Posts Tagged ‘Camtastic’

I’ve been promising a blog on Betterthancheddar for a while. Here it is, with a cheesy twist.

The title of this blog comes from a very well known old advertisement for New Zealand’s Mainland cheese!  It’s a blast from my childhood – sorry I can’t resist sharing this with readers from around the world.

Like a good cheese, Betterthancheddar (Bettor’s Delight – Lady Ashlee Ann – Camtastic) took time. He is a result of his own unique conformation and attitude, his trainer’s ability and the foundation of his pedigree.

He started racing as a 3yo, improved even more as a 4yo and was retired injured as a 5yo when looking as if he would improve yet again. With a 3×3 to Cam Fella, many would say that time might well be his friend.

Apart from Kenneth J, he is the first really commercial son of Bettor’s Delight we have seen at stud “downunder”, or in North American yet.

This blog isn’t about that, however. It takes the focus off the Bettor’s Delight connection and puts it back onto the maternal strengths and overall family inheritance that produed Betterthancheddar.

What I see in his pedigree is the meeting of lovely maternal lines. It’s no guarantee that a champion will be produced, but it increases the odds of getting good horses more consistently, generation after generation. And in turn that increases the chances that some of them will be extra good.

So this blog isn’t about which of our mares might ‘click’ with him. It’s about the female strengths that surround him, looking back and looking forward at them as producers and performers.

I have covered two of the strong female influences in his pedigree before, so I won’t repeat those:

Lady Ashlee Ann with her recent Bettor's Delight foal. (Photo from Winbak Farm website)

Lady Ashlee Ann with her recent Bettor’s Delight foal, a full brother to Betterthancheddar. (Photo from Winbak Farm website)

In this current blog I want to look more closely at

  • Lady Ashlee Ann, the dam of Betterthancheddar
  • Lushkara, the dam of Camtastic
  • Camtastic as a broodmare sire.

I don’t have new insights. This is a gathering of background information.

Of  interest to New Zealand and Australian breeders is that Lady Ashlee Ann is a daughter of Camtastic, who stood here for several years without much success. More about Camtastic and his dam Lushkara further on.

Earlier this year Lady Ashlee Ann was inducted as a Hall of Fame Broodmare – and this is her record in the official citation:

LADY ASHLEE ANN (Broodmare) p,3,1:51.3 ($95,481) Bay Mare, 1993 (Camtastic – Preacher Edith – Adios Vic)

Sired by 1987 Pacer of the Year and two-time Breeders Crown champion Camtastic, pacer Lady Ashlee Ann was bred by A. J. Gross of Manhasset, New York and was foaled on June 14, 1993. Lady Ashlee Ann raced from 1995-1997 and compiled a record of 28-8-5-1 with earnings of $95,481. Her major career victories came in a division of the 1995 Debutante Stakes and the 1996 Tarport Hap.

The progeny that qualified Lady Ashlee Ann for the Hall of Fame are Breeders Crown, Ben Franklin, Cane Pace and American-National winner, world champion Betterthancheddar p,4,1:48f ($1,577,219) (sired by fellow 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Bettor’s Delight), Art Rooney Pace, Classic Series final and Tattersalls Pace winner Ashlee’s Big Guy p,6,1:50.4f ($978,168) (sired by fellow 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Life Sign) and Artist’s View p,5,1:49.4 ($788,811), sired by Hall of Fame Immortal Artsplace.

To date, Lady Ashlee Ann has produced four fillies and nine colts, with eleven racing and earnings of $3,806,878. She is currently performing her broodmare duties for her owners at Winbak Farm in Chesapeake City, Maryland.

So one of the first things that I see is that Betterthancheddar is no fluke. This is a family that is rock steady with performers including Lady Ashlee Ann herself.

Lady Ashlee Ann’s dam is Preacher Edith (by Adios Vic, a very fast racehorse, only so-so sire, but good broodmare sire) who herself won 11 races as a 3yo and 4yo and left 6 of her 15 foals in 1.57. Her grandam is Keystone Sophie (by Tar Heel) who won $57,829 and produced some good fast performers including two by Cam Fella. From there the maternal family traces back to Knightland, a daughter of Lydia Knight and therefore a half sister to sire Knight Dream. The maternal family of Badlands Hanover also traces directly to Lydia Knight. As the dam of Knight Dream, Lydia Knight pops up in a number of classy pedigrees of sires like Abercrombie and Most Happy Fella and mares like Three Diamonds and in New Zealand in the maternal line of  New York Motoring, and of course Knight Dream was the sire of Lumber Dream.

Lady Ashlee Ann’s half sister Edith’s Girl is the dam of Parson’s Den, who stood as a sire for many years in Western Australia with considerable success. And her son Ashlee’s Big Guy (by Life Sign) has had a siring role in Maine, it seems, after being one of those durable and successful horses racing and winning from 2yo to 8yo for just a tad under a million dollars stakes.

Here’s a really nice article by Steve Wolf posted on the Winbak website (link here, extract below) at the time of Lady Ashlee Ann’s induction into the Hall Of Fame middle of this year:

She was a good racehorse, sired by Camtastic from the Adios Vic mare, Preacher Edith. Lady Ashlee Ann took a record of 1:51.3 at age 3 and retired to the broodmare barn after her four-year-old season with career earnings of $95,481. She is also a full and half sister to eight winners, including five sub 1:56 pacers.
But it was who Lady Ashlee Ann foaled that has earned her induction into the Hall of Fame. She has had 13 foals of racing age, one is a two-year-old getting ready for his first start, but of the other 12 foals, only has not raced and from the other 11, well her breeding record is one that may never get beaten.
Let’s start with her first foal, BJ’s Squall in 1998. She took a record of 1:53.1 and earned $261,750; then came Ashlee’s Big Guy 1:50.4 and $978,168 in earnings, then three pacers that were just OK, but then Artist’s View 1:49.4 with earnings of $788,811 then three more raceway horses and then she dropped a bomb by the name of Betterthancheddar. He is only one of the best pacers currently in harness racing, has a record of 1:48 and earnings of $1.6 million which in all likelihood will surpass $2 million by year’s end.
“I bought her dam, Preacher Edith,” Thomson explained, “and she was in foal to Camtastic and when she foaled on June 15, I named the filly after my daughter Ashlee Ann. She was a small filly so instead of selling her I gave her to Joe Holloway to train and she barely covered her training and stakes costs as two-year-old. But at age three she improved but one day Joe called me and said that Lady Ashlee Ann got a spider bite and might die from it. Well, two weeks later she not only recovered but took her mark of 1:51.3. So I knew she was something special, we tried to get $100,000 in earnings on her card and then bred her. She has done us great as a broodmare.”
And just by chance, who might the sire be of Lady Ashlee Ann’s best foal, Betterthancheddar? Well it’s none other than the first half of Winbak Farm’s Daily Double induction into the Hall of Fame, Bettor’s Delight!
But Lady Ashlee Ann’s story does not end so fast as she just had a foal on May 9, a colt and it’s sired by none other than Bettor’s Delight…anyone want to start the bidding for this foal in two years?

And finally something about CAMTASTIC and his dam LUSHKARA

Lushkara was a good filly taking a 1.54 record at 3yo. As well as Camtastic, she is the dam of Lush Limbaugh and several other daughters who have gone on to be good producers. This pedigree for one of her descendants shows the family in some detail. It is a family where speed and durability are features.

Camtastic was a brilliant 2yo himself, but never left any speedy youngsters as a sire. He stood in New Zealand in the late 1990s and again in the early 2000s, with a year’s break in between which I can’t recall the reason for.

The best of his progeny were stayers, definitely not speedsters.  In my view (and I have a fondness for Camtastic, having owned a couple of his mares) he’s a sire that didn’t upgrade mares. But he didn’t downgrade them either.

Sometimes it is a matter of timing, too. Camtastic would probably have relished In The Pocket mares, with their fierce will and speed. He just missed the main bunch of them, they came a wee bit later when he was already seen as a less commercial for highly rated mares, but the three he got turned out well.

Over the years there have been some remarkably good horses (also mainly males and tough stayers) coming from Camtastic mares. Smoken Up is one of course, and (Mysta) Magical Mach another, but there are several who have proved good earners – and some of the sires who feature in those are Courage Under Fire (especially) and Christian Cullen who are both top sons of In The Pocket, Tinted Cloud (for Smoken Up) who is another son of In The Pocket, and Live Or Die (son of Die Laughing), who really seems to add that determination required to win.

North American stats for Camtastic as a damsire indicate he had a 100% (12/12) hit with Artiscape mares, but that match was tried only once here for no result.

What about Camtastic mares with Bettor’s Delight, the same cross as Betterthancheddar? The four or so Camtastic mares who have been to Bettor’s Delight here in New Zealand have not really performed well enough to indicate any special nick.

So a Camtastic broodmare mare with good breeding or perhaps more importantly some real ability herself could/can be matched to sires that will leave speed and toughness, and now and then you get a beauty. Overall, I don’t think Camtastic adds or detracts from Bettorthancheddar’s pedigree, and it’s hard to know if Lady Ashlee Ann’s family’s previous success with Cam Fella indicates anything except it is a family with underlying maternal speed that can cross well with sires that add strength and durability.

Of course Bettor’s Delight is a sire known for speed, and that was certainly the way to go for a Camtastic mare, no matter how fast she was herself.

I think it is mainly the mares who are calling the shots in Betterthancheddar’s pedigree, with help from Bettor’s Delight, a sire than can really stamp his ability and his own traits in a way that Camtastic (and probably most sires who attempt a siring career) could not achieve.

Betterthancheddar is standing at Alabar New Zealand at $4,500.

Lot 322 Premier Yearling Sale 2014, New Zealand
Just a wee footnote: A grand-daughter of Lushkara is Lucky Yankee, by Western Hanover out of Lush Limbaugh. It looks like Lucky Yankee was imported to New Zealand by Cavalla Bloodstock for breeding. She is now owned by Davinia Harrison who has Lot 322 a colt by Christian Cullen out of Lucy Yankee in the yearling sale in February 2014. And you can see her other foals here at HRNZ Info Horse – nothing much happening yet, but it will be interesting to see what develops over time.

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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.

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