Haskin: Belmont Pedigrees Befuddling

One would think that analyzing the pedigrees for the Belmont Stakes hopefuls would be fairly easy, considering the extreme distance of the race and the lack of true mile and a half horses. It should be pretty obvious who the stayers are and which horses are going into the race on the proverbial wing and a prayer.

But the truth is, many of the leading contenders in this year’s Test of the Champion have pedigrees that are so contradictory, it is difficult to say with any conviction who can and cannot get the distance. The vast majority of horses in the Belmont will never again have to negotiate this distance, and most likely none of them will have to.

Regardless of what most people say, California Chrome, despite his stallion’s paltry stud fee and mare’s undistinguished racing career, has as good a chance to get the mile and a half as anyone.

Many times, it’s not the sire and dam who are responsible for a horse’s distance capabilities or restrictions, but the blood flowing in the generations behind them.

California Chrome’s sire Lucky Pulpit, of course, is by the top-class sire Pulpit, who is a son of Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, who is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Lucky Pulpit’s broodmare sire is Cozzene, one of the most versatile stallions of his time, who sired Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup and Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Tikannen. Lucky Pulpit’s dam also traces to Prince Blessed, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup and second in the 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano. Prince Blessed is the sire of Ole Bob Bowers, who sired the great John Henry.

California Chrome’s broodmare sire, Not For Love, is a full-brother to Rhythm, who won the Travers Stakes for Ogden Phipps and was the champion 2-year-old, winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

California Chrome’s dam, Love the Chase, is inbred (Rasmussen Factor) 3x3 to the great Hall of Famer Numbered Account, a daughter of Hall of Famer and great classic and stamina influence Buckpasser.

Also in California Chrome’s female family is Sir Ivor, winner of the  English Derby and Washington D.C. International; and the powerful stamina influence Vaguely Noble, who won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe by three lengths.

So, there is an abundance of classic and stamina influences on both sides of California Chrome’s pedigree. Combined with his tactical speed, acceleration, and ability to settle behind any kind of pace, it makes him a perfect Belmont Stakes type, especially with his ability to work out a perfect trip for himself.

Let’s move to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness runners-up. Commanding Curve’s running style, long neck and body, and long stride, indicate he should relish the mile and a half, especially the way he closed to finish second in the Derby. But he is one of those in the race whose pedigree is an enigma.

His sire, Master Command, is a son of A.P. Indy who won the Meadowlands Cup and several other graded stakes, out of a mare by Lord at War, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap, so no problems with distance there.  But his dam, Mother, was trained by Bob Baffert, who said she could not run a step past six furlongs. In her only two-turn try she set the pace and stopped to a walk. And Mother is by Lion Hearted, a pure sprinter who is out of a pure sprinter, Cadillacing. But Cadillacing is a full sister to Belmont Stakes winner Easy Goer.

Also, Commanding Curve’s tail-female line traces to top classic and stamina influence Tom Rolfe, a son of Ribot, and to Nodouble, a multiple grade I winner at 1 1/4 miles and one of the toughest horses who ever stepped foot a racetrack.

Commanding Curve also is inbred 5x5 to Buckpasser and 4x4x5 to Secretariat. So, who will be the dominant force on June 7--the stamina influences or the speed influences? Based on his performance in the Derby and his running style, one would presume, unlike the psychiatrist’s line from the movie "Psycho", the “Mother” has not taken over.

Next we come to Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin. Being by Curlin, who was beaten a zap in the Belmont Stakes and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, there is an excellent base to start with.

His dam, Magical Ride, however, was purely a sprinter, whose career tailed off dramatically. Magical Ride is out of Victory Ride, a top-class filly who was effective up to a mile. But once again, there is stamina in the tail-female family through Victory Ride’s sire Seeking the Gold, as well as Flying Paster and especially Youth. Youth was a French-trained distance specialist who captured the Washington D.C. International, Canadian International, French Derby, Prix Lupin, and was third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Ride On Curlin is inbred three times 4x4x5 to Northern Dancer.

So, once again, we have a horse with a good deal of sprinting speed in his female family, but several heavy stamina influences, which, like with Commanding Curve, appear to be the dominant influence.

Just remember, however, that there is a big difference between a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half, especially on a large sweeping track like Belmont. But both colts have running styles to suggest they can get that extra quarter mile, but it’s certainly no guarantee.

The same applies to Tonalist, who is shaping up to be the buzz horse most likely to pull off the upset based on his impressive score in the Peter Pan Stakes and having a race over the track.

Some feel his sire, the red-hot Tapit, is best siring milers to 1 1/8 mile horses, and that has been his strength as a stallion. But a stout female family can compensate for that. His dam, Settling Mist, was not a very good filly, winning only one of 19 starts. But she is by the top classic and stamina influence Pleasant Colony, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness who is by classic and stamina influence His Majesty, a son of Ribot. This also is a superior slop pedigree, which accounted in good part for the colt’s impressive victory in the Peter Pan on a sloppy track.

His third dam, Toll Booth, was Broodmare of the Year in 1991, siring such notable stakes winners as Plugged Nickle, Christiecat, Toll Fee, and Toll Key. Toll Booth is by Buckpasser, out of the Blue Hen producer Missy Baba. Toll Fee, second dam of Tonalist, is by the Round Table stallion Topsider, who is out of Drumtop, one of the greatest distance grass fillies of all time who won eight graded stakes, three against the colts, and set two course records at 1 1/2 miles and one at 1 1/4 miles.

So, regardless of what you may think about Tapit siring a Belmont Stakes winner, you can be sure he will not hinder Tonalist’s chances, based on his powerfully bred female family. It was only two years ago when most everyone said Dixie Union couldn’t sire a Belmont winner, but Union Rags got the job done, thanks to a strong tail-female family.

Another horse who will take a good deal of action is Wicked Strong, based on his victory in the Wood Memorial and strong effort in the Kentucky Derby, despite a troubled trip.

Once again, we have a questionable sire in Hard Spun, a horse with excellent pure speed and tactical speed who was effective up to 1 1/4 miles, finishing second in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic. By Danzig, out of a Turkoman mare, Hard Spun was bred to carry his speed a distance of ground.

His dam, Moyne Abbey, is by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic, out of a dam by With Approval, winner of the Canadian Triple Crown and a half-brother to Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold. The tail-female family consists mostly of Fred Hooper-bred sires and dams, and that usually means distances up to 1 1/8 miles, although champion Susan’s Girl, in the fifth generation, could run carry her speed 1 1/4 miles.

So, once again, we have speed and stamina mixed together, and once again, we have a strong closer who has the running style and closing punch to stretch out in distance. How far, we’ll have to wait and find out, just like with Commanding Curve, Ride On Curlin, and Tonalist.

The feeling here is that if one of these four horses runs his peak performance and California Chrome tails off a bit, they have the necessary stamina to get the distance.

Another horse that needs to be mentioned is Commissioner, whose sire A.P. Indy won the Belmont, paternal grandsire Seattle Slew won the Belmont, and broodmare sire Touch Gold won the Belmont. He also has two Triple Crown winners in his first three generations, an English Derby winner in his fourth generation, and he is inbred 4x4 to Buckpasser, 4x5 to Hail to Reason, and his tail-female family traces to Dr. Fager. In short, this is one horse with no concerns getting the mile and a half.

As for Samraat, his pedigree is geared more toward 1 1/8 miles to possibly 1 1/4 miles. He is a five-generation outcross, but there is inbreeding to Ribot in his sixth generation through Tom Rolfe and Irradiate, and he is inbred 5x6 to Hail to Reason.

So, although most of the leading Belmont contenders have conflicting pedigrees, none of them appear to be reaching a long way to get the mile and a half. It should come down the best horse on that day who gets the best trip. I will add additional pedigrees of relevance over the next two weeks.


Leave a Comment:


Hi Steve, any word on Conquest Titan? He may not have the seasoning since he hasn't run since the Arkansas Derby but the mention of his sire can sure make people nervous.

23 May 2014 1:58 PM
Pedigree Ann

Being bred to run 12f without hitting a brick wall is one thing; doing it fast enough to win is quite another. And class counts as well.

Other reader, not Steve H because he was there, should remember Bold Forbes, a very fast horse who set wicked fractions in the Derby - 22 & 2, 45 & 4, 1:10 & 2 - and still kept on to beat the .40 to a dollar favorite Honest Pleasure. His sire Castle Forbes had been most effective at two, winning the Hopeful, all 4 of his wins coming at that age; his dam was unraced and his damsire, a non SW, was only retained by Calumet because Mrs. Markey couldn't bear to part with him, as he was named for her second husband.

Now as the Belmont race approached, it became pretty clear that Forbsie was going to try his "run them into the ground' strategy once again, but doubts about his stamina had always been there - he seemed typical of the more impulsive Nasrullah types, who never did learn to rate. And he opposition included some rather stoutly-bred colts - Mackenzie Bridge (by Le Fabuleux, full of old-style French staying blood), Great Contractor (by a son of Prince John out of an Argentine dam, and there was at least one other of the field that was off-the-board who looked a better staying prospect, I believe. (Don't have the PPs, are back at home in KY under a stack of old DRFs in the attic). ANYWAY...,

The race started and Forbsie went out on the lead as always, kept going, kept going, still leading at the top of the stretch.., oh, no, they are catching him, he's running out of gas, yes, they are all coming at him, he can't hold on.... But he did. Bold Forbes had the class and determination to win that Belmont by short neck or head, even though he was breathing fire.

23 May 2014 2:11 PM
Lise from Maine

Hi Steve,

Why didn't you mention that California Chrome is also related to Secretariat? Many old time fans know about Secretariat and his accomplishments but perhaps some "new" fans don't.

Here is the pedigree:

California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit and Love the Chase).

Lucky Pulpit (Pulpit and Lucky Soph).

Pulpit (A.P. Indy and Preach).

A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew and Weekend Surprise).

Weekend Surprise (Secretariat and Lassie Dear).

California Chrome is also related to Mr. Prospector(from Barbaro's pedigree line), Raise a Native, Northern Dancer, and many, many others.

P.S. I just wrote a book and dedicated it to Barbaro and Dyna King and some people. Will be out soon.

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

23 May 2014 2:13 PM

Thanks Steve. Great insight. As a new fan, I'm not fully understanding of the 3X3 crosses etc;. It seems that the Belmont is always the most wide open because of the unknowns. Aside from the distance, the fresh shooters gunning for a tired Derby/Preakness winner and the unique oval.

Further, Commanding Curve, Wicked Strong and Ride on Curlin are all closers, and my reading tells me that historically, that hasn't been the preferred style at Belmont. If California Chrome can carry his high cruising speed for a mile and a quarter before he makes a final move they may have used themselves up staying range, or have too much ground to make up.

What if a horse makes an earlier move on CC, similar to Social Inclusion? Will California Chrome/Espinoza be patient enough to sit back, or willing to let a horse pass in order to save for a later move? Freedom Child was the buzz horse coming out of the Peter Pan last year on a sloppy track, so I'm not going to put a lot of stock in Tonalist. Seems like a lot to ask pretty soon from that colt.

I certainly hope he does it, but it's certainly no sure thing.

23 May 2014 2:26 PM

Steve, I read earlier some pedigree info on the Belmont contenders at Downthestretchs and they have the five-cross pedigree on each contender, and I basically came away with feeling just as you described here in your nicely written article, about six of the Belmont contenders have the distance capabilities to go 1 1/2 miles mixed in their pedigree. It may come down to whoever gets the trip, is working good, and looks good on the track in the days leading up to the race. Chrome sure hasn't done anything wrong yet, and may have to beat himself if another colt is to win. Chrome has such a quick turn of foot that Victor has been able to keep him out of trouble, position him in excellent spots, and I thought his Preakness win was his most impressive win yet, and still did not look fully extended. I just don't see Chrome losing, unless he beats himself.

23 May 2014 2:48 PM

steve-great article on breeding! i have only two questions. 1)do you think commanding curve can lay closer to the lead and still close effectively? 2)do you see any horse stealing the race on the front end?

23 May 2014 3:10 PM
Carlotta Cooper

Lucky Pulpit is also 5x5 to Princequillo on his dam's side.

23 May 2014 3:20 PM

Well, Steve, your article title says it all!  As much as I am hoping for a Triple Crown winner, and I LOVE California Chrome, there are so many scenarios to this Belmont!  As the race gets closer everyone is going to be questioning everything when it comes to picking a winner!  Let's just pray all horses stay healthy and all have a safe trip.

23 May 2014 3:47 PM
Eric Rickard

So, your anaylis comes up California Chrome. Unless he regresses.

I agree. He should rate and rate than afterburner time.

23 May 2014 4:39 PM

How about just looking at the way the horses have run? How many Olympic 1500 meter specialist were born of parents who also could run a route of ground? It is way over blown. Samrraat doesn;t look like he wants any part of 10f no less 12f, I don;t care who is mother was. Commanding Curve is a joke. He got beat easily at 10f in a race that many deemed slow and now you think he is going to get 12f and win. Pass. I say CC is still the most likely horse to run a quality race at 12f(all horses "get" the distance., the only mystery is how fast. why? Because he has the proper training and foundation to do it, way more important then who his relatives are. All of these horses are inbred to basically the same horses. If you showed me a horse bred by all sprint types then i might care but basically every horse in this race falls with-in a pretty narrow spectrum in regard to their relatives performances. People see stuff that isn't there.

23 May 2014 4:49 PM

Steve, an excellent analysis and I couldn't agree more. You have made an obvious faux pas with Tonalist's pedigree which you will no doubt correct (Topsider).

All the horses you mentioned appear to 'switch-off' during a race which is, arguably, the most important ingredient in winning The Belmont. Tonalist appears the major threat though.

23 May 2014 5:20 PM


Thanks for all the research you did for the column.  It's interesting to see the pedigrees of these horses and who there are related to.  Looks like there a some that should get the 12 furlongs but I'm feeling it's Chrome no matter what.  

Where's Draynay?  He's been so absent since the Derby.

23 May 2014 5:40 PM
The Deacon

Excellent read and perspective Steve. With your permission may I add that Numbered Account's dam was Intriguing. Intriguing was by Swaps who was by Khaled.

Swaps held may world records in his day but one of them was at a 1 5/8 miles. So again to echo your point stamina is in Chrome's bloodline.

Folks can spin Chrome's pedigree all they want but I've learned that if you don't like a horse for one reason or another you'll always find something negative to say.

Truth is, California Chrome is a very nice colt, he has personality, charm, and he is greatly loved by his connections and fans. If you're a fan of horse racing how can you NOT love this horse.........

Thank you Steve on another great read.........

23 May 2014 6:00 PM
El Kabong

This year especially, I'm going with my eyes Steve. I know what I saw in the Derby. Chrome can go longer. Can he keep the boys at bay? There are some good ones here, Wicked Strong who needs to mature, ROC who might improve and most of all, Commanding Curve who's running style seems best to pull off an upset or at least a nail biter for the Chrome fans. Watching the Derby over, Commanding Curve just gets going at the 3/4 (far turn) and sustains a steady drive that eats up ground even though he goes wide. With a furlong to go, it seems like CC and CC2 are being hand ridden while everyone else is being tapped repeatedly for more. Not the top two. In my opinion those two are game after 10F's. Heads up, riders hand urging and getting more. A lot of times we make too much of "interference" in the stretch, etc. If a horse is still full of run he'll go around most obstacles if he has momentum, but not if he's tired. I feel good about CC and CC2, I just hope the home crowd leans towards Wicked Strong or ROC so I get some odds on the other improbably bred horse.

23 May 2014 6:03 PM
El Kabong

By the way Steve, don't be surprised if you get a call from Joe Withee (Dir. of Publicity/Broadcasting @ Emerald Downs) next year to kick off the Derby Trail on his show. I mentioned your appearance, some 10 years ago, that lead me to Bloodhorse, as being the best thing that ever happen to my Derby experience and derby source of immeasurable information concerning 3 year olds on the trail. I hope you'll join us for cameo next year. I can't thank you enough for all the fun and insight that transpires on your blog and in your articles. I just hope someone who listens to that show discovers the experience that I found long ago with you and Bloodhorse and all the other knuckle heads who follow your work.

23 May 2014 6:19 PM
Derby Dew

Steve, thanks for your meticulous research on the pedigrees of Chrome and the other Belmont contenders.  Is it me? or does it seem that pedigree handicapping has lost its luster in recent years?  As you pointed out, there are contradictions throughout this Belmont field even though we realize that stamina genes can be passed down after a generation hiccup or two.  I'm always curious about the lineage that these thoroughbreds have running through their veins, but it doesn't seem to clear up the persistent doubts that I have when comparing performance on the track with the potential strengths that the family tree suggests.  

Nevertheless, what I see is what I like......... and that is California Chrome, a handsome dude with a big heart who would look great in the Belmont winner's circle with a blanket of white carnations draped around his neck.

Get her done, Junior!  You da man!

Thanks, Steve.  Looking forward to your reports leading up the race.  You've really taken us on a great ride during this year's Triple Crown trail.  But, then again, you always do.  I'm really enjoying it.

23 May 2014 6:31 PM
Steve Haskin

Davids, I left out the words "who is," thanks for pointing it out.

nothing wrong with Conquest Titan, they think he probably wants to run short. Very disappointed in his efforts.

23 May 2014 6:53 PM
Mister Frisky

The Tapits might not want a mile and a quarter,doesn't mean they can't get a mile and a half in 2:31 plus.No one in this crop going to go 2:26 a la Easy Goer.Tonalist main threat to be the heartbreaker.

23 May 2014 7:45 PM

Had such great respect for you Steve seeing Chrome as a Derby winner way back in January.  But now its obvious you knew.. I raved about Hoppertunity in early february but off to Rood and Riddle he went.. good old Rood and Riddle.  Hey whats the Doc's name there?  oh yea i remember now    

23 May 2014 8:20 PM

CC is a throwback to the horses of yesteryear that ran so often. His trainer comments that CC is gaining weight after each race and is stronger and stronger. Even though Alan Sherman subscribes to the current training philosophy (as I understand it) of not running a horse back too soon CC seems to be thriving on the Triple Crown run! He is truly amazing. What a ride he is taking us on.  I also love the way his exercise rider is so affectionate with him. No wonder he is such a happy horse. The whole barn treasures him.

23 May 2014 9:30 PM
George Rowand

When I looked at California Chrome's pedigree the first time, I thought that there was significant stamina influences throughout, and I'm pretty certain that he will get the Belmont distance ... if the jockey doesn't move too quickly. If he sits on CC until the 5/16ths pole, I think we will see a Triple Crown winner. Lovely analysis, Steve.

23 May 2014 9:32 PM

I wouldn't be surprised by anyone who wins this race. Da Tara and other recent longshots just show that anything can happen.

Regarding the earlier comment about Secretariat being in Chrome's pedigree: He appears in the peds of every single major contender mentioned in this article, so I don't see it as being especially worthy of note.

23 May 2014 9:59 PM

    I stated long ago, that …“this appears to me to be a ‘weak crop’, that being for horses that are ‘bred to go long’”. And that so, especially where the few (20 or less) that appeared to me to be bred for a little bit longer aren’t racing; skipped preliminary Triple Crown races; or were simply not factors in the other qualify Triple Crown racing events. Thusly, to me that means that this year’s crop is a ‘weak crop’. Yes, it produced many greater milers, “California Chrome” the best among them, but there are not the obvious few among this group that look like they could handle even the Derby distance and I actually had some doubts that “Cal Chrome” would not. Yes, some horse will eventually cross the Belmont finish line, but…

   Although the Preakness time was about normal for the distance over what I had thought earlier was a track ‘playing slow’, the Derby was one of the slowest in history and yet many contenders weren’t closer to the leader ???? Thusly, distance and getting distance seems to flatly be a problem with this whole class of ‘14. And, yet that also doesn’t surprise me anymore. Who is buying yearlings and 2 years olds anymore just to ‘win the Belmont’ or to run 11 and 12 furlong Turf events? Very few !!!! And that’s because there are fewer and fewer such events offered, which has been the trend since I myself got more interested in this sport. Most owners and owner groups are looking at Milers and those bred for a mile or 7 fur. or a mile and a 1/16 because if a horse is really going to be raced 15 to 20 times before retirement,--which is also not always the case anymore after some one success, or where after some one impressive win its more rapidly retired,--the game appears to be becoming one all about racing many races to capture grand stakes, of which there are many more offered at those shorter somewhat classic distances, or by appearances, has become a game about simply getting one flashy win and then thinking solely about ‘stud fees’ more than more racing dates, than it is about attempting to win the classics. Gee, in this day an age, you win a Triple Crown event or the BC Classic and its off to the stud farm. So, it’s not surprising to me that we can’t find more classic horses bred that look like they can get the Belmont distance. However, among this year’s so far identified supposed entrants, they also likely won’t all fall over before they reach the finish line either because we know you can push a horse to get 40 miles in a day, thusly the question is, when this year’s crop gets to the Belmont finish line, ‘will they all still be running or will several just be walking’ ???  No matter which, I don’t see the Belmont track record getting broken !!! If “California Chrome” can somehow save enough internal gas for some finish push, or if he has the “Cosquilla” heart that was passed to him from the immortal “Secretariat”, we may all witness history. I wish I could find a horse more classic bred this year that is running against the rest in the Belmont, but like Steve after his investigation, I don’t see any standouts among the current entrants that appear in that category to me either. And, it is nice that Steve took the time to point that out to all his blog buddies and blog bunnies. In any event, I will keep checking the breeding on those next crop of 2 year olds as I always do now, because as I have always said, “if you can find one that is bred for the Belmont, you might have already found your Derby horse.” And this blog is about finding the Derby horse still ???  right ??? And congrats to Steve who after his ‘first dozen’ ??? later finally found the “Derby winner” and had him atop his list in his last dozen.

    Again, good luck at the windows on Belmont Day and remember there are other races to worry about than just that one, yes that one that MIGHT bring us some history in this modern era. But it sure makes the Belmont more fun, huh ???  I am sure that “Chrome’s” bandwagon has no seats left now !!!  

    GO  BABY  GO BABY   GO !!! And Good Luck “Chrome”, I won’t leave ya off my tickets even if I just want to have one to save and frame !!!! And as always, thanks for the open air time that this blog is.

    Well, like I first told my brother and then ya’all later before that horse came this far …

“he’s got the moves like Jaggar,  he’s got the moves like Jaggar !!”

23 May 2014 10:01 PM


I enjoyed your survey of the Belmont pedigrees. Good job. California Chrome's pedigree is as good as any for the distance in my view and it will take not just stamina but a rare turn of foot to topple him. I see him once again asserting his superiority over his rivals in a history making performance.

Talk about befuddling ...what are the connections of Samraat thinking? That colt should've been in the Preakness and be waiting for races like the Haskel or Jim Dandy. I can't see him faring any better than he did in the Kentucky Derby.

Commissioner is the 'dark horse' in the race.

23 May 2014 10:06 PM

Steve - I have just gotten through reading your "Belmont Bible" and what extraordinary research you have done - Not surprised ~ as always   factual and certainly interesting, even intriguing.

I will confirm that Belmont is a tough and massive track that shows no mercy to any particular horse unless he adapts to the course and feels good on that particular day to give what he has to cut the 1 1/2m -  What we are looking for is a good and even pace in this race and not the generated speed so not to expect it.  This will most likely give California Chrome the edge and with a clear path Espinoza will just ride him on through.

It is a bit early on here to gather a perfect scenario when taking into consideration the lines and breeding but since there seems to be no one horse that shows definite format for the long trip I will be as confident as the Shermans'.  It is a well deserved break of three weeks  for California Chrome and he seems to be going across the track nicely with his gallops as he continues "to take it all in" and we've got a Triple Crown winner.

Your wrap-up on this report is the most accurate as it is not the pedigrees here that are contending rather it is "the best" horse wins.  

23 May 2014 11:47 PM
Paula Higgins

I think California Chrome has the best chance of winning the Triple Crown of any horse I have seen for a very long time. He is that talented and gutsy. But  it is the Belmont and he is the only horse who will have run all 3 legs when all is said and done. So, I am going with California Chrome but I think Commanding Curb, Commissioner and Ride On Curlin will give him a run for his money. As stated above, his ability to rate and then turn on the speed is his ace in the hole. I just hope he can turn on the speed at that distance and hold the fresh horses off.

24 May 2014 1:13 AM

As you say, Steve, befuddling pedigrees indeed, but it sure is fun hearing all the opinions.  I really don't care about all the other horses' pedigrees because I want so badly to see a Triple Crown winner again.   So I'll chime in on what I see in California Chrome’s pedigree applicable to the Belmont.

A royal flush.  That's what I see.  An endless supply of top-notch, well bred horses top and bottom when you look back a few generations, meaning the primo genes were always in the pool no matter how unremarkable the careers of the parents.  In a one in gazillion coitus moments, the best of all those racing genes came together on both sides, crowding out all but the most desirable thoroughbred traits imaginable, creating the ultimate chestnut package.  Once you believe what your eyes are seeing, then it's easy to extrapolate from the bloodlines what should occur in the Belmont.  

I see Princequillo, Secretariat's prime source of stamina, showing up 9 times in CC's pedigree, 7 times on top and 2 times on bottom.  There's A P Indy, Seattle Slew, and Secretariat, the monster horse himself, all Belmont winners.  I see Sir Ivor and Danzig in CC's “no account” dam's fourth generation, whom from their seeds produced another Belmont winner, Danzig Connection (Danzig being the daddy and Sir Ivor the momma's daddy).  On top and bottom I see Mr. Prospector, a Belmont winner’s sire and a grandson of Belmont winners Native Dancer and Nashua, the brilliant horse who lost to Swaps in the KY Derby.  And he, of the Art Sherman connection, shows up twice on the dam side through Numbered Account, giving our story its last satisfying oomph.  

So if California Chrome is the gazillion to one freak he appears to be, then God is a horse racing fan, and the genes of all those third jewel winners and long distance specialists should surface in abundance come Belmont day, and we might just see another race for the ages, and our twelfth Triple Crown winner.          

24 May 2014 1:16 AM

Pedigree Ann : Nice post, always enjoy reading your posts.  Thanks!

24 May 2014 1:46 AM


Great work on the pedigree angle, but the Belmont Stakes is a galloper's race. It is usually (not always) won by a speed type-galloper, a stalker or a grinder who can click off 12.5 around the track. Deep closers are typically at a disadvantage, and there are no big late moves from last to first in this race (at least not in some time).

Hence, horses like Commanding Curve and Wicked Strong are going to have to get closer, gallop the entire race, and hope they pass tired horses. If Comm Curve tries the Derby move he did in the Belmont Stakes he will hang like a picture. Just ask Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel, or Ice Box.

24 May 2014 2:11 AM

I am no pedigree maven, however, I was very intrigued that Princequillo, who was the biggest influence through Somethingroyal, to provide the stamina and durability influence thought to be missing in Bold Ruler for the genetic cocktail that produced Secretariat.... Chrome is inbred 9 times to Princequillo.  Chrome seems to have overcome a couple of the "fragile" lines in his pedigree (a double of Mr. Prospector and of Northern Dancer) and seems to have inherited the durability from other sources to strengthen those lines rather than weakening them. It has been said of Princequillo that he had the unique ability to correct almost any leg or soundness problem in the mares he bred. Perhaps the "stew" that produced California Chrome has imbued him with some  qualities that if he can pass them on would certainly be a welcome addition to the gene pool. This kind of legacy takes many, many years to build and will remain in question and be a huge topic of conversation for many, many years. I just hope we get to have the conversation!!! I hope he makes it all the way, and we can speculate to kingdom come what his legacy might be.

24 May 2014 2:34 AM

Bold Forbes broodmare sire, Commodore M., listed as stood for free according to some really old literature I used to consult for breeding prior to the internet.

24 May 2014 7:35 AM
Lise from Maine

Hi Steve,

I am eager to see who else you mention in California Chrome's pedigree as I enjoy reading and studying the bloodline.

It was not an accident that he won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness coming from so-called "humble" parents as we, his fans, are led to believe.

He has plenty of great pedigree from his ancestors. Although pedigree isn't everything, it sure helps.

The owners were fortunate to have gotten California Chrome in an inexpensive way but they also had to courage to do so pertaining to his so-called "humble" parents. Most people would not have done so but when one is "tight" with money, how else would one go?

That is the way to go.

In actuality, were his parents "that" humble after all?

I don't think so. I don't know the history of Lucky Pulpit. Perhaps he wasn't producing quality horses. I don't know but a $2,500 fee is quite cheap.

Good luck to California Chrome and his team of people in the Belmont!

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

24 May 2014 8:08 AM

As always, your articles are the most astute and very much appreciated! What a quirky race this Belmont can be. Few horses capable of the Classic distance and very few a mile and a half. Plodders that do not run fast but also do not stop sometimes gallop by all the staggering favorites but I do not see that scenario this year. Chrome is simply better than this crop of three year olds and not knocking them as any weaker than a lot of past crops, he is just so nice that he makes them look suspect. Some of these horses will go on to very successful careers but probably at less than the Classic distance. As long as he is competing in these "restricted" races, he should keep winning for fun and The Belmont will be his playground as well. There are so many things that can get the best horse beat but barring some terrible racing luck, the rest of this bunch are running for second. Perhaps the biggest threat will be race riding, ala Smarty Jones but this will require jockeys to sacrifice their horses (Eddington)to prevent him from winning. I actually feel he is good enough to fend off these tactics and still prevail and have to admit, the next TC winner should be a horse that can take a few punches and still find a way to win as the truly great ones of the past have shown. As for pedigrees, practically every cheap claimer has Classic and Belmont winners in their back class so an argument can be made for plenty of runners once they reach the starting gate for this race. Chrome is just a freak that happens once in a very great while with modest sires and brood mares. We simply do not know how many are produced with unusually special talent because so many of these horses will never get the chance to show it. There are no statistics to reveal this but no doubt some never step foot on a race track from getting sick, injured, or worse at the farm as a baby. And more have career ending injuries or accidents when just starting training. Had a long discussion one morning with a HOF trainer friend of mine on this subject and he could think of many of the very young horses that he had seen that appeared to possess all the ingredients to be a future champion but were derailed by a myriad of setbacks. So Chrome is an anomaly but shows they truly can come from anywhere. And sure, top class breeding will produce more top class horses but Chrome is what keeps the big dreams alive for the smaller, budget breeders. I would actually love to see a hypothetical Belmont with Chrome taking on some of the near miss TC runners like Smarty, Spectacular Bid, Sunday Silence, Tim Tam, Afleet Alex, Native Dancer, etc. He would more than hold his own. And step it up a thousand notches and put him in with all the past TC champions in a hypothetical Belmont and I feel he still holds his own, except for Secretariat who, with a duplicate effort of his Belmont, wins by daylight again. Immensely enjoying this ride with Chrome and so nice to have a trainer and staff that represents the industry with dignity and class, a refreshing change from so much controversy we had to endure with some recent TC contenders, so a big shout out and thanks to the entire Sherman team!

24 May 2014 9:29 AM
Smoking Baby

Pedigree Ann.  I remember that Belmont.  GREAT training job by Laz Barerra.  Getting that colt to run that far was one of the better training jobs of all time me thinks.  Earlier in the year at Santa Anita people were saying seven eighths was too far for him.  That was right before they shipped him back east for (I believe) the Bay Shore.

24 May 2014 9:32 AM
Smoking Baby

Pedigree Ann.  I believe Castle Forbes was the mare Bold Forbes was out of.  99% sure he was by Irish Tower.

24 May 2014 9:33 AM
Proud Acres

Delta lady, I enjoyed your response. I am no expert on pedigrees but I believe in Chrome. I believe he can do it, stay safe and let the wind be in your hair. I'm a true did hard Chromie.

24 May 2014 10:13 AM

I 've heard many suggested the race will run in 2.31

or so if that the case, California Chrome just have to

run the last quarter mile in 28 seconds he should win

the Belmont stakes.

We will have the Triple Crown winner this year.

24 May 2014 10:20 AM

I think every colt in the prospective Belmont field has the breeding credentials to win.  I think only one has the running style and heart to get it done.  My heart and money are on California Chrome.

24 May 2014 11:01 AM

As always Steve you've given us another great read. Deciphering pedigrees is a tedious task. Every time I am analyzing pedigrees I find myself comparing it to cooking french onion soup, I love preparing and eating it. The process for preparing it is always the same. Carefully select the onions, broth, cheese, fresh thyme, butter, bay leaves, wine, french bread, and Cognac. Assuming I have the right ingredients, what kind of pan will I cook it in? What amount of heat? Is it a gas burner or electric? Are the onions sliced the right thickness? Is the thyme fresh enough? Is the cheese grated correctly...? I have prepared it dozens of times and it always turns out a little bit different. Breeding thoroughbred horses is, in many ways, like cooking french onion soup. Select a mare and a stallion, breed them. Keep the mare healthy while she is carrying the foal. Once the foal is born it needs to be raised correctly, weaned, allowed to live with other foals develop a sense of competitiveness. It must be trained to be ridden and accept commands from its rider, so on and so forth. The ability to race one and a half miles is not all about ingredients (gruyere cheese is the key to french onion soup) but is more about having the other factors be conducive to staying the distance in a fast enough time to win. Making sense of them in regards to which horse may or may not savor running a mile and a half on the first Saturday in June is a bit insipid. Experience, foundation, pace, tactics all trump pedigree. As you skillfully pointed out a case could likely be made for any of the Belmont probables. If indeed pedigree was a paramount factor, the results of past Belmonts would likely be very different. These young steeds all have great thoroughbred blood flowing through their veins and the winner as you concluded will be the best horse getting the best trip. All the *Princequillo (the onion in the soup) blood in California Chrome's pedigree gives me reason to believe he can get the demanding distance.  He may become a horse future generations of pedigree analysts will look back on as a staying influence.

24 May 2014 11:09 AM

More interesting breeding of Belmont contenders :

Northern Dancer :

sire lines---      Intense Holiday , Samraat, Wicked Strong

dam sire lines--   Commanding Curve , Commissioner , Kid Cruz , Ride on Curlin , Wicked Strong

Raise a Native :

sire lines ---     Kid Cruz , Ride on Curlin , Social Inclusion

dam sire lines  ---California Chrome , Intense Holiday , Matuzak ,

Bold Ruler :

sire lines ---     California Chrome , Commanding Curve , Commissioner ,Matuzak , Tonalist

24 May 2014 11:09 AM

Love this, Steve!!  Always fascinating when you delve into the pedigrees and bring up so many points from the past that I would find so staggering if I had to dig through all the research on my own.  As ever, I appreciate not only your story telling but your ability to line up so many facts and stats.  Thank you!!

24 May 2014 11:15 AM
Scott's Rail

No big deal but my entries here haven't been getting posted.  Don't think it's my content. (The Pulitzer committee hasn't notified me yet). Just wondering.. I love this format and many opinions.  Just want to put in my 2 cents, once in a while.  Just retired last week so I will have more time pursuing my love for the Thoroughbred.  

24 May 2014 11:26 AM

Steve, I agree that CC and the top 3 or 4 are eligible based on pedigree and your analysis is good, in that it points to the influences that can get them there.

Pedigree is only one part of the story.  You know like I do, that at Belmont when a Crown is on the line, that place gets very, very intense.  Funny Cide couldn't handle it, Smarty Jones didn't well either (plus his pedigree was arguably light for 12F).  I'll Have Another would have won by open lengths, had he not been injured.

The great factor in CC's favor aside from tactical speed and making his race is his demeanor.  He loves the crowds and the attention and never gets ruffled.  He's got class of an order few of his contenders show.

Social Inclusion was a hot mess in Baltimore.  He shouldn't run here.  We'll see how the others handle the pre-race intensity of the Belmont crowd.  I am very confident CC will handle it well...and even feed off it.  He looks like the one to do it, to me.  The complete package.

24 May 2014 1:37 PM
Smoking Baby

My earlier post is incorrect (getting old).  Belmont Stakes winner Bold Forbes was by Irish Castle-Comely Nell.  My bad.

24 May 2014 2:08 PM

Didn't Darley aka Lexington run 4 mile races and win 6 out of 7 of them. CC has Man 'o War in his pedigree and Man 'O War had Lexington in his on the sire side. I would be shocked if CC couldn't go the distance. A perfect confluence of horse genetics at a perfect time. It is almost as if I am watching every great horse legend that ever was at once. Thank-you California Chrome.

24 May 2014 6:34 PM

What is better breeding, Tonalist or California Chrome ? If you accept the traditonal numbers making up dosage numbers, the obvious choice is Tonalist. But, what do you really get  with their sires? Tonalist has the traditional choice sire Tapit, while California Chrome brings the budget minded sire Lucky Pulpit, who brings the same sire lines as Tapit, as both , Tapit and Lucky Pulpit are progendy of Pulpit. So what is the big difference in their dosage numbers? Obviously it is from their racing records and more importantly their damside breeding. The choice here will be whether you like the traditional RAN/ND lines of Tonalist, or the more outside the box lines of California Chrome that brings a double dose of Princequillo and some early speed, from Lucky Mel. From a science perspective of dosage , which  is anything but an exact science, as it can change over time with racing results being taken into consideration, I would have to say in this comparison I will have to take a wait and see stance. This , mainly because of the ability displayed by California Chrome and the still waiting to be displayed ability of Tonalist. I think California Chrome is my visual pick, while Tonalist would be my dosage numbers pick.

The big question to be answered, as of now, since we don't know who will actually be in the race: What kind of pace can we expect? Certainly it will be different depending on what Social Inclusion's connections decide.

24 May 2014 8:42 PM
Steve Haskin

Soldier Course, It looks like you looked at the same website I did -- Spirit Symbols. Lol. Sounds like theyre going to be ganging up on him and he's got to play it cool.

24 May 2014 9:14 PM

Chrome has all the traits that are necessary to win the TC, talent, great mind, soundness, plenty of back class pedigree and what has to be a powerful immune system. But to me, what elevates him over the top is a foundation virtually unheard of for modern day 3 year olds. Astounding that he has raced so many times without missing a scheduled start and this is undoubtably why he keeps getting stronger after each of these tough races.

24 May 2014 9:14 PM

Seems a lot of people are wanting Social Inclusion to not run in the Belmont. Their reasoning appears justifiable, he really isn't ready for this kind of a race. Is this their true thinking or do they not want him in the race because he would truly be dangerous? The reason he would be dangerous is because he is fast. Playing cyber trainer here, if I were his connections I would opt for the easier spot if indeed he is training well. A win now against a lesser field is what he needs. There will be ample opportunities later in the summer and fall to prove his class. He is already dual grade I classic placed and could very well be a grade I winner if allowed to get a bit more confidence. The antsy behavior and sweating in the post parade for the Preakness didn't appear as bad as what happened prior to the Wood so he has shown improvement in that regard. Until he relaxes and deals with the rigors of racing it is going to be difficult for him to fully utilize his talent to his best advantage.

Pedigree wise this horse is unusual in that he is is completely out-crossed in the first five generations and in the sixth he is inbred to In Reality on his sires, Pioneer Of The Nile, side. His dam Saint Bernadette is inbred to *Mahmoud  in the fifth generation through her sire Saint Ballado.  He has numerous classic winners scattered throughout his pedigree and it should  be noted his sire did finish second in the Kentucky Derby.

24 May 2014 9:28 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

I will said this 12 furlongs and class are very similar in many ways the derby was a slow time race and the final Quarter was ran in 26 1/4 C.Curve closing move was not so real as you think and ride on curling was off very slow and lost momentum in the rail for borrail then he was nine wide and was closing with gusto, so you don't have to be smart to understand the Quality of this horse it is very clear to me base on the Belmont winners the last 10 years this horse has the best class, breeding and talent to turn cal. chrome last hope in just a hope , tonalist is by tapit but he is all stamina very dangerous animal, c.curve has a stamina oriented pedigree and has to be included, wicked strong is good his female family is not you decide, danza is not union rags don't worry and who else well commissioner the hidden danza by a fast Belmont winner and out a Belmont winner mare who ran a bayer of 117 even when he went to his knees at the start he has the potential on breeding to be the hunter, so to make a profit in the Belmont you have to go with the winning percentage California breeds triple crown winners cero percent.

24 May 2014 10:09 PM

Oh Yes! Steve ~ They are definitely going to try to lock our blazing copper penny in ("gang up on him"as you say) but let us believe that this is a "good luck penny" and the toss goes in California Chromes' favor along with the good possibility that this race will not be run fast - Victor will have his hands full for sure but since this is going his way he will find the way out and Chromes' quick response and expertise in changing leads so smoothly will allow him to kick it up a notch, break free and then it's catch me if you can. This colt has got such demeanor and personality that makes him so much more attractive than his contenders it's hard to imagine that he would even disappoint himself.  He has given a fine performance of power, strength and heart - that makes hime a Triple Crown winner.

25 May 2014 12:45 AM

Kieren Mclaughlin's BAY of PLENTY is one to watch for in the future.

25 May 2014 1:50 AM
Pedigree Ann

Yeah, Smokin Baby, we were both wrong. Bold Forbes was by IRISH CASTLE, the Hopeful winner whose dam was Castle Forbes. Now I can't read an APR page correctly. Sheesh.

Now I would note that Forbsie came from a distinguished Calumet family - his second dam Nellie L. won the Kentucky Oaks (1 1/16 then) and the Acorn, while his third dam was champion 2yo filly of 1934 and finished 4th in the Derby to Triple Crown champion Omaha. And the 4th dam won the Preakness. But that is a ways back in the pedigree.

25 May 2014 7:41 AM
Scott's Rail

Many times before, the horse shoulda, coulda, woulda...The jockey didn't.

25 May 2014 10:15 AM
Byron Rogers


You write "Many times, it’s not the sire and dam who are responsible for a horse’s distance capabilities or restrictions, but the blood flowing in the generations behind them."....

That is just not the current reality of genetics and inheritance for optimal racing distance as it is known today and to proffer distant ancestors as a reason for a horse being able to or not being able to get a route of ground is doing your readership a significant disservice and only promulgating a flat earth belief system in thoroughbred breeding.

The parents are solely responsible for the regulation of distance capabilities. While cardiovascular capacity and racing class can muddy the waters a little, you are who your parents were as runners and if they didn’t run your grandparents and no more.

Black Caviar is by a sprinter in Bel Esprit out of an unraced daughter of a sprinting mare by a sprinting sire. The fact that her great grandsire Nijinsky won the Guineas/Derby/St Leger wouldn't have helped her run past a mile one bit in just about any race and it won’t magically make any offspring of hers win a two mile Melbourne Cup. It’s the same reason why having Galileo as his grandfather didn’t make Dawn Approach the likely winner of a Derby. He was a sprinter/miler on his genetics which is what he got in the roll of the dice from his two parents. Thinking that Swaps, Princequillo or Prince Blessed are magically going to help California Chrome get a mile and a half because they did is just not based on the reality of science.

These are a bunch of mile to a mile and an eighth types that will stagger around Belmont and if they go slow enough any of them can win. The fact that Chrome got a 97 Beyer in the 10F Derby and then a higher 105 when he dropped back in distance to win the 9f Preakness only confirms that he’s a miler but has class on his side to beat the others if they go slow enough which they probably will.

25 May 2014 12:13 PM

Byron Rogers - before you chastise Steve on his comments regarding genetics - you should learn about 'Thoroughbred race horse' genetics yourself.  While what you state may be true for some breeds of horses and probably most if not all breeds of dogs and other animals, it is NOT true for Thoroughbred race horses. Because in spite of its name, the Thoroughbred race horse is a hybrid and therefore its genetics follow different laws than those of purebreds.  If what you said were true, breeding race horses would be easy as one would always know exactly what they were getting based soley on the parents.....but we all know that is the furthest thing from the truth which is why breeding is such a challenge....!    Another great article Steve!  

25 May 2014 12:54 PM
mike g rutherford

Looks like the best race of the three ! So far CC has looked like a man among boys. The winner will be the one who can sprint home the fastest. Hope CC can handle the different surface. Wish I could be there but will be watching. Have that feeling that is the year to get it done. On paper this is a big time race for the ages.

25 May 2014 1:05 PM

Several random thoughts.

1)I am intrigued by the common thread that The three C's (Chrome, Curly and Curve) and Samaraat have; Secretariat and Buckpasser in their pedigrees. I always held Buckpasser in very high regard.

2)When you first introduced Chrome to us on the Derby Dozen, my first comment on him was how fit he was. Based on the latest picture I saw of Chrome,I think he still looks to be very fit. It seems to me that Mr Sherman has hit on the perfect conditioning program for a horse like Chrome. He also lets Chrome get all of his lookie loos out of system so that he concentrate on running the day of the race.

3) I think Chrome is a very intelligent horse and I think he just goes with the flow on everything. Never seems to get upset.

3)Much of been made of him "foaming at the bit". Anyone who has spent much time around horses and understands their body language knows that when a horse works his mouth, he is thinking, absorbing what he sees, hears and feels. A moist mouth also protects the soft tissues of the mouth from injury.

4) I watched the overhead view of the Preakness and was so very impressed by how tactile Chrome is and how calmly and quietly he responds to Victor's requests.

5)All horses are the result of the generations that came before them.

6)I read that the DAP researched pedigrees for 6 month before picking a stallion. I think also that they were looking for a stallion to improve their mare. For example, if you look at Chrome's dam, she does not have a good hip. His sire on the other hand has an awesome hip. I can almost see DAP overlaying the stallion over their mare in a picture. That is the way a lot of my friends that breed horses. In that a foal is 60% of the dam, you want to pick a stallion that will overcome her shortcomings.

7. I continue to stand with Curly and Curve to hit the board. And I think Samraat will be close to the board and might even hit it instead of Curly or Curve. This is his home track and the one on which he as won. This has got to be an advantage for him.

I hope Chrome wins the Triple Crown. It has long been on my bucket list that I live to see another Triple Crown winner and that the horse would descend from Secretariat.

I know that it will depend on getting a clean break from the gate, another smart ride from Victor and luck and blessings from God.

In my opinion, Chrome will love the Belmont course.

At the end of the day, my biggest wish is that all the colts and riders are safe. Win or lose, Chrome has been a joy. He is the dream that so many of us have for our own horses. I for one have thoroughly enjoyed the journey and hope for the happy ending to the storybook.

Prayers for the full recovery of Intense Holiday.

Thank you Steve for delving into the pedigrees of these colts.

There is greatness in all of them. Just hope that California Chrome has just a little more greatness to bring it home!

25 May 2014 2:17 PM
Soldier Course


Yes, Spirit Symbols rings a bell. The interesting thing was that a few other sites mentioned "strategy", "diversion", and combinations thereof, when I searched "opossum symbolism". I have learned to look deeper whenever the sublime in racing is looming ahead, because I feel there's a supernatural element involved in some racing events. Not all, but some.

So I saw that photo of poor Willie in rictus, Chrome as cool as a cucumber, and sweet DAPossum making his momma proud, and I just knew there was a message afoot.

25 May 2014 3:56 PM

Byron; what the heck is "the current reality of genetics..."?   Have the laws of genetics somehow changed over time?  I'll grant that the closer a horse is in a pedigree, the greater influence on the genetics of the offspring, but the fact is, every horse is the sum of it's entire pedigree.  To say any ancestor beyond the 2nd generation has no impact on the thoroughbred, or on any breed; animal or human, is patently ridiculous.

As for California Chrome, specifically, I'll also disagree with your statement that Chrome's 97 Beyer in the Derby vs his 105 Beyer in the Preakness, proves he is a miler-type.  Chrome's exercise rider says he didn't like the CD surface; he liked Pimlico and he likes Belmont even better.  Despite his dislike of the CD strip, he won convincingly and could have run faster had there been any need to, which there was not.  He had to run faster in the Preakness, and so he did.  I expect he'll do what he needs to in the Belmont as well.

25 May 2014 6:03 PM

Byron Rogers:

You say that "The parents are solely responsible for the regulation of distance capabilities ...you are who your parents were as runners and if they didn’t run your grandparents and no more."  

Are you saying that 'running traits' cant manifest beyond two generations? Who are you kidding?

How is it that color traits for example, as in the chesnut color of Secretariat could skip at minimum, two generations (probably but not necessarily inherited from great grand sire Discovery) but running traits can't?

Tell us, are the reknowned La Troinne, Hyperion, Princequillo influences on their descedants stamina/classic distance proclivities mythical?  You have some expert explaining to do Bro.

So California Chrome's slow Kentucky Derby time and low Beyer speed vis a vis his faster Preakness figures tells you that he's no more than a stretch-out miler?

This kind of analysis and conclusion reflects closeted thinking because it is quite clear to most that the competition in the Preakness forced California Chrome to run faster than he did in the Derby, NOT distance propensity factors.

25 May 2014 6:12 PM

Quinnbit 24 May 2014 9:28pm,

Your comments about Social Inclusion were very interesting. I too believe that he has the pedigree to go the Belmont distance and could be dangerous BUT he does appear green/immature and lacking the foundation to succeed against California Chrome at the moment.  Perhaps with the blinkers removed he could be sent on a catch-me-if-you-can gambit in the Belmont BUT I'd rather see him take on the likes of 4YO superstar Palice Malice in the Met Mile on the same day with a significant weight advantage reminescent of Holy Bull back in 1994.

25 May 2014 6:37 PM

Re- Steve's comments, and Byron's response to those comments:

Steve's statement, taken literally, is incorrect, and I cringed when first reading it. Byron's first comments were accurate, but then he confused the issue when referring to the grandparent of an unraced sire (or dam). Fact is, the parents (sire and dam) are solely "responsible" for all genetic attributes of the offspring-it is their genes only that comprise the genome (genetic makeup) of the offspring. But, just as the offsprings' genes are composed of their parents' genes, so too the parents' genes are composed of (contributed by) their parents' genes...and so on down the line. Once you go past the first generation (sire/dam), however,  it is impossible to know what portion of the genetic material was inherited from the forebears. So, you are what you received from your parents (whether they were unraced or not-that's where Byron confused the issue). But, what you received from them is comprised of the genetic material that they received from their respective parents, etc. We do know that the offspring receives 50% of their sire's, and 50% of their dam's genetic material. Due to the "laws" of genetics (read up on it), we cannot be sure of the % amount of genetic material "contributed"/accounted to by/for EACH grandparent, and those before them. So, while Steve's comments should, perhaps, not be taken literally, I think his error was only in "semantics" (same for Byron).      

25 May 2014 9:02 PM

I'm glad someone finally agreed with me that SI should stick to mile races.   He is probably the worst overhyped triple crown horse in recent years.   I think they should focus on the BC Mile as their goal and hopefully get themselves a G1.   I told them to take the $8M but they wouldn't listen lol.

I'll be in Belmont for (hopefully) a historic day, I will spend most of Saturday just taking it all in...going to try and get some good pics of Samraat and Chrome.   I'm going crazy waiting...another 2 weeks.

25 May 2014 10:34 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  California Chrome is a marvel and thus is marvelous. The funny thing is that it looks like he is just now getting really good. They are finally allowing him to get in shape through this succession of races. Before he just was using his talent to just cruise along to victories as if it was Saturday night on the main drag. Now he is all souped up and ready to really put on a spectacular show. He's a time machine, the 70's all over again and is Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed all rolled into one. It's showtime baby, anyone that gets in the way will get run over. All he needed was a Derby tuneup, a Preakness preview, and now it is time for the Belmont Blowout and time to burst the bubble of a Triple Crown drought. It's going to be a really good shoe.

25 May 2014 11:04 PM

Byron Rogers and lisa123, I would like to engage you both in a scientific study.  First, lisa, the x chromosome (heartline/stamina) which mares transmit to all their offspring, but stallions only to their daughters, can be traced fairly accurately through the bloodlines of a pedigree.  The heartline traces on a zig-zag pattern to the dam, then to dam's sire, then to his dam,etc.  So great broodmare sires like Sir Gallahad II, Buckpasser, War Admiral, and Secretariat may have benefitted from an outstanding x chromosome that they transmitted to their daughters, but never their sons.

The only horse in this field with a Secretariat influence on the tail side of his pedigree is Ride on Curlin.  His broodmare sire, Storm Cat is out of the great broodmare, Terlingua, a daughter of Secretariat.

Moving on, Buckpasser, a predominant force on the tail side of California Chrome's pedigree, descends from the immediate family of La Troienne, a great and influential foundation broodmare.  So, the beauty of California Chrome's pedigree is that a breeder of limited means loaded his pedigree with fine broodmares without the need to go to the most expensive stallion.

Bottom line, mitochondrial DNA is only transmitted by mares never by stallions, so such DNA can only come from the bottom line of a pedigree.

In this field, I would say that California Chrome and Ride on Curlin have the pedigrees to get that 1 1/2 mile distance.

25 May 2014 11:49 PM

Byron Rogers, what an interesting commentary. Black Caviar??? You must not have read about her, her breeder and his belief's. We are all our genetic's. Animals included. Blue eyes, brown eyes, curly hair, baldness is no guarantee that you will have or not have these traits. Same with animals, that is why people try and keep blood lines alive. Think about it and enjoy the race.

26 May 2014 1:04 AM

The geneticists that I know would agree basically what Byron Rogers and sceptre have stated. They are always taking away the romance of racing/breeding. Sometimes, you just don't want to know the scientific explanation, racing is Romanticism above everything else.

26 May 2014 3:21 AM
food fight

Thanks for the pedigree updates i think this will be a memorable Belmont the likes of Smarty Jones and Birdstone or maybe even Victory Gallop and Real Quiet. I am not saying that CC won't win but merely suggesting a very competitive race.My selection although unpopular it may be is Commissioner. I think he will run a huge race off his Peter Pan performance he reminds me of Palace Malice somewhat and he will not be rushed in the Belmont like he was in the PP stakes to stay close enough to Tonalist, instead he will have the luxury to sit off the pace and let the front runners come back to him. He should continue to grind down the lane and when pedigree starts to play a key roll in the grueling distance of a mile and a half he should put put on the after burners and where them down.  

26 May 2014 9:36 AM

Ranagulzion 25 May 2014 6:37 PM

Running a mile at Belmont against a seasoned veteran in peak form like Palace Malice at this stage would be a difficult assignment even with a weight advantage. Palace Malice will likely be assigned 125 pounds and Social Inclusion 115. The spread is appreciable. Palace Malice showed he can carry 126 and win. For purposes of handicapping, it is more often the maximum amount a horse can carry and still win rather than the spread. Some elaboration on the weight carried. Some camps declare flatly that weight has little bearing.  Other camps, mine included give it credence. Elementary physics says it takes a certain amount of energy to move a mass from point A to point B.  So if one horse is carrying less than other he will need less energy. The complication of the formula comes down to biological processes occurring within the muscles moving the horse. The discussion concerning weight a muscle can bear always brings back memories of my days as a plebe at military school. Each squad dined at the same table family style and us plebes sat at attention "square meal" style. As a means to demean us or just to be flat out mean the older cadets would have us hold a pitcher of juice straight out front of us, arm fully extended. When our muscle fatigued and started shaking they would then sarcastically cajole us. Next they would replace the pitcher with the sugar shaker, then a salt shaker, finally a toothpick would be sitting in our violently shaking hand. They would then call us wimps, their rank assertion mission accomplished. As a parallel comparison the effect of weight carried by a horse over an extended period of time is about who exhausts their energy supply. All this plays into genetics and pedigree, both topics that have been and will be debated ad nauseam as long as breeding thoroughbreds continues.  

Back to Social Inclusion, if his connections stay with Contreras (according to Woodbine's website he does 114) they will once again be at his mercy, early move in the Wood, early move in Preakness; following instructions I suspect since it happened twice. Maybe the blinkers off and "drag race" in the seven furlong Woody Stephens... ? Going to be interesting to see what choice is made.

26 May 2014 9:50 AM
Byron Rogers

Ok, maybe this will explain my point better....Let's look at one variation within one gene. In this one gene the horse can have three possible variations they can be a A:A and A:G or a G:G

The sire is an A:A and she is mated to a mare that is an A:G. When mated each pass on one of their copies down. The sire must pass an "A" because he is an A:A, the dam might pass an "A" or a "G" - its roughly a 50/50 chance which one she sends which is why full relations can be so different.

Let's say that in this case the throw of the dice says that the dam passes on a "G" so the resultant foal is like her dam, an A:G.

This A:G foal goes on to become a stallion and at stud he is mated to a mare that is a G:G. The resulting foal of this union gets either an "A" or a "G" from his sire, but he must get a "G" from his dam because that is all she has to give.

So, lets presume the sire passes his "G" on and the mare passes her "G". The resultant foal is now a G:G.

So in three generations

A:A Grandsire

A:G Sire

G:G Foal

So for that particular variant the foal is the exact opposite of his grandsire.

That is my point, in three generations you can have a horse that is completely different genetically than its grandisre so looking back in pedigrees for distant explanations is fruitless as you cannot make the G:G foal an A:A, no matter how much you wish and how fanciful you make the story.

26 May 2014 10:03 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

The proof is in the pudding. "Gee, you'd think he would of liked tapioca but he wanted no part of it. The winner, you'd think he would want nothing to do with tapioca but he relished every bit of it and asked where are the chocolate and vanilla puddings." Chrome, after winning the TC- "I'm ready for more. What's BC Classic- is that a pudding? If it is, bring it to the table too."

26 May 2014 10:11 AM
Smoking Baby

Jay Jay.  I'll take your comment one step further.  I think the connections of Social Inclusion should concentrate on running through his conditions and winning a stakes race first.

This colt is not even a stakes winner.  Until he is I'd say the Breeders Cup needs to be on the back burner at best.

While I do think it wise to remember that Ride On Curlin is also not yet a stakes winner, neither was Palace Malice at this point last year.  

Go Chrome!  It will indeed be a really good shoe.

26 May 2014 10:16 AM

It's been really interesting to read all the comments here about pedigree and genetics.  I am not a scientist and I do tend to romanticize those great horses of the past.  It is part of the great fun of racing to watch for the traits of those we loved who came before.  I think all of this discussion proves that point.

But I truly believe that we all, the magnificent thoroughbred especially, are the products of everyone who is part of our bloodline.  If the only possibilities were traits from parents, then surely Secretariat would have produced a son exactly like himself.  It just doesn't happen that way.  You never know how nature is going to mix up those ingredients.

And then, there is an additional consideration.  That is everything that happens in a life after we get here.  Love, nurturing, opportunity, nourishment, discipline, luck.......

California Chrome has had the best of it all.  Nature mixed up all those possible traits and gave him the best of the best.  He has had loving care, excellent training and luck.  There is a whole lot more to this horse than just who his parents are.

One more thing that's been on my mind.  At first I did not like his name.  At the beginning of the derby trail I am always drawn by the kind of name that has previously been the "great" horse.  Man O'War, Citation, Whirlaway, Affirmed, Secretariat, Buckpasser, Zenyatta.... you get what I mean.  I didn't think California Chrome had enough sound of greatness.  But, his name is extraordinarily like another extraordinary horse, Seattle Slew.  So, he really has it ALL!

26 May 2014 10:46 AM

Davids, you are missing out on the joy of studying the pedigree of these lovely creatures.  I love science and going back in time.  IMO pedigree, conformation, and foundation are most important.  Luck enters the game through the trainer and jockey.

Take a look at Union Rags pedigree, and you will see why he was able to go the distance in the Belmont in 2012 after waiting on the rail for a hole to open.  Dixie Union contributed his speed, but his dam, Tempo gave to Union Rags the stamina to win the Belmont.  

Bold Ruler contributed his speed to Secretariat, but his broodmare, Somethingroyal, gave to Secretariat her large heart.  She inherited that heart from Princequillo, one of the greatest or the greatest long distance runner of all time.

IMO Ride on Curlin and California Chrome have strong stamina influences on the bottom of their pedigrees.        

26 May 2014 12:41 PM
Linda in Texas

i forgot to mention a Blessed Memorial Day to all and then i now am seeing that Michael Blowen at Old Friend's has just sent the sad message that Clever Allemont was euthanized today because of Colic. His history/biography begs to be read. It explains my disdain for the cruel slaughtering of horses. Which is where he was headed from a kill pen in Kansas in 2008. He was 26. Imagine killing a 26 year old horse. I can't and that is why i defend them so strongly. Thank you Michael Blowen and all your staff and volunteers who make Old Friend's a special place for so many, horses and humans. Rest in Peace Clever Allemont and read his story, he was a true friend of mankind.

26 May 2014 1:06 PM
The Deacon

Dr. D: Glad to see that you are finally on board with Chrome. Win or lose it has sure been a nice ride. One thing here that many folks who continue to discuss genetics, pedigree, and in-line breeding fail to understand, we can never question the "heart of a champion". This wonderful colt is a champion. Maybe folks should rename him "California Chromosome"....ha ha

26 May 2014 1:36 PM
Alan Porter 1

Having spent more than 40 years looking at thoroughbred pedigrees, and frequently delving into and writing about the deeper reaches, I think to a degree I understand the misconceptions behind the dispute.

There are times when one might want to explain a horse in terms of an accumulation and/or concentration of more distant ancestors.

That time of analysis, however, is not of much help when seeking to plan a mating, or predict the aptitude of a horse.

Take one example from Steve's article, inbreeding to Secretariat. Obviously Secretariat himself put up one of the greatest, if not the greatest, performances of all time at a mile and a half.

At stud, however, he sired all sorts, from the sizable Risen Star, who won the Belmont Stakes by nearly 15 lengths, though the diminutive Lady's Secret, to the brilliantly speedy Terlingua.

Clearly, inbreeding to Secretariat could be achieved through many different and disparate mediums. Steve cites the Secretariat duplication as a likely source of stamina, but the same duplication is found in grade one winning sprinters Speightstown, D'Wildcat, Turbulent Descent, Game Face and Fanny Freud, just to Forpick a few. It's the same with another horse cited, Ribot, who might generally be found duplicated in pedigrees of horses that go a distance, but also appears more than once in the first five generations of sprint champions Kona Gold and Mozart.

It's basically impossible to predict a horse's aptitude or optimum distance capacity from a name or a duplication of a name in the fifth generation of the pedigree. In terms of aptitude, the range of possibilities is down solely to the genotype possessed by the parents.

Mate Speightstown to a grade one sprinting mare like Emma's Encore, and you'll will have three crosses of Secretariat (cited by Steve as a potential stamina influence for Commanding Curve), what almost certainly won't have is a horse that want's to run 12 furlongs.

26 May 2014 1:47 PM
Steve Haskin

Alan, the reference you mention merely states Commanding Curve is inbred 4x4x5 to Secretariat, nothing more. Nowhere does it endorse his stamina as you state. The intent of this column, as the head states, is about how befuddling the pedigrees of these particular horses are in determining whether they can go 1 1/2 miles, because of so many contrasting stallions and mares in regard to stamina and speed breeding. Mentions of Triple Crown winners in a pedigree is only used as a historical point of interest, nothing more. With Secretariat being inbred through Weekend Surprise and Terlingua shows how befuddling these pedigrees can be. I only mention him because he is inbred 3 times. I dont have your knowledge of pedigrees, but I do know not to state something so silly as the mere presence of Secretariat as an indicator a horse can go 1 1/2 miles.

26 May 2014 2:49 PM
Soldier Course

The Collective Unconscious

Hope I don't get in over my head here, or worse, make a fool of myself.

Jung believed that the collective unconscious applied to all species having a nervous system, not just to human beings. The collective unconscious is said to be inherited from all previous generations of a species, and affects an individual being's unconscious mind and memory. This phenomenon is broader than an individual's personal unconscious, which is unique to him. So perhaps the collective unconscious of the equine species can account for what we're seeing in California Chrome, something at work within him that is much greater than pedigree alone.

Maybe California Chrome is Jung At Heart.

26 May 2014 2:56 PM
Alan Porter 1

Thanks Steve. I guess I had inferred that you were mentioning Secretariat as a potential stamina/classic influence on the current individual.

In simple terms, what we've trying to convey is that the "names in the pedigree approach" as far as it comes down to fourth, fifth, sixth generations, doesn't really tell us anything about stamina potential.

The range of potential optimum distance (which can vary, even with siblings) is defined completely an absolutely by the genotype of the parents, and since we can usually have a fair guess at that (from race-records and progeny), in this regard there is no need to speculate on the impact of more distant ancestors.

For what it's worth, I'll guess that there may not be a single horse in the race whose optimum distance is 12 furlongs, it's just going to be a question of who can stagger through the closing stages faster than the rest!

26 May 2014 3:22 PM
Linda in Texas

Mr. Deacon - I know your wife must have thought how clever is her dear husband. California Chromosome!

Now that is indeed original. It is the chromosomes that line up to carry our characteristics. I mentioned that in a post that perhaps was lost.  

26 May 2014 3:22 PM

Researchers are just now starting to unlock the mysteries of equine genetics. In recent years, genetic researchers have identified  "speed" and "stamina" genes that can  be identified by DNA testing. For years there has been discussion about the yet unscientifically proven "large heart" gene that appears in some bloodlines that would account for the large heart that Secretariat had.

While it is true that a domestic horse has 64 chromosomes, receiving 32 from each parent, these chromosomes have  multiple genes each of which can be dominate or recessive in their character. These genes in turn each carry multiple alleles that can have one of four possible dominance/recessive impact combinations.

There is absolutely no way to predict which way the genetic material received from each parent will evolve. For each offspring there are literally millions of possible combinations.

The result is that every horse is the product of genetic material that was created back through time to the origins of the horse in  one of the millions of possible combinations that occur.

Making a cut and dried statement that a foal is 50/50 the sire and the dam and that the genetic material a foal inherits only goes back a couple of generations is not fully understanding  the complexity of DNA, genes and alleles that rest on these 32 chromosomes handed off to a foal by each parent.

26 May 2014 3:51 PM

My heart goes happy pitter patter at pedigrees.

But my brain hurts at numbetrs/genetic a's b's and whatever's.

I ignore those things and just wander around stunned at how I now KNOW the horses in the fifth cross on a five cross pedigree!!  When did THAT happen?

p.s.  My sister was just as confused about how next week we will be commemorating the 70th anniversary of D Day.  Didn't we just commemorate the 60th anniversary??

Happy Memorial Day to you guys.

26 May 2014 4:35 PM

Steve, you are 100 spot on..just because a horse has Secretariat in their bloodline is no indication that the colt has the stamina to go a mile and a half. (Sorry Alan, and no one on here loves Secretariat than I do).

But if the colt has Secretariat and other incoming bloodlines that had the "stamina" to win the Belmont or at least be in contention, then there is case that can be argued that Secretariat through his broodmares did pass along his stamina.

The same can be said for a colt out of Mr Prospector, that alone is no guarantee that the colt will have speed.

I think a lot of this goes back to what someone posted on another site.

In genetics, when you breed to get something, you have to give up something. For example, if you breed for speed, then chances are you are going to give up stamina.

In the case of Secretariat, just as an example, very little was given up to achieve a certain desirable characteristic.

This, I think takes us back to understanding that a horse is the result of the blending of the genetic material it received from its ancestors, both immediate dam and sire and back generations.

In my personal opinion, and again I could be wrong...but what I think we are seeing in California Chrome and Commanding Curve and Ride on Curlin is the return to the old school method of picking a stallion to breed a mare to. This is the way that Claiborne, Meadow Farm and other great breeding farms made their decisions before the eighties.

I personally hope as do many of my horse friends on other sites do, that breeding for speed is a thing of the past. That going forward, breeders will be looking for other characteristics such as stamina, good bone, good conformation and good minds in the stallions they select. That they will consciously decide to select stallions that will improve their mares. That they will not be solely dependent on computer generated models or the horse with the high dollar stud fee as the lure.

In todays terms of what colts sell for, neither Ride on Curlin or Commanding Curve brought very high dollars when sold and of course we know Chrome was a home bred out of a $8,000 mare and by a $2500 stallion.

If we look at the pedigrees in this light and the entire pedigree, both top and bottom and back further than the first 2 or 3, they become less confusing to use to predict going the mile and a half.

26 May 2014 4:38 PM

Mary, I have a foot in both camps but the real joy is, like yourself, going through a pedigree - this sire to this mare, and why? - speed, conformation, stamina, temperament etc.

Steve, I just re-read your Dr. Fager book - it's almost too hard to read the last few pages even after all these years.

26 May 2014 5:27 PM

Soldier Course, that is great!  Jung at heart.  Whenever I watch and read about these great horses, I can only believe that there is something more, some extra gift that is all their own that lifts them above the ordinary.  

26 May 2014 5:41 PM
Paula Higgins

DNA is a funny thing. You can have two children with the same parents and very different DNA, including DNA that is present in one child but not present in another. There is no way to know if California Chrome is great because of his distant links to past great horses or that he didn't get much DNA from those horses and he is simply outrunning his pedigree. I think so much goes into making a race horse great that DNA/pedigree can only account for a small part of it. Too many horses with great parents just turn out to be average runners. But I think CC will easily get the 1.5 miles. The issue will be, will another horse like the distance even more. California Chrome is the "Perfect storm" for whatever reasons i.e. foundation, trainer, temperment, heart, push button speed, great jockey, soundness etc. and I believe he will win the Belmont.

Soldier Course, you are not crazy but it is impossible to prove as we have a very limited understanding of the human brain, never mind the equine one.

26 May 2014 5:53 PM
Steve Haskin

I have seen too many horses who are by six-furlong sires who can stretch out to 1 1/8 and even 1 1/4 miles and too may six-furlong mares who produce classic horses, such as Commanding Curve. I have seen the same mare produce BC Classic winner Ghostzapper and City Zip, who you couldnt push past six furlongs. I have seen an Elusive Qulity and a Boundary sire Kentucky Derby winners. I cant help but believe that the second and third generations of these horses play a major role in how far they can run.

26 May 2014 8:13 PM
Steve Haskin

Davids, it was just as hard to write it, and I also have a tough time re-reading those final pages. So sad to lose a horse like that so early.

26 May 2014 8:15 PM

Byron Rogers, again what an interesting break down for us dummies on genetics, however what you said is extremely wrong and misleading. According to the horse genome project and other geneticists. The horse, like humans has a 64/32 strand Dna, what you are referring to as a G, is simply one part and actually is about their coat color, g is for GRAY and two grey parents have a 75% or a 3:1 chance of gray to not gray offspring. When it comes to other hereditary traits it is more complex. To put it in perspective, I have all my ancestors dna, the further back, the more diluted, but there none the less. Now when you keep adding genetic traits back into the mix of the DNA soup so to speak, you enhance that particular trait, be it color, disorders, enlarged hearts or stamina. As a matter of fact the proportion of recombinant genotypes depends on the amount of crossing over between the loci, which increases with the increasing DISTANCE between them. Now the chances of all the "recessive" or far distant dna of ancestors coming together to dominate is RARE but not unheard of, just think of a white thoroughbred, it happens, but not often. Did this genetic lotto hit the super jackpot with California Chrome? Well, from the looks of his against all odds performances, my bet is on the probability that it has.

26 May 2014 8:30 PM
Paula Higgins

MZ, thank you.

Windolin good post. They need to stop breeding for speed but instead breed for conformation, soundness etc. and then the rest will fall into place.

26 May 2014 9:32 PM

Alan Porter 1 26 May 2014 1:27pm:

You have to admit that the fascinating pedigree mysteries of thoroughbreds can often prove befuddling to even experts with 40 years of experience such as yourself.

Would you have recommended or endorsed the mating that produced California Chrome to a client aiming to breed a Kentucky Derby winner?

I remember very well your analysis and conclusion regarding the classic distance capabilities of Union Rags before the Derby...not very encouraging to those who fancied his chances of getting a distance of ground, much less winning the Belmont Stakes.

I have to say that looking at the five-cross pedigree sheet and beyond over decades now have yielded more often than not, quite accurate conclusions about the distance capabilities of horses. Those who believe that only the parents and grand parents in the pedigree matter based upon 'science' have not been convincing enough.

26 May 2014 10:27 PM

Anyone interested in learning more about Thoroughbred breeding should grab a copy of Federico Tesio's book called Breeding The Race Horse.  It is a fascinating look into what "the master" evidently used as his guide - and well, how can one argue with success...!?!

26 May 2014 10:55 PM

Smoking Baby : Totally agree, but I think his connections are desperate to get him the graded stakes.  I don't think he's good enough to be in the Met Mile, but honestly, I feel he can't even hold going a mile if there's someone breathing on his neck.  The hyped race where he beat HC, he was all by himself.   He hasn't shown any real speed outside of GP.  I'm glad that he got exposed as an overhyped horse only because I don't want him to get a G1 against weaker field and then go on making babies.

Bryon Rogers :  Regarding your 05/26 10:03 AM post, I tried to read it and all I got was an F, I failed to understand lol.  

As for this DNA talk, the only DNA that really matters with Chrome now is Art and Alan's DNA.   The humans that took care of him, believed in him and did the right thing by him.   Whatever DNA Chromes parents gave him no longer matters as he has already shown us that he can go the distance against a very competitive field and win...

Is he going to win the Triple Crown,  I really hope so, I would be very disappointed if he doesn't because I think he has earned it, his trainer has earned it but if he doesn't, so be it...I'll just cry quietly...

26 May 2014 10:55 PM

Alan Porter 1; I am no geneticist, but I strongly disagree with your statement that the 4th, 5th and 6th generations of a horse don't affect stamina, or presumably anything else, if your statement is to be believed.  You said yourself that there is often a distinct difference is stamina ability even between full siblings.  The reason being that there is no way to know to what extent the genetics of past generations will be displayed in the offspring.  Furthermore, if you concentrate stamina influences (through inbreeding)you are far more likely to see the influence of ancestors further back in the pedigree.  If this were not so, there would be no point to line-breeding or inbreeding, which has long proved successful.  And, yes, I know it can be detrimental too, if the wrong traits are duplicated, but this further proves my point.

26 May 2014 11:41 PM


Your understanding of what is an allele is incorrect. An allele is an alternative form of a gene. Some genes have many allelic alternatives...Genes are not all either dominant or recessive... Neither Byron, Alan, nor I suggested that the genes (DNA) a foal may inherit only goes back x (or a few) generations. Try to read what was said more carefully...And Mary, once again, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the X chromosome, or mtDNA for that matter, has any influence on heart size or stamina. And, by the way, mtDNA composes only a tiny fraction of the total genetic material. You persist in stating these false facts. So, once again, show us some evidence to support your statements. You won't, because you can't.  

26 May 2014 11:57 PM

I'd love to have some of the top trainers weigh in on how they would weight genetics vs temperament vs physical type vs training/conditioning when it comes to which horses are most likely to get the mile and a half.  Many people felt Afleet Alex wasn't bred to get a mile and half (again many of the same pedigree contradictions as mentions in this article) but I always felt that his temperament played a huge part in his dominant Belmont win. That is, he was able to completely relax and just lope along and conserve his energy until the last quarter mile. Then he dropped the hammer<g>.

27 May 2014 2:21 AM

The penultimate Belmont contender cited in the moderator’s summary is of major interest to me. The highlights of his pedigree do indicate what appears to be an oversupply of stamina at the expense of speed.

My first post on Commissioner questioned the decision of his breeders to mate a mare sired by a Belmont winner with a fellow Belmont winner. I am no breeder but my initial reaction on seeing his sire and dam sire was, what were they thinking? After watching the performances of Commissioner I later posted that he would require every inch of the Belmont Stakes distance to have any chance at a victory in a TC race.

Commission has indicated to all that he is devoid of tactical speed and lacks explosive acceleration. What chance does he have at 12F against the speed and stamina blessed California Chrome? On paper very little. However, there is one thing in Commissioner’s favor i.e., his trainer’s Belmont record with horse with A P Indy in their pedigrees.

As abysmal as Mr. Pletcher’s Derby and Preakness records are, his Belmont record in the opposite. He has won the stakes twice (Rags To Riches/Palace Malice). He has finished as runner-up twice (Bluegrass Cat/Dunkirk). Bluegrass Cat, Palace Malice and Dunkirk all contested the Derby but skipped the Preakness. Rags To Riches contested the KY Oaks. All these horses had 5 weeks between races and fell well within Mr. Pletcher’s comfort zone.

Rags To Riches was sired by A P Indy and the dams of Blue Grass Cat and Dunkirk were sired by A P Indy. The A P Indy sired Commissioner will not take his shot. He ran improved race in the Peter Pan and could be finally improving. He will return 3 day shy of 4 weeks to contest the Belmont and this period falls within his trainers comfort zone. Commissioner is a magnificent looking horse whose performances have been anything but magnificent.

Todd Pletcher is back in business with another A P Indy connected horse. The Belmont is being contested in his back yard where has been most successful in TC races. He is the one trainer with the potential and technology to transform a horse from mediocre to magnificent come Belmont day.

27 May 2014 7:29 AM
Pedigree Ann

I take it a lot of you don't know who Byron is.

"Byron Rogers spent eight years at Arrowfield Stud in Australia as Stallion Nominations and Bloodstock Manager, part of the team that developed the careers of leading sires Redoute’s Choice, Flying Spur and Danzero. Byron played an integral part in the relocation of leading Chilean sire Hussonet as well as planning matings for leading racehorses such as Miss Finland, Mentality, Fashion’s Afield, Sunday Joy, Royal Purler, Miss Bussell, etc

"Byron extended his industry experience at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky, where for three years he served as director of their stallion division, managing the careers of the likes of Unbridled’s Song, Forestry, Officer, Forest Danger, Northern Afleet and Southern Image as well as joint venture stallions Tiznow and Speightstown.

"Byron Rogers is currently the Managing Partner at Performance Genetics LLC" I wouldn't presume to lecture him on genetics or practical breeding.

But, Byron, I would argue that we DIDN'T know what the abilities of CC's dam were; she won at about a mile at a low level on AW, but that doesn't mean she couldn't have run better at longer distances; Princequillo was a $2500 claimer when Horatio Luro claimed him and made a Cups horse out of him. She never ran on dirt, never ran on turf - she may have done better on those surfaces than on Tapeta. Her sire has gotten a 10f G2 winner and his full brother Rhythm specialized in 12-16f winners in New Zealand. The restrictive program for US main-track runners - only races for a 8-9f or less except for the odd G1/G2 stakes - means that some horses whose natural distance proclivity is for longer races are unidentifiable.

And Steve, all of those Derby winners by sprinter sorts had dams, didn't they? Dams can be at least as important as sires, sometimes more dominant (Like Terlingua  - Secretariat had little influence on that one; to paraphrase Lord Vader, 'The Crimson Saint is strong in this one').

27 May 2014 9:09 AM
Alan Porter 1


To try and explain very simply. The sire and dam of any particular horse will have drawn various parts of their genetics from various more distant ancestors.

Despite that, they can only pass on what they themselves possess. So inbreeding or linebreeding to horses that are stamina influences will have absolutely no influence of the pedigree at all if the immediate parents have a sprinting genotype.

So, if for example you own the grade one winning sprint mare, Emma's Encore (who has Secretariat through Congrats, who himself appears generally to be a speed influence), adding two more crosses of Secretariat (to inbreed/linebreed to Secretariat three times) through Champion Sprinter Speightstown is not going to get you a distance runner. If you are going to use sprinters for parents it doesn't matter how many crosses of staying influences you put further back in the pedigree, since the parents clearly haven't inherited those traits, and thus cannot pass them on!

I absolutely would not have recommended using the sire and dam of California Chrome to a client trying to breed a Derby winner. Time may actually show Lucky Pulpit to be a very useful sire, but in general if you are breeding a $8,000 mare to a $2,500, 999 out of a 1000 you are going to end up with something very mediocre. It's a little bit like someone running the length of the field to score a touchdown, it happens, but if that is your game plan you're going to lose a lot more than you win.

As far as Union Rags was concerned, he was by Dixie Union, who did stretch out to nine furlongs, but was probably a sprinter/miler type. He is out of a Gone West mare who scored both her wins at six furlongs, and is a brother to a horse who won four times and was stakes placed sprinting. To Cat Thief - a Breeders' Cup Classic winner - she threw a horse who won six times between 5 1/2 and six furlongs. Union Rags won a 1 1/2 mile classic, because it wasn't run at racing speed - in Secretariat's year, he and Paynter would have fighting with Twice A Prince for second. In North America in the new century, you can win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes with a stretching out miler, and more often than not, that is what happens. If you look at Union Rags' brilliant efforts in juvenile sprints, and check out the horse in person, I don't think you'll be left in much doubt as to what he is.

Robinm: at the risk of appearing immodest, over the last 40 years there are probably not too many people who have studied, written about, and utilized inbreeding and linebreeding more than I. It is not, however, in the expectation of any specific genetic variants being inherited from the distant ancestor. For example, if you inbred to Secretariat 5x5 the chances of any one specific variant being inherited directly from him are 6.25%.

As far as aptitude, the range of possibilities are determined solely by the parents DNA.

Within the context of having parents that are a good match physically and aptitudinally, and ideally some proven affinities on pedigree, inbreeding and linebreeding, particularly through related strains, does seem to increase the chances of producing a good runner.

27 May 2014 10:30 AM

This has been very fascinating reading.  I am impressed by so many people having so much knowledge of pedigree and genetics but to analyze and make statements about it and what will be and what will come of it is really guessing.  Take the owners of Barbaro.  They have bred his sire and dam a few times trying to duplicate the offspring and it hasn't worked.  I can't remember but wasn't Something Royal bred to Bold Ruler after Secretariat was born?  I believe the foal was named Something Special.  Another Secretariat was not born nor another Barbaro.  It has to do with, I think, Divine Intervention.  It's the old saying "Breed the best to the best and hope for the best".  There are no guarantees.  Look at Smarty Jones.  Elusive Quality was not a distance horse as I recall and all say Smarty didn't get the distance of the Belmont.  Hogwash!  He was beaten a length by a horse who skipped the Preakness.  There was nobody else around those two.  Had Birdstone run in the Preakness, Smarty would have been the 12th TC winner.  It's the fresh horses coming in that spoil it and it would seem that is the reason they are running and trying to win a classic that is good for the breeding shed.  It has become a daunting task in the last 3 decades. Basically we breed for speed, not endurance and this is a major problem as most horses don't like going more than 1 1/8 miles.  Races are shortening.  Now they want to spread out the TC races to accomodate the horses of today who are bred for speed. I do believe that California Chrome is a freak.  He has got to be Lucky Pulpit's best runner as he has 2/3 of the Triple Crown so far and is the most experienced horse among this 3 year old crop.  Everyone is trying to beat him and they should be trying to beat him but you can quote pedigree all you want, when it comes down to it, it isn't the pedigree, it is the horse.  Many have out run their pedigree and we all know who those horses were.  When a foal is born, yes, he is the product of his parents, grandparents and so on but that foal is an individual.  California Chrome has that quality that breeders try to get with every mating but whether or not that happens is up to God or whatever anybody else wants to call the mystery of what makes a champion.  If it was all genetics, they would be breeding Secretariat and Barbaro every year but horses like that don't come around that often.  We have been very lucky to have seen the greats that we have and they do stand alone.  We are on the threshold of a Triple Crown after a 36 year drought.  It is very possible it will be spoiled by Todd Pletcher but in my opinion, and I'm no expert by any means, I think that California Chrome is the best 3 year old in the country.  If he is on his game on June 7th, we will once again see the near impossible happen and I for one will be elated and joyous!  To hell with the fresh horses!  This guy is the real deal and I think God will be holding the reins.

27 May 2014 10:36 AM


Permit this rhyme: Wendy.lou, you don't have a clue.

The example Byron offered in his effort to clarify was indeed accurate. It was an example of Mendel's law of segregation-and fundamental to the issue at hand. He chose the letters "A" and "G" at random, he could have substituted any letters-the "G" did not refer to Gray. He cited that example's result as one that CAN occur, and not suggesting that it was the only possible result. Those that are interested can learn about genetics through READING/research. You won't glean enough through these blogs where, instead, you'll likely form the wrong conclusions.

27 May 2014 10:54 AM
Byron Rogers


I wasn't referrig to color at all in my post on genetics. I was referring to the Watson-Crick base pairs (Guanine-Cytosine and Adenine-Thymine) where a polymophism within a gene can unless a tranversion has taken place be a A:A (Adenine:Adenine), A;G (Adenine:Guanine) or G:G (Guanine:Guanine). Sorry if it was misleading to you but it is not incorrect.

27 May 2014 11:06 AM


This just proves how difficult it is to explain genetics on blogs... When you first referenced "A" and "G", it initially occurred that your A was adenine, and your G, guanine. But since you didn't then also mention the two other base pairs, Cytosine and Thymine I assumed you were going for a more simplified conceptual explanation-that is, citing a "total" gene (actually allele), such as a gene for eye color which could be noted as BB, Bb, or bb. For those reading this it should be understood that each B or b is composed of many combinations of "A"s, "G"s, "T"s, or "C"s, each paired. The A(s), T(s), G(s), and T(s) make up the "language" of the (inherited) DNA double helix- each gene formed as a section on the continuum (some with greater number of "letters", some with less). Sorry to offer this much detail, but it's done in hope of preventing some misconceptions and, ultimately, incorrect general conclusions. Believe it or not, this all directly relates to the present topic. If you incorrectly conceptualize the mechanisms, you're prone to forming the wrong conclusions (about inheritance, etc.).    

27 May 2014 12:34 PM


Some of your statements are too "absolute" in nature, and, perhaps, causing confusion for some. Your overall points are certainly valid, but in your effort to simplify, and drive the point home you're rendering yourself open to criticism (from some). For example; what we deem as a "sprinter" may possess a preponderance of "sprinting-type" genes (a sprinter-type genotype), but it's virtually impossible for it not to possess SOME genes of the less sprinter-type variety.

27 May 2014 12:49 PM

Sceptre...what I posted was from my genetics class in college biology. You see I was considering a career path in medical research when I first entered college. Science and especially genetics does not always follow a black and white rule book. I know enough about breeding horses and have friends that have collectively been breeding horses for 75 years. Anyone who has hands on real experience breeding horses knows that a foal is the sum of the gene material of its parents who in turn where the sum of their parents genetics. You are trying to make textbook standards apply in the real world and I think some of are just to ticked that two everyday people  bought a mare fir

27 May 2014 1:03 PM

So as to complete my post..I think some are just ticked that two everyday people were able to pick a mare and a stallion and get a foal that is as successful as Chrome is. Some of you just cannot stand it that DAP achieved for free what others pay thousands for and get zip. And Sceptre..I have seen your comments on other sites..you are almost always negative and hateful

27 May 2014 1:12 PM

“To hell with the fresh horses”

That’s not a very nice statement post about fresh horses. Why the disdain for them? The last 8 renewals of the Belmont were won by fresh horses i.e., horses that either skipped the Preakness or did not run in the first 2 legs of the TC. They belong to the dominant group. You are a CC fan and consequently love a consistent winner. Why no love for members of WINNING CATEGORY.  

“Basically we breed for speed, not endurance and this is a major problem”

Let me try to change your opinion. Review the pedigrees of Commissioner, Wicked Strong, Matuzack, Kid Cruz, Tonalist, Matterhorn and Commanding Curve and advice if they were bred for speed. All the sires of the aforementioned horses were proficient at either 9F or 10F. Some were proficient at both distances. Most of the dam sires were also proficient at either 9F or 10F. The slowest horse of the 5 is Matuzack. He remains a puzzle to me as his sire Bernardini displayed good tactical speed and dam sire Mr. Prospector was very fast. He was bred to certainly have good pace but is always 10-15 lengths off the pace.

Of the likely starters in the Belmont CC is the one bred for speed as his sire was proficient at sprint distances. His dam sire was essentially a sprinter/middle distance horse at best and his dam was slow..

“I do believe that California Chrome is a freak.”

Were Smarty Jones & Big Brown freaks? When they attempted the TC they were unbeaten. He is a dominant 3YO to date and most years there is one. Shared Belief secured the Eclipse for Champion 2YO. He was sidelined by injury and is unbeaten in 5 starts. Is he a freak?  Would the likes of Top Billing, Constitution, Honor Code make the TC series more competitive?

“Everyone is trying to beat him and they should be trying to beat him”

While CC is the horse to beat, what's the point of trying to beat him only? There are several other horses in the race. The connections of each horse are trying to win the race irrespective of whom they beat. The purse for the race is $1.5M of which the winner gets $800K. The connetions do not care who they beat if their horse bring home $800K. Glory is great but it does not pay bills

“If he is on his game on June 7th, we will once again see the near impossible happen”

Near impossible! The TC has been won 11 times before and there have been 19 unsuccessful attempts. To suggest that because of a 36 years drought the task is near impossible is a stretch.

Your post contains some very valid points that are much appreciated and are worth considering. The points I have chosen to highlights are the ones I have slightly different views on.

27 May 2014 1:59 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

They should change the Triple Crown rules so that the Belmont is two weeks after the Preakness. Three weeks is too long. Chrome is ready now !!! Let's get this show on the road.

27 May 2014 2:30 PM
Linda in Texas

My My My - well CF finally posts a note. A Pletcher horse will win the Belmont. In a short sentence that is how i perceived his comment. CF - another way for you to diss California Chrome. You spent a lot of verbage restating for the umpteenth time you don't like him. We get it. We get it. We get it!

27 May 2014 3:38 PM

The key to this race is Espinosa getting to Belmont and riding in some races next week.this track is like no other and to try to win the stakes with no prior experience on the track, well, ain't gonna happen.

27 May 2014 4:30 PM


Resorting to insult when merely your facts are contradicted is a bit juvenile, wouldn't you say?

So much for your recollection of your genetics course/textbook. As the years pass, the memory tends to fade. Good for the COLLECTIVE experience of your buddies that breed. I've non-collectively been breeding racehorses for over 50 years, and reluctantly must add that I did a bit more than merely CONSIDER a path in medicine and the sciences. Yes, if it's "hateful" for one to try to set the record straight, and to mildly chastise those who do otherwise, than so be it.  

27 May 2014 4:31 PM
Soldier Course

Dr. Drunkinbum:

The show's already on the road. Enjoy the anticipation. In about 14 more hours we'll be halfway there. But then again, Newsweek said it takes 36 years on horseback.

27 May 2014 4:47 PM

sceptre, your rhyme and comments truly made me spit coffee through my nose this morning. I actually used Mendel as my main source of information on the subject, albeit not the only one. I find genetics to be a fascinating study, maybe it is my red hair. What I don't understand is why you think the "rest" of us are either to stupid to understand or are fooling ourselves into believing that something miraculous is happening before our eyes. Where is your scientific genetic AWE? I would suggest that you put your scientific inquiries to a better purpose than picking on people who are trying to figure out just how this horse is accomplishing what he has so far. After the trainers and handlers, just where does one look for an answer, outer space?

Byron, thank-you for admitting that you where over simplifying. I would be very interested in what you think about the very unlikely probability that the deep ancestry is playing a rather significant part here.

Steve Haskin, thank-you for not only your love of horses, but letting us post our thoughts here.

27 May 2014 7:54 PM

What Dr. D said!!!!!

Also, I'm just getting nervous, not about Chrome, but about Ezpinosa.  It seems, to me, that the only thing that can mess this TC up now is the pilot.  He's been the maestro so far, I just pray he can finish this symphony!!!

27 May 2014 10:20 PM

Medal Count becomes a major factor. He was cutoff by Danza in the Derby...I'm not saying he would have won the race, but I'll excuse him.

27 May 2014 11:23 PM

Make no mistake, I love the small guy in this sport, but I'm still "on the fence" with Cal Chrome.

The owners, trainer and jockey have done everything right with this colt, as well as the colt himself!

But somehow, I still find his breeding a bit "suspect". Please don't kill me folks!.....But I'll bet Cal. Chrome if the "price is right"!

27 May 2014 11:32 PM

Alan Porter :  Nice post, totally agree about Union Rags.  I'm not a pedigree expert but his record shows he got more of Dixie Union's genes than anything.

28 May 2014 12:16 AM
The Deacon

Coldfacts: As always you disquise your dislike for Chrome by your winded useless verbiage. It was so pleasant not having you around for a couple weeks but I suppose it was too good to be true. Give it a rest will you, everyone knows how you feel. It's getting tired and old. As I have stated before you are not a true fan of the sport, if you were then you would find courage to root for a very nice horse who has a chance to make history. I got no problem with you liking a particular horse, its everyone's right. You feel the need to do it at the expense of a Cal bred who just might be better then your ego will admit. Too bad for you........I am so done reading your posts.

28 May 2014 3:38 AM

Linda in Texas

MonicaV’s quote:

”It is very possible it will be spoiled by Todd Pletcher but in my opinion”

Monica is a big fan of CC. Does her quote above represent a dislike for him?

The Blog is about pedigree. Mr. Pletcher has done well in the Belmont with three horses that had A P Indy as either sire or dam sire. I thought it appropriate to highlight the fact that Commissioner was sired by A P Indy and Mr. Pletcher has home court advantage and is back in business with an A P Indy. Rags To Riches was by A P Indy and out of a Deputy Minister mare. Commissioner’s dam was sire by Touch Gold as son of Deputy Minister.

I fail to understand how the highlighting the success Mr. Pletcher has with the above type horses equates to a dislike for CC. I never specified that Commission was my selection to win and my post certainly did not infer same. I said I found him interesting which does not equate to his definitive selection.

Many folks get excited over certain horses. It is not my policy to get excited over performances that I have seen before. If a horse exceed the standards set by the greats of the past, it will stimulate excitement for me. Having watched the performances of great Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, how can I get excited about any other male sprinter if he does not reflect the potential to either equal or eclipse his achievements. I appreciate CC performances but the standard for my excitement have not been met.

The bar that has been set is very high. There are horses that have been phenomenon with limited racing experience and had to overcome major adversities en route to winning TC races. Their stories are unbelievable. Every year there is likely to be a dominant 3YO that stimulate excitement and the accolades will fly. If CC wins the TC he would have distinguish himself but if he does not he will join 19 others that have failed. Life will go on and we will all look forward to the class of 2015.

CC has proven himself to be a very nice colt. He has done so in the absence of four top class colts that have been sidelined by injury i.e., Shard Belief, Honor Code, Top Billing and Constitution. I believe the aforementioned four would be valid competition for him but it was never meant to be and we will never know.

28 May 2014 7:27 AM

I really enjoy this blog, especially hearing from all the genetics experts that have been posting. I find it very interesting and a learning experience, my thanks to all those that have chosen to participate. I do have a question for the those with experience on the subject of breeding and genetics, is the sire line at the top of a pedigree and the dam line at the bottom of a pedigree of any special importance? As I lool at a pedigree I wonder whether this is true or not, because it is only the sire to sire to sire,etc. line that is unbroken as to whether female was produced instead of a male, and likewise then for the dam line. Every other ancessor in a pedigree, whether male or female shows what I would call a stop in their direct male to male or female to female line ass they produced an offspring that was not the smae sex as them. The only place we don't see this in a pedigree is on the top for the sire, where it is a continuos male line and on the bottom where it is a continous female line. I would think this would most significant as there is no change in gender, and what is being passed on generation to generation.

28 May 2014 12:27 PM
Byron Rogers

Sceptre, In a wish to make it as simple as possible I probably oversimplified to make the point.

Wendy.lou, my main issue with all of this type of analysis/speculation is that no matter how much we'd all like it to be so that Secretariat or any other ancestor had a 'absolute' impact on California Chrome's racing class, from a genetic reality it is pure romantic speculation.

As Alan pointed out you can get a horse like Speightstown or Franny Freud, both sprinters who are inbred to Secretariat or a horse like the Man O'War Stakes winner Imagining who is also inbred to Secretariat. The duplication of Secretariat doesn't all of a sudden mean they are going to tear it up over classic distances. There are also another 2000+ horses that are inbred to Secretariat that never won a race so being inbred to Secretariat in isolation doesn't make you a great racehorse.

The immediate parents matter most. Epigenetics aside, they solely determine what you have got from the genetic lottery and you can't "wish in" genetic variants of a distant ancestor if both the parents don't have them to start with.

28 May 2014 12:30 PM
Mister Frisky

As far as pedigree goes,I'm with Bull Hancock.Breed the best to the best,and hope for the best.End of story Steve,next article please.

28 May 2014 12:50 PM

Byron expressed it beautifully. Please concentrate on his post.

28 May 2014 1:02 PM


With over 50 years of breeding race horses, I'm sure you must have a lot of memorable stories of the horses you have been involved with. Would you share with us a couple stories of the horses that have meant the most to you over the years.  

28 May 2014 2:12 PM


I see you have taken exception to my posts and that's fine but let me be clear when I said "to hell with the fresh horses", what I meant was it doesn't matter if there are fresh horses in there to me.  I love horses but to me it isn't going to make a difference.  Yes, I do like Chrome and I have also stated that I am not a pedigree or genetic specialist.  I just love the horses and horse racing.  As for the remark about Todd Pletcher, I have no dislike for the man, his was the only name that came to mind when I wrote that because he is known for entering multiple horses in big races.

There was no disrespect in any of that but it is true they all want to win a classic race.  I have never torn apart or made snide remarks about anyone's posts.  This is supposed to fun.  Loosen up a bit have more fun with this you'll enjoy it more!  Best of luck with your picks and I sincerely mean that.  Have a great day!

28 May 2014 3:23 PM

On the subject of pedigree, it appears horses who were sired by tail descendants of Mr. Prospector have dominated the last 20 renewals of the Belmont. They have won a whopping 14 of the last 20 renewals.

Should the like of Ride On Curlin, Kid Cruz and Social Inclusion if entered be feared? They represent the cast from the Mr. P sire line. Ride On Curlin’s sire lost the Belmont by a NS. Kid Cruz’s sire won the Belmont. Social Inclusion’s grand sire won the Belmont.

As a fan of the Mr. P sire line I am in a dilemma as none of the above seems capable of defeating CC. Is the record of the sire line more pertinent than the talents of CC?

Kid Cruz is a dead closer and the disappointing Lemon Drop Kid is overdue for a win in a TC race. Based on the slow times he recorded at Pimlico, he could not have liked that track despite his victory there. There is no doubt he will stay the trip it’s just how fast can he cover 12F.

Ride On Curlin closed like a runaway train in the Champagne which was his 1st effort on the track. He has not reproduced that type of closing kick since. Did his effort in the Champagne signal his likeness for big sandy? He has to be the best of the Mr. P associated trio. Can Curlin do the improbable by siring consecutive Belmont winners? Highly unlikely!

Kid Cruz is therefore the one most likely to spring the upset. I cannot see that occurring so I will look elsewhere.

28 May 2014 4:14 PM
Tamara Ault

Re: your comments about AP Indy. You mention triple crown winner Seattle Slew in his linage, but not Secretariat!  Who by the still holds the world and track records for a mile and a half. Why did you leave him out. While Seattle Slew was a great horse,he wasn't Secretariat who doesn't get a mention. Are you prejudiced or dumb?

28 May 2014 5:02 PM
Tamara Ault

Lisa, the reason Secretariat is of note, is that he is closer to calif chrome, AP Indy's  brood mare sire. You may be too young to remember,go watch HIS triple crown on you tube, then say he doesn't bear mentioning

28 May 2014 5:10 PM
Tamara Ault

Whenever we talk about the great sire AP Indy,you can't stop at Seattle Slew, the particular nick that created Indy,was that his brood are sire was Secretariat. In my mind, it has always been the combination of those two greats coursing in the blood of Indy that made his progeny what they are. To repeated leave out Secretariat really ls like Indy was only half a horse, a Seattle Slew horse, and that's simply not the case

28 May 2014 5:19 PM
Tamara Ault

But if calf chrome doesnt get get his best trip, it'll be commanding curve to watch out for and he is inbred several times to Secretariat, he can get the distance all right. I'm just hoping he comes in second!

28 May 2014 5:21 PM

Byron, thanks for the reply. I know that many people brought up the late great Big Red, I however was not one that did. I can see how that might get aggravating for a breeder. Being as CC sire and Dam both have breathing issues it is hard to determine exactly what they brought to the table in capability. Pulpit was hurt early on and Not For Love only started 29 times, longest distance raced and won 9.5 furlongs. That leaves us with Mr. Prospector, correct? Mr. Prospector was a sprinter, but his offspring, all I can say is WOW. So is the 4S x 3D from Mr. Prospector a major factor here?

28 May 2014 5:57 PM

Dear Predict,

I'm loathe to initiate any new topics, because of what the "fall out" might bring. So, in response to your query I'll keep it short. The short answer is that the top male line, and the tail female line are no more significant/"important", genetically, than any other portion of the pedigree. The top male line, alone, however, has the distinction of passing on its Y chromosome-basically intact-from generation to generation; that is, on the top male line-just the TOP male line-the SAME, basically intact, Y chromosome will be held by all top male line descendants. Sounds potentially meaningful, doesn't it, but the Y chromosome contains very little genetic material-and likely none related to performance- (may, however, account in part for the tendency for some male lines to have an increased number of uni-testicular males). There are some issues re-the tail-female (not the X chromosome, as its origin can't be identified), but this relates more to selective breeding practices, and the fact that there are many more breeding females than males. There was some discussion of this in a fairly recent TrueNicks blog.


Would like to accommodate, but feel this isn't the place, and difficult to do without divulging my identity.    

28 May 2014 6:02 PM

The Deacon,

The title of the Blog is 'Belmont Pedigrees Befuddling.'

My first post on this blog was regarding Commissioner and his trainer’s success with horse with A P Indy in their first and second generation of their pedigrees. All the horses I mentioned did very well in the Belmont. I made no mention of California Chrome.

Linda in Texas immediately accused me of using another way of disrespect California Chrome. CC is not racing against himself. The moderator cited several horses in the blog. I chose to comment on the Commissioner. How does that equate to disrespect? I posted nothing negative about the colt. Has California Chrome rendered Linda paranoid?

MonicaV, submitted a very long post with some very interesting points. I commented on a few and some happen to be related to California Chrome. She shared her views on the colt and I did likewise. However, her views were inspiring and mine disturb the serenity the blog. Wow! Does hate ever take a vacation?

“It was so pleasant not having you around for a couple weeks but I suppose it was too good to be true.”

The Deacon you have been taking some civil liberties with me and I have remained calm about same. I have no desire to take myself down to your level but sometimes one has to fight fire with fire.

Who do you think you are to post the above statement? Do you seriously believe I give any credence to what you think of me? I have immense respect for Mr. Haskin and consequently the choice words from my informal vocabulary that I would like to direct to you, though appropriate, would not only disrespect the kind gentleman but also his supporters.

I am formally requesting that you bypass my submissions as they seem to bring the worst out of you. I have no desire for your targeted and needless insults. The passion you have developed for me is misplaced and should be directed members of the opposing gender. This hate for someone unknown to you is disturbing. You have been repeatedly rude and what you are not remotely aware of is the fact that you cannot compete with me in rudeness department. I have dealt with many faceless misfits like you and have found them to be filled with bitterness and devoid of substance. No wholesome individual expresses themselves the way you have over the opinions of others.    

California Chrome has made you paranoid and my posts have turned you to your reprobate mind. Get some help as you need.

28 May 2014 7:57 PM
Alan Porter 1


It is quite hard to discuss some of this on this type of format, where there are varying degrees of knowledge participating simultaneously!

As you say, in over-simplifying to help one segment grasp something, one does omit other nuances and therefore open up for criticism from those who have greater knowledge.

Of course in human terms we don't really have "sprinters" in the Usain Bolt category among thoroughbreds. We're probably talking in terms of the equivalent of something like a range of 400/800m runners up to say 3000m runners, rather than 100m runner to 10,000m runners, or marathon runners.

So from that standpoint, we don't have pure "sprinters."  We do have horses that as far as myostatin variants go are homozygous for the version associated with speed, but this can modified by other variants, and so some of those homozygous for the sprint muscle type as far as myostatin goes have won Kentucky Derbys. This are particularly able to stretch out somewhat if they have good cardio/vascular, and if precocious and running within their own age group as late two-year-olds or early three-year-olds.

28 May 2014 8:33 PM
Linda in Texas

I misspelled verbiage. Hope i didn't just misspell misspell.  

Sceptre me thinks you are a big time breeder and i possibly know who. Retired with horses you were responsible for breeding still racing.

And if you are who i think you are or aren't i still respect your knowledge. Be proud of your work sir. And to be outed would hurt nothing. A great mind is a terrible thing to not share!

Thanks Steve. You know the word 'befuddled' makes me feel right at home! :)

28 May 2014 9:38 PM


“I see you have taken exception to my posts and that's fine”

List below is the closing paragraph of my post:

“Your post contains some very valid points that are much appreciated and are worth considering. The points I have chosen to highlights are the ones I have slightly different views on.”

I did not take exception with your post. I just made a few comments on the points you raised reading fresh horses, breeding for speed, CC and the near impossibility of the TC occurring. I commended you for the other points you raised.

I hope my comments did not offend as they were all in good taste.

28 May 2014 10:08 PM

I think there is a lot to be said of the mental capacity of a thoroughbred in learning early the trust of humans.  We saw it in Alex (Afleet, that is) having been bottle fed from birth by a little girl, with California Chrome confined to the barn at an early age, with the bond Zenyatta has with her owners, etc.  Those horses seem to have developed early a trust of humans and a willingness to please said humans.  They get what is expected of them.  There are so many intangibles, the fighting spirit that Paynter had off the track, the awareness Curlin had, he did not look at you he looked through you, the heart of a champion you can't calculate into the breeding.  I love it when one of the "not so bluebloods" step up to the plate like this like California Chrome has done, it speaks volumes for the breed.

And Deacon, Bravo on your name of California Chromosome!  Love it.  After June 7th he may have the most sought after chromosomes on the planet!  Lucky Pulpit may be a very busy boy soon.

I agree Steve, California Chrome sets up perfectly for the Belmont with his tactical speed and ability to rate off the pace.  He seems to be able to run over any surface as well, another mark of a true champion.

Go Chrome!!!!!!!  All the way Chrome!!!!!!

28 May 2014 10:34 PM
Bill Two

Since nobody breeds a horse to get the Belmont distance anymore, except the Euros and possibly some others, it's a real crap shoot trying to figure who will win this race. As you say, if you go back a few generations you will find some genuine stayers in most horses pedigree and you will also find some sprinters.  I think you have to look at the horse itself to determine whether he or she has what it takes.  What I like about Chrome is his demeanor.  This is one cool horse who doesn't beat himself.  He is eminently rateable and will take some beating in this race.  I have no doubt he will be challenged early and often, but if he's good enough and if Victor keeps his cool he will win this race.

28 May 2014 10:59 PM

     Now back to the subject at hand, via reviewing my notes, it is,--solely my in own opinion,--that the one horse that ‘ran to his pedigree’ in the Kentucky Derby was “Commanding Curve”. In an earlier post, I once stated that I had hoped that ‘he makes the ‘Derby’, and eventually he did. And, he proved a great choice in my ‘exacta’ plays. For the Belmont,--strictly from a breeding and pedigree stand point,--again my own analysis,--he is the one among most,--well ALL,--of the other entrants that I have looked into, who appears as the best suited to ‘get distance’ via my own rating of his pedigree,--again my opinion.--Of course, that is also to say that I am not predicting that he will be the winner, just that I won’t leave him off of any purchased exotic plays. In that thinking, I also place some greater emphasis on a ‘strong dam side’,--my rating system,--and as most know already, I also place emphasis on horse’s ‘BHXFG’ strain links of which,--although “California Chrome” has 10 such links and one to “Cosquilla”,--“Commanding Curve” in some comparison has 5 such links,--3 to “Blossom Time”, and 1 each to “Brushup”, and “Cosquilla”,--and thusly therefore also one to “Cosquilla”. How genetics factors, and what genes are actually present, and what genes and heart sizes were passed along among those that will eventually physically be present and in the Belmont in a gate slot,--and where such genes are not dormant, and etc.,--and thusly , which horse possibly has the ‘biggest heart’ to pump blood down that long Belmont stretch, who can really say. However, I think it fair to explain those findings, as we are apparently in this particular blog subject looking at pedigree and breeding in regards to the upcoming running of the 2014 Belmont. Several others,--such as “Tonalist”, as an example,--do also have links in about an average number in this year’s crop,--c. about 5 or 6,--in comparing numbers of links to the “BHXFG” strains and a few also have a one time link to “Cosquilla”,--all through their dam sides,--and even though some strong sire sides are present in quite a few,--few have anywhere close to the strength of “Commanding Curve” on their dam sides, where “Commanding Curve” also possesses a quite strong sire side,--again in my opinion.--Anyway, good luck to all and I hope in sharing this finding with all the great bloggers here that you won’t kill his odds come Belmont Day, lol. Again, good luck. Yes, it would be great to witness another Triple Crown Winner, but someone also has to finish 2nd and 3rd also if we are lucky enough to have one !! and then again someone might upset him. And. working toward the spoiler’s role, as we all know, “Commanding Curve” did skip the Preakness to solely prepare for this upcoming Classic. Again, good luck to all whoever you chose and may all your tickets cash !!.

29 May 2014 12:30 AM
Pedigree Ann

Coldfacts - Pedigrees can be discussed in isolation, as in what pedigree we THINK might produce a Belmont winner, but when we come to the actual race we are talking about actual horses who have actual performances on which to base evaluations.

It's one thing to say that Kona Gold had a great pedigree for the Belmont - he did. He was by Travers winner Java Gold out of a mare by dual JC Gold Cup winner Slew o' Gold - but his performance said something quite different.

Furthermore we must evaluate the class of the individual, based on whom he has beaten in what sort of races. Then there is the fitness angle; the longer the race, the more fitness becomes important. Notice I don't mention freshness? 'Freshness' is the buzz-word these days and different people interpret it differently, so I leave it alone.

29 May 2014 5:31 AM
Smoking Baby

COLDFACTS.  Let me start by saying I am not among your haters.  I enjoy your stuff although I do find some of it a bit longwinded (just my opinion...don't change a thing).  I have tried to write some nice things in your defence once or twice truth be told. Having said this, I couldn't help but notice you mention in your May 28th 4:14 post "the disappointing Lemon Drop Kid".  

A few cold facts about Lemon Drop Kid:

72 Stakes Winners

6 Grade 1 winners including a Kentucky Oaks Winner

One earner of $2,482,259

8% stakes winners lifetime

$35,000 stud fee after 14 years at stud

These are top shelf numbers.  I have to wonder how exactly is he disappointing?  I'm betting the people at Lanes End don't find him disappointing at all.  You have also mentioned the fast start you believe Curlin is off to at stud (better than Hard Spun in your words) with his 4% stakes winner (grand total of 6 at last count).  Let's see if Curlin still stands for $35,000 several years from now.  I'm betting against that one unless he really catches fire.

I think anyone standing a new stud if told "He'll sire 8% stakes winners, more than 70 in all, 127 stakes horses, 6 grade 1 winners, a Kentucky Oaks winner.  He'll fill his book at $35,000 year after year. I think those people would be happy IF they could get those numbers.  Disappointing?  I don't see it.

29 May 2014 8:40 AM

AlexsBigFan...love your comment about the human and horse connection. Iwould add "heart" to the equation..again something else one will not find on the pages of a pedigree. Penny Tweed believed in Secretariat. Chrome's family believes in him. Almost any horse can be trained to run or perform to their potential. Many excel beyond their pedigree because of the human bond an "heart". To feel the love of a horse is a wonderful experience.

29 May 2014 10:03 AM
Bill Rinker

Thanks for another provocative blog Steve, I have really enjoyed this one. I find that everyone commenting here as something valuable to add in this highly contentious exchange of reasoning. It prompted me to refer back to my personal Equine library (boy don't I sound important, lol!!!),and in doing so I thought I might throw out what I'd like to think would be a helpful pitch. I would also like to add that I have no intention or connection to an economic gain, it is presented purely in the spirit of furthering knowledge. A great place to start for those whom may be inclined would be to pick up a copy of "Horse Genetics", by Ann T. Bowling. Here is a quote from the preface that I think sums it up, "Readers of this book will find answers to many of their questions about genetics of horses, but I hope that other questions will replace them. Learning is a continuous process that does not end with finding answers. The path of knowledge is learning to ask questions and to build new questions from the answers." One thing that has always intrigued me when pondering the genetic probably issue is the effect that environmental factors have on genetic expression in regard to performance, both mental and physical. To prompt you further I'll close with a paraphrased entry taken from "Cunningham's paradox",  "data suggest that the Thoroughbred population still contains genetic diversity with respect to racing ability and the reason for lack of progress in winning times of the principle classic races will need to be sought elsewhere." Now here's to searching!!!  

29 May 2014 10:48 AM

Hi Alan,

I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to imprecision of speech/writing. When I mentioned that you might be opening yourself to criticism in your usage of absolutes, it wasn't my intent that the example I then offered was itself a criticism. Rather, I was thinking about those who are quick to ignore the full context, and use this as an opportunity to dismiss all that's said-especially when it's contrary to their preconceptions.

I found your most recent post quite interesting, and wasn't aware that you had, to that degree, bought into her myostatin "conclusions"/it's "weight". Too bad that we lost Kona Gold at the horse park, and that neither Java Gold, nor Double Sunrise is still around. Had all three been buried at identifiable locations, perhaps some samples might have proved edifying.    

29 May 2014 11:40 AM

Pedigree Ann,

I rarely disagree with you and I again cannot.

I am sure you would agree that ROC has the actual performances on which to base evaluations? He finished 7th in the Derby and 2nd in the Preakness. He is from the Mr. Prospector line that has dominated the Belmont for the last 20 years. If I should venture to highlight this colt and the success of tail descendant of Mr. P in the race, I would be accused of disrespecting California Chrome.

Ruler On Ice won the 2011 Belmont. What performances did he have on which an actually evaluation could be based? He was a MSW winner that finished 2nd in the ungraded Canonero ll before his Belmont victory. Who did he beat and in what sort of race. What did he have in his favor? He was a tail descendant of the Mr. Prospector.

Summer Bird won the 2009 Belmont. What performances did he have on which an actually evaluation could be based? He was a MSW winner that finished 3rd in the AK Derby and 6th in the KD before his Belmont victory. Who did he beat and in what sort of race. What did he have in his favor? He was a tail descendant of the Mr. Prospector.

Palace Malice won the 2013 Belmont. What performances did he have on which an actually evaluation could be based? He was a MSW winner that finished 7th in the LA Derby, 2nd in the Bluegrass and 12th in the KD before his Belmont victory. Who did he beat and in what sort of race?

The above three horses had only MSW victories in the win category but they all won the Belmont. Certainly they all did not have performances for evaluation. Who did they defeat?

Commanding Curve will enter the Belmont with only a MSW victory in the win category. He finished 3rd in the LA Derby and 2nd in the KD. Based on the success of the above MSW winners, dose Commanding Curve performances merit evaluation? He certainly defeated a lot of good 3YOs in the Derby. If I should highlight the fact  that in my estimation he covered 10 1/4F in the KD as opposed to the 10F by the winner, I would be regarded as disrespecting California Chrome.  

Commissioner reminds me a lot of Drosselmeyer. Both  are big lumbering colts and both had only MSW and Allowance victories to their credits entering the Belmont. Drosselmeyer finished 2nd in the Dwyer before the Belmont and Commissioner finished 2nd in the Peter Pan. Does Commissioner’s performance merit evaluation? Who did he beat?

In the end it is a horse race and if a horse in not in it he cannot win it. CC1 is the favorite to win but so was War Emblem when Sarava won at 70-1. Big Brown was the favorite when Da’ Tara lit up the board. Neither of the aforementioned colts merited evaluation! Who did they beat and in what sort of race.

29 May 2014 11:41 AM

While I'm still here at the site, I'll offer this very non-"technical" tidbit.- I mention it, because I don't see it being emphasized enough. When attempting to analyze the potentialities of an offspring, there's been too much emphasis on their sire's and dam's RACING careers, and not enough on the details of the sire's record at stud, or the details of the dam's produce record-should there be one. Dare I say this can be far more determinant (relative to the offspring in question) than their respective race records. So this, along with the offspring's (in question) body of work-to date- should be the main area of focus. So, in the case of Smarty Jones, for example, it's not so much the nature of Elusive Quality's performance as a runner, but rather his type of performance at stud.  

29 May 2014 12:06 PM
Alan Porter 1


I think the we can concede that the myostatin variant used by Equinome has a broad correlation to optimum distance.

That said, when you use that SNP alone, you find a very wide range of aptitudes among the hetrozygous horses, with mature group/grade one winners at anywhere from six to 12 furlongs.

As that would indicate, there are a number of other variants that moderate or impact the aptitude of the horses that are hetrozygous for the myostatin variant that Equinome use.

I would say it takes consideration of several other variants to accurately arrive at a conclusions as to where you might place a horse in terms of it's optimal distance type (say sprinter; sprinter/miler; middle-distance; router), but you're probably not going to win a Breeders' Cup with a horse that is homozygous for the staying variant, and a horse that is homozygous for the sprinting variant is not going to find 12 furlongs its optimum trip (although in the U.S. at least, and particularly for spring three-year-olds, a horse who is homozygous for the sprinting variant, can win a Kentucky Derby or Belmont Stakes).

Of course on top of that you have cardio-vascular and mechanical efficiency considerations!

29 May 2014 1:37 PM


Appreciated hearing your thoughts on Equinome's myostatin project. Did note your reservations (in that it offers only a partial "answer"), but I'm not yet willing to concede that degree of validity (your "partial" may be greater than mine). Will grant that there's more for me to learn on this subject, particularly with regard to myostatin's TRUE impact on muscle mass (or rather its true degree of hindrance), other genetic (myostatin regulatory genes-how many others, if any, that have been identified), and non-genetic influences on muscle mass. And this is but the muscle mass issue, for as you said there are other factors involved in stamina. I can recall that I wasn't terribly persuaded by her raw stats, the "science" aside...We certainly don't observe, in horses, a mere three types when it comes to muscle mass...And how fortunate for her, that she so shortly thereafter managed to isolate + variants for racing class as well...There are all levels of scientific endeavor; again, it's not an either/or. Are you familiar with how much peer review this received, and by what peers?..Lastly, the breeding of racehorses is not an industry great enough to attract top tier geneticists who are, as well, racing "scholars". I'd bet you can't name one; now, or in the past.  

29 May 2014 4:50 PM

Linda in Texas:  be thankful you are only befuddled!  Me, I am the next step up in fuddled.

(I dropped math after Grade 12 when we still had a Grade 13 in Ontario.  Aren't "statins" things that George Clooney was always talking about with Julianna Margolies when they was in ER?)

IMO, as long as CC staggers across the finish line ahead of everyone else huffing and puffing behind him, distance limitations are irrelevant. I'm still in mourning over the Jockey Club Gold Cup going from 2 miles to what now? 1 1/4 miles?  And seeing as how they tried to include a "Marathon" in the Breeders Cup and have given up, I don't think we can expect anything except a digression to quarter horses in the future for our TBs.

29 May 2014 6:05 PM
Paula Higgins

Why do I feel like I am listening to Sheldon and Leonard of The Big Bang Theory when I read the posts from Alan and Sceptre?

29 May 2014 8:37 PM

Coldfacts:    If I remember correctly, there were 7 fresh horses in the Preakness, only one finished on the board, a tiring 3rd.   So maybe you should open your mind to the possibility that fresh horses doesn’t always equate to victory.

I know you’ll argue that fresh horses has a better winning record in the Belmont but it’s not 100% so when someone posts their opinion, there is some percentage that supports it, however small it may be.   There’s a better way of counter arguing someone’s opinion by posting your opinion without accusing them of “disrespecting” or as you say it “disdain” for them.  It’s probably better if you ask them to clarify first before making any accusations.  Also, unless you are betting all the fresh horses to win, you’re guilty of everything you posted about having disdain for some of the fresh horses because if you're not betting them to win, you're basically stating the fact that they do not have a chance to win right?

What is your definition of fresh horses?   Horses who did not run in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness ?   That’s how I view “fresh” horses but I also take into consideration that having that long of a layoff doesn’t always work for the horse (Cairo Prince), so I’m not relying on the “fresh” horses as an angle too much.

I don’t get how you can state that winning the triple crown being near impossible is a stretch specially after mentioning the 36 year drought and the 19 unsuccessful attempts.   How long does it have to be to make it “near impossible” ?  50 years ?  A century ?    And how many unsuccessful attempts ?  25 ?  50 ?   I don’t get that comment at all, it seems baseless and mainly downplaying what an achievement it would be to win the Triple Crown.    I think it is near impossible simply because our generation breeds for speed, not stamina.  Some will argue that some of the 19 other horses that tried to win the TC are better than Chrome and I personally believe Point Given was the best 3 yr old of our generation that didn't win the TC, I think he's much much better than Chrome but he failed to win for whatever reason, I still don't know what happened with him in the Derby.   I just feel you should try and appreciate what it takes to win the Triple Crown.

30 May 2014 12:11 AM


The Preakness is traditionally won by either the Derby winner or a Derby contestant. Fresh horses rarely win. However, the Belmont is a different kettle of fish. I was not the one that raised the issue of fresh horses. I merely provided some historic colt facts.

“When someone posts their opinion, there is some percentage that supports”

It was more a quote of disgust for fresh horses than an opinion – “To hell with the fresh horses”

I provided the number of fresh horses that won the Belmont in the last 20 renewals. A simple arithmetical computation would indicate that they do not possess a 100% win record. I did not believe I had to state same.

“There’s a better way of counter arguing someone’s opinion by posting your opinion without accusing them of “disrespecting”

Revisit the paragraph from my post on the subject issue. I classified the quote above as being 'not very nice' and questioned why there was no love for horses falling into the particular category. An opinion was not advance by the contributor. I merely provided numbers to indicate that they have been major players in the Belmont. If one loves the consistent winner CC1, then by extension, that person should love a consistent winning group. I consider my post on the issue to be nothing other than in good taste and humorous.

What is your definition of fresh horses?

There appears to be consensus between modern day trainers that 4 weeks between races allow horses to sufficiently recover and be restored to their competitive best. Does this period serve as a freshener for the animals? To better answer your question the horse with the surplus amount of time to recover from a race is considered the fresher. It does not matter if the horse contested the KD and skipped the Preakness or did participate in the first 2 legs of the TC series.  

“I don’t get how you can state that winning the Triple Crown being near impossible is a stretch”

JayJay my man, the TC has been won 11 times and unsuccessfully attempted on 19 other occasions.

To better explain why I considered Monica V’s statement a stretch, I will provide a overview of what should be considered near impossible. There are other examples so kindly do not consider the one selected extreme.

The dams of TC winners Whirlaway and War Admiral were sire by Sweep. TC winners are rare but there have been 11. Nineteen other horses failed in their attempts at TC glory. Some suffered heartbreaking defeats i.e. Real Quiet, Smarty Jones and Siler Charm. Which do you consider a near impossible task to be repeated? A TC winner or two mares sired by the same stallion producing two TC winners.

We had consecutive TC winners in 1977 & 1978. There have been 3 TC winners in a span of 5yrs twice. While there has not been one in 36yrs, the regularity with which the feat occurred in the past does not make the task near impossible.

“It seems baseless and mainly downplaying what an achievement it would be to win the Triple Crown”

I cannot help but believe that my writing skills are worse than ever. How could you arrive at such a conclusion? The TC is an enormous achievement and under no circumstance should it be undermined. I have neither stated nor inferred that it is anything other than that. However, I do not consider it reoccurrence near impossible. You have obviouly confuse my position as you have on so many other occasions.


30 May 2014 7:47 AM

Alan, Byron and Sceptre you deserve commendation for your insightful input on the subjects of breeding and genetics. It is greatly appreciated. Sceptre kindly take no offense to your inclusion in my commendation as I remain too aware of your rather low regards for me.

It would be interested to see your respective best case scenario for breeding a likely Derby/TC winner. I consider the policy of breeding the best to best and hoping for the best a miserable failure. I have a theory of my own but I am neither geneticist nor breeder and would only induce laughter if I should advance same.

Obviously you are not obligated to provide said scenarios but I would be interesting to compare for similarities and differences. Do great minds always think alike?

30 May 2014 8:11 AM

Linda in Texas:

I am not, and wasn't, a "big time breeder". I've bred and owned a small number of horses, including several stallions, throughout those 50+ yrs. I have also advised many others during this time, including some who are/were "big-time breeders". I'm a retired physician and, in retrospect, wish I had devoted far less time and thought to horse racing/breeding, and more to issues related to horse and animal welfare.

30 May 2014 9:56 AM
Alan Porter 1


The C/C myostatin variant in the horse does express differently than in several other species, and as a result you don't get the muscle bulk that you see in "bully whippets" which not of any use for racing. In fact, I believe I saw a recent study that indicates that there isn't a correlation between the version of myostatin variant and mass as far as the horse is concerned.

I would accept there is a correlation between the myostatin variant used by Equinome and distance, but there are other variants that have an impact (and that's leaving aside cardio, etc.) and using that one in isolation is not the strongest predictive model. Performance genetics uses several different variants to determine the distance haplotype.

I would also venture to say there is a good chance that there epistatic variants that impact the expression and transmission of the variants for muscle type. Some horses will tend to skew towards throwing more speed or stamina than they demonstrated at the track.

Paula: I love "The Big Bang Theory" reference...it may explain why I've been fascinated by thoroughbred pedigrees since I was 14-years-old!

30 May 2014 11:26 AM

Well..based on all the expert info on this site and the article on stamina today on Blood Horse we can forget Chrome winning the Belmont and the Triple Crown

30 May 2014 11:43 AM
Linda in Texas

Sceptre - just enjoy your interesting comments and i learn from them. I thought you were someone else, have since learned not so. Your comment about not relying strictly on the dam and the sire to judge the traits and racing ability of offspring is of my own thinking. All the bloodlines count, not just the youngest! Even the old codger's have a 'hand' in the results.

And i ditto JR's request that you please share some experiences and stories you have had with your favorite horses through the years. Thank you Sceptre.

Thank you Steve. And everyone have a nice week end.

And Rest in Peace Noble Causeway. Too young to be gone. Linda

30 May 2014 12:38 PM
It aint easy being good!

Do you want to make money or root for a triple crown winner? I go to the track to win money. IF your at home and cheering go ahead! With that said I am with coldfacts on this one. Commissioner oozing 12 furlongs! Improving colt. All Star Trainer. Correct me if I am wrong but isnt Castellano on him too? OMG please give me 20-1 I will be at the bank while you guys are trying to figure out what happened. Big Brown the sequel. The showing  start next Saturday. Good luck to all. Chromes weakness will be the jockeys unfamiliarity to the track. Also Tonalist will cause hell for Chrome.  

30 May 2014 1:22 PM

I have 2 degrees but I still feel like Penny.

30 May 2014 1:44 PM

Seriously, Alan and Sceptre:  will 5th generation + genetic markers for 1 1/2+ distances still carry forward into the 1st - generation?  How long before it is completely diluted?  Or does it just peter down to 1 1/4 mile markers?

(of course I know that it depends upon both sides of the pedigree but when will we end up with no further 1 1/2 mile pedgrees?)

30 May 2014 2:25 PM

I mean that a lot of the TB's running inthe 1800's wer racing over 4 mile heats and "dashing" over 1 mile.  How long before they "devolved" to 1 1/2 milers?  Is there a precedent for this today?

[sorry for the choppiness of my questions - I am thinking as I go}

30 May 2014 2:31 PM

Thanks, Alan. You opened the myostatin subject, and your comments, and some further reading (other studies) on my part since, has brought me around to better accepting her work. Myostatin's effect on not only muscle mass, but also muscle fiber type (fast/imtermediate/slow twitch) suggests that its gene variants have a role in racehorse endurance, speed, etc. Among other environmental factors, studies indicate that high velocity training can directly influence the myostatin gene(s), potentially altering the end production type of muscle fiber. No doubt this, as well as other factors, has impacted on her data (making it appear less clear cut-to my eye).    

30 May 2014 2:31 PM

Thanks Steve, saves me the research!!

In the end, pace makes the race, and current form and jockey tactics can overcome several genetic hurdles.

How could Palice Malice get 12f? Well the rider with the perennial highest earnings per start, Smith, found a way, while running wide and on the pace; as the #2 in EPS Stevens had done 3 weeks prior.

So many Belmont winners have x-x-x-0-0 as a DP, it is hard to find stamina in most horses bred in NAmerica these days, you have to "go back a few generations".

My odd observation is the Northern Dancer line, via his sons Deputy Minister, Vice Regent and Danzig, all of whom were predominantly sprinters, seems to reverberate through many Belmont winners.

This says if anybody beats CC, it is likely Wicked Strong.

30 May 2014 5:15 PM

California Chrome's parents had the best of pedigrees and genetics. I don't believe they have been limited by their genes.

However, both his sire, Lucky Pulpit, and his dam, Love the Chase, have not been able to excel in racing due to their respiratory problems.

Lucky Pulpit, had had a viral respiratory infection, which left him with scar tissue and an inability to move enough air to run effectively at longer distances.

Love the Chase, had an untreated entrapped epiglottis; she couldn't move enough air for racing and she became very anxious due to this.

I believe this is rather an unusual circumstance in that both the sire and dam had limitations due to respiratory problems. And they were greatly undervalued due to their physical ailments. But their genes were royal.

Thankfully, Chrome has none of the limitations of his dam and sire.

30 May 2014 6:09 PM

I believed Commanding Curve was gonna run in the money..for sure this race is going to be interesting

30 May 2014 6:35 PM


Intriguing question. Firstly, get rid of your word "likely"; there's nothing likely about any of this.

You're looking for theory, but that could require a book. So, for now, instead I'll be ultra-specific. In modern times I would have bred Change Water to Buckpasser. Mr. Roebling never tried it despite my prodding. By the time Fall Aspen came to the breeding shed, it was too late. But, Dubai Millennium, one of the best bred greats of all time, encompasses much of that pattern...In real time, there is a 2013 colt owned by the Phipps-named "Sail Ahoy"- who's as close as it comes to a present day best bred horse and, perhaps, bred precociously enough to make the Derby. He's by Bernardini out of, to my mind, the best broodmare on earth, Matlacha Pass. There are better stallions out there than Bernardini, but he's good enough and, of the good ones, probably the best pedigree cross (Seattle Slew would have been better) for this mare...As a thumbnail, in general I'd choose a youngish to middle aged superior producing mare who also demonstrated a marked tendency to produce precocious, non-sprinter types (a rare combination to find), and mate her to a) a stallion that I truly believe in, b) that stallion must be highly proven, c) that stallion and his immediate bloodline must demonstrate a solid affinity with the bloodlines of this mare to be mated, d) both stallion and mare must be of a conformation such as to give one confidence in their "blending", e) both stallion and mare, as sire and producer, must have evidenced a high tendency toward sound stock, f) as importantly, both stallion and mare must have evidenced through their previous offspring a strong tendency toward very good "minds". That's for starters...    

30 May 2014 7:43 PM
Paula Higgins

Alan Porter 1, glad you liked it but I am not kidding. You two are talking way over our heads and this is someone who has read a little on human DNA (just a little). Here is the reality about CC, if he wins the Belmont he has totally outrun his recent pedigree and I believe he can do it with a decent trip.

30 May 2014 10:41 PM

Coldfacts :

First of all, my point was you assumed she had no love for the fresh horses when in fact she meant that it doesn’t matter if they were fresh, it had nothing to do with the horses themselves, it was about their state of readiness.  You said  the number of fresh horses that won in the last 20 renewals is 8, so the horses who were not fresh won it 12 times ?  If that’s the case based on your example, how can you question someone picking against fresh horses when your example clearly shows that horses who are not fresh has won it more times ?

I asked for YOUR definition of fresh horses, you gave me what modern day trainers definition, are you saying you agree with their definition ?  

I’ll quote you :

“ The last 8 renewals of the Belmont were won by fresh horses i.e., horses that either skipped the Preakness or did not run in the first 2 legs of the TC “

and then, your response to me :

“ To better answer your question the horse with the surplus amount of time to recover from a race is considered the fresher. It does not matter if the horse contested the KD and skipped the Preakness or did participate in the first 2 legs of the TC series.  “

Which one is it ?

As for winning the TC, I think the point was it’s near impossible to win it because things have changed a lot since the last time the TC was won.   Let me ask you, do you think the 11 triple crown winners of the past would all have won the TC if they ran in a 20 horse field Derby, a 10 horse field Preakness and potentially a 12 horse field in the Belmont ?   I’m not downplaying the winners of the past but a lot has changed since it was won last.  I have no doubt in my mind that’s what her point was, it’s common sense that the TC crown can be won, but it’s not easy, it's nearly impossible.

31 May 2014 5:41 AM


This has been one of your most fascinating blogs ...true bloodhorse stuff. Again, great job.

Alan, Byron & Sceptre:

The esoteric genetic discussion notwithstanding, your attempts to simplify for the lay geneticists/pedigree buffs is appreciated here.

I have to say however that I've been a fan of the sport for approximately 47 years and in my neophyte years I used to think that only the sire and dam mattered in assessing the quality of the thoroughbred racer. Then as I observed and learned more, seeing the offsprings of many of my favourite horses hit the track I learned even more that the grandparents and distant relatives also mattered, by that I mean that one could understand the propensities, proclivities and abilities (sprinting, staying, early speed oriented and stretch running power) of the new 2YOs and 3YOs whose ancestor I actually knew. I developed as a student of thoroughbred pedigree by experience. Now you guys, especially Byron and Alan are trying to convince one such as I and others that neophyte/beginner's knowledge is better ...what a joke?  I don't mean that disrespectfully but do you really see what you are up against with your arguments.

Kentucky Derby winners like California Chrome and Mine That Bird (horse bred or bought by ordinary low budget folks that respect but cant afford to put too much stock in expert opinions) are very good for the sport (fans, lay people and experts alike) because they give us reality checks.

I've yet to see a sprinter win the Kentucky Derby yet

Alan wrote "in the U.S. at least, and particularly for spring three-year-olds, a horse who is homozygous for the sprinting variant, can win a Kentucky Derby or Belmont Stakes". It would be good if he could name even one,

Your conclusion about Union Rags is so riduculous ...and I say that with all seriousness as one who has studied the influence of the Super stalion, Hyperion as well as know very well the High Hat/Glad Rags mating in UR's tail family going a ways back.

California Chrome humbles us and I'm really rooting for him to romp the Belmont and add all that he represents to the annals of the Triple Crown history.

31 May 2014 8:36 AM

Ranagulzion - a round of applause for your post!

31 May 2014 4:33 PM

Ranagulzion :  How can you question Alan’s opinion of a sprinter winning the Derby when he has not picked a sprinter to win the Derby and you have ?   Remember Trinniberg ?   Whatever his reasoning is, the Derby is the one race where literally anything can happen.  If a speedster like Da Tara can win the Belmont, it’s not impossible for a sprinter to win the Derby with the right circumstances (weak field, speed favoring track, etc).   What does it mean when you picked Trinniberg to win the Derby ?  It means you thought a sprinter had a chance to win the Derby…funny that.

You are the only one that is still in denial about his limitations.  You keep going back to Hyperion, I believe someone (I think it was Pedigree Ann) already told you that Hyperion’s DNA is in most of the horses today, however small it may be.   I’m sure if you ask the true genetics expert how much of the DNA is left from 6th generations past, they’ll say it’s a very very small percentage and have very little or no influence in today's horses.   I haven't seen anyone post anything to support your claim that Hyperion has any influence on today's horses, for you to claim he's the reason UR got the Belmont distance is just ridiculous...but it's easy to claim such things because there's no way to prove it one way or another.

01 Jun 2014 2:37 AM


“California Chrome humbles us and I'm really rooting for him to romp the Belmont and add all that he represents to the annals of the Triple Crown history.”

My dear colleague you must enlighten your most ignorant supporter. How has CC1 humbled us and what does he represent?

He has won 6 in a row including the KD and Preakness. When Barbaro completed his Derby victory he was undefeated and it was his 6th victory. When Smarty Jones completed his Preakness victory he was undefeated and it was his 8th victory. I gather they had significantly better pedigrees so their achievements were not as humbling.

Pedigrees have been humbling us over the ages. The one possessed by CC1 is nothing new.

I have been on record citing repeatedly that an exceptional champion is likely to emerge from a small book of mare covered and produced from either a lightly raced or unraced mare. Many of the past TC winners were produced from mares that were not G1 material on the track. Some were unraced.

In a previous post I cited that the dams of TC winners Whirlaway and War Admiral were sired by Sweep. Whirlaway’s dam was unraced. War Admiral’s dam Brushup made 3 starts and did not record a win.

Over bred stallions are unlikely to sire TC winners. G1 winning mares are unlikely foal KD winners and therefore TC winners are not in play. Each year those mares are booked to high end over bred stallions for the pedigree appeal of their foals. The policy of breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best goes on.

Millionaire G1 winner Clear Mandate was bred to two times HOY Tiznow and she produced Strong Mandate. A multimillionaire sire and a millionaire mare, that's a mating that should have produced California Chrome.

01 Jun 2014 9:24 AM


I do believe I have to sort out the confusion. Kindly replace the word fresh with fresher. I retained the word fresh in my response because it was the word use by the contributor.

The last 8 horses to win the Belmont were fresher than the Derby and Preakness participants that contested the Belmont. Horses that contest the Preakness will have a window of 3 weeks to be freshened for the Belmont. Those that contested the Derby and skipped the Preakness have a window of 4 to 4 1/2 weeks to be freshened for their Belmont efforts. There have been some that contested less taxing races and although not falling into the aforementioned category are considered fresher. I guess there could be three categories, fresh, fresher and freshest.

If all the horses in a field had time to recover between races, the recovery period will dictate  the fresher opponents. Obviously recovery time can vary greatly based on level of fitness going in to a particular race. Longer period do not necessarily make some horses fresher.

"Do you think the 11 triple crown winners of the past would all have won the TC if they ran in a 20 horse field Derby"

They face different challenges.

Afleet Alex finished 3rd in a 20 Field Derby

Point Given finished 5th in a 17 Field Derby

Both the above colts could be considered the best o f their generations. However they were defeated in the Derby and returned to destroy the opposition in the Preakness and Belmont. Did the size of their respective Derby fields cost them the 1st Jewel in the TC? Not based on my observation. They were just not good enough on the day.

Listed below are the sizes of the fields the following Derby winners faced:  

Big Brown 1st 20 horses

Smarty Jones 1st 18 horses

Funny Cide 1st 16 horses

War Emblem 1st 18 horses

Charismatic 1st 19 horses

Real Quiet 1st 15 horses

Silver Charm 1st 13 horses

All the above colts lost in their bits for TC glory. Did Crowded Derby fields stop them from winning the TC? They all overcame the first and most difficult hurdle. They all faced significantly less horses in the Preakness and Belmont so field sizes was not an issue. They were just not good enough on the day.

It had nothing to do with a task being near impossible.

01 Jun 2014 12:31 PM


Deputy Minister was not a son of Northern Dancer but rather a grandson. Of the 14 tails male descendants of Mr. Prospector that have won the Belmont 9 of their dams are tail female descendant of Northern Dance.

The Mr. Prospector sire line has been dominant on one end and the Northern Dancer dam line on the other.

There are two likely Belmont starters that fit the above profile. Ride On Curlin and Kid Czuz. If history repeats itself one of the two should win.  

01 Jun 2014 12:31 PM

Jay Jay:

You read what Alan posted about sprinters winning the derby and I simply asked that he name one ...the obvious inference being that I do not agree. Any horse, no matter how fast, that can carry his/her speed to win the Kentucky Derby cannot be considered a pure/out-and-out sprinter. Precocious 2YOs that win age group races and 3YOs that win sprint races early in the Spring are still developing and their full capabilities unproven notwithstanding their pedigree profile. Thusly, who could say absolutely that Triniberg had no shot in the derby?

I'm not about to rehash old disputes with you about Triniberg. I never picked him to win the derby but I was an advocate of his participation as a significant pace factor ...as he proved to be.  Union Rags was my firm Derby selection and you know that very well. I can see you're happy that Alan shares your ridiculous view that Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags is a miler ...well, that's your opinion and you're entitled to it my friend.

So far the experts/genetics connoisseurs on this blog believe that California Chrome's pedigree is weak and that he too is a stretch-out miler. I happen to disagree on both counts because "Chrome's" dam Love the Chase carries Rasmussen Factor inbreeding to champion mare Numbered Account, which also carries Rasmussen factor inbreeding to Hyperion dam, Selene and the great blue hen mare, La Troienne, not to mention inbreeding to War Admiral and Teddy, all in the 5-cross pedigree. It is no mystery, looking at the pedigree sheet, how California Chrome could turn out to be a special colt. There's more that could be said regarding Lucky pulpit (see Terri Z posting above) but I'll stop. Do you also share the position of the experts concerning California Chrome? I'm interested to know.

01 Jun 2014 12:52 PM
Alan Porter 1


You might have a few years on me, but I'm not quite sure I'm a neophyte, as I've been writing about racing and breeding since covering the German Derby for Stud & Stable back in 1977, and had been study pedigrees for a few years prior to that.

When taking DNA samples we have a confidentiality agreement with the stallion owner/manager, so that restricts me from "naming names" but I can assure you that there is a currently standing Kentucky Derby winner who was a homozygous for the myostatin variant that is associated with sprinting, and a currently standing Belmont Stakes winner who was also a C/C for that variant, and how has sired quite a few more sprint graded stakes winners than one might expect.

A high-class, mature horse, who has a very good cardio can quite often beat his less mature, less talented contemporaries at distances beyond his optimum, particularly as a late two-year-old or spring three-year-old.

I'm not sure why you think my conclusion about Union Rags is "so ridiculous." Surely the fact that he is by Dixie Union - a fast horse and a speed influence as a sire - out of a sprinting Gone West mare, and a brother to a stakes placed sprinter, is more relevant than the fact that he goes back to Glad Rags, a granddaughter of Hyperion (actually Glad Rags won her best victory at a mile, and had stakes winning half-siblings who were sprinters and milers).

01 Jun 2014 2:30 PM
Alan Porter 1


It's somewhat complicated, but research would indicate most of the four-mile heat horses were homozygous for the slow-twitch muscle-fiber mysostatin variant (although I have to stress again, that is not the sole determinant with regard to the speed/stamina haplotypes).

From DNA extracted from remains of prominent stallions it would appear that the "staying" type was predominant in the population in Europe on through to the early years of the 20th century. The key change probably came with Phalaris (1913), a top-class sprinter who became a classic sire.

We still do produce horses that are bred to go long, but it is very hard for them to be effective over the distances that modern U.S. dirt races are run. I'd also suspect that the way in which we have developed the breed, muscle types apart, it is harder to produce a high quality stayer using typical U.S. stallions that it is to produce a sprinter/miler.

If the system of racing was altered to encourage breeding top-class 2 mile runners, we would eventually work our way back to it, although it might take two or three generations!

01 Jun 2014 2:50 PM

Cold Facts, if you need an explanation from Ranagulzion, "My dear colleague you must enlighten your most ignorant supporter. How has CC1 humbled us and what does he represent?"then you are totally in the dark as to why Chrome is so beloved by thousands of people all around the world.

01 Jun 2014 8:59 PM

Just for fun-guessing at Alan's cc Derby and Belmont winners:

Derby winner: narrowed down to I'll Have Another, Super Saver, Big Brown and Smarty Jones. Of the 4, more likely Big Brown or Smarty Jones. Close call, but I'll go with Smarty Jones.

Belmont winner: Either Touch Gold or Birdstone. I'll go with Touch Gold.

We won't know the answer, but it was fun to consider.  

01 Jun 2014 10:55 PM

Yes, Alan, if there was such an occurrence as a "key change", then Phalaris is probably the prime suspect. But his contemporary, The Tetrarch (particularly through his female descendants), probably played a big role.

01 Jun 2014 11:05 PM

Alan Porter1 1 June 2:30PM:

I respect your knowledge and wouldn't presume to call you a neophyte in thoroughbred racing but I felt it necessary to show why it is extremely difficult to convince astute observers and longstanding students of the game that only the parents and grandparents matter in discerning the running capabilities of the thoroughbred race horse.

If you are now going to define a sprinter in terms of his/her genetic material i.e."homozygous for the myostatin variant that is associated with sprinting" that helps me to understand your paradigm and thusly why you're of the opinion that a sprinter can win the Kentucky Derby or Belmont Stakes ...you have my sympathy (I could hazard a guess, based on pedigree, that the presently standing Derby winner that is homozygous for the sprinter encoding genetic material is either Big Brown or Smarty Jones. Also that the Belmont Stakes winning sprinter-producing sire is Touch Gold). I define sprinter in terms of race record and therfore cannot envisage a pure sprinter winning the Derby or Belmont Stakes.

Regarding Union Rags, his only likeness to his sire Dixie Union is in his impressive good looks (an unmistakable Dixie Union trait). We may have to agree to disagree but Union Rags was a longwinded/stamina laiden horse that inherited traits not apparent in either his sire or dam. Happily, I presume that you don't have to be convinced that his genotype is in all likelihood very different from that of his stakes winning sprinter full brother, Geefour.  I've posted ad nauseum, my views on the Hyperion influence of stamina and temperament through inbreeding in Union Rags which you, your expert collegues and my antagonist friend Jay Jay dismiss as nonsense. We are unable to scientically prove either point but one thing I can say is that my analysis led me to an accurate and confident conclusion about the horse's ability to win the 12 Furlongs Belmont Stakes while you experts were mired in doubt, focusing only on Dixie Union and Tempo's record. That was a neophyte approach by those whom I expected more indepth analysis from.

Tell me,how is it that Glad Rags was able to throw the longwinded/staying mare Terpsicorist (sired by Nijinsky) when GR's dam, Dryad was a sprinter. Also, how is it that Terpsicorist's stamina gets passed on to Union Rags, bypassing speed influence parents, Gone West and Tempo?

I anticipate that your answer is that Union Rags is a miler, typical son of Dixie Union and that no staying power was really passed on beyond the first two generations ... forget about inbreeding to Northern Dancer and Hyperion. Is that it Alan?

Windolin 31 Ma 2014 4:33PM:

Thanks, your kind response is much appreciated.

Coldfacts 1 June 2014 9:24AM:

The context of my comment regarding California Chrome humbling us is pedigree my Bro...can anything good come out of Lucky Pulpit? Sounds familiar? (LOL).

02 Jun 2014 12:16 AM

Coldfacts : None of your responses answered my questions, and I read your whole post.   First off, you were strictly talking about "fresh" horses.   You had two different opinions of "fresh" horses which I quoted and asked you about, and your response didn't come close to answering it and instead, you made up 3 categories of "fresh" lol.

Now about the TC, I asked you and you even quoted me, about the 11 TC winners, although your quote of my question seems to have been conveniently snipped to just the Derby which gave it a totally different context, I guess to give you some way to respond about the 19 failed attempts…here's the complete comment so you can read it again :

" Let me ask you, do you think the 11 triple crown winners of the past would all have won the TC if they ran in a 20 horse field Derby, a 10 horse field Preakness and potentially a 12 horse field in the Belmont ?  "

My point was winning the TC in the past, those 11 winners raced in a TC where the circumstances were much much different.   The previous 11 didn't face that many horses in each of the TC they won, if they did, there's a good chance the number of TC winners would be less than 11.

We're one week away from the Belmont, have you decided which horses you're going to play to beat Chrome ?   Really anxious to see which horses you end up with.   Which fresh, fresher, freshest horses have you identified to beat Chrome ?

Alan Porter 1 :  Another good post about UR.  I did mention to Ranagulzion that UR's 1st generation pedigree screams sprinter/miler but apparently UR is full of Hyperion’s DNA.  The credit for UR's Belmont win should be to his trainer, he picked the perfect place for UR, as in my own personal opinion, that was the worst Belmont field ever.

02 Jun 2014 1:24 AM

Okay, bad choice of word, not the worst ever (not meant to disrespect the horses as Paynter and Dullahan others have done well post Belmont) but it's the weakest field ever for the Belmont...again, in my own personal opinion.

02 Jun 2014 12:23 PM
Alan Porter 1


Glad Rags was by a true 12f (or maybe even a bit more) stallion out of a sprinting mare, so was probably an intermediate type. To Nijinsky II she threw Terpsichorist, who wanted to run long, but also Gorytus, who looked like a superstar in his first two starts (6/7f) at two, but then ran horribly in the Dewhurst Stakes, under circumstance to this day are still rather cloudy, and then apparently fell out with the game.

As far as the myostatin variant is concerned, I'd guess that Dixie Union and Tempo were both probably the intermediate type (heterozygous). On a normal Mendelian distribution it would mean that they could throw - as far as this single variant is concerned - a homozygous sprint type, and intermediate type, or a homozygous route type.

I suspect we would both place Union Rags as an intermediate type. I'd then take his brilliant shorter distance performances at two, against his Belmont Stakes win - where after a mile in 1:38.85 the came home the final half in 51+ seconds - as an indication that the modification by other variants had resulted in a horse who was best at up to around 8 1/2 furlongs rather than a "long-winded stayer."

As I said, in what I think was my first post on this particular subject, I'm as interested as anyone at looking back into pedigrees, and do so when planning matings. When it comes to guess potential optimum distance, however, if we know the race-record and breeding-record of the sire and dam, and consider the horse himself, we are not going to glean much additional information by going back in the pedigree.

When it comes to near-ubiquitous ancestors like Hyperion, you'll find them in sprinters and stayers a like. In fact Hyperion's son, Owen Tudor, was responsible for Abernant and Tudor Minstrel, two of the fastest horses seen in England in the last century, while another son, Stardust, sired Star Kingdom, who was to become a bye-word for speed in Australia.  

02 Jun 2014 3:26 PM


I could have answered your question regarding the 11 TC winners with a simple, no. However, you would require an explanation for my answer.

I provided a list of some of the horses that unsuccessful attempted the TC and the field sizes for their respective Derbies. Clearly the field sizes did not stop them from winning the Derby. The field sizes definitely did not stop them from winning the Preakness.

Based on your position the field size caught up with them in the Belmont and that is just ludicrous. Each of the 11 TC winners faces different challenges. I doubt field size was a major concern then and it is certainly not one now.

Of the 19 horses that failed to win the TC, can your specify one that was denied due to field size?

“Fresh Horse”

I clarified my position to fresher horses as opposed to fresh horses. CC1 would have been freshened in the three weeks leading up to the Belmont. Recovery time between races dictates which horse has the longer period to be refreshed.

Why have latched on to this issue. Irrespective on how you view my post, it will not change the fact that the last 8 Belmont winners did not contest the Preakness.  Most had 4-5 week between their last start and were considered fresher horses than the Preakness participants contesting the Belmont.

In the case of 3YO who are continually improving, time is their best friend. The more the merrier.

Eight of the last 20 Belmont winners contested the Derby and skipped the Preakness. The winner of the 2014 Belmont lies within this group.

Empire Maker finished 2nd in the Derby, skipped the Preakness and returned in the Belmont to spoil Funny Cide’s TC bid. CC2 finished 2nd in the Derby has an opportunity to emulate Empire Maker’s feat.

Birdstone finished 8th in the Derby, skipped the Preakness and returned in the Belmont to spoil Smarty Jones’ TC bid.  Medal Count finished 8th in the Derby and has an opportunity to emulate Birdstone ‘s feat.

Jazil finiahed DH for 4th in the Derby skipped the Preakness and returned in the Belmont to Deny Derby runner up Bluegrass Cat a Belmont victory. Wicked Strongt finished 4th in the Derby and has an opportunity to emulate Jazil’s feat.

Sammart: He will need an oxygen tank in the last 2F. Point Given did finished 5th in the Derby and won the Belmont. You never know!

02 Jun 2014 3:51 PM


Kindly accept my sincere apology for the darkness in which I have found myself regarding CC1.

I happen to like the colt a lot as he fit into my narrative for breeding a champion. While I appreciate the performances of the top 3YOs each year I do not go bunkers over them.

The 2014 Derby was competed in 2:03.66 on a fast track. Do you know were that time ranks? His Preakness was very good a very few horses break 1:55 for the stake. He won by 1 1/2L and he was not in hand.

After California Chrome's Derby victory I congratulated the colt, his connections and his fans. I further stated that although he was not my choice to win, he was much the best on the day. I also wished the connections and the colt success in the remaining two legs of the TC.

What more can a brother do?

02 Jun 2014 4:05 PM


It's a bit late in the day to start this all over again, but I'm sensing an arousal of my skepticism re-the worth of her myostatin variants. Granted I'm not privy to any horse's myostatin genotype, but there seems to me an enormous variation in racehorse aptitude and production aptitude. I think this "tool" could play havoc with our selective breeding methods. For openers, there's likely great numbers of tt's in the population, and can envision many breeders wishing to discard them-particularly the unprovens. Many others may attempt to bend over backwards in not causing a mating that may produce a tt..Also, I could be mistaken, but I haven't seen any listing by her of the markers of well known horses. I'm sure she has much of that information-even those that have passed on (relatively recently) can be derived. My guess is that public knowledge of such would weaken the impact of her variants. I suspect that in practice, it's all rather murky. Consider if Monsun were either a tt, or a ct. Either way there's problems. On the other hand, if Touch Gold is, in fact, a cc,-given his stud performance-(but what about his racing performance) in retrospect that knowledge would have proved potentially helpful-or, is it merely coincidental?...Gorytus is another murky matter. I followed him fairly closely-even offered Mrs. Mills $12M when he was 2 (after the defeat) for a client. He turned out to be a dismal failure at stud-and sired NO SPEED whatsoever. Me thinks that neither his racing career, nor his stud career had much to do with his myostatin genotype.    

02 Jun 2014 5:49 PM

Ranagulzion : I've posted to you many times before, UR's record is the only thing that is a fact where we can go by and his record supports my opinion more so than yours.  He did not prove anything by winning the Belmont.

I wish someone else besides you comments and agrees with you on this but I don't see anyone else...it would be nice to discuss it with someone who might actually have some valid points besides "I said so" or "He won the Belmont"...

Coldfacts : A simple no would've sufficed because that proves my point about how hard it is to win the TC.  

Once again, you posted 10 million paragraphs without having answered my question.   You're no different than Ranagulzion, when asked a question where he can't answer, he either stopped answering or try to confuse people with overloading information that had nothing to do with the original question.

I’m not latching on to the fresh issue, I’m still waiting to see your response.  You created 3 categories of "fresh", when all I asked was a simple "what's your definition of fresh?"  It's really a simple question...it doesn't require 10 million paragraphs.  Let me make it even simpler, who are the fresher horses in this year’s Belmont?  Based on your comments, the winner will come from this group of "fresher" horses...

Before you respond, please know I'm being silly about the 10 million paragraphs, please don't take it literally.  I know you didn't post that many so please don't write 2 paragraphs of your response addressing it.

02 Jun 2014 11:52 PM

Alan Porter1 02 June 2014 3:26PM,

Great post and fascinating discussion ...an enlightening dialogue is definetly preferred to heated debates. I have to say you are a gentleman, Alan.

In your remarks about Glad Rags (great grand dam of Union Rags) I wished that you would've spelled out that her sire, "a true 12f (or maybe even a bit more) stallion" was High Hat a son of Hyperion, the real source of stamina in this family ...but alas that obscurity in your comment was ostensibly subtle enough to deny the verasity of my argument ...nice try.

While I do agree that Union Rags is most likely an intermediate type, I do believe that the slowish 51 seconds last half mile of the 2012 Belmont Stakes resulted from the horse being traped down on the rails which almost cost him the race. That Belmont was the fastest of the last four renewals, faster than Drosselmeyer, faster than Ruler On Ice and faster than Palace Malice. I understand your analysis of the optimum distance/performance vis a vis comparitive running times but you're not dealing with a linear equation here my friend ...this one requires "calculus" when factoring the pace,running surface and riding tactics of the jockeys, not to mention the unconfirmed variant in the genotype of the horse.

Alan, you said that you look back into pedigree when planning matings and I'd like to know how meaningful is that information to you against the background of your persuasion that only the parents and grand parents really matter.

03 Jun 2014 12:32 AM


I actually meant to answer you question with a Yes. The information that followed clearly supported a yes answer.

03 Jun 2014 12:07 PM
Alan Porter 1


Nothing sinister in not mentioning High Hat, I just didn't think he'd be meaningful to most on here - I actually remember him being at stud, and also his very good stallion son High Line, who (off the top of my head) might have been the last two mile horse to become a major commercial sire in Europe).

As far as distance, pedigree and genetics, the point I was trying to get across is that the pedigree at (say) five or six generations represents the potential source of aptitude and ability in the foal.

That said, once we can establish the distance genotype/haplotye of the sire and dam, we know the range of possibilities for the offspring, without recourse to speculating deeper in the pedigree. So for example, if we have a Speightstown foal out of a sprint mare like Emma's Encore, we know that if it is any good, it's highly likely to be a sprinter or sprinter/miler at max, and the three crosses of Secretariat in the mare are not relevant at that point in a discussion of distance potential.

When planning matings, we will tend to best with somewhat similar aptitudes rather that widely disparate ones, but that is only part of the equation.

Although I like to start at the front of the pedigree - class of sire and dam and proven affinity for immediate ancestors (to get a statistical snapshot, I use TrueNicks nick and Key Ancestor reports). Beyond that, however, I do believe that inbreeding and linebreeding through "likebred" ancestors tends in practice to be a positive. I've also noticed that relative close inbreeding along these lines has the potential to upgrade a pedigree. So although I don't advocate starting with the deep pedigree patterns, I've certainly got the six cross (or deeper) pedigree in mind when I'm planning the mating.

03 Jun 2014 2:16 PM
Alan Porter 1


What you're predicting re the culling of "T:T" types is already happening. According to this lecture here - www.kznbreeders.co.za/News15012013.html - one of the Equinome partners, Jim Bolger, has been deliberately avoiding breeding "T:T" horses.

That said, distance aptitude in the thoroughbred is more complex than just Equinome's myostatin variant - there are C:T horses that are grade one winners at six furlongs and others at twice that distance - and a much better picture of a horse's aptitude can be gained by using multiple variants.

I think there is relatively limited public information on markers of well-known horses due to confidentiality agreements.

In the U.S. performances can be somewhat misleading in terms of understanding what a horse is genetically. There are relatively few high-class dirt performers that find their optimum distance at ten furlongs or above. Something has to win the longer races, and it often has as much to do with class as optimum distance: to give an example from human athletics, the Olympic 800m (approx 1/2 mile) and one time 1500m and 1 mile world-record holder, Steve Ovett, was able to defeat an Olympic marathon runner in a half-marathon (13.1 miles), just a week before destroying a stellar field in the World Cup 1500m. Steve was "C:T" but was able to beat very good "T:T" types over their natural distance by sheer class. As far as the classic races are concerned this is compounded by the fact that a horse with a maturity edge can handle his contemporaries at distances well beyond his optimum.

Gorytus was a deplorable stallion, but he basically seemed to throw towards the pedigree of the dam. His best was probably a grade one winning sprinter in Brazil, but he best Europe's including not only two group winners at seven furlongs, but also two group winners out of staying bred mares at around 11 furlongs.

03 Jun 2014 3:07 PM


Our mutual friend Jay Jay often poses many questions, trying to learn the game but obviously playing 'smart alec' ...you have to be patient and brief as reading comprehension is not his forte.

03 Jun 2014 3:28 PM
Byron Rogers


A few points on the myostatin variant that Alan has talked about:

1) There is not as many T:T (distance) horses in the American population as you would think. In fact, behind Australia the North American broodmare population has the highest proportion of C:C (sprint) variants at the Equinome variant. It's close to 40% so the selection for speed has already taken place.

2) The Equinome variant isn't the complete picture. Far from it. As Alan alluded to we have seen C:C (sprint) variants win Kentucky Derby's and Belmont Stakes. You also have a C:T (Miler) range from horses like Soldier's Tale who won a July Cup over 6f to New Approach who won a Epsom Derby over 12f. That range alone shows you that there is missing heritability and looking at that one variant alone in myostatin as a distance predictor is a mistake. We know that there are a couple of other variants that are in the myostatin loci and one that is not that have an effect on distance. Haplotypes (groups of a number of genetic changes for those reading along :) ) seem to be more predictive of distance than an individual variant.

3) Myostatin variation doesn't reflect body type. You get C:C horses that look like milers and C:C horses that look like Quarter Horses. There is some relationship between the variations in myostatin and muscle fiber type but the body type expressed physically is a lot more complex than one variant within one gene.

In regards to the genetic variants and optimal distance the pace of a race and the age that a horse runs at can muddy the waters quite a bit. As you know class allows horses to run much further than they are genetically built for and this is especially apparent in 2yo races and early three year old races. Once their peers start to catch up to the more precocious horses they get found out. The career of Turbulent Descent is a good example of this. She was able to win at a mile and a sixteenth against her own age early in her career but when she aged she really showed she was a 7f sprinter which is what her genetics said she was.

03 Jun 2014 6:02 PM

Dear Alan and Byron,

Much appreciate your two latest posts; helped to fill in the gaps. Glad to have you both and Ian around to keep this ageing brain stimulated.

03 Jun 2014 9:33 PM
Bill Rinker

This blog is very intriguing to me, and I appreciate as well as enjoy all the insight provided. Understanding the  myostatin variants seems to be the real determining factor in regard to performance capabilities. A few things have crossed my mind while scratching around, and thinking about what a horse is potentially good at doing, and going a step further, in determining what exactly good is. The recruiting processes that muscle, (types of in a given fiber and bundle) goes through in continuing develop as well as energy metabolism during exercise is rarely at a constant. I have often wondered what effect Lasix has on muscle synapsis in relation to dehydration there of. When considering overall (complete anatomical)voluntary muscle, can we assume or have concern for a constant in fiber type. It is interesting as well as imperative to form a basis of classification when analyzing so many factors that form potential. I'm all in on research and admire those who have a passion for development, welfare and responsible stewardship of the Thoroughbred. Many thanks to all those who do so much.  

03 Jun 2014 11:47 PM

Ranagulzion : I'm the only one that cares about how delusional you are when comes to Union Rags and your desperation to claim the title of "predictor of the triple crown winner".   If you answered my questions, I wouldn't be on your case.

Coldfacts :  I've only asked for answers, I post a question, I hope to get an answer.   You've always posted long winded paragraphs to explain your...your...I guess "evaluations" or maybe angles ?   It can't be opinions because as your name states, you post cold facts.

04 Jun 2014 2:40 AM
Bill Rinker

I thought of one or two other things I'd like to add to my last post that might be interesting to kick around when considering the benefits of typing hypothesis. In general when attempting to develop endurance, the process of improvement tends to encompass a longer training schedule, provided there are no interruption's. In a somewhat vague sense speed is more immediate or readily at hand. Another way to look at it would be to envision performance on a numerical scale. As an example. Endurance would tend to follow a longer progression of improvement. That is on a scale of one to ten it may take four years to move from one to ten. Speed on the other hand may take half the time in terms equal stature. In relationship to the debate over discerning Union Rags, both hypothesis carry merit, based on maturation of limited training potential on the one hand, and genetic ancestral performance disposition on the other. In addition the comparison reference used in human athletic performance is very compelling and reveals the improvement that training has on developing muscle recruitment types as well as fiber variants.        

04 Jun 2014 10:07 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

I told you before Ride on Curlin, tonalist and commissioner in the first two positions and the try was easy including 1,4,9,2 two stamina horses working great and two class horses, I swear for my daughter who has cystic fibrosis I won $6,781.00 dollars with the trifecta and $348.00 dollars exacta that is $7,129.00 dollars I was dreaming about Tapit, Unbridle, Nijinsky, Topsider, Pleasant Colony,Round Table,Buccpasser wow it was a real stamina dream, see you in the travers thanks family.

07 Jun 2014 11:37 PM

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