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One Horse Wonders

Looking through some recent results, we noticed that another nicking program had rated Elite Squadron - who took the May 3 Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) - as an A++ nick. A cross check with TrueNicks revealed that Elite Squadron is rated D. Naturally, we wondered what could have caused such a discrepancy.

A little research revealed that Elite Squadron is the only starter for the cross on which "the other program" rates him - Officer/High Brite. Putting in a different son of Bertrando (sire of Officer) with Elite Squadron's dam, Sweet Mama, also gives an A++ rating on the Bertrando/High Brite cross. This is still based on just one stakes winner - Elite Squadron again - even though Bertrando has never had a starter out of a mare by High Brite (he does, however, have eight starters and no stakes winners out of mares descending from Best Turn, the sire of High Brite, and 17 starters and no stakes winners out of mares descending from Turn-to, sire of Best Turn). Of course, "the other program" doesn't know how many times a cross has been tried, so, presumably the Officer/Bertrando or Officer/High Brite cross - which went from no stakes winners to one stakes winner the day that Elite Squadron won his first stakes - jumped from bad to good.

From the standpoint of the TrueNicks program, Elite Squadron (who is out of a stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed mare), is not sufficient to turn what has been proven an underperforming cross into a highly-rated one. It does, however, give an opportunity to warn about taking seriously other programs' fairly frequent A++ nicks that are based on only a single successful horse.

Incidentally, talking of Elite Squadron reminds us that we should note that his sire, Officer (TrueNicks, SRO), certainly is no "one horse wonder." Having retired to stud at a fee of $12,500, he has sired 14 stakes winners in his first two crops, with Elite Squadron joining Officer Rocket (GB) and Officer Cherrie as graded stakes winners.

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