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Alex's Early Offspring Looking Afleet

Afleet Alex (TrueNicks,SRO): Conformation, left, and nearly falling before winning the 2005 Preakness Stakes (gr. I,Video).

With a view to the future, it’s possible that the most significant race of the weekend in the U.S. was the Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth. With plenty to play for as far as leadership of the 3-year-old male division is concerned, this is the time to look for potential "second season" stars, and with a decisive 1¾ lengths win here, Afleet Express placed himself firmly among their number, with the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) being an obvious target.

The race was also notable for colts from the first crop sired by Afleet Alex (TrueNicks,SRO) taking first and second here, with Withers Stakes (gr. III) winner Afleet Again taking second. Adding in last year’s Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) victor Dublin – also grade I-placed this year – Afleet Alex now has three U.S. graded winners among his seven first crop stakes winners. To make the weekend even brighter, Afleet Alex’s second crop was represented by sharp-looking Belmont Park maiden winner Commonwealth Rush (dam by Forest Wildcat) on Friday, and Avatar Day (out of a Salt Lake (TrueNicks,SRO) mare) was second in the Premio Primi Passi (gr. III) in Italy.

Afleet Express (TrueNicks A++) is out of a mare by Distant View, and therefore Afleet Express is a product of the Mr. Prospector/Mr. Prospector cross. As regular readers of our writings will know, in general, crossing a stallion back over a mare from his own immediate male line tends to give below opportunity results (although there are obviously exceptions). Afleet Alex’s sire Northern Afleet (TrueNicks,SRO) is a prime example, with only one stakes winner (out of a mare by Quiet American (TrueNicks,SRO), who in turn is by Fappiano, an untypical Mr. Prospector line representative). However, Afleet Alex, who supplies Mr. Prospector in the fourth generation of his foals, now has two stakes winners out of 12 starters from Mr. Prospector line mares, and two from six out of mares by sons of Mr. Prospector, suggesting that – on initial evidence at least – he can be considered for mares from this line.

In fact, we’d have to consider that Afleet Alex, who doesn’t come from a distinctive male line (for all their merits, neither his sire, Northern Afleet, nor his grandsire, Afleet, have much other representation of note in male line descent) may be a horse who becomes “his own man” as a sire, his characteristics become more distinct from his sire line than is generally the case. The distaff side of his pedigree would seem to open up a number of possibilities: he’s out of a mare by Hawkster (by Silver Hawk), with second and third dams by Hawaii (South African-bred from the Dante branch of Nearco) and Sensitivo (Argentine pedigree).

As far as the double of Mr. Prospector goes, the most obvious thing to pick up in Afleet Alex’s pedigree is the strain of Roberto (in his broodmare sire line), Roberto’s dam being a genetic relative to the dam of Mr. Prospector. Afleet Express also has two crosses of Northern Dancer, and one of his genetic relative, Icecapade, both reverse Nearco/Native Dancer crosses to Mr. Prospector. As far as Nearctic – sire of Northern Dancer and Icecapade – is concerned, we can also note that Northern Afleet’s dam, Nuryette, is inbred 3 x 4 to Nearctic, with the second cross through her third dam, Nangela (herself 1 x 3 to Nearctic and his three-parts-sister Sybil’s Sister). We can also note that Northern Afleet and Afleet Express’s dam, Expanse, are both Mr. Prospector/Nearctic crosses, with the Nearctic through three-quarters relatives.

Whether by coincidence or not, Icecapade is also prominent in the pedigree of Afleet Again (TrueNicks A++), who is out of a mare by Wild Again (a son of Icecapade). Wild Again has strong genetic ties to Hawaii, sire of the third dam of Afleet Alex (Hawaii is by a grandson of Dante, out of a mare by Mehrali. Wild Again’s granddam, Dama II, is by Dante out of a three-parts-sister to Mehrali). The second dam sire of Jig Time is a three-quarters genetic relative to Raise a Native, sire of Mr. Prospector, so the dams of Afleet Express and Afleet Again are extended reverse crosses.

Afleet Alex’s grade I winner and multiple grade I performer Dublin (TrueNick A++), is out of a mare by Storm Bird. This is a branch of Northern Dancer that definitely seems to have an affinity for Afleet Alex as he has two stakes winners and two stakes-placed horses out of Storm Bird line mares, the others being Puerto Rican stakes winner Cuqui’s Love (dam by Storm Cat), and stakes-placed Quick Ride and Scandola, who are out of mares by Tale of the Cat (TrueNicks,SRO) and Forest Wildcat, respectively (both sons of Storm Cat, and one out of a mare by Mr. Prospector, and one out of a mare by Mr. Prospector’s close relative Bold Native).

Cuqui’s Love’s granddam, Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Chilukki, is out of a mare by Damascus, which brings us to listed scorer Harissa, who is out of a mare by Time For A Change, a son of Damascus, with a second dam by Northern Jove (Northern Dancer again). The dam, Dynasty, is 5 x 4 to Sun Again (in the male line of Damascus), and this is a strain that has strong ties to Phone Trick (sire of the second dam of Afleet Express) and Storm Cat (who we have discovered seems to like Afleet Alex). Afleet Alex might like Storm Cat/Damascus combinations, or with a similar background, mares by Stormin Fever (TrueNicks,SRO).

Afleet Alex’s listed-winning filly Go Ask Alex (TrueNicks B) is out of a mare by Strawberry Road (by Whiskey Road, from the Nijinsky II line, which suggests Royal Academy, a Nijinsky II line horse from the immediate family of Storm Cat). What is really interesting here is the pedigree of the second dam, Madeleine’s Joy, who is by Theatrical (by Nureyev) out of a mare by Mr. Prospector, so a reverse cross to Northern Afleet. Very similarly-bred is Queen Afleet, winner of a Panamanian graded event (black type, but not graded in U.S. catalogs), who is out of a mare by Kingmambo (TrueNicks,SRO) (parallel Mr. Prospector/Nureyev cross to Northern Afleet), with a second dam by Bet Twice, a grandson of Nijinsky II.

Obviously, this only a quick snapshot of what Afleet Alex is doing, but with his dam being an outcross for the majority of the U.S. broodmare population, doubling up the Mr. Prospector/Raise a Native/Northern Dancer/Nearctic influence in his sire, certainly seems to be working well, and that can’t hurt his future prospects.

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8 Comments:

Alan, how can a Nick go from a D to an A++ with one stakes victory?? Afleet Express was a D rating when he went into the gate for the Pegasus....when he crossed the finish line he was an A++..that is "past-posting"...

chris 22 Jun 2010 9:33 AM

Chris,

The rating for Afleet Express is different because the rating now reflects a more specific cross.

The reason is because TrueNicks doesn't rate a cross unless it has at least 2 stakes winners or 15 starters. Before the Pegasus, there was only 1 SW from Afleet Alex with Mr. P line mares, so TrueNicks rated Northern Afleet (and sons) with Mr. P line mares, which is a "D" rating.

Alan explains this phenomenon in the post above: "...in general, crossing a stallion back over a mare from his own immediate male line tends to give below opportunity results (although there are obviously exceptions). Afleet Alex’s sire Northern Afleet is a prime example, with only one stakes winner..."

As Alan indicates, Afleet Alex appears to be emerging as a good cross with the Mr. Prospector line (unlike his sire) as evidenced by Afleet Alex's now 2 stakes winners from fewer opportunities.

Therefore, the rating for Northern Afleet with Mr. Prospector line mares remains a "D", but since the Afleet Alex branch of this cross is behaving differently, TrueNicks now recognizes this as a specific cross.

As Alan says, "Afleet Alex...now has two stakes winners out of 12 starters from Mr. Prospector line mares, and two from six out of mares by sons of Mr. Prospector, suggesting that – on initial evidence at least – he can be considered for mares from this line."

I hope this answers your question.

Ian

Ian Tapp 22 Jun 2010 11:15 AM

Hi Chris,

It's actually quite logical, and a good reflection on the flexibility of the program that the rating can change in response to that win.

Northern Afleet, the sire of Afleet Alex, does not have a good record with Mr. Prospector line mares - only one stakes winner from nearly 50 starters - and that out of a Quiet American mare, from the untypical Fappiano branch. This would be in line with the fact that inbreeding through the sire line of the sire and dam is historically generally a low percentage cross (although there are patterns that militate against the negatives).

With that in mind, until there was evidence to the contrary, the cross of Afleet Alex over Mr. Prospector line mares was assessed on the basis of the Northern Afleet/Mr. Prospector cross.

The victory of Afleet Express means that Afleet Alex now has two stakes winners from 12 starters out of Mr. Prospector line mares (two from six out of mares by sonsof Mr. Prospector). With two stakes winners out of two distinct mares, he now satisfies the criteria to create rating based on the Afleet Alex/Mr. Prospector cross. Fresh evidence calls for a reassesment, and the TrueNicks program automatically made the reassement within in hours of the race.

This suggests that he may well work much better over Mr. Prospector line mares than did his sire. In fact on early evidence he seems to be suited by mares that reinforce the Mr. Prospector/Raise a Native/Northern Dancer/Nearctic strains in Northern Afleet.

Alan Porter 22 Jun 2010 11:31 AM

I always love it when a Belmont winner starts to show that he may just have the goods to be a top sire.  Afleet ALex with his damsire being by Hawkster, an uncommon stallion, shows that he might just have enough outcrossed blood to mesh well with the broodmare population.  Belmont winners have a special place with me as they usually have stamina and pass it along, but Alex's offspring also seem to have the speed to compete at the shorter races.  Alex's offspring also seem to be eye catching individuals and looking the part is the first step to sales success along with racetrack success.  

Robert 22 Jun 2010 12:56 PM

hi alan. one quick question.with reference to parallel and reverse parallel inbreeding, how close and how far do these crosses have to be to possibly work ? best regards. jose

jose y.quiros 22 Jun 2010 10:34 PM

Afleet Alex, what a great horse and really does not get enough credit. No surprise he is passing along his talent.

Anthony Say 25 Jun 2010 4:37 PM

Hi Jose,

I don't have a hard and fast rule, but broadly close enough to be actually identified as the product of the same cross. I'd say something like within the third generation of the sire line, and third or fourth in the broodmare sire line.

With Afleet Alex, we're looking at Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer or Raise a Native/Nearctic, which is in the first and third or second and fourth generation of Northern Afleet.

Of course, Northern Dancer is a grandson of Nearco out of a mare by a Native Dancer, and Mr. Prospector is a grandson of Native Dancer, out of a mare by a grandson of Nearco, so they would fit the broad criteria.

Alan Porter 25 Jun 2010 5:03 PM

Mr. Porter,

Great article about Afleet sires, and "my" Alex.  I could have told you this years ago, Alex is unique in his own right and has a level to his athleticism that transcends the Afleet line.  I saw it in him at age 2 so much so I had to sit down and write a letter to his owner, Mr. Zacney.  I was there for Alex's Belmont and Afleet Alex Day Sept. 10, 2005 Delaware Park.  

Alex will be as unique a sire as he was a racehorse, I knew it all along.  And you stated it perfectly, he will become his own man as a sire.  I had high hopes for Dublin, but Afleet Express seems to be more Alex.  Northern Afleet made a phone call to Gainesway Farm after this year's Preakness.  "Confound it Alex boy, where did my grandson think the Preakness is run, in the grandstand!!!"  Steve Haskin, of Bloodhorse, told me that Northern Afleet was a more understanding grandpa than that! And we don't even know how great a racehorse Alex would have been, we were robbed of that by his injury and early retirement.  Don't forget his mental capacity and awareness as well, Tim Ritchey trained Alex with unheard of "two-a-day" workouts.  And Alex had a personality whereby he could stay in the detention barn for 10 hours, or "outside by the hotdog vendor in the heat for 5 hours" to quote Tim Ritchey and still win the Belmont!!! Yes sooner or later all roads lead to Mr. Prospecter, great title for a book, and Alex is just getting started.  Alex, for all but one length, was a Triple Crown Winner.  His Preakness acrobatics went down in history in SI as one of the most amazing animals.  Cross Mr. Prospecter mares 100 times over, one day Alex is going to produce a champion. And Street Cry must be one hot sire, look at Zenyatta.  That's Horse of The Year (Decade) no matter who wins the BC Classic.

Cheryl (Alex'sBiggestFan) 25 Jun 2010 6:59 PM

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