Rare Sire Lines: Domino

Over the weekend, I took a short road trip to look at a potential mate for one of my broodmares.  This is the first time that I'm contemplating a "breed to race" mating instead of a commercial match, and considerations certainly differ between the two end goals. 

I've tended to support less-mainstream sire lines when breeding for the yearling sales (think Honour and Glory (on SRO), Holy Bull (on SRO), and Pleasant Tap (on SRO)), but even then, I've always looked at stallions that have turned out foals that appeal to bidders at the yearling sales. It's a given:  if you're breeding to sell, you need to make a profit.  This year, I'm just looking for a good match that will produce a quality runner, without considering potential sales value.

One of my breeding interests is the continuation of bloodlines that have fallen out of favor, but which still offer the promise of future glory (this being a main tenet in the theory of "fallow generations," wherein genetic superiority can skip a few generations and then come back strong). The Thoroughbred stud books have been (mostly) closed for a couple hundred years now, so it's troubling to see once-prominent branches die off.

Domino's is a fine example of a sire line that once reigned supreme, but now fights for survival. Looking at the bigger picture, it's amazing that the line still exists at all.  Domino had only a handful of foals (The Jockey Club recognizes three born in 1897 and five the following year), of which two were regarded as successful sires. The Disguise line is probably gone entirely from tail-mail descent, while the Commando line carries on, if in small numbers.

I'm a 50% co-owner in a Broad Brush broodmare, and while that stallion -- eight generations removed from Commando -- is probably seen more as a broodmare sire than a sire-of-sires, he is the best shot that the Domino sire line has to continue in the U.S.  (If you haven't already seen Ellen Parker's comments about Broad Brush, you'll want to make sure to check them out.)

Broad Brush, like many Domino-line sires, has tended to offer impressive statistics but has usually suffered because his progeny tend to be late-maturing. A nice plus is that the line has generally been built solidly and has contributed to a structurally more sound phenotype.

Include (on SRO) is an exciting addition to Broad Brush's roster, having entered stud duty right about the time that his sire was pensioned. His stud fee has climbed steadily, as has his list of stakes and graded stakes winners. If his star continues to shine, Airdrie's second-most-expensive stud (behind Caro (IRE)-line stallion Indian Charlie) really has the potential to keep Broad Brush's male line alive.  Down in Florida, Mongoose (on SRO) is doing his part, and could well end up with some viable sire sons if he sees the right mares.  

As with many less common sire lines, the regional breeding programs are shouldering much of the load. Highcliff Farm in New York has the solid runner Maybry's Boy (on SRO), replacing Best of Luck on their roster. Concern (on SRO), at Oklahoma Equine, is an important influence in the region and regularly ranks near the top of Oklahoma sire lists.

Other tail-male sources of Domino are decidedly rare. His Peter Pan line struggled for a long while but is now nearly gone.  I believe Mr. Brilliant down in Louisiana is pensioned. Bupers, who descends from Black Toney, no longer has viable sons or grandsons. But up in Ohio, about 45 minutes northeast of Cincinnati, lives the little-known Alladin Rib (pedigree), and it was he who I ventured up to see this past Sunday.

At 23 years old, Alladin Rib has neither the pedigree nor the numbers required to have any lasting influence on the breed. But that's not to say he should be dismissed from consideration for breed-to-racers.  In addition to great old-time names such as Prince Bio and Alibhai and Discovery and Relic and Princequillo and War Admiral in his five-cross pedigree, Alladin Rib springs from the Crimson Satan line of Spy Song, and from the female family of Afleet and Stymie.  Going back further in his female line, we find Noontide, perhaps the finest daughter of Commando's son Colin, and also out of a Domino mare, making Alladin Rib's eighth dam inbred 3 x 2 to the great Domino. 

And his progeny performance isn't bad, considering opportunity.  From only 32 starters, he has 25 winners (78%) and six stakes horses (18.8%), four of those stakes winners (12.5%). Granted, much of this comes from the Ohio state-bred program, but the numbers still merit some recognition.  His 1.15 AEI compares favorably to the 0.57 lifetime CI:  he improves his mares by a 2-1 margin.

I found the stallion to be in fine condition for his age, and while rather small in stature, he's nicely conformed. In fact, he matches nicely with the mare I was considering for him, and if all goes well with her in the meantime - she's due to foal the last week of April - I will plan to bring her up to Win-Row Farm for a late-May date with Alladin Rib. More as plans progress...

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