Developing a Stakes-Winning Thoroughbred Filly, Part IV

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 part II, and part III of the series). Here we continue the story, picking up with the stakes-winner as a newly-born filly, and also find out how her dam, Refrain, continued as a broodmare.

Girlfrienontheside was a lovely, leggy, athletic-looking creature through most of her weanling year. She matured thereafter less uniformly, was not quite the "mover" of a Refrain, her siblings, or Inlaw--perhaps due, in part, to her relative lack of uniformity. Those issues may have contributed to her yearling sales price of only $50,000.

I didn't again see her until the day of her first race. What I observed then was a wholly different filly. She was leggy, very athletic and well-balanced, with a flowing neck and great carriage. She had demonstrated a good degree of tenacity while being raised at Bayne & Christina Welker's Spring Ridge Farm, and has used this trait to advantage in her races. In her recent starts she has displayed much of the brilliance of her three-parts relation Lifestyle.

I selected Royal Academy to be Refrain's third mate. It was a somewhat risky choice from a sales perspective. I had always admired him, particularly his look and pedigree, and had studied his sire record rather closely. He was getting on in age, and had been shifted in and out of the country, so I reasoned now or never. He seemed to do best with mares of shorter stature and Quarter Horse build, with pedigrees loaded with Nasrullah. The majority of his best get were closing (turf) milers. His dam Crimson Saint, a remarkable influence for speed, certainly imparted this to Royal Academy (overcoming his sire Nijinsky II's distance bias). It was difficult to discern if Royal Academy was imparting a good degree of her + genetic contribution to his offspring. Royal Academy had leg, athleticism, and flow, but was known to sire immature-looking yearlings with weakish hind ends. Owing to what transpired in Girlfrienontheside's development, had I waited a year longer Royal Academy would have been discarded from consideration. Hindsight aside, Refrain wasn't a bad mate for him, but far from ideal. I didn't much mind the inbreeding to Nijinsky II, as Refrain and her siblings possessed plenty of speed, and her Fanfreluche (Nijinsky II's close relative) made for an interesting, potentially positive, near-triple line-breeding. Some of the downsides to this mating were that Refrain's five Nasrullah's equated to no better than a 4x7, and she was certainly not of Quarter Horse variety. His level of ability as a sire did remain somewhat in doubt.Once again there were few others to consider for her. Stallions that made the short list that year included Southern Image and Chapel Royal, both quite good crosses. Refrain's Royal Academy colt (I had hoped for a filly) pleased me in most ways. He was sprightly, attractive, correct, athletic, and a good mover. What he lacked as a November sales weanling was sufficient maturity and substance. I should have retained him for later. He brought only $20,000, so I have concerns about his future connections. He is now 2, named "Ripe Fruit" and has yet to start.

Then Candy Ride (ARG) was Refrain's fourth mate, Macho Uno her fifth, and she is presently in foal to Big Brown (TrueNicks,SRO) on a foal share.

The choice of first-year sire Candy Ride (ARG) (TrueNicks,SRO) for Refrain didn't come easily, to say the least. Indian Charlie (TrueNicks,SRO) was my clear preference, as he had been the year before (when Royal Academy was selected), but on both occasions I couldn't locate a season/negotiate a fee to my liking. As always, there were a limited number of potentially desirable mates for her. Candy Ride was a phenom as a racehorse, his performance in the Pacific Classic (gr. I) was the most impressive I'd witnessed since Dubai Millennium (GB)'s World Cup (UAE-I). His carriage and stride during a race was something to behold. In trying to assess his potential as a sire, however, Candy Ride's package of performance, pedigree, and physique wasn't easy to assimilate. I'm fairly well versed in racing/breeding history, but to whom should he be compared? Forli was far better bred, and was an exquisite specimen. Likening Candy Ride to an "unproven" Ribot seemed farther from the mark. Horse Chestnut also came to mind, as did the racemares Bayakoa and Paseana. Those mares' pedigrees and racing styles were fairly comparable to his; he had, perhaps, greater racing ability, but their physical types were more to my taste. Bayakoa's production record offered some anecdotal hope; Paseana's was too limited to matter.... Candy Ride's immediate male line appeared to be particularly weak, but he must surely have received the lion's share of its best "material" (rationalization -- ?). Compounding my dilemma was the issue of pedigree cross. Candy Ride x Refrain would yield Fappiano 4x4 and Mr. Prospector 5s x5d x4d. Not only would I be sailing into uncharted waters by providing Refrain with yet another Mr. P., but her foal would also be closely inbred to his son Fappiano. I haven't the energy or space to go into every thought process, but I reasoned that Fappiano was the least objectionable conduit for such an enterprise, and knew that the proposed pedigree's coefficient of inbreeding was relatively low. The fact that Candy Ride was fairly correct, as were all Refrain's previous foals, certainly kept the idea afloat. Refrain had already produced a nice Horse Chestnut, and in height, leg, proportion, and general build, Candy Ride and Horse Chestnut were rather similar. Candy Ride provided a desired Blushing Groom (FR), and a Candy Ride-Refrain match would create some close and more distant line-breeding to valued influences (Nearco, Teddy, Aspidistra, Ribot, Northern Dancer (through the "positive" Nijinsky II-Lyphard combination), etc.). In the end, Candy Ride received a bare pass as to his potential for stallion success, and similar grades for his conformation and pedigree as it related to Refrain's. Refrain was covered by Candy Ride and produced a rather likeable filly, full of quality. She was - is -- correct, well-balanced, of medium leg and size, and athletic. Now a yearling and named "Life's Candy," she is a very good mover, the alpha filly of her herd, has that determined manner, and a great mind. All are very optimistic about her racing future. She's now the property of my close friend.

Macho Uno (TrueNicks,SRO), the racehorse, had attracted me for his ability, look, carriage, and style. I envisioned him for Refrain even then, and would have bred to him sooner had he stood in Kentucky. As good a performer as he was, I thought him capable of more. Years before, I had been outbid on his dam when sold as a breeding prospect. I was again unsuccessful a year later when attempting to acquire her from Adena (unlike an Inlaw, not to be). She went on to vindicate my faith by being named a Broodmare of the Year, and before Macho Uno, was the dam of top racehorse and successful sire Awesome Again (TrueNicks,SRO). Macho Uno's sire, Holy Bull (TrueNicks,SRO) , was a very accomplished runner and has been a decent sire. From the outset of his stallion career, I had doubted that he would live up to his "press." To my mind his "total package" fell well below an Indian Charlie and Unbridled's Song (TrueNicks,SRO) , and still below a Candy Ride (all later retirees). It's not easy to articulate why I felt this way--I've often pondered on how I arrive at such things--but it may be rooted in a somewhat "reflexive" use of perspective (sorry, but that's my truthful answer to this). This is not to suggest that its predictions are always correct (no one's perspective is complete; not to mention the inherent variables of "genetics").One could posit that Holy Bull was weakly bred, both top and bottom, and that both his sire and sire's sire were mediocre racehorses and marginal stallions. If only it were that simple.Holy Bull achieved considerable success when mated to mares carrying another strain of Ampola (Holy Bull's was through Grey Dawn II), thus, a line-breeding "nick" of sorts. I would have been delighted had it been otherwise, but Ampola was not part of Refrain's lineage. Macho Uno's first crop had performed rather successfully, and for this he deserved high marks, as his first book was of questionable quality. His conformation was very much to my liking, and fit Refrain well. The other downsides were the potential offspring's 4s x 5d x 4d Mr. Propector, and the Holy Bull issues (his siring performance, pedigree, and immediate male line). Despite this, I found the total Macho Uno-Refrain cross to be more than acceptable. I did toy with the idea of going to Latent Heat, but I was confident that Macho Uno was the one. My faith was rewarded, as I now have a superb Macho Uno-Refrain suckling filly. She possesses the attributes I value most.

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