Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A good understanding of pedigrees and knowledge of the history of the Triple Crown is vitally important when it comes to following 2YO and 3YO’s on the Triple Crown Trail. For several years now, I have studied pedigrees and documented the sire line and damsire line of the juveniles on the Triple Crown Trail. That knowledge helped me last March to recognize that Summer Bird, with only two races to his credit, had the potential to become a Classic Champion Thoroughbred.

In fact, I was so impressed with pedigree of Summer Bird I interviewed the breeder and owner of Summer Bird Dr. K.K. Jayarman shortly before the Kentucky Derby and posted the interview on the DRF FormBlog hosted by Dan Illman. (See my blog post on June 22 Blog Archive.)

Summer Bird finished a respectable 6th in the Kentucky Derby but my evaluation of his potential paid off in the Belmont as I had Summer Bird to win and place. I also hit the exacta, trifecta and the superfecta.

It’s that kind of knowledge that I hope I am able to pass on to you as you follow the juveniles on the Triple Crown Trail.

Let’s take a look at some history of the Thoroughbred.

All Thoroughbreds racing today are descended from three sires: Darley Arabian, Godolphin Arabian and Byerley Turk and well over 90 percent of those are descendents of the Darley Arabian.

Since the beginning of the Triple Crown, there have been several sire lines that have been dominate on the trail. But no Thoroughbred has had as much influence as the magnificent Phalaris. A champion sprinter in 1917 and 1918, Phalaris had a career record 16-2-1 in 24 starts. However, Phalaris' greatest contribution to horse racing was as a sire and he was selected by Timeform as the sire of the 20th Century.

Most of the great modern-day thoroughbred champions are descendents of Phalaris and his three sons - Sickle, Pharos and Pharamond. The greatest impact on horse racing has been by Phalaris' great-great grandson Native Dancer and grandson Nearco.

Native Dancer, an outstanding champion 21-1-0 in 22 starts, was sired by Polynesian out of the line of Sickle and that line also produced Mr. Prospector which is one of the leading sire lines racing today.

Nearco, a champion racehorse undefeated in 14 starts, was sired by Pharos and the line of Nearco has given us most of our modern-day thoroughbred champions. Nearco's greatest contribution comes from his two grandsons - Bold Ruler and Northern Dancer. However, the line of his two sons - Nasrullah and Royal Charger has also produced numerous thoroughbred champions.

There are basically five sire lines descended from Phalaris that have an impact on racing today and four of those lines (Bold Ruler, Nasrullah, Royal Charger and Northern Dancer) are descended from Phalaris’ grandson Nearco.

Mr. Prospector is the other sire line and it has dominated the Triple Crown Trail since Unbridled won the 1990 Kentucky Derby. In the past 15 years, the Mr. Prospector line has produced 9 (60%) Kentucky Derby winners and three of those: Grindstone (1996), Real Quiet (1998) and Mine That Bird (2009) are descended from the Fappiano line. Unbridled is also descended from the Fappiano line.

The Mr. Prospector line has produced a total of 11 Preakness winners and in the past 15 years 9 (60%) Preakness winners are descended from Mr. Prospector. Two of those winners: Real Quiet (1998) and Red Bullet (2000) are descended from Fappiano.

The Mr. Prospecor line has produced a total of 13 Belmont winners and in the past 15 years 11 (73%) winners are descended from Mr. Prospector. Four of those: Victory Gallop (1998), Empire Maker (2003), Birdstone (2004), the sire of Mine That Bird and Summer Bird, and Summer Bird (2009) are descended from the Fappiano line.

So, as you can see, a good knowledge of pedigrees and the history of the Triple Crown are important and that can take you a long way to picking that Classic Champion Thoroughbred.

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