than New Zealand. In the mid 1990s in New Zealand we had three sons of Cam Fella standing as sires: Cameleon, Camtastic and Cam’s Trickster (who is a full brother to Cam’s Card Shark). None of them made any lasting impression, except amongst breeders and trainers that Cam Fella line horses didn’t leave speed and you have to wait for their strength to show too. Of course there were exceptions, but not many. Thus it has been a hard act for any Cam Fella sons to follow. In the early 2000s we got Presidential Ball, and we did have access to Armbro Operative in Australia sometimes. And both of these sires managed to shake off the Cam Fella association (I think it helped that they were named something other than Cam!) and leave horses that could run early as well as develop with age. Therefore we have far more Presidential Ball and Armbro Operative mares being retained to breed from. Later of course we have had Bettor’s Delight, as son of Cam’s Card Shark, and Lismara (still trying to gain a foothold), and the popular Washington VC, son of Presidential Ball. But Cam Fella’s line has had few representatives in New Zealand.

In Australia it was a different story, with numbers of siring sons of Cam Fella proving popular ( Aces and Sevens, Fake Left, Cambest, Armbro Operative and Presidential Ball) and a much larger number of  grandsons of Cam Fella taking part as well – Northern Luck, Brioso Hanover, Riverboat King, Blissful Hall, and others. Now there are great-grandsons of Cam Fella coming into the picture like Kenneth J (son of Bettor’s Delight).Camelot Hall etc.

Cam Fella was an outstanding performer and crowds loved his courage and tenacity. But his own maternal line was not outstanding, in fact it was very weak. Cam Fella has left a siring legacy that is getting better with time, rather like many of the Cam Fella line progeny.

Anyone else got thoughts on this?

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I’ve been following the interesting discussion on Race Cafe forum about the ‘freakish’ trotter Googoo Gaagaa who is from a moderately bred trotting family by a pacing stallion who was an okay racehorse but not a commercial sire.

Cross-breeding strikes us as unusual today, but it was common not all that long ago  in the days when the two specialised gaits were still being developed, and even more recently some good families have arisen from cross breeding.

Tar Heel, who is so common in our New Zealand breeding pool via In The Pocket and Holmes Hanover, has a trotting-bred dam (Leta Long who paced) and his damsire is the hugely influential and big hearted Volomite (who left about 50/50 pacing and trotting progeny).

Direct Scooter, whose sire line is becoming very influential in modern breeding, descends from Volomite and has a trotting damsire.

So In The Pocket (Direct Scooter-Leta Long-Tar Heel) has great trotting blood quite close up in a number of directions. And that puts it well and truly into many of our top family  bloodlines on the maternal and paternal lines.

The In The Pocket mare I breed from, Zenterfold, also has a trotting-bred grandam (Now And Zen whose sire was Chiola Hanover). The Zenover/Zenith family has left both pacing and trotting branches, and some of its descendant mares (like Now And Zen) can be bred to and produce both gaits. Some people have pointed to that trotting blood in Zenterfold’s pedigree as a possible ‘weak point’ in the mare’s genetic structure but I totally disagree. It is the quality of the genes that count.

It is interesting that when Zenover and her daughter Now and Zen were crossed with pacing sire New York Motoring, the result seem to have been the most successful branches of the family – Interchange from Zenover, and Zenola Star from Now And Zen.

So although the concept of crossing a trotting mare to a pacing sire comes across at first glance as a bit of a gamble, it is a path well trod in the not-so-distant past.

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I’ve finally got around to posting up the article I wrote prior to the 2012 New Zealand yearling sales in which I looked at damsire and grandamsire trends over the past 10 or more years. The article was originally published in Breeding Matters, the magazine of NZ Standardbred Breeders Assn. It is published as a page rather than a blog, so you can find it at the top of my home page or via this link

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