by | 11.17.2010 | 12:46am
Pedigree consultant and author Edwin Anthony examines the bloodlines of Papa Clem, winner of Saturday's Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem, in the latest installment of the Paulick Report's series of pedigree profiles of contenders for this year's Kentucky Derby. Previously, he looked at Louisiana Derby winner Friesan Fire, Florida Derby winner Quality Road, Santa Anita Derby winner Pioneerof the Nile, Florida Derby runner-up Dunkirk, and Wood Memorial winner I Want Revenge.

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

By Edwin Anthony

PAPA CLEM (Smart Strike—Miss Houdini, by Belong to Me)

Some truths are so simple that it is sometimes difficult to believe them. And the truth is that, on an overwhelming statistical basis, stakes quality racemares make the best producers of racehorses. Joe Estes (former editor of The Blood-Horse magazine and inventor of the Average-Earnings Index system) wrote about this, and there is a worthwhile book (
“The Estes Formula for Breeding Stakes Winners”)published by the Russell Meerdink Company (www.horseinfo.com) that details his theories.

Mr. Estes' findings seem somewhat obvious, but the proof is in the research and in sample sizes large enough to reveal undeniable facts. In the end, pedigree research is very worthwhile (I certainly believe that), but there is no greater influence on the racing potential of a yearling than the racing record and stud record of its sire and dam.

Of course, we are disappointed when some of our favorite racemares (Winning Colors, Genuine Risk, etc.) turn out to be poor producers or produce few foals, perhaps because of their masculine nature. But for every one of those disappointments, there are quality performers who go on to be important producers like Personal Ensign (dam of several Grade 1 winners and in the pedigree of Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem), Miesque (dam of Kingmambo, Miesque's Son, etc.), or Glowing Tribute (dam of Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero and prominent in the pedigree of top sire Elusive Quality). These mares were very high-class racemares and continue to pass on their superiority to future generations. Of course, they inherited their greatness from their own ancestors in a genetic string that weaves its way through the patchwork of the Thoroughbred gene pool.

Personal Ensign drew upon the racing class of great racehorses like Damascus, Numbered Account, Hoist the Flag, and the Argentine mare Dorine, while Miesque was a daughter of the brilliant racehorse Nureyev from a mare by Prove Out, who beat Secretariat. Glowing Tribute's sire, Graustark, was undefeated before fracturing his leg in the Blue Grass and comes from one of the most influential families in the stud book (Boudoir II). Her dam, Admiring, was a stakes winner and very closely related to the champion racemare Straight Deal.

Of course, that sounds as if I'm leaning on pedigrees (which I am), although this racing brilliance can very often reach back a generation or two and draw upon the influence of a superior ancestor. Thus, it is wise to have as many superior performers close up in a horse's pedigree as one can afford, and it never hurts for these ancestors to have connections to families with a proven record of classic influence.

Recent Arkansas Derby (G2) winner Papa Clem (click
here for his pedigree) has important family connections as well as an impressive string of stakes performances in his favor, both of which make him look like a serious contender for this year's Triple Crown events. It is easy to dismiss one runner-up effort in a notable race, but when a horse continually knocks on the door, then breaks through with an impressive performance, possibly with a change of equipment or adjustment of running style, expectations must adjust in response.

After a runner-up effort to subsequent Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Pioneerof the Nile in the Robert B. Lewis S. (G2), finishing a length ahead of Wood Memorial (G1) winner I Want Revenge, Papa Clem shipped to New Orleans and ran a credible (if well beaten) second to Friesan Fire in the Louisiana Derby (G2) after setting the pace in the slop. So, he displayed good form against very impressive competition.

Everyone expected Papa Clem to be on or near the pace in the Arkansas Derby, but he instead conceded the lead to speedster Old Fashioned, racing in fifth position early, only to swing out into the stretch and take over the lead in the final sixteenth of a mile. It was discovered that Old Fashioned had injured his leg in the running of the race, although there was no indication that was stopping him during the stretch run. The final time of 1:49 was solid, and the mile split of 1:36 and change was a second faster than the winning times of two mile-long stakes on the same card.

Smart Strike, Papa Clem's sire, has been the Leading Sire in America two years running, thanks in large part to the exploits of Curlin (Horse of the Year during those years), although when a horse is able to sire 3 G1 winners on the same Belmont card (as he did in October of 2007), there is little point in disputing his dominance. Smart Strike is a son of Mr. Prospector and a half-brother to champion 3-year-old filly Dance Smartly (Breeders' Cup Distaff), as well as being closely related to the top grass horse and useful stallion Sky Classic. Given the tremendous performance of the Mr. Prospector line in the Triple Crown events, this certainly bodes well for Papa Clem's chances, especially given his liking for a dirt surface at Oaklawn that has yielded classic winners Curlin, Afleet Alex, and Smarty Jones in recent years.

Smart Strike has been able to sire everything from top sprinters (Fabulous Strike), to long winded turf horses (English Channel), to a classic winner like Curlin. What does the dam side of Papa Clem's pedigree suggest that we can expect from him in the future?

Miss Houdini, his dam, won the Del Mar Debutante (G1), certainly one of the most important races for 2-year-old fillies in California. This does not necessarily suggest stamina, although she suffered an injury and was perhaps never able to display her true class or distance potential. There is no denying that her sire, Belong to Me, was strictly a sprinter, and certainly has the physical appearance of a sprinter. After an unbelievable beginning to his stud career while standing in New York, in which he sired three winners of G1 races at Saratoga, Belong to Me was relocated to Lane's End Farm in Kentucky, although one would have to register his stud record as somewhat disappointing since the move. Of course, it would have been next to impossible for him to continue the string of success that he had begun, and breeders' expectations are lofty when a stallion moves to a high profile farm like Lane's End.

Despite his sprinter's physique, Belong to Me did sire Mother Goose (G1) winner Jersey Girl over a distance of ground and 2008 champion turf female Forever Together, who shows no ill effects in significant tests of stamina. Belong to Me seems to be drawing on the influence of his damsire Exclusive Native (sire of Kentucky Derby winners Affirmed and Genuine Risk) and his second dam by classic influence Hail to Reason. This Hail to Reason mare, Straight Deal, was a champion, with no problems negotiating two turns, and she is closely related to the important mare Admiring, mentioned above in connection with Broodmare of the Year Glowing Tribute. Admiring actually shows up in the pedigree of Miss Houdini, via the stallion Magesterial, sire of HER second dam.

So, Miss Houdini is inbred to Hail to Reason through 2 very closely related mares from the Big Hurry (full-sister to champions Bimelech and Black Helen) branch of the La Troienne family. Miss Houdini is out of a mare by champion 2-year-old colt Lord Avie, who was not a particularly good sire, shows up in the pedigree of champion turf female Wait a While (a distance specialist) and carries the classic influences Gallant Man (new world record for a mile-and-a-half in the Belmont Stakes) and Tom Fool (sire of Buckpasser) as the sire of his first two dams. The capable young stallion Stephen Got Even (sire of I Want Revenge and champion 2YO colt Stevie Wonderboy) is from Lord Avie's family as well.

For you pedigree buffs, there is one other very interesting thing about Papa Clem's pedigree. Smart Strike carries two crosses of the important stallion Beau Pere in the dam side of his pedigree, he being inbred to the notable foundation mare Brown Bess. The old Australian stallion Carbine was also closely inbred to Brown Bess, and he appears no fewer than nine times in the pedigree of Leading Sire Danzig, seven of those crosses coming via the great stallion Spearmint.

I decided to see if there was a good record of combining Danzig and Beau Pere in pedigrees, thus securing a means of concentrating the influence of Brown Bess. Of course, I found that Smart Strike's champion half-sister Dance Smartly obviously possesses this combination as she is a daughter of Danzig. But in researching this cross, I found no fewer than 38 G1 winners or otherwise notable breeding animals (the dams of Arch, Distorted Humor, etc.) with the Danzig / Beau Pere combination, including Danehill, Dispute (Kentucky Oaks), Funny Cide (Kentucky Derby, reinforcement), and Sea Hero (Kentucky Derby) as examples.  That's a combination that works.


–Edwin Anthony


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.


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