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Developing a Stakes-Winning Thoroughbred Filly, Part III

Editor's noteDr. Robert Fishman shares his story about breeding recent stakes winner Girlfrienontheside. We've read of the breeding considerations that resulted in her dam, Refrain (see part I  and part II of the series). Here we follow along as Refrain is retired to broodmare duties.


Refrain became a broodmare and was covered before Lifestyle's first start. The task of finding her a proper mate proved even more difficult than it had for Inlaw. There were few in my price range that appealed.

Indian Charlie (TrueNicks,SRO) was high on my list, but Lifestyle had not yet started and I could learn little about him from trainer Bob Baffert. Out of Place was again considered, but had seemed to do best with mares of more size, and my regard for him had waned. Officer (TrueNicks,SRO) was a fairly good cross as I liked the notion of line-breeding to In Reality (had worked well for Unbridled's Song), and he could provide a good Nasrullah. He had been a somewhat talented racehorse, but his female side was questionable, and his conformation didn't suit her well. Unbridled's Song (TrueNicks,SRO) was starting to demonstrate an affinity with Storm Cat, but I disliked the look he brought, felt it particularly unsuitable for Refrain, and found none of his sons to my liking. Refrain toed out a bit, so anything then with Mr. Prospector was immediately eliminated.

Horse Chestnut was my choice in the end. I had admired him as a racehorse (potential sky's the limit sort), and liked his sire who was out of the great Fall Aspen. His female side was a concern, but there was strength in his second dam. Still, his pedigree always remained a question. There were some appealing aspects to the Horse Chestnut-Refrain pedigree blend, and it was a suitably good near outcross, but for some line-breeding to Northern Dancer and Nasrullah. Horse Chestnut's first small crop to the races had performed well enough to be a non-issue. I was more concerned about his relative lack of leg, but overall he was well made, while not all that attractive. I persuaded myself that Refrain would pretty him up, and through her pedigree offer the offspring more leg (with regard to leg and height, I've since come to believe  that the phenotype of the sire and dam are generally the controlling factors).

 The following spring Refrain foaled a very nice Horse Chestnut colt. She did pretty him up some, and he had decent leg (far from leggy), was correct with very good bone, well-balanced, strong, and quite good-bodied. He matured into a really nice colt and while still a weanling his full ownership was transferred to my then partner. Against my advice the trainer cranked him up quickly at 2, and all works were reported as "bullets". They soon bowed him, and he retired unraced.

Lifestyle had started prior to the selection of Refrain's second-year mate, and this greatly simplified the process. Indian Charlie was still affordable, and by then had begun to confirm my belief in him as a sire. He had also demonstrated a marked affinity for Mr. Prospector-line mares. For those reasons and others (Lifestyle aside), the Indian Charlie-Refrain cross evinced even more optimism than the Indian Charlie-Inlaw. Indian Charlie was among a dwindling number of notable stallions with "leg," and this was a beneficial attribute for Refrain. But above all, there was Lifestyle to recall. Soundness wasn't an issue, because I knew Refrain was sound. Unlike Lifestyle, Refrain never bled, and for that matter, never trained or raced on Lasix. I could have done without the resultant 4x4 to Caro (an influence for some coarseness), but the rest of the pattern gave no reason for pause. The outcome from this conjecture was the filly later to be named Girlrienontheside.

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