Monday, November 4, 2013

The Master Stud Master: How Influence Of The Ancestral Herd And Behavioral Genetics Determined Outcome of the 2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Stakes

I had planned on writing a lengthy wrap-up of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes but time constraints of personal obligations, family and work force me to offer this abbreviated version. I will elaborate more on these topics in future blogs.

For me, the superb win by long shot New Year’s Day in the 30th running $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park was no surprise. He and the three other young colts I wrote about in my blogBond Holder, Strong Mandate and Tap It Rich – were among the top five finishers in the Juvenile.
Rather, the win of New Year’s Day was a confirmation of what I’ve known from many years of research and study, and that is the influence of the Ancestral Herd and behavioral genetics, or what my friend Kerry Thomas calls Emotional Conformation, is of primary importance in determining the outcome races on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
In the book we co-authored, Horse Profiling: The Secret to Motivating Equine Athletes, published in 2012 by Trafalgar Square Books, Kerry and I note that the behavior or Emotional Conformation of the horse is the final piece of the breeding puzzle necessary to produce equine champions.
Franco Varola, an internationally-renowned writer, author and developer of the Dosage theory, also knew about the important influence of the Ancestral Herd and behavior genetics.
In 1974, Varola wrote in his landmark book, Typology of the Racehorse (published by J.A. Allen & Company Limited), “that the prepotency of a few great continuators of the breed is not a matter of individuals alone but of entire sire lines. I am aware that it is not technically correct to speak of prepotency of bloodlines, but the phenomenon is worth noting.”
Arguably, Varola was genius and his observation, prophetic, as since publication of his book, descendants of the Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector and Sunday Silence Ancestral Herds have dominated the world of Thoroughbred horseracing and continue to dominate the sport to this very day.
New Year’s Day is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and a unique feature of his pedigree is that he’s bred on the nick of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd over the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and that is the same nick that produced Street Sense, winner of the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). Street Cry, the sire of New Year’s Day, is also the sire of Street Sense. Dixieland Band, the second damsire of New Year’s Day, is the damsire of Street Sense.
Since 1984, sire-line descendants of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd have won seven Breeders’ Cup Juvenile races: Tasso (1985), Rhythm (1989), Timber Country (1994), Unbridled’s Song (1995), Anees (1999), Street Sense (2006) and Midshipman (2008).
Also, on the Triple Crown Trail, The Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd has been a powerful influence and during the past 24 years – since 1990 – descendants of that herd have sired 29 Classic Champion Thoroughbreds who have won 38 of the past 72 Triple Crown races for a 53% strike rate:
Palace Malice (2013 Belmont), I’ll Have Another (2012 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), Ruler On Ice (2011 Belmont), Drosselmeyer (2010 Belmont) Lookin At Lucky (2010 Preakness) Mine That Bird (2009 Kentucky Derby), Summer Bird (2009 Belmont), Curlin (2007 Preakness), Street Sense (2007 Kentucky Derby), Jazil (2006 Belmont), Afleet Alex (2005 Preakness, Belmont) Birdstone (2004 Belmont), Smarty Jones (2004 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), Empire Maker (2003 Belmont), Funny Cide (2003 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), War Emblem (2002 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), Point Given (2001 Preakness, Belmont), Commendable (2000 Belmont), Red Bullet (2000 Preakness), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000 Kentucky Derby), Lemon Drop Kid (1999 Belmont),  Victory Gallop (1998 Belmont), Real Quiet (1998 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), Editor’s Note (1996 Belmont), Grindstone (1996 Kentucky Derby), Timber Country (1995 Preakness), Thunder Gulch (1995 Kentucky Derby, Belmont), Hansel (1991 Preakness, Belmont) Unbridled (1990 Kentucky Derby).
Varola also knew about the importance of behavioral genetics. His Dosage system (not the one commonly used today) consisted of five “aptitudinal” groups, and Varola was most interested in the behavioral traits and characteristics that each sire transmitted to his offspring.
“The differences between the five aptitudinal groups are of essence or character,” noted Varola in his book Typology of the Racehorse (JA Allen, 1974). “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 [behavioral genetics], this being something that plays an effective part in mating.”
Yes, indeed, Mr. Varola.
How is it that over the centuries, generation after generation, there have been numerous Classic Champion Thoroughbreds and outstanding sires that are the sire-line descendants of only a couple Ancestral Herds?
Is it due to dumb, blind luck of a breeders scattered here and there? Or, perhaps, it could be the work of the sublime, unseen hand of the Master Stud Master.

I know the pedigrees and bloodlines it takes to be a Classic Champion Thoroughbred. I’ll be at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale and if you’d like for me to provide you with a shortlist of potential broodmare prospects, leave me your information on this blog or you can securely contact me at my Classic Champion Thoroughbreds website.
Anyone who’s followed my blog for any length of time knows that my study of Thoroughbred pedigrees and the late Federico Tesio, a world-renowned owner, breeder and trainer of Thoroughbred racehorses, has had a tremendous impact on my analysis of classic champion prospects. The result of that research is what I call the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile and it is a powerful tool I use to determine if a young colt has to potential to become a Classic Champion Thoroughbred.
In addition, the behavior of the horse or Emotional Conformation is the final piece of the breeding puzzle. Behavior was the key puzzle piece Tesio relied on to breed his numerous champion Thoroughbreds and, during his lifetime, he bred an incredible 21 Italiano Derby winners.
The Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile and the Emotional Conformation of the horse are important tools that have enabled me to pick the classic champions Orb, I’ll Have Another, Animal Kingdom, Pour Moi, Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky, and Summer Bird. In 2012, all five horses I profiled in my Kentucky Derby blog finished in the top five.
My consulting service, Classic Champion Thoroughbreds, provides its clients with important information necessary to achieve their goals and realize their dreams of competing at the highest level. Every evaluation includes a detailed pedigree analysis and a Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile and draws upon the breeding theories of great Thoroughbred breeders as well as those of Classic Champion Thoroughbreds owner Calvin L. Carter.
Classic Champion Thoroughbreds serves the needs of its clients – helping them to eliminate “luck” in buying and breeding Thoroughbred Champions. In addition to bloodstock consulting, I can also help you with your printing and publishing projects. Whatever you need, be it flyers, brochures, reports, catalogs, newsletters, webpage content or book-length manuscripts, Calvin can put your ideas and stories on paper and find you a printer or publisher.
If you would like to buy a broodmare at the Keeneland Sale or if you have a need for writing and publishing services, contact me and Classic Champion Thoroughbreds will work with you to realize your goals and dreams.
Or, if you would like to meet and get to know me better, that's fine too as I always like to make new friends.


  1. Hi Calvin , its always nice to read your blog. I'm still working on my book off & on . It seems the more info I collect the more I need to compile more :) It's going to take me some more time. I'll finish it someday :) My data notebook is about 4 inches thick at the moment. I want to include all the major 2 & 3 yr. old races so it's a bit of a slog . My Mom said if I finish it she'll pay to get it published ;) Did I ever tell you I have a Supermom ! I went to the track with her about a month ago and she cashed tickets in every race except one . She made about a G with a WPS on a $116 horse in the feature . Santa Anita went quiet after that race :) The only ones yelling at Chantel to keep her horse going was my Mom and 3 of her kids !! Nope the kids didn't have it !!! Big Dummies :)We were glad we all ran 2nd & 3rd . I don't often wish my horse to stop running in the lane but I was that day.
    Keep up the good work . Catch you later .
    PS - I've been slipping a post through at formblog here and there lately . Dan catches most of them and tosses them out. I fool him every so often :)

    1. BSB,

      Good to hear from you. That's some bet your mother paid - she looks like supermom to me.

      I know what you mean about the book. There's always a ton of research that needs to be done before the book is even written. Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading it someday.