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I have no idea what the future plans are for Lazarus, and I am sure the very experienced owners and trainers have a few – but each step at a time will be the approach.

However as an outsider, I can put out one option right now – here is a potential successor down under to Bettor’s Delight with some hugely legit racing credentials.

The breeders were Studholme Bloodstock and Gavin Chin, and credit to them and the mare for producing such an outstanding racehorse.

It’s an American family right through with the bottom line, like with Raging Bull’s, arriving down here through an imported mare but in this case much further back in the line than Raging Bull’s. This means less chance of the line getting world-class damsires adding their bit along the way. However, that is mitigated by some good choice of sires and an absolute “nick” that appears to have occurred between the maternal line and Sokys Atom (a son of Albatross who did a wonderful job here) and a critical time when the family was starting to struggle.

This happened on the maternal line at the point of Tabella Beth (a mare by Able Bye Bye from a Great Evander mare called Double Tested). Perhaps the influence of Great Evander should also be credited for Double Tested’s ability to change the family fortunes – Double Tested’s full brother and sister by Great Evander were by far the best of their dam, although accumulators rather than top level, but it does signal some sort of “nick” although there is nothing I can pick out in the pedigree match itself.

Tabella Beth’s sire Able Bye Bye brings in absolutely top class breeding credentials. As I’ve written in my blog on Sweet Lou

Able Bye Bye’s pedigree was to die for. He was the son of Bye Bye Byrd (therefore grandson of Poplar Byrd) and his dam was Adioo Time (by Adios from On Time, who is a daughter of Volmite and the great mare Nedda Guy). Bye Bye Byrd’s dam is Adieu, the full sister to Adios.

Tabella Beth won 5 races here, took a mile record of 1.55.6 in North America, then returned to New Zealand for breeding, and she left nine winners – three inside 2 minutes.

And the subsequent “nick” of Tabella Beth with Soky’s Atom starts to really make your hairs stand on end. We are into some very classy breeding branches –  Sokys Sunday, Spirit Of Bethlehem (1.57.8, Southland Oaks), and Star Of Bethlehem, and of course their full brother Spirit Of Zeus (1.57.8, winner of the NZ Sires Stakes 3yo final and NZ Yearling Sales 3yo final).  All progeny of Tabella Beth and Soky’s Atom. In addition she left Karmic Reward (1.58.6, Kindergarten Stakes) by New York Motoring.

Each of her Soky’s Atom daughters have left an impressive legacy as broodmares, and now there are many branches. However top performers keep arriving with regularity – the likes of Starts And Stripes, Light And Sound, United We Stand, Victory Spirit, Nobium, Spiritual King, and many others, and more recently Spirit And Desire, Bettor Spirits, Star Of Dionysis, and of course Lazarus.

So while many early branches of this U307 river meandered and dried up, the branch of Double Tested has picked up momentum and through Tabella Beth has developed into  a damn good river of its own, thanks to much better quality breeding decisions along the way.

For Lazarus, the next two damsire inputs are Christian Cullen and then Bettor’s Delight, two of the best we have had in New Zealand in recent times. The closest duplication in Lazarus’ pedigree is 4×4 Albatross, which would make him an acceptable choice for many mares except those by Bettor’s Delight and Christian Cullen themselves.

So whatever more Lazarus does as a racehorse, with his breeding and the New Zealand Cup and Free For All under his belt, he already has underscored his potential to be an extremely popular sire of the future.

Raging Bull sire

Raging Bull as a racehorse, for trainer Cran Dalgety.

Keeping any siring line going over time is not easy. They bloom and fade, then bloom again. Dominance changes, and a sire line also needs a good compatible or outcross mare pool to work with, and vice versa. So there is a lot of genetic logic behind the changing fortunes of siring lines. What was likely 10 or 20 years ago – the growing dominance of the Artsplace sire line, the struggle to keep Direct Scooter’s line alive, several Western Hanover sons not living up to expectations…. has turned around to become a blossoming of the Direct Scooter sire line in both hemispheres, a big burst from Western Hanover thanks to Western Ideal, and Artsplace more or less relying on Art Major and his sons to keep that line going – but recent entrants Sportswriter and Sweet Lou could change that if Art Major doesn’t find a really strong son and heir soon.

Cam Fella has had huge success with his sons in North America, but Bettor’s Delight is the only real star sire as a grandson available here, and he has yet to find a really strong successor, the anointed son to carry on the Cam Fella siring line.  Ironically, it is a son of his brother Roll With Joe who may pick up that mantle – Racing Hill, recently retired to stud, has a pedigree to die for. Check out his maternal line on Classic Families here, so many influences and strengths to tap into!

What about the In The Pocket/Direct Scooter line downunder?

In New Zealand we have our own conundrum which I’ve blogged about before – the search for a sire to continue the highly successful In The Pocket line. With his super racehorses and well-bred sons Courage Under Fire, Changeover and Christian Cullen, there seemed to be every chance that at least a few successors would come from those sires and carry on the mahe in a commercial way. But it has proved much harder. Changeover is still a work in progress as a sire, and needs more topline sons who also happen to be colts to have a chance to carry on that branch. Courage Under Fire is so admired as a sire and damsire, and his only siring son Lanercost is a low cost option standing in Queensland, Australia. Lanercost was a super racehorse, especially as a 2, 3 and 4yo and has solid New Zealand breeding on his side but he will have the job of upgrading the small numbers of mares he is likely to get, so he needs luck. So the likely successor was always going to come from Christian Cullen with his super record as a sire and big numbers over many years, and generally having the pick of our mares. But it is never that easy.

Sons of Christian Cullen as sires to date

Many have been or are being tried, yet none have stood out yet and some, for fertility or poor response reasons, have been moved to small studs in Australia or simply dropped out of sight. His siring sons have included (with total NZ bred live foals to date in brackets) – Pay Me Christian (36), Charles Bronson (36), Christian Fire (24), Gotta Go Cullen (133), Tomahawk (38), Ohoka Arizona (209), Justa Tiger (56), Gotta Go Cullect (406), Raging Bull (40), Stunin Cullen (78), Alta Christiano (7 – but stands at Alabar Australia where he has 81 live foals). As I will cover in more detail below, Gotta Go Cullect has had the most opportunity, but couldn’t covert it to performers, and I believe he has retired from breeding. Ohoka Arizona has been solid, but again his performers (apart from a couple of exceptions) are one or two win horses. Alta Christiano did much of his racing in Australia and won the WA Derby, which explains his appeal there, as well as Fake Left, who stood very successfully in Australia, being his damsire. If he gets the numbers and some early runs on the board, he’s a possible heir – and I’ll look at him more closely in a later blog. I’m proud to say he was a yearling I picked out years ago for one of my yearling sales “virtual stables”, such a good looking horse.

Why Raging Bull is different

GalleriaRaging Bull stands at goStallions (Noel Kennard) in the South Island of New Zealand for $1500 + gst. I’ve blogged about him previously – and the two yearlings I covered in that article sold for $27,000 and $22,000 respectively. Where he differs from almost all other sons of Christian Cullen is that his maternal line is solidly North American, being from an Artplace mare San Sophia who is a full sister to the extraordinarily good mare Galleria. Galleria paced 1.49 back in the late 1990s, when that sort of record was incredible, and earned US$1.8million. The bottom line of this pedigree is not well known to us at a glance – it is the U6 family, which is actually the maternal family of Albatross, Nihilator, and more recently Pure Country amongst others. We probably know it best as the Margaret Parrish family. I’m familiar with it because it is the maternal family of the mare Sophie’s Choice that I leased a few years ago to breed to Tintin In America (lovely foal, now 2yo gelding with trainer Maurice McKendry).

It is one of those really solid families, consistent rather than spectacular – although of course you would have to use spectacular for those incredible descendants listed above! But with the Artsplace element coming into the picture, it becomes a very classy option. The Christian Cullen x Artsplace mare cross not only resulted in Raging Bull but also (NZ breds) 23 foals of racing age, for 17 qualifiers and 12 winners to date. That’s 50% winners to foals, which is very good.

What I’m about to say is controversial but it is worth thinking about.

Over many decades we have slowly been improving the quality and performance of New Zealand standardbreds by bringing in some of the best bloodlines from North America – as sires and sometimes as imported mares for breeding. Royden Lodge and many others were doing this right back in the 1950s and before that. That’s how our maternal families have injections of top quality from sires like Bachelor Hanover (a son of two pivotal individuals Nibble Hanover and The Old Maid) and of course U Scott and Light Brigade who is a brother to The Old Maid. The upgrading of our stock continues to the present, with top sires from around the globe now available, pacers and trotters, to match with our mares and therefore move into our maternal families.

Christian Cullen, Courage Under Fire and Changeover are all the result of a match with American bred In The Pocket and NZ bred mares who have had some input along the way of American bred sires feeding into their maternal pedigree as damsires. Courage Under Fire has Vance Hanover and Adios Butler, for example. Changeover has Vance Hanover, Tuft, Light Brigade and U Scott. And Christian Cullen has Bo Scots Blue Chip, Overtrick, Lumber Dream and U Scott all bringing American breeding into the maternal pedigree.

If the principle over all these years is to upgrade by bringing in currently globally top bred/performed sires for our local bred mares, why not do the reverse – bring in the currently globally great mares and damsires for our locally bred sires?

Importing in American bred mares is difficult to achieve logistically and financially – but it is done, and Raging Bull is an example. The result is that his pedigree is totally North American breeding apart from Christian Cullen’s maternal family (N1). It probably helped him as a racehorse, and now it gives him an edge as a sire too.

What this means is that Raging Bull has a lot more modern classic families to draw on to deal with the varying quality of mares he may get as a low-priced sire. And if breeders sent better quality mares to him with North American elements that work with his breeding, then that is even better.

For these reasons, he stands out to me as having some credentials that could make him a very successful sire – if only he gets the numbers and the quality. There are already some wellbred mares with his foals, including 2 or 3 that create a 3×3 to Artsplace in his pedigree. In my dreams, what a match he would be with the now 21 year old great broodmare Classic Blue Jeans! Or look at the potential match with a mare like Halley Parker! (Scroll down for this testmatching thanks to the goStallions website but it is reverse sex 3×3 to Artplace and reverse sex 4×4 to Direct Scooter.

Compared to Gotta Go Cullect

Let me look at  another son of Christian Cullen with US influences in his maternal line – Gotta Go Cullect. He had plenty of chances and sired some capable types, but overall he has not succeeded as a sire, let alone as the potential inheritor of the In The Pocket sire line. He was a lovely looking athletic horse, retired halfway through his 3yo season because of injury. He was promoted well by Alabar as the “breeders choice as Christian Cullen’s successor” but hindsight says No. However it was not a silly notion at all. He had a lot going for him. His maternal family is interesting – it is the US family of Norice (U30), although Norice was imported and raced here in New Zealand and Australia before being bred (mainly to imported American sires but not entirely – her great-granddaughter Single Star is by Nelson Derby, a son of Norice which make Single Star 2×3 to the mare).

The best performed descendants of Single Star are found in the branches of her two U Scott daughters Petra Star (leading to the Sakantula branch with Ermis, Iraklis, and also Monkey King amongst the many descendants) and Riviera – her descendants include Mach Alert, but mainly the performers are in the branch belonging to Ruling Caste, where you will find Lochaburn, Ruling VC, Anvilanunoit, Bellam (who became a trotting sire here), Brabham, amongst her descendants along with the tough great mare Elect To Live who of course is Gotta Go Cullect’s dam. There is one other branch of Single Star’s family that is worth a mention – that’s from her Dillon Hall daughter Starlet and her daughter Morano Star. The many descendents from branches of that family include Courage to Rule (by Courage Under Fire) and Star Nurse’s descendants including Starship, Ima Rocket Star, and Anvil’s Star.

So the maternal family is no slug at all. But although the maternal bottom line is American, the sires along the way have perhaps been lacking a real top quality sire in recent times – the last three for Gotta Go Cullect were Live Or Die, Lopez Hanover, Card Shark. While Raging Bull’s equivalents were Artsplace, Sherman Almahurst (questionable), and Striking Image (son of Strike Out who is a son of Golden Miss). Striking Image is the damsire of Lucky Lady, the dam of Camluck and grandam of Kikikatie amongst others.

And finally…

As blog readers know, I like exploring the “what ifs” but there are times when I put my money where my mouth is.

This is one such time, and I will be booking my mare The Blue Lotus to Raging Bull for this coming season. The match is unusual in that it is a reverse sex 3×3 to both Artsplace and In The Pocket, two very different but highest quality sires and damsires. It is a bold match, but I really like the balance of it and that there are other complementaries like Breath O Spring, Good Time and Race Time pulling threads together behind the scenes. There is also a duplication further back to Golden Miss via Blue Horizon and Striking Image, and her known love affair with Shadow Wave who is also in the mare’s maternal pedigree. As you know, the Blue Lotus is a full brother to Destination Moon who has now earned over $100,000 and a half sister to Tintin In America, so this is a strong family.

Going right back to one of the original articles I wrote which compared breeding to fairisle knitting (amongst other things), this is a jersey with a really bold two-colour scheme – perhaps red and black, but the pattern when you look closely is more complex than it seems, and there is a touch of white coming in to really highlight the other colours.

 

Potential mating of Raging Bull with Grinfromeartoear mare The Blue Lotus

Raging Bull x The Blue Lotus

Potential mating of Raging Bull with unraced Art Major mare Hallie Parker

Pedigree match Raging Bull x Hallie Parker

 

 

 

 

 

Time to think

Coming up soon – some updates on siring legacies down under, and other interesting observations…But right now, I’m full on with my day job and in the weekends I am topping paddocks and clearing chook runs, so give me a break if I don’t post anything up until next weekend.

Oh  I would love your comments/advice on this match – The Blue Lotus x Raging Bull. Lovely symmetry. I am very tempted. What do you think?

I’m working on a blog about (again) the trouble we are having getting a strong foothold down under for siring (sons of sires) versus having sensational broodmare sires.

 

I confess (lol) I’m not religious, but I was saying a little prayer for Father Frank coming around the home bend at the Cambridge workouts on Saturday (15 October 2016).

He had trailed nicely all the way around but was he going to fade out? He didn’t, driver Mark Johnson brought him out and he ran past and away from the nice Rev The Chev and David Butcher. Workout One: Won. (You count your blessings with Father Frank…)

Our Stretto family Father Frank

Father Frank (Real Desire x Gold Return)

Father Frank was a yearling (Real Desire x Gold Return) bred by the Yesbergs that I picked out and bid on at the 2014 Christchurch yearling sales. He went to Frank Cooney, who also liked his look a lot, and I ended up taking a quarter share. Fast forward a few preps and some racing, it was clear Father Frank needed time. The penny, as they say, had not dropped. He was a bit lost, he had issues. The four owners agreed to sell or lease, and eventually he ended up down here at Cambridge with Kym Kearns so I get to see him regularly and keep in close touch with his progress,

Kym is, like many hobby trainers, putting in huge hours before and after a full time job at Cambridge Library. I have nothing but admiration for her discipline and patience. As a trainer she has the advantage of being able to really “read” horses and get into their world. That’s a gift, and something she had from a very young age in spite of having no family background in horses.

So it is lovely to see the very early mornings, the attention to detail, the bonding with Father Frank coming to fruition in a horse that is gradually (as Frank Cooney guessed) getting some strength and confidence.  But boy, it takes time! Has he any real ability? Father Frank is a “work in progress” and who knows what will happen at the races. Kym likes to keep hopes up but expectations low. That way she can enjoy the progress being made. He’s a big, lanky Real Desire who is only just filling out a bit now. The penny still hasn’t dropped, but it might be hovering on the edge.

Out of interest, he is closely related to Missinmemate (by Grinfromeartoear) and Bettor Be Gold who picked up the Sires Stakes 2yo Silver for the Purdon/Rasmussen team in May this year. The connection is full sisters Return To Gold and Gold Return by the Australian based sire Armbro Operative, who are grand-daughters of (Our) Stretto, such a great lovely mare.

The circuit of Red Shores in Prince Edward Island is small – just Charlottetown and Summerside – but the history is long and the passion is deep. And it looks like a lovely place to visit, not just for the horse racing. As it says on the Red Shores website:

The Charlottetown Driving Park first opened it doors for standardbred harness racing October 2, 1889. It’s been an amazing journey that has touched every Island community over the years. Horse racing has been a major part of our island heritage. Visitors from around the world come to Prince Edward Island to experience an island tradition and visit the Kentucky of Canada.

I’ve put it on my “wish list” although I might have to sell a horse or two to get there! But looking at views of the racetracks and surrounding town and countryside, someone from Cambridge New Zealand would feel quite at home.

Here in New Zealand, I know about Red Shores thanks to one of our much loved mares, Driving The Dragon or “Sam” as we knew her – she ended up there in August this year (2016) after being exported in March the previous year and racing for trainers Carmen Auciello at Yonkers for 2 wins in the $10k race bracket, and briefly with Rene Allard and has now thrived under the care of Canadian trainer/driver Jason Hughes (“the Blue Knight stable”) to win 6 of her 7 races to date for him, 5 in a row, the other race being a third. Sure, these are low stakes races, but she also performed superbly for Hughes in the Atlantic Mares Final run at the oldest Canadian standardbred racetrack in Summerside, just week or so ago, for a stake of $15,000, and then backed up for another win at her home track in Charlottetown. In the Atlantic Mares Final she went out about 2nd favourite, from the widest post, powered around to take the lead and never gave the others a look in. Maybe a wee holiday next for the big girl?

Driving The Dragon N

Off the gate fast from a wide drawn, Driving The Dragon swooped around to lead.

Driving The Dragon

Comes home with a wet sail. Go Sam!

 

That was so “Sam-ish” for those of us who watched her string of 3 wins in a row down here in New Zealand – two at the tight Manawatu track and the last one at the galloping grass track in Wairarapa, which is wide and long.

So now I have found her race replays are on Red Shores website, we’ll be watching her races with a lot of pride and support – “Go Sam!” And wishing we were up close and personal to meet the Blue Knights team and give Sam a big hug. You never know. If you are reading this Jason, get in touch.

What a great year Bit Of A Legend N is having in North America. In April he won the Levy Final, then had a break late May and since winning a trial in early July he’s been highly consistent with two more wins and three seconds, mainly in $45,000 open handicaps at Yonkers. All in all, his North American winnings now total $610,950, which is almost exactly the same as his earnings down under before he was sold over there. So his total stakes are $1,270,636, and his record 1.51. As a 7yo, he still has another good season in him at least. That must rank him right up there with our most successful harness racing exports.

I was always a fan of his back here when Cran Dalgety trained him – a smallish horse with a big heart, and bred by Brian West from the family of Skipper’s Romance, who is a full sister to the very good racehorse and sire Nero. (And one of her sons is Seahawk Hanover who stood for many years in Australia.)

When I visited Brian in Christchurch back in 2013 I fell in love with a yearling filly from Bit Of A Legend’s half sister, A Legend. She was a dark, long bodied, leggy lass, with a tough nut head. The fact the filly was by Tintin In America, whom I bred, was another big plus of course. Read about that in a previous blog here. I bought a half share in her, and we named her Be A Legend.

She had a couple of preps and showed enough to keep us interested but was quite headstrong and needed a bit of time and patience. A year on, and after a long spell, she just wasn’t making much progress so we made a decision to change tack. I now have a racing lease with Craig (Spud) Crosse and we’ve brought her up to Arna Donnelly’s training stable in Cambridge.  She has thrived under Arna’s care, and over the last couple of months Arna has identified and improved quite a few issues she arrived with. I have to say the now 4yo mare is looking once again like the big, long bodied lovely individual I fell in love with three years ago! She’s also looking like a happy and settled horse, which is really important to me.

Be A Legend Oct 2016

Be A Legend at Arna Donnelly’s barn after the workouts last Saturday 8 October

Last Saturday was her second look at the Cambridge workouts and after playing up behind the mobile arm, she flew off wide from the gate and showed gate speed to get from last to first in the first 200m. She bowled along nicely in front, handed up and then trucked home well for second behind an impressive Art Major 3yo filly called Artanne. The time was nothing, but they came home the last 400m in 28.1. Arna says she is still “a work in progress” but if we can keep finding improvement in her she will hopefully make an enjoyable race horse – and later provide a super platform to breed from.

Be A Legend 2nd at workouts

Home straight at the Cambridge workouts 8 October 2016, with winner Artanne, followed by Be A Legend well ahead of the rest of the field.

In a previous blog I skated over the tricky territory of “golden crosses” and whether a nick between a sire and a maternal family endures through the sons of that sire.

I opted for: Unlikely but not impossible.

The reason is that although we know more about horse genetics, we still don’t understand fully what influences carried on X and Y chromosomes play the most important role in a progeny’s likelihood of having the attributes for success as a racehorse. (For example, not every tall boy or tall girl is programmed to be a potential basketball player.)

So when I got Lincoln Farms’ latest email newsletter, I was initially “Yes” and then “Really?” as I read it. Why? Because the first part is, in my view, sound. It points out correctly that:

Sir Lincoln is from the family of leading sire Fake Left and with Fake Left mares he will get desirable reverse sex crosses to both Cam Fella and Albatross as well as a double dose of Miss Exceptional.  Fake Left’s 2nd dam Miss Exceptional is a half- sister to the 5th dam of Sir Lincoln. The only NZ live foal out of a Fake Left mare (a filly) was sold for $30,000 to Aus as a 2yo.

It makes sense to me because you are breeding back into “the herd” which is usually defined by the maternal family.

However the next part of the newsletter used the argument that a lot of sire studs do, that this “family nick” should carry through to sons of Fake Left, i.e. they may nick well with mares from that same line:

All standardbreds cross well back to their own blood, so Sir Lincoln will cross well with mares by Fake Left and his sons Safari, Rollon Bigred and Robin Hood. This also gives a reverse sex cross to Cam Fella 4×3 (Fake Left mares) and 4×4 for Safari, Rollon Bigred and Robin Hood mares.

In fact, none of these “sons of” Fake Left come from Fake Left’s maternal line. So in a “herd” comparison, they are not breeding back to their own family. Fake Left’s family is U84 (immediate damsire family is Albatross which is U6). Safari’s maternal family is U308, and immediate damsire family is U18. Rollon Bigred is N7 and immediate damsire family is U19. Robin Hood is N146 and immediate damsire family is U2. I’m not a great analyst of the maternal families, but I do know just by tracing these maternal families that there is a lot of classy breeding coming from the maternal families of these sires and damsires along those bottom lines that a simple “son of Fake Left” doesn’t take into account.

In the wild, sons in a herd would inbreed (if allowed) to females that shared the same immediate maternal family. But often they are pushed away by the dominant stallion (whose maternal family may or may not be the same as his herd’s). They go somewhere else to try their luck, becoming (if they go far enough) outcross sires to another herd. Likewise some cheeky young pups from the house down the road come up and ask your daughters out. Battle with dad. End result, foals on the ground. Nature looks on the surface to be a sexist pig sometimes if you don’t realise how much the females are calling the shots.

I’m putting it crudely, although not as crudely as Donald Trump would have done (can’t stand the man), and with a totally different agenda. But I am trying to show that if we use terms like “cross well back into their own blood” for sires, just be aware that we still don’t understand how this fits together in terms of horse breeding, genetics and breeding for the strongest attributes. No matter how hard you promote the sires and sons of sires, the engine room of breeding is the maternal lines and how mares can or cannot convert a stallion’s input into the much bigger and longer term goal of keeping that family going.

The newsletter finishes with:

Other Stallions with blood from this family include Double Century,It Is I, Major Bronski, and For A Reason. Major Bronski, and For A Reason are out of Fake Left mares. Mares by Double Century  have a reverse sex crosses to both Miss Exceptional and Albatross 6×3 and 5×3 to Sir Lincoln and their daughters would be 6×4 and 5×4. It Is I mares also have a reverse sex cross 6×5 to Miss Exceptional.

In many of these pedigrees the connection is at least along a maternal line, the root family, but often not in a position that we know can be effective.

In summary, we are all finding our way in the dark, trying to work  out if connections matter or not. And generally going with them if they reinforce a preconceived idea or liking we have. That’s just being honest!

But as breeders, I think we do need to be aware that so-called pedigree hints from sire studs are more about selling their product than guiding your mare.

Deciding what might really work? That’s your job – and hers if you listen.

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