Posts Tagged ‘Shadow Play’

As you know, my mantra is “think b4 breeding”, hence the name of the blog as well as being my name Bee.

A lot of the magic of breeding and the challenges is to turn your thoughtfulness into a product that becomes what you wanted – or in some cases, not what you expected but a good result. For example, you may have bred for early speed, got a foal that turned into a “work in progress” but later went on to become a really good and fast aged horse. That’s not what you expected, but the underlying factors came through in the end.

So we are always trying to work with mother nature and our own knowledge and intuition, but there are no guarantees. Not even following a recipe is a sure signpost to success, because with horses both genetic and environmental factors create so many variables. More so than baking a cake. But I do think the analogy is useful because with cooking and with breeding, it is really hard to know from the outside what are important factors. Who would have said tiny quantities of salt and baking powder or chilli and garlic, for example, would transform a dish? And yet we know they can and do.

I’m right at the point (again) where a concept becomes reality – a breeding match on Tesio or wherever becomes a real living (if all goes well) foal on the ground. And after that, there is such a long, long road to negotiate successfully. But at least, there is a start and a reality rather than just a dream.

The Blue Lotus

The Blue Lotus with her Shadow Play filly foal

For me, today, it was a visit to Alabar NZ at Waiau Pa near Auckland, New Zealand.

This is the result of my breeding The Blue Lotus (Grinfromeartoear x Zenterfold) to Shadow Play, the second time I have gone for this particular match. The first is now a 2yo renamed as Blackened who last I heard was having time out after a very positive start in education. The new owner in Australia loves him, and his trainer is positive so far and is paying up for the 2yo races on what they see.

That’s one reason I was pleased to find today a very similar type of foal – sharp, energetic, streamlined. She reminds me a lot of the colt, who just loved to move and play and run. What will this filly turn into, well, who knows. It could be – like her Shadow Play relative over in America right now, Lady Shadow – a fantastic strong stayer. Judging by those long, long legs, she may take time to grow into her full size! But I won’t be setting any goals for her just yet. I’m so pleased to see her on the ground, looking lovely and long legged, and my mare all glowing with pride.

Step One is healthy foal on the ground, and a mare that is doing a fantastic job as mum.

Thanks to Alabar NZ, always a great team to deal with.

The Blue Lotus with her Shadow Play filly

The Blue Lotus with her Shadow Play filly

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In my blog post back in July 2013 I looked at the 17 Shadow Play winning performers in North America, about halfway through their 2yo season, and what their pedigree might tell us about possible golden crosses.

Those North American Shadow Play horses were: Book Babe, Shadowbriand, Alibi Seelster, Shark Festival, Reasonable Force, Brookdale Shadow, Lady Shadow, 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).

Out of interest, how have those horses tracked in the past few seasons? I’ll follow the same order as above, which I think was pretty random or may have been their rating on earnings at that stage – to be honest, I don’t recall.

Lifetime earnings as at 10 August 2016 (half way through their 5yo season or some have retired earlier)
  • Book Babe (mare) $33,250
  • Shadowbriand (gelding) $221,574
  • Alibi Seelster (mare) $269,878
  • Shark Festival (mare) $88,316
  • Reasonable Force (gelding) $135,837
  • Brookdale Shadow (mare) $244,203
  • Lady Shadow (mare) $1,161,012
  • Play It Again Sam (gelding) $318,979
  • Performing Art (mare) $224,853
  • Shadversary (gelding) $3,840
  • Twin B Spy (gelding) $147,686
  • Skippin By (mare) $607,879
  • Shadow Place (gelding) $139,945
  • Courageous C (gelding) $6,787
  •  Yoselin Seelster (mare) $105,508
  • Nefertiti Bluechip (mare) $299,840
  • Arthur Bluechip (colt) $524,707

I haven’t included their best times or race details, this is just an indicative account.

As a sire of horses that can show up but go on to improve, Shadow Play is interestingto follow. His pedigree shouts out to me, so I am not surprised by him proving longer term success rather than short-term 2yo brilliance. So many other factors come into it, of course, but as breeders we need to lay the potential, the springboard.

Shadow Play can add a lot of genetic value to the right mare. He may or may not be given a chance in New Zealand, but he is getting a reasonable chance in North America and Australia. And the list above shows how it can pay off.

Your own thoughts always welcome.

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Shadow Play has left a beauty in the North American mare Lady Shadow. She started her career as a 2yo and 3yo going through the lucrative Ontario Sires Stakes programme and achieving over US$154,000 in each of those years. She stepped up again in her 4yo season, winning 5 of her 14 races and earning $360,862, and then has stepped up yet again as a 5yo to win some of the classic mares races this season including the Roses R Red, the Golden Girls in world record time (a performance worth watching), and a week ago the Lady Liberty on Hambletonian Day. Lady Shadow was bred by Winbak Farm, Chesapeake, and owners are David Kryway, Carl Atley and Edwin Gold. Her total earnings are now $1,312,162. What a mare!

Lady Shadow

Lady Shadow wins the Lady Liberty on Hambletonian Day 2016

Lady Shadow was one of the early 2yo Shadow Play winners I looked at back in a blog in July 2013 “Shadow Play – what can winners tells is?”  In my next blog I’ll catch up on how all those youngsters turned out to date.

What intrigued me then was the reoccurring double up of No Nukes/Oil Burner/Most Happy Fella, and Shadow Wave (who is the damsire of No Nukes, but appeared in many of these young horses pedigrees from a wide range of other sources as well.)

Lady Shadow’s grandam sire is Dallas Almahurst, a full brother to No Nukes Oil Burner. And interestingly, her maternal family (U3, Mambrino Beauty/Nervolo Belle) is the same as Shadow Play’s. It is a maternal family that in the modern day includes heaps of top trotters such as Garland Lobell, Muscle Hill and Donato Hanover, and locally the very good filly High Gait. On the pacing side, as well as Shadow Play some top North American racehorses like JK Endofanera and his sister JK Shezalady, Bar Hopping (a finalist in the 2016 Hambletonian), and Jereme’s Jet – among many, many others. The family sprawls wide in both gaits but keeps pinging up horses of great quality over many generations.

That said, the U3 family doesn’t pop up in Shadow Play’s other top progeny to date.

Those sires I’ve mentioned as positive double ups in his successful progeny are all from different maternal families – Shadow Play is from U105. No Nukes is from U4 (Jessie Pepper) family, his sire Oil Burner from U12, and his sire Most Happy Fella is from U28.

Of course No Nukes, Oil Burner and Most Happy Fella all appear in direct succession in Shadow Play’s siring line.

It is interesting always to find some common elements. I have no idea really why these sires/damsires in a pedigree seem to really suit Shadow Play.  It could be coincidence, or not. It could be the balancing of elements in a sire’s siring line and in mare’s maternal line – a “delta” effect of strong influences coming together from top and bottom.

Of equal importance is the quality of the recent family, and Shadow Play has had some solid mares to play with. Lady Shadow’s dam is a Camluck mare called Lady Camella who earned $203,022 and went 1.51.4. Lady Shadow is the 9th foal from her dam, who has also produced some nice racehorses, appearing to be types that get better as they go on. Her 2002 foal by Western Hanover was Lady Meghan O who won $424,000 and went 1.50.4. Another daughter born 2004 was Pure Movement by Artiscape who won $113,578. Both of these are now breeding on. Overall she has had 12 foals to date, 8 to race, and the best performers are her mares. Lady Shadow has a 2014 full sister called Lady Lynnly.

My personal investment

I’ve bred my Grinfromeartoear mare The Blue Lotus to Shadow Play twice. That cross brings two doses of Shadow Wave into the equation, plus Breath O Spring through a different offspring, and with New York Motoring a similar cross to Oil Burner – Most Happy Fella over a Shadow Wave mare. All in accessible places of the pedigrees.

My first result from that cross is the now 2yo colt sold at the yearling sales in February as The Snow Leopard, and renamed Blackened (after a Metallica song) by his new owner in Australia Domenic Martello.

The 2yo sold for $20,000 and  was broken in and worked for 7 weeks here by Logan Hollis who found him to be a natural. Domenic Martello has kindly kept me posted of his progress since he was moved to Australia, where he is being trained by Geoff Webster at Bannockburn. Reports are all good at this stage – a good attitude and a nice gait, and he’s paid up for Bathurst in case he turns out to have enough as a 2yo.

The mare is now back in foal to Shadow Play, after having a filly by A Rocknroll Dance. ‘

I wouldn’t mind a Shadow Play filly at all!

Delighted to receive this video of Blackened in training in Australia.



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Sorry about the lack of blogging – still coming up to speed from being unwell.

The Australian yearling sales have started, and here in New Zealand we have only a couple more weeks before the Australasian Classic at Karaka (22 February) and the Premier at Christchurch (23 and 24 February).

This is a pressure time for all preparers, but to be honest if the ground work hasn’t been done then it is too late to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. The canny buyers, usually trainers, will be focused on the underlying quality of the yearling, its conformation and pedigree, and what they see in their mind’s eye it will be like in another year or so. Those are not things you can turn around in the last two weeks.

Isa Lodge (the name Kym Kearns and I go under for our breeding) has two fillies and a colt headed to Karaka. All three have been raised at our home base, and it has been a pleasure to watch them develop. As always, Kym has done the hard yards of the preparation, and the horses reflect her skills and dedication. We are really pleased with them.

Lot 100 is a Shadow Play colt with heaps of character from my lovely mare The Blue Lotus. I love this colt. He is very sociable. He entertains himself with made up games, he’s intelligent and he can’t wait to have something more to do. He has a real zest for life, and my guess is that he’ll love racing. And that’s half the battle.

Lot 133 is a Rock N Roll Heaven filly from my top mare Zenterfold, so she is a half-sister to Tintin In America. This is the only filly from Zenterfold that has been offered at the yearling sales – she is genuinely for sale – and I think she’s a really nice racing proposition as well as having longer term broodmare value. She’s built like a brick sh**house, and has really quick reflexes. Very typical of the good Heaven fillies I’ve seen on the track, and potentially an early type.

Lot 115 is a Majestic Son filly from Kym’s mare Toggle. She’s an incredible yearling, lovely temperament, inquisitive, takes everything in stride. She’s a showy type in terms of looks, with a dark mane and a blonde tail. She seems a very professional youngster, well grounded, sensible. She’s got a really good trotting family behind her, and Majestic Son has given her a nice length and more height than her dam.

With the demise of the Harness Weekly, we’ve done almost no advertising this year – we feel many of the publications come out after the key buyers have long-listed and even inspected their preferred yearlings. We’ve focused more on having a good product ready to be inspected, hands-on, when buyers and trainers wanted to see them. We were delighted that PGG Wrightson again allowed smaller breeders in the Cambridge area to be part of the “buyers bus tour” of the major preparers/vendors in the Waikato area, by adding the Cambridge Trotting Track as a tour stop for presentation and inspection.  Almost all the top trainers were on that “bus tour”, and our lots did us proud.

Below are the posters we have developed for the yearling sale day promotions.

The Snow Leopard yearling pacer

The Shooting Star yearling pacer

Out Of The Box yearling trotter

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Listening, reading, looking and thinking is the best route to finding a good match for your mare. Mulling is essential.

My own decision making this year has been slower than ever before. I’ve not felt really sure of my decisions until relatively late in the piece for me. But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process.

In parallel I’ve been investigating some options (mares and sires) for those of you who ask for some help or advice. It’s free by the way. That process is also helpful for me, as it teaches me about families I might not know otherwise, and it opens my eyes to some alternatives that surprise even me.

I found myself the other week suggesting two pacing sires for a mare from an immediate trotting background! But anecdotal evidence and family investigation opened up some questions that I had to really think hard to answer. All I hope is that some of my research and ideas keep your minds open and active when looking at breeding options, whatever your final decision is.

We need to be curious, agile and sometimes adventurous to find the gold nuggets we are looking for.

I push myself to go outside my instinctive likes or dislikes, or what is top commercial crossed with what is top commercial. I look for things that hang together well, from different directions on the pedigree but particularly what strengths and clicks there might be on the maternal lines of the mare and the sire.

The process for me is to work through to a short-list of potential matches, print them out (from the basic stud TesioMatching report) and leave them floating around – at the breakfast bar, on my bedside table, at my desk, folded up in my work lunch bag…whatever it takes to have them around where I can just relax, mull them over, and get a feel for them. Part of that is knowing (or reminding myself as I don’t have a photographic memory) what happens in the next few generations beyond.

This is a process that stands me in good stead. It gives me a sense of the overall balance of a pedigree match as well as the time to investigate detail if something looks interesting. Its a mix of Sherlock Holmes with Vincent van Gogh and a few vinos in between lol.

This year I am breeding only two mares – The Blue Lotus and Dreamy Romance. That is mainly a financial call, as I have opted in the last couple of years to breed or buy a share in several foals that are not aimed at the yearling sales. So I need to be prepared for the costs of raising, training and hopefully racing those foals. It is just a different emphasis for me for a few years.

The Blue Lotus with the Snow Leopard

The Blue Lotus and her Shadow Play colt “Leo” playing in February this year.

The decisions this year:

To send The Blue Lotus back to Shadow Play. This was a close call with Sunshine Beach being the other preferred option. Lots of mulling.

To send Dreamy Romance to Mr Feelgood. Loved this match the more I mulled, and got my blog friend Richard Prior to add his mulling as well. Result? Mulled wine, we hope.

  • I am a huge admirer of the sire as a race horse and his pedigree, and most especially his ability to adapt and be excellent in two totally different styles and hemispheres of harness racing.
  • His performance so far as a sire.
  • His pedigree match with this particular mare, and also the potential of a more medium sized athletic sire to give a bigger mare a more balanced foal.

It is something quite special, to make these  choices. The result will have my signature on it, just as much as the mare’s and the sire’s. So that is quite a responsibility.

Worth mulling over.

Note: Mr Feelgood’s frozen semen is available from Nevele R Stud or from Equibreed NZ Ltd. Contact them direct. See previous blog.

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Kays Shadow (Shadow Play x Pink Is Perfect) took one of the season’s fastest times for 2yo fillies in North America with her 1.54 debut at Mohawk recently, as Alabar reported in its email newsletter. (This appears to be quickly usurped by much quicker times on 6 July in a race where she came second). A check of her pedigree had me intrigued – it rang as few loud bells, and of course it is the same maternal family as Alabar’s other new-ish sire Big Jim.

Check out the wider family pedigree here

It is one of those pedigrees that epitomises “balance” and I don’t mean just the so-called delta affect.

What I mean is that almost every line is contributing a couple of important things, paying its way if you like. It’s full of maternal lines that have origins in speed and heart, and broodmare sires that are real “engine room” contributors. And there is a mix of double ups but also complementary matches, i.e. lines or individuals that seem to add value to each other.

Then add a bit of personal brilliance from the siring line, and voila!

Fingers crossed she will be given time to develop.

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It’s been pouring with rain most of the day, and our four weanings have been stoically waiting it out. Then at last a break in the weather! And oh boy, the Rock N Roll Heaven filly just couldn’t hold herself back. How could the Shadow Play colt not be in awe?

Rock N roll Heaven filly from Zenterfold

Hey look at me!

Rock N Roll Heaven filly with Shadow Play colt

Oi, I said look at me!

Rock N Roll Heaven filly

You’re going to miss it…

Rock N Roll Heaven filly x Zenterfold

Can’t hold it much longer!

Rock N Roll Heaven filly

Last chance…

Rock N Roll Heaven filly


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A couple of trials and a non-tote heat for 2yo trotters were of interest at Cambridge today, although a major highlight was seeing The Orange Agent, Democrat Party, Supersonic Miss and Joanne’s A Delight battling it out in a four-horse heat of the 3yo Nevele R Series, and finishing in that order. The speed came on from the second quarter of the last mile, with The Orange Agent holding the lead throughout and eventually pulling away from a brave Democrat Party who was parked for the last half. The time was a cracking 2-38.3 for the 2200m trip, and although the winner was never seriously challenged for the lead, the manner of the win was all class. Both the Orange Agent and Democrat Party are American Ideal fillies from strong families. The Orange Agent has Artiscape as her damsire – he’s done an okay job as a damsire with 40 NZ bred winners to date, and just over half of those going 2-00 or under.

The Orange Agent

Down the home straight and The Orange Agent pulls away to win the Nevele R Series heat for 3yo fillies at Cambridge 15 March 2015. Photo: Bee Pears


In the non-tote Sires Stakes 2yo Trotters Prelude it was a huge contest between the talented Gershwin (from the outstanding mare Allegro Agitato) and the Muscle Yankee filly High Gait who is bred by Breckon Bloodstock (the mare Regal Volo was bought by Ken Breckon off the Feiss’s) and so the filly is a full sister to Twentyten (racing well in Australia as Ourtwentyten).

The tussle up the home straight was sensational, with the filly just getting the better on the line, and a course record to boot.
Gershwin is a truly talented trotter. He was withdrawn from the yearling sales after an injury, but has bounced back from that to give his breeders the Laurens and now co-owner local vet Ian MacKay something special to take to the races.

I doubt if this is the last time these two trotters will battle up the home straight!

High Gait 2yo trotter

2yo trotting filly High Gait (Muscle Yankee x Regal Volo) returns to the stabling area after winning the non-tote Prelude.  Photo:Bee Pears.


Finally, I was keen to see how the 3yo gelding by Shadow Play called Back The Black managed his qualifying race. I’m keen on Shadow Play’s potential as a sire, as blog readers will know. So I like to keep an eye on what is popping up.

Back The Black, bred by W H Fleming and owned by the Flemings with  D L Hopkins, did the job very nicely for trainer Nicky Chilcott and driver Peter Ferguson. It was not a quick time, a dawdle and a sprint, but the gelding looks like he has ability and controlled the race in front.

His pedigree is worth looking at – there are some elements I’ve flagged up as being potentially good clicks for Shadow Play. but also the maternal line is a lesser known branch of the Rosehaven family (the dam of Black Watch and one of New Zealand’s all-time great maternal families). Interestingly it is the same branch that produced Hot Shoe Shuffle(by Falcon Seelster as is Back The Black’s mare Drums Of Time). The link back to Warm Breeze in Shadow Play’s maternal line creates a Rasmussen Factor of sorts.
This is early days for the gelding of course, but he will be worth tracking as he learns and develops.

Back The Black home straight winning

Back The Black holding his front running position easily and winning the qualifying trial at Cambridge today. Photo: Bee Pears.


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My Shadow Play colt foal (nickname Leo) playing with his dam The Blue Lotus this morning – and casting some lovely shadows on another sunny day at Isa Lodge.

Shadow Play colt an his dam The Blue otus

Shadow Play colt with his Grinfromeartoear dam.

There is just one Shadow Play yearling in the New Zealand yearling sales this year – Lot 357 at the Premier Sale in Christchurch on 18 February, bred, owned and prepared by Ken Fairburn. Photo below. That yearling is representing just 13 live foals that were by Shadow Play in 2013.  The colt is from a daughter of Filenna, a family that has proved successful although the mare’s pedigree is not a conventional one.

Filenna’s most successful foals have been by sires from the Cam Fella line – Camtastic (Magical Morgan and Magical Monie, who is the dam of Mysta Magical Mach), Cam’s Trickster (Magical Muffin who is the dam of Magical Mel and Magical Merlin) and Presidential Ball (Magical Mills, who is the dam of this yearling).

Shadow Play doesn’t have enough results yet to give a good steer on what damsires he may click well with. There are only 5 Shadow Play foals from Presidential Ball mares recorded by USTA website to date, and 2 of those raced at 2yo and were winners, and he is having reasonable results with Camluck, Cambest and particularly Cam’s Card Shark mares. But really, only his numbers from Artsplace mares are sufficiently large to give some degree of stability to the statistics at this stage.

Going on looks alone, this yearling is worth checking out.

Just a note: One of Shadow Play’s fastest foals to date in America is Shadios, a gelding from the NZ bred Caprock mare Smooth Latin.

Lot 357 Magical Marn

Lot 357 Magical Marn




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The blue Lotus with foal

The Blue Lotus enjoys a carrot while her foal enjoys a rest.

Lovely to have The Blue Lotus back home with her Shadow Play colt foal at foot.

She’s back in foal to A Rocknroll Dance.

More photos below.

The Blue Lotus and Shadow Play colt a

The Blue Lotus with her Shadow Play colt 31 December 2014

Lottie loves carrots

May your 2015 year be as sweet as a carrot!

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