Brethren is a young colt I’ve been following since last summer. I wrote about him in my 2011 Kentucky Derby Outlook and my blog about the Importance of Dam Lines.
Needless to say, I, along with many others, was disappointed in his Tampa Bay Derby performance. With these light racing schedules it is difficult to measure the depth of talent of these young colts and I don’t, yet, know what to make of Brethren.
Brethren is talented and he has a nice pedigree but he was never challenged in his previous three races and when challenged at the top of the stretch in the Tampa Bay Derby he eventually folded in the final strides and dropped back to third place, 3 ¼ - lengths off of winner Watch Me Go.
On paper, this year’s Derby is very similar to last year’s where Brethren’s half-brother Super Saver, also with Ramon Dominguez in the saddle, set the fractions and finished third one-half length behind winner Odysseus.
Here are Super Saver’s fractions:
23:52, 47:02, 1:11.74, 1:37.42, 1:44.31
23.98, 48.20, 1:12.60, 1:37.10, 1:44.85
Super Saver made his 3-year-old debut in the Tampa Bay Derby which was his fifth race and third graded stakes race. The Tampa Bay Derby was Brethren’s fourth race and his second race in graded stakes competition.
So is Brethren’s performance due to lack of seasoning? Maybe. I just don’t know, though, if Brethren has the same “will to win” as that of his half-brother Super Saver – only time will tell that story.
In my Kentucky Derby blog Super Saver was one of my top picks and I wrote that he had the “will to win” as it was evident in the tenacious performance of his last three races leading up to the Derby.
My friend Kerry Thomas, founder of the Thomas Herding Technique, knows how important it is for a horse to have the “will to win.” He has written numerous articles about Emotional Conformation and the importance of a horse to stay focused during a race.
Here’s an excerpt from his most recent article Discovering The Communicated Equine where Kerry writes about the importance of focus and Efficiency of Motion in the equine athlete:
You don’t want your horse, while running in a race, to react in a way that will compromise its speed and pace and, likewise, you don’t want the ability of a dressage horse to transition from motion to motion to be compromised either. Like the lead horse in the wild, if for some reason your high end equine athlete feels threatened during a competition, for reasons of survival, it will seek safety and withdraw, like a horse melting away from the lead on the racetrack. This is why it so vitally important to nurture mental fitness in high end horses so that they have a sense of anticipation ahead of them, taking the lead and staying on the lead because they're dynamic of intent is to influence what is "just around the bend" (see Training Efficiency of Motion article).
To train for Efficiency of Motion you need to coach, train the horse to anticipate intent. The highest levels of coaching the athlete forward mentally lie within the area of nurturing the high level horse’s ability to anticipate. That can only be accomplished within communication dynamics of the horses in your stable. Without that training, the horses will frequently perform in an inconsistent manner.
Breeding for mental soundness should be one of the primary goals if one hopes to produce a high quality equine athlete. Emotional Conformation trumps physical ability because character traits are what separate herd dynamics within the group – not physical ability.
I haven’t given up on Brethren but he will need to make a big move forward in his next race. As we draw closer to the Derby the picture should become clear as to the depth of talent for all of these young colts.