Quick Change of Plans for Proud Spell

Less than a month after a surprising second-place finish in her season-opening prep race, champion filly Proud Spell (profile) was retired, moved home, and put into broodmare service.

A homebred for Airdrie owner Brereton Jones, the multimillionaire daughter of Proud Citizen (SRO) was sent to Airdrie Stud's Indian Charlie (SRO) for an April 11 cover.

Thinking in human terms, I know there'll be a few questions about the timing. (Right now I have a couple of pregnant friends who don't think mixing athletic stress and pregancy is a great idea -- they're mad on the mare's behalf!)  It seems to be a quick turnaround -- from training track to broodmare pasture in about four weeks -- but because of the length of equine gestation, it's actually not a bad practice.  It's a natural advantage of horses that was exploited in the past more frequently than it is now; in fact, it was once a reasonably common practice to breed a mare in late winter and continue to run her until early fall.  Pregnancy requires little from the mare's body in the first several months, giving these mares plenty of time to acclimate to their new lifestyle. And nature has another card up its sleeve: if a mare is too "racetrack fit," she won't conceive to begin with.

So, with that said, let's take a quick look at what will be one of 2010's most anticipated newborns:

The resulting foal will have a 5 x 5 duplication of Northern Dancer -- both Indian Charlie and Proud Spell are out of mares by grandsons of the Windfields wonder horse. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

It will be inbred 5 x 5 to Raise a Native also: Proud Spell's great-grandsire is Mr. Prospector, the most ubiquitous source of that stallion, but we also see a less-common strain through a Raise a Native daughter -- in this case, the dam of Indian Charlie's broodmare sire Leo Castelli.  Mr. Prospector has been one of the best crosses for Indian Charlie in general, as evidenced by three grade/group I winners on the sire-line cross (Pampered Princess, Fleet Indian, and Indian Blessing).

Doubtless, Indian Charlie is the top-of-the-line offering at Airdrie Stud.  His $75,000 fee is 2-1/2 times the price of the next most-expensive stallions at the farm in large part because the son of In Excess (IRE) has made a name for himself with a steady stream of big horses.  But he's not the only choice that former Governor Jones could have made.

I took a peek at the hypothetical match-up of Proud Spell with other Airdrie stallions and came up with some interesting results:

  • With Divine Park (SRO), the hypo pedigree shows an unusual duplication pattern.  Both Proud Spell and Divine Park are by Mr. Prospector-line studs out of mares whose grandsire was Danzig and whose damsire was a son of Nijinsky.  This particular cross yields a crazy-high nick rating due to there being only two runners on the Chester House/Mr. Prospector sire-line cross:  Take the Ribbon and Phoenix Towner, both grade III winners.
  • Similarly, Istan (SRO) has a pedigree pattern that mimics Proud Spell's, although probably too close for comfort.  They're both from the Gone West line (he's a son while she's by a son) and both are out of mares whose sires are grandsons of Northern Dancer.
  • Crossed with Friends Lake (SRO), Proud Spell's foal would be a 4 x 5 cross to Secretariat and would extend Friends Lake's inbreeding to Buckpasser.  More importantly, it would have the tried-and-true A.P. Indy/Mr. Prospector sire line affinity.
  • For those who prefer outcross matings, how about the breed-to-race favorite Slew City Slew (SRO).  Both Bold Ruler and Round Table are duplicated, but at more distant generations. This match would be heavy on Nasrullah and Princequillo bloodlines in general, actually, without introducing additional strains of Mr. P or Northern Dancer. 

By the way, I previously mentioned Proud Spell here:  Thoroughbred Female Family 4 Goes 1-2 in Alabama Stakes.

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