Saturday, September 10, 2011

Keeneland September Yearling Sale

After a busy week of studying pedigrees of yearlings listed in the Keeneland September sale, I’m looking forward to getting together next week with my friend Kerry Thomas of the Thomas Herding Technique and profiling several of the yearlings.

The pedigree is the most important tool I use to determine if a young colt or filly has star potential. Kerry studies the behavior of the horse and that analysis results in an Emotional Conformation Profile which is a measurement of that horses potential.

Physical conformation only gives one a partial glance at the ability of an individual horse. Emotional Conformation can reveal if it has the heart and mind of a potential champion.

The Emotional Conformation of the Thoroughbred racehorses Seabiscuit and Zenyatta, and the mental fortitude of basketball star Michael Jordan propelled them to greatness. Their mental aptitude, combined with their physical talent, set them apart and made them a success.

Federico Tesio knew about the importance of studying horse behavior.

Of all the renowned breeders and trainers of thoroughbred racehorses, Tesio was one of the greatest. Tesio spent a lifetime researching and studying the horse. He knew pedigrees inside and out and was keenly aware of the importance of selecting the right bloodlines.

In addition to his knowledge of pedigrees and bloodlines, one of the keys for his success was due to his study of horse behavior or, stated differently, Tesio studied the Emotional Conformation of the horse.

Indeed, Tesio knew that a horse “wins with his character” and that, in addition to pedigrees and bloodlines, Emotional Conformation is the final piece of the breeding puzzle needed to produce a champion.

And Tesio was good at that. He bred and trained and incredible 22 Italiano Derby winners. His champions Nearco and Ribot are legends of the turf.

Franco Varola, a noted writer and author instrumental in the development of Dosage, knew Tesio and he, too, knew the importance of horse behavior. His Dosage (not the one commonly used today) consisted of five “aptitudinal” groups and Varola was more interested in the behavioral traits and characteristics that each sire transmitted to its offspring.

“The differences between the five aptitudinal groups are of essence or character,” noted Varola in his book Typology of the Racehorse. “It matters very little whether a racehorse is 16 hands or 16.2, or whether it is chestnut or brown; but it does matter a lot the way he behaves in actual racing, whether he is consistent or erratic, brilliant or slow, bellicose or resigned, in other words which pattern or mode of being is he expressing. …It is of great utility to be able to distinguish between these various aptitudes, this being something that plays an effective part in mating.”

Any breeder will tell you that you can breed a high standing sire to a wonderful, proven mare and, yet, two of their full-blood offspring, seemingly equal in physical stature and racing ability, will often have vast differences in performance levels on the racetrack. One horse may be an excellent runner while the other is a mediocre or poor runner.

At stud, the excellent runner may have offspring that are less talented than the sire while the mediocre horse produces offspring that excel at the racetrack. Both horses have the same genetic origin and, yet, their history and the history of their offspring can be vastly different.

Indeed, genetics, alone, is not the determining factor for success or failure. But, rather, it is the mind of the horse that is in complete control of the will and, thus, performance, on and off the racetrack.

That makes it very clear that while physical ability is important, the mental capacity of the equine controls the physical output of the athlete.

And Kerry is good at studying the mental capacity of the equine. His Emotional Conformation Profile of Animal kingdom for Kentucky Confidential
online magazine picked the lightly-raced colt as a good choice to win the Kentucky Derby.

“He has a very high herd dynamic in that he is always in self-control…This horse’s mental capacity rises to the occasion, and he doesn’t miss a step…He remains controlled in any circumstance.”

I have a good record of picking Classic Champion Thoroughbreds too:

“Readers who follow my blog know that
Animal Kingdom has been my favorite since I wrote about him in my 2011 Kentucky Derby Outlook last December. …Animal Kingdom has always reigned supreme on my list. He has the breeding and mental toughness to easily handle the demanding 10-furlongs of the Kentucky Derby.” – Kentucky Derby blog

“The type of breeding pattern in the pedigree of Pour Moi where all the stallions on the tail-female line, the damsire line, and the sire line forms what I refer to as a “W” pattern and it’s a powerful influence I look for in the pedigree. Treasure Beach has the same “W” pattern in his pedigree and he’s the only horse that has raced 12-furlongs.”
– Epsom Derby blog

“Super Saver, along with Eskendereya and
Winslow Homer were three key horses on my watch last January because I really liked their pedigrees. …Super Saver has the “will to win” and so does Borel – that’s a good combination.” – Kentucky Derby blog

“Lookin At Lucky, in my opinion, is all heart and I like the jockey switch to Martin Garcia. Going into the the Kentucky Derby, I thought that Super Saver and Lookin At Lucky were the two best horses and I believe they are the two best in the Preakness field.”
– Preakness blog

“Summer Bird…was my favorite for the Kentucky Derby. I also backed him in the Belmont and Travers. Every now and then when I’m studying pedigrees I have a “Wow” moment. In 2009 my “Wow” moment occurred in March while studying the pedigree of Summer Bird. …I was so impressed with the pedigree of Summer Bird that I thought he had the potential to become a Classic Champion Thoroughbred.”
– Summer Bird blog

Kerry and I are staying at the
Pineknoll Center For Integrated Horsemanship and if you would like an Emotional Conformation Profile or pedigree report (or both) of Keeneland yearlings you can reach us at (859) 253-6838.

You can also reach us during the sale, and after, for a pedigree report and an Emotional Conformation Profile at our email address:

Calvin L. Carter –

Kerry M. Thomas –

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