Thoroughbred pedigree analysis is an exciting study. Even when the horse you're reviewing isn't a big star.
BloodHorse.com boasts two of the finest columnists in the industry: Avalyn Hunter (Mahubah's Corner) and Alan Porter (Porter on Pedigrees) have weekly articles that are both available within the Breeding section of the Web site (visit the pedigree analysis archives). As pedigree enthusiasts, we all have other writers that we follow, too: Pacemaker and Thoroughbred Times and The Australian Bloodhorse Review and MarketWatch (which now incorporates Owner-Breeder International) and the Reines-de-Course newsletter Pedlines all have their own analysts and all are good reads.
Not surprisingly, these columns focus largely on recent winners that have achieved top-level success, be it graded victories or a long win streak. Part of what I want to do in The Five-Cross Files is to look at the bloodlines of horses that haven't made it to "prime time," but that have noteworthy pedigrees nonetheless.
I've mentioned before that I maintain a Virtual Stable that gives me email updates on workout times, race entries, and results for the "stable" that I've compiled. The horses I follow are generally fillies that I consider to be broodmare prospects based on their pedigrees. I also keep track of the foals out of mares I like, regardless of whether I would want that foal in my own breeding program. If I like the mare, I certainly want to know how her offspring are faring.
Yesterday, I received a workout notice for Highland Gypsy (pedigree), the 2006 grandson of one of my own mares. Highland Gypsy is by the Dehere (SRO) son Soto (SRO), making him a couple of steps back from the great bloodline influence of Deputy Minister, with the broodmare sire line influences of both Secretariat and Mr. Prospector. On the bottom side of his pedigree is the mare Gypsy Tailwind, a daughter of the Alydar son Dare and Go, who also boasts Secretariat as a broodmare sire. Gypsy Tailwind is a 2000 daughter of my Pentelicus mare Salambria, who descends from the great champion mare Ta Wee with crosses of Damascus and -- you guessed it -- Secretariat.
Put that all together (see the five cross pedigree here) and what you have is a rather intense inbreeding pattern in the fourth and fifth generations. Specifically: Secretariat 4 x 4 x 5 ... Damascus 5 x 4 ... Mr. Prospector 4 x 5 ... Raise a Native 5 x 4 ... and In Reality 5 x 5. TrueNicks calls the cross an "A" rating (TrueNicks report).
Highland Gypsy descends from Thoroughbred family 1-r. This is the immediate family of Dr. Fager and Great Above (sire of Holy Bull (SRO)) and Unbridled. In the mid-19th century, the family boasted a number of English classic winners through several branches, but has been relatively quiet since, with only Aspidistra -- Highland Gypsy's sixth dam -- leading the line into the current day in any sense of prominence.
The Dosage Profile for the Soto-Gypsy Tailwind cross is 3-4-9-0-0 (16), for a Dosage Index (DI) of 2.56 and Center of Distribution (CD) of 0.63. (The Chef-de-Race Web site gives a fine overview of the Steven A. Roman Dosage profiles, and is a first stop for anyone interested in the system.) Based just on this data, it would seem that Highland Gypsy is likely to have aptitudinal tendencies towards middle distances, with a bit of a closing kick.
Thus far, Soto has had seven 2-year-old runners from his first crop (40 foals of 2006), and already five are winners, with two stakes winners. Actually, Soto's numbers are quite impressive -- probably not statisically significant given the small field of runners thus far, but those seven runners have started a total of 17 times for eight wins (47%). They've finished in the money 65% of the time, with an average earnings per starter of $15,992. At this point in the 2-year-old racing season, Soto's progeny average winning distance (5.44 furlongs) is probably appropriate and indicates that the "classic" Dosage profile for Highland Gypsy is a fair estimate of that colt's aptitude.
Again, the small numbers prohibit putting too much weight on the statistics, but I do find it interesting to note that Soto's progeny are 2-for-2 on turf. His daughters have matured quicker than his sons thus far; six of seven runners are fillies. But -- the one son (Dance to the Star (pedigree), who has Deputy Minister 3 x 3 and Raise a Native 5 x 5 x 3) is one of Soto's two stakes winners.
This is the second foal of Gypsy Tailwind. Her first, the 2005 filly Lapony (pedigree), is by the Storm Cat (SRO) son Scatmandu (SRO), and has her own pattern of inbreeding: Alydar 3 x 3 ... Secretariat 4 x 4 x 5 ... and Nearctic 5 x 5. Lapony won her most recent time out, a maiden claiming race in mid-August, and has been in the money four times from 11 lifetime starts.
Highland Gypsy worked three furlongs at Woodbine. His 35:80 (handily) time was the fastest of 10 works at the same distance at the all-weather track yesterday. Back on Sept. 5, a workout notification came in that he had worked two furlongs in 23:80 (breezing), and was fastest of 11 that day.
Sounds like the colt has some promise.