Archive for July, 2013

Looking for ‘clicks’ in a new sire can be dangerous.  And even hindsight can be tricky with established sires. Mainly because we focus our analysis of the pedigrees on a sire’s top foals rather than say 20 of his average foals or perhaps his bottom 20 foals that never succeeded as racehorses.  It’s something I’d like to do one day.  Or if it has been done, i.e. a sort of “control group’ experiment, I’d be very interested to know about it.

But having said that, I’m going to focus on the pedigree of Shadow Play’s American winners in this blog.

Richard, one of my blog friends, has been conversing with me about Shadow Play. This is a sire that is making a bold debut in North America and has a pedigree that could match well with some of our mares.  I’ve been seriously considering him for my Grinfromeartoear mare, and Richard is doing the same for his Bettor’s Delight mare.

I’ve looked at the pedigrees of 17 of Shadow Play’s American winners to date. I haven’t done detailed analysis, just a quick look to see if there anything that stands out. (Note: Names and some additional information on these foals has been added to the bottom of this blog, 30 July)

Shadow Play

Shadow Play – looking for Shadow Wave

Two things stand out for me:

  1. Of those 17 winners,  6 have Artsplace has the damsire (another 3 have Artsplace as the grandamsire). And yet I’m not sure the volume of Artsplace “nicks” tells us too much yet, after all, the proportion of Artsplace mares available to a promising sire will be high and a high speed sire from the Western Hanover line would be flagged as a good match for those breeders who want that Artsplace/Western Hanover line cross.
  2. This is one of those sires/families that loves getting “more of the same” blood and specifically an uncanny amount of doubling up with No Nukes and Shadow Wave.

It’s that 2nd point of interest I want to focus on, because it is intriguing. While Shadow Wave is an influential sire, he’s not an especially common one. In commercial families he is present usually via No Nukes/Oil Burner or Big Towner, or in the best of the Golden Miss family.

But in the pedigrees of these 17 mares, Shadow Wave comes in from a range of directions.

The total number of times Shadow Wave appears in those 17 dams’ pedigrees is 22  23 times.

10 of those are via No Nukes.

That leaves another 13 Shadow Wave connections, 4 of which are via Big Towner.

All Shadow Wave’s credits except one are as a damsire.

In 7 of those 17 dams, Shadow Wave appears TWICE in their pedigrees.

And of course that’s not counting the fact he appears twice in Shadow Play’s own pedigree. So 7 of the 17 winning foals have Shadow Wave 4 times in the first 7 generations.

What makes this unusual is that Shadow Wave is not a sire like Meadow Skipper, Cam Fella, Albatross who had much larger numbers of foals and became sires of sires which means they appear quite often in these sorts of numbers in the pedigrees of horses.  Shadow Wave was not a ‘go to’ sire. He had a total of 524 foals over 14 years at stud, many of them in his last few years.  Just to compare, Meadow Skipper had 1267, Albatross 2642, Abercrombie 1816 and Bret Hanover (like Shadow Wave a son of Adios) had 1724 foals.  Artsplace must be close to 2000. Shadow Wave left very few sons who became sires, and none were particularly successful. So he is popping up almost entirely as a damsire.

Very interesting.

The pedigrees of these 17 Shadow Play foals are packed with goodies, certainly packed with the influence of Adios through two very different sons. Shadow Wave, like Bret Hanover and Adios himself, like having ‘their best blood returned to them’, as they say.  Shadow Play seems to be carrying on that tradition.

Those of you who know my blogs will recall that I sometimes use cooking as a way of describing my approach to breeding and pedigree analysis.

In terms of recipes, I see these Shadow Play foal pedigrees as a “chicken three ways” sort of dish or a dessert that uses white chocolate mousse, dark bitter chocolate base and grated chilli chocolate on top. Initially you sort of think “oh, way too much of a good thing.” Then you start to eat it and think “Yum”.

Shadow Play’s maternal line includes Warm Breeze (Bret Hanover-Touch Of Spring) which brings in Good Time-Breath O Spring and the classic Old Maid/Spinster/Scotland connections. So does No Nukes’s maternal lines through Tar Heel and Gogo Playtime.  Shadow Play will enjoy getting those influences returned from the mares he gets – .

It works both ways – those mares with No Nukes/Oil Burner/Shadow Wave/Adios in their pedigrees seem to love getting what Shadow Play offers.

And look at the great families Shadow Play is getting to play with:

  • Two of his progeny (Shadowbriand and Shark Festival) are out of mares who are from the wonderful Rodine Hanover family (both those mares are from the No Nukes mare Romanticize).
  • Arthur Blue Chip’s dam is a grand-daughter of Tarport Cheer.
  • Shadow Place’s great grandam Loving Proof is, I think, a full sister to Camtastic.
  • Play It Again Sam – that maternal family is one I mentioned in my last blog about the Meadowlands damsires – He’s from a daughter of Orchid Island, who is a full sister to Island Fantasy and a great producer.
  • Reasonable Force – the grandam Shady Katie is a half to the great mare Shady Daisy (by Falcon Seelster).
  • Of interest to NZ breeders, Book Babe’s greatgrandam is No Secrets (Oil Burner-Treachery) who is also the greatgrandam of Attorney General, who stands at stud here, and has a very talented 2yo filly Imhisdaughter (from an Artiscape mare) starting her racing career. Attorney General is a son of Falcon Seelster. Falcon Seelster is of course by Warm Breeze, who features in Shadow Play’s maternal pedigree. Falcon Seelster also appears as Imhisdaughter’s greatgrandam. Of course Imhisdaughter’s damsire Artiscape carries Shadow Wave through Happy Motoring.
  • That’s just some of them I can spot at a glance, I will have missed others.

It sure helps if a sire can get some well bred mares that bring something to the table – especially if they come with the goodies he likes.

All of the above makes me think again about whether I can resist the match with The Blue Lotus, as that pedigree would have some of the elements I see producing good results here.

I’ll look closely at that in my next blog soon, as well as some comments from Richard “across the ditch in Australia”, and a look at the very different overall broodmare pool that Shadow Play will be accessing in New Zealand and also in Australia.

Additional information/names

The 17 winning foals of Shadow Play I looked at are: Book Babe, Shadowbriand, Alibi Seelster, Shark Festival, Reasonable Force, Brookdale Shadow, Lady Shadow (grandam is by Dallas Almahurst, a full brother to Oil Burner), Play It Again Sam, Performing Art, Shadversary, Twin B Spy, Skippin By, Shadow Place, Courageous C, , Yoselin Seelster, Nefertiti Bluechip, and Arthur Blue Chip (the only one whose dam doesn’t carry any No Nukes/Oil Burner/Shadow Wave in her pedigree).

The damsires are: Artsplace (6, plus 3 as grandamsire), Cam’s Card Shark (3), Bettor’s Delight (1), Jate Lobell (1, plus 3 as a grandamsire), Armbro Operative, Camluck, Blissful Hall, Life sign, Intrepd Seelster, Abercrombie (all 1).

No Nukes and Big Towner appear 2 times as grandamsires.

Confessions of a Shadow Wave lover. Yes, it’s true, I love this old guy. And for good reason. Check out my blog about Shadow Wave and his influence as a damsire and in my own mare’s family.

Read Full Post »

Top sires usually become top damsires – and for a mix of reasons.  Often they have very well structured pedigrees and so can pass on quality genes from both their top and bottom lines. To be top racehorses, it’s likely that they have good conformation or exceptional gait which they can also pass on to their foals. Mostly they had access to greater numbers and better quality mares when they went to stud, so their daughters are also contributing some great genes to any future progeny. And if they were at the higher end of the price range as sires, it is more likely that their daughters were well cared for and commercial propositions as broodmares – and so the foals of those mares may have a better start in life and be by more commercial sires.

But this doesn’t mean a breeder should give up if their mare is by a less successful sire.

There are plenty of examples of top horses who have a damsire that is much less fashionable than Artsplace or In The Pocket or Christian Cullen.

And some names crop up consistently enough that they earn respect as a damsire that eluded them as a sire.

Out of interest, I checked through the damsires of the fields in the main pacing races on Meadowlands Pace day 2013.

  • In the New Jersey SS fillies final the damsires were: Direct Scooter, Western Hanover (2), Artsplace (2), Presidential Ball, No Nukes, Jenna’s Beach Boy, The Panderosa, and Camluck.
  • In the New Jersey SS colts and geldings final the damsires were: Western Ideal, Art Major, Artsplace (2), Red River Hanover, Western Hanover, Life Sign, Camluck, Arturo.
  • In the Free For All Pace the damsires were: Nobleland Sam, Apaches Fame, Falcon’s Future, Towner’s Big Guy, Artsplace (3), Camluck, Pacific Rocket.
  • And in the Meadlowlands Pace Final the damsires were: Jenna’s Beach Boy, Artsplace (2), Camluck, CamFella, Art Major, Allamerican Ingot, Western Ideal, Die Laughing, and Real Artist.

Generally there are no surprises. But from our New Zealand perspective it is interesting to see Jenna’s Beach Boy there. He didn’t get much chance at all as a sire here, and didn’t do a lot what the little chance he got. But he has had 12 NZ bred damsire winner credits from 30 foals of racing age so far, the best being Twist and Twirl, but also Auditor General and Charge Forward.

Pacific Rocket is another who has lovely breeding and was a great race horse, but got little traction as a sire in the USA or New Zealand. However he  is being fairly well tried as a damsire in New Zealand (many of his mares foals are not yet of racing age). At Meadlowlands he was the damsire of Up The Credit ($1.6m) WesternTerror-Cantbuymehappiness-Pacific Rocket. Cantbuymehappiness is a great producer of quality foals, so the success of Up The Credit lies as much with what this mare brings to the equation as it does with Western Terror.

Red River Hanover was pretty much a flop at stud, and yet from such a beautiful maternal family and by a great sire, it would not be a surprise to see him starting to show up as a damsire in future years. He currently has 33 damsire credits of 2yo or less in New Zealand, so has a reasonable chance that some of those will become winners. At the Meadlowland he was the damsire of Caviart Chase (came third) a Tell All colt who is the first foal out of Caviart Cimarron ( a mare from a good family and a full sister to a $200,000 plus winner by Red River Hanover).

My point is that if a sire comes from a good family and is well structured genetically, he can sometimes make more of a contribution as a damsire than he could ever do as a sire. If you follow the x factor “heart size carried on the x chromosone” theory, this makes a lot of sense as a sire’s big heart can only be carried through his daughters, not his sons.

It can also be a matter of timing. For example, Camtastic stood here at a time when he has little access to In The Pocket mares (only four Camtastic foals from In The Pocket mares) but he has been clicking well with sons of In the Pocket including Tinted Cloud (for Smoken Up), Courage Under Fire (Beyond The Silence, Choice Achiever, Rowan the Brave), Christian Cullen (Temudgin, Sloane Square, Alexander The Great), and many other successes by Direct Scooter line sires like Mach Three (Mysta Magical Mach, Weasel, Icarus).

Although Camtastic wasn’t represented in the top Meadowlands fields this year, he is the damsire of the top racehorse Bettorthancheddar, the son of Bettor’s Delight just announced as standing in the southern hemisphere at Alabar Farms.

As a son of champion sire Bettor’s Delight from the Camtastic mare Lady Ashlee Ann, Betterthancheddar boasts the rare distinction of having both his sire and his dam in the Hall Of Fame. Lady Ashlee Ann was voted into the USTA Broodmare Hall Of Fame earlier this year. From 12 foals of racing age she has produced 10 winners (all in 2:00), 8 in 1:55 and 2 with sub 1:50 records and combined earnings of over $3.9 million.

I’ve written about this before, re the sons of Life Sign and their disappointing performance at stud, but their potential as broodmare sires, including Island Fantasy (who incidentally is the full brother of Orchid Island, the dam of In The Clear, the Western Ideal gelding who came 2nd in the New Jersey SS Final 2013.)

It’s something I come back to now and again, partly to assure breeders that having a mare by a less commercial or unfashionable sire is not something to worry about, so long as the overall family has ability, the individual mare is a good type, and that you do your best to choose a sire that will work well with her. Many of these less fashionable damsires are building a reputation in their own right, and should not be discounted as a contributor to the engine room of a pedigree.

Read Full Post »

I’ve done a few blogs on and off about Tintin In America as a sire, and what might do well with him.

Now it’s time for me to put ‘my money where my mouth is’ and have a go at breeding to him myself.

Obviously my two mares breeding mares are not suitable – being his mum and his half sister! So I have been keeping an eye out for something that would be compatible and interesting in type and pedigree.

Sophie's Choice

Sophie’s Choice

I’ve been lucky to lease the mare Sophie’s Choice (Rustler Hanover-Mattalie Cole) from Lynda Mellsop.

She’s a 10yo mare with 3 wins to her name, no star but a nice type, and to0k a record (placed) of 1:57.8. She is a tall mare about 15.3h, but not heavy boned and has an attractive head. She’s had 3 live foals to date, by American Ideal (not raced), Art Major (2yo), and a weanling by Bettor’s Delight. After failing to get the mare in foal to Christian Cullen last season, Lynda decided to lease her out.

Sophie’s Choice was bred by N S Gibson and raced in the South Island for trainer Lance Hanrahan in 2006 and 2007 for 3 wins and 6 places from 18 starts, including wins at Forbury Park and Addington.

The obvious point of interest for a match with Tintin In America is that the dam Sophie’s Choice (Mattalie Cole by Matt’s Scooter) is a half-sister to Nihilator, who is McArdle’s damsire and in my view was influential in the type of horse Tintin turned out to be. This is expressed as a 5 x 3 to Margie’s Melody. This family on the bottom maternal line is really hard to find in New Zealand.

A foal by Tintin In America would also be 4x4x4 to Direct Scooter. I am looking to inject a bit of speed into the mare, so I see that as an advantage, and all these threads of Direct Scooter come from via different routes.

There is also the lovely Golden Miss line coming from Rustler Hanover, who is a son of the great producer Rich N Elegant. The  match of Shadow Wave and Golden Miss produced Shifting Sands, who left three remarkable fillies – Proven Perfect (the dam of Rich N Elegant), Whispering Sands (Real Desire’s and Safely Kept’s great-grandam), and Shifting Scene (whose daughter Blue Horizon is the dam of Panorama, grandam of Grinfromeartoear and for that reason appears twice in the pedigree of new sire on the block Smiling Shard). And Shadow Wave is another element I believe is influential in Tintin In America’s make-up.

So overall it is a nicely balanced and interesting pedigree match, and a type of mare that should complement Tintin well.

We have a long way to go – first step is to get her in foal. In this game, you never take things for granted!  I’ll follow progress on this blog.

6 generations tintin x sophies choice pedigree match Tesio

Read Full Post »

This heading is a bit of a teaser, because it is so easy to associate the word “positives” with not-so-positive news about drug administration etc in racing.

But those who follow my blog know that I’m more interested in promoting and advocating positive changes/ideas in harness racing.

So here’s a tip o’ the hat to a couple of very good initiatives I’ve come across lately, all well promoted and discussed elsewhere….but refreshing to see people thinking outside a small square.

Tip o’ the hat to:

  • Tim and Anthony Butt for importing some Scandanavian trotters for racing – and perhaps a siring career in the long run? The Butts’ love of mature trotters is well documented. There is a growing awareness amongst breeders of the need to build in European stamina  and gait as well as the North American speed factor to give our trotters a better commercial foothold in New Zealand racing. This sort of initiative is risky but exciting, but it is an example of trotting having an eye for opportunity – the Great Southern Star is another example, and what a success that new concept was!
  • Lincoln Farms for a ownership concept that guarantees you will experience the thrill of winning. I love the passion in this proposal, to carry on a legacy and make it even better. Also note that harness racing and thoroughbred racing are brought under one roof, without any need to establish a pecking order or have harness racing as the ‘tack on’.  Here’s hoping owners will move across both codes, or be part of syndicates that might own a horse from each code and find excitement in both.
  • The amalgamation plan for clubs that race at Alexandra Park – just a proposal at this stage, but in a couple of days a special general meeting of the Auckland Trotting Club will vote on whether to change its name to Alexandra Park Inc. That signals a much wider and more important change being proposed – to bring together the four other tenant clubs and combine resources for the benefit of northern harness racing.

There are no guarantees that these initiatives will be a raging success – but they show a determination to invest in the future harness racing.


Update: Results of ATC special general meeting – a hedged bet, sort of half acceptance with provisos, which may be good caution but may also just be reluctance to grasp the nettle. However that’s the first step taken – good on them for going forward at least.

Read Full Post »

Destination Moon's first win - with owner Kerry Hoggard and driver Josh Dickie at Alexander park. Photo courtesy Trish Dunell

Destination Moon’s first win – with owner Kerry Hoggard and driver Josh Dickie at Alexander Park. Photo courtesy Trish Dunell

Four starts, for 1 win and 1 place, and racing mainly against older and more experienced horses – very nice debut. The second was to Freespin who went on to win the Thames Cup!

Bad news – “Duncan” is now out with a hairline fracture of his pastern, probably 3 months. So will miss the 2yo Sires Stakes. Darn! (UPDATE as at 30 August 2013 – it appears the injury may not be a hairline fracture after all, and he could be back in work earlier than expected).

Good news – Owner Kerry Hoggard and trainer Steven Reid are positive about full recovery, injury is not uncommon and heals well, especially in young horses. Steven says the time out will allow him time to grow and strengthen up. He likes him a lot and says he has ability to be up with the best of the 3yos when he comes back in.

Destination Moon is a 2yo colt I bred by Grinfromeartoear from Zenterfold more information here and here

Read Full Post »

Harvey tweeted this question: “Got a conundrum for you. Bettor’s Delight=great stallion. Falcon Seelster=great broodmare sire. In USA, Falcon Seelster mares have crossed exceptionally well with Bettor’s Delight. In Aust/NZ, the cross has been very average. Why do you think this is so?”

I don’t want to approach this like a train spotter. More a helicopter view of the railway network. I don’t have a nice clean answer.

Comparing stats from different hemispheres or even countries can be tricky. Just as tricky as comparing horses from different eras.

Bettor's Delight at Woodlands Stud NZ

Bettor’s Delight at Woodlands Stud in New Zealand

The latest USTA stats I’ve got indicate Bettor’s Delight x Falcon Seelster mares has delivered 22 foals of racing age, all have started, 21 have won, and half of them have won $100,000 plus. Those are amazing statistics.

Therefore it seems a big drop down to find, via the HRNZ current statistics on Info Horse, that Bettor’s Delight’s foals 2yo and older out of Falcon Seelster mares have numbered 51, for 20 winners to date. Which is a foals to winners percentage of 39%. Sorry haven’t had time to check the Australian equivalents.

Using the latest published Crosses of Gold stats on the NZSBA website (at end of 2011/12 season) the stats are 43 foals of racing age, 17 starters (39%), 13 winners (30%), and 1 (2%) winning $50,000 plus. Compare that to Falcon Seelster’s stats as a broodmare sire for all sires – 49% starters and 35% winners.  And Bettor’s Delights stats as a sire with all broodmare sires – 47% starters and 33% winners.

When figures from North America and Australasia get so far out of alignment, I would look to three possible reasons:

  1. The different types of racing which may skew results e.g. less emphasis here on 2yo racing, different types of tracks and distances, etc etc.
  2. Different genetic pool. Even though the sire and damsire are the same, it ignores the very different genetic maternal lines an grandamsire lines that we have in New Zealand, and different again in Australia. These may have as much influence on the success of a pedigree match as the more obvious sire/damsire cross.
  3. The statistics themselves – are we comparing apples with apples? How are the stats compiled and what are they saying?

I don’t know the answer to the conundrum, if there is one. I’m not so sure that the statistics for Australia and New Zealand are that bad, just average so far, remembering that Bettor’s Delight has some big crops still to move through the 2-5 yo age groups. It seems more to me that the US stats are remarkably good. And not just for Falcon Seelster as a damsire. Looking down the list of other damsires Bettor’s Delight has crossed with in America, starter percentages are mainly in the 80-100% and winner percentages in the 70-100% range. These would be extraordinarily rare in New Zealand.

Let’s look at some of our other top or enduring sires:

  • Live Or Die for example comes up with 51% starters to foals and 36% winners to foals. (56% and 43% with Falcon Seelster as a damsire)
  • Mach Three at 51% and 38% (46% and 32% with Falcon Seelster as a damsire)
  • Christian Cullen shone at 67% and 50% (70% and 56% with Falcon Seelster as a damsire)

So even where Falcon Seelster mares really seems to have clicked with a top sire, the percentages for starters/foals and winners/foals is much lower than commonly seen in the USTA statistics.

Let’s have a look at another 100% USTA statistic for Bettor’s Delight – Beach Towel as a damsire – 11 foals, 11 starters, 11 winners. But in New Zealand? The stats so far for that cross are 50% and 40% – 10 foals for 5 starters and 4 winners. Other 100% US winner crosses with Bettor’s Delight are Laag, Goalie Jeff, Presidential Ball, On The Road Again and Sonsam. In The Pocket has 100% starters as a damsire for Bettor’s Delight in the USTA stats, but only only 47% here in NZ – and yet is regarded as a potent cross here. It certainly rates well compared to our average ratios – but compared to what is “a cross of gold” in the US, we are far behind.

What makes the US stats so much higher? That’s the puzzle I have buzzing around in my Bee brain.

I don’t think the answer lies with Bettor’s Delight and Falcon Seelster. I don’t think the conundrum is unique to that cross.

There’s the a conundrum that crossing a great sire with a great damsire will not necessarily be the most compatible match. But that still doesn’t explain the difference in statistics between the hemispheres.

So the question for me is more: How come US achieves such high starters/winners to foals statistics?

I’d like to throw the original conundrum and also my own question out to readers for some wider responses and insights.

What answers do you have?

(Use the Respond/comments facility at the bottom of each blog to add your views, or you can email me direct at bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz and I’ll collate some replies and add to the blog.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: