Anthony, who spent six years as the staff pedigree consultant for Three Chimneys Farm and has contributed to numerous publications, is the author of a newly published book, “The American Thoroughbred (Volume I).” Click here to learn more about the book. – Ray Paulick
For those of us in the Thoroughbred breeding industry, including those who analyze and write about its endless array of statistics and pedigree information, the arrival of a new crop of stallions each breeding season is almost as exciting as Christmas morning for a first-grader.
Which stallions will succeed and which ones will fail? Will a stallion live up to its expectations or possibly even exceed them? What bloodlines will cross best with these new studs? Breeders follow the results of the 2-year-old races during the summer and fall, taking note of each maiden winner and stakes horse of the new “freshman sires.” And even if a horse doesn't get a hot 2-year-old runner, there is the chance that a late bloomer will surface on the way to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks and make their investments look sound.
Hope springs eternal, and the possibility that a new stud will develop into the next Danzig or Storm Cat tantalizes breeders into taking chances with new stallions that a logical person would probably avoid. A great majority of new stallions fail, with the downside being an investment predictably gone sour and a mare's produce record tainted by a non-productive stallion. The old argument against using unproven stallions with young, unproven mares is that when things don't pan out, who is to blame—the mare or the stallion? Actually, the answer is that the breeder is to blame. Lucrative, short-term profits derived from demand for a stallion's first crop of yearlings do not excuse a poor risk at the expense of your mare.
I hate to sound like I'm preaching, as I have fallen into this trap many times myself—with mares belonging to both me and my clients. The most intelligent course of action is to use stallions that have proven their worth as productive sires over time and stand for a reasonable fee. All stallions go through cold spells, and it is during these lean times that farms will often reduce a useful sire's fee (or offer foal-shares) and present a good opportunity to do the right thing for your mare.
Of course, some new stallions obviously do succeed, although it is a bit of a guessing game as to exactly which stallions these will be. While certain studs seem to be genetically wired for success, you can breed the best mares in the world to other stallions and be considered lucky to get a maiden winner from the union. And it takes more than one “big horse” to make a stallion, as seasoned breeders are not easily fooled. They will consult a computer's worth of statistics—the AEI, the CI, percentage of stakes winners to foals, percentage of graded stakes winners, etc. All of these criteria are measured against a standard for the breed, as well as with their contemporaries—other stallions from the same crop.
One of the most interesting things I have observed over the years is that even the stallions that do find long-term success do not always work with the bloodlines that you think they will. Forestry is one of my favorite examples in that he is from the immediate family of Mr. Prospector and had a Breeders' Cup-winning half-sister by Seeking the Gold (by Mr. Prospector). Upon retiring to stud, Forestry was bred to dozens of mares by Mr. Prospector and Seeking the Gold, and neither of those successful broodmare sires has been a particularly good source of stakes winners for Forestry.
Instead, his success has been more based on connections to Dr. Fager (sire of his second dam), Dr. Fager's sire Rough'n Tumble (via In Reality), and through the Grey Flight family (via Pleasant Colony, his damsire).
Sometimes, things do pan out, as everyone involved hopes they will. Candy Ride, sire of Kentucky Derby candidate Chocolate Candy (pedigree), was an undefeated winner of three starts each in Argentina and California. He broke the course record in the American Handicap (G2T) and broke the track record in the Pacific Classic (G1) over a very legitimate classic horse in Medaglia D'Oro. Although Candy Ride obviously had some soundness issues, there was no doubt that he was a performer of the very highest caliber.
There was some cause for skepticism when he retired to stud, however, as there have been a number of fantastic racehorses imported from South America that have disappointed as stallions in the U.S. Even sires that have proven tremendously successful in the Southern Hemisphere most often have shown little from American-sired progeny. Candy Ride looks to be proving that he is an exception to the rule, based on his results to date.
If you look at the current Stallion Register, all it shows is that Candy Ride has sired the filly Evita Argentina (winner of the G3 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar) from 111 foals for a paltry 1% stakes winners (actually less than 1%). Since then, however, Evita Argentina has come back to defeat colts in the San Vicente (G2), and other stakes performers by Candy Ride include Capt. Candyman Can (Hutcheson—G2, Bay Shore—G3, Iroquois—G3), Wynning Ride (second in the Hollywood Starlet—G1), Jack Spratt (stakes winner on the turf at Gulfstream) and of course Chocolate Candy (El Camino Real Derby—G3 and California Derby, with a sold second place finish in the Santa Anita Derby—G1). All of this from mares bred on books standing for $12,500.
Two of Candy Ride's most prominent runners—Capt. Candyman Can (Storm Creek mare) and Evita Argentina (Forest Wildcat mare)—have resulted from crossing him with Storm Cat. The obvious explanations for this successful combination are twofold—there are an awful lot of Storm Cat-line mares out there, and Storm Cat's genes effectively serve to add speed to the progeny of a stallion that found most of his success as a runner racing at a distance. Capt. Candyman Can and Evita Argentina are both sprinters, albeit very successful ones.
Chocolate Candy, on the other hand, looks to be a very effective router, which is easily explained by the fact that he's out of a mare by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, with a second dam by the strong classic influence Alydar, and a third dam that produced Triple Crown winner Affirmed. So, it looks as if Chocolate Candy should be able to get the distance of classic races, although class is the most important question he has left to answer, not to mention that he'll have to adapt to a dirt racing surface for the first time in the Kentucky Derby. Those are formidable obstacles, and the odds are stacked somewhat against him. What is not in question, however, is that Candy Ride is succeeding, while many stallions that were bred to much better mares are not (notice his 1.28 Comparable Index).
What about Candy Ride's pedigree is separating him from the pack and into second place on the second crop sire list by progeny earnings? His sire, Ride the Rails, was a modest racehorse, except for one instance in which he defeated champion Dehere in an allowance race at Gulfstream. His pedigree shows that he is a son of Cryptoclearance, with 4 x 3 inbreeding to the Alablue family and a first dam by the profound stamina influence Herbager. His second dam is actually Alanesian, the dam of the notable stallion Boldnesian (grand-sire of Seattle Slew).
Those are certainly some genes that you can work with. In fact, we see balanced inbreeding to Alanesian (through a son and a daughter) as well as reinforcement of inbreeding to her dam Alablue in the pedigree of Chocolate Candy, as he carries Boldnesian through his first dam by Seattle Slew.
The pedigree of Candy Ride's dam is even more intriguing, although you have to go back a few generations to find what you're looking for. Candy Stripes, her sire, needs little introduction to American race fans, as his son Invasor was Horse of the Year, accounting for the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) and Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in a stellar career, and another son, Leroidesanimaux, was a top miler in the U. S. and Canada, taking events like the Citation H. (G1) and the Atto Mile (G1) among six graded stakes wins.
What I find most important is the accumulation of stallions from the Lady Josephine family in this mare's pedigree. Candy Stripes gives us the half-brothers Fair Trial and The Recorder, as well their close relatives Nasrullah, Mahmoud, and Tudor Minstrel. Candy Ride's second dam brings in Nasrullah, Mahmoud, and Fair Trial again, as well as Tudor Minstrel's half-brother Cyrus the Great (found in very few notable pedigrees) and Badruddin (most commonly found via My Babu in pedigrees, but through Pronto here). My experience reveals that it is this variety, with many different sources of a great foundation mare, that is very often the difference between success and failure—both on the racetrack and in the breeding shed.
Edwin Anthony was the staff pedigree consultant at Three Chimneys Farm for six years and has penned dozens of articles on pedigree research. He recently published a reference book, The American Thoroughbred (Volume I), which can be ordered by clicking here.
Copyright © 2009, The Paulick Report
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