Take Two on Pica Slew

The saying is that “great minds thing alike,” but sometimes, and especially with horses, there is more than one way to the same destination. We didn't have time or space to cover her in detail in our U.S. weekend round up, but one recent example is Pica Slew, who stamped herself as one of the leaders of the three-year-old filly sprint division by running a 101 Beyer to win the Azalea Stakes (gr. III) at the "Summit of Speed" weekend.

Pica Slew was bred by Sal and Colleen Simeone, and is one of three stakes winners from the first crop raised at their Sienna Farm (located in Belleview, just outside Ocala, Florida). Although Sal and Colleen have been breeding thoroughbreds for a relatively short time – in fact Pica Slew's dam, Maggie o'Slew was their first broodmare purchase, although they had previously bred from fillies off the track – they have rapidly become very keen students of pedigrees. One night in between Pica Slew's win in the Azalea prep, and her victory at the weekend, Sal called me and we exchanged views on some different aspects of Pica Slew's pedigree.

Sal and Colleen were among the initial shareholders in Pico Central when the Brazilean-bred retired to stand in Florida. Colleen in particular liked his pedigree, notably the collection of strains of Phalaris, who is his male line ancestor (he is from the branch that comes down through Pharamond II, Menow, and Tom Fool, to Buckpasser). When it came to making mating plans, Colleen had little hesitation in putting Maggie o'Slew at the head of the list for Pico's first book of mares. Subsequently, when we submitted our list of suggestions for the Sienna broodmare band, we too had Maggie o'Slew at the top of the picks for Pico Central. With "assurance doubly assured" Maggie o'Slew duly visited Pico Central, and the result is Pica Slew.

What's intriguing is that the same conclusions are derived from different rationales, although a quick look at the backgrounds reveals a link that I'd not previously noticed. Sal and Colleen were struck by an unusual accumulation of Phalaris in the background of the Pico Central-Maggie o'Slew mating. In fact in the tenth generation of the two parents there are at least 26 crosses of Phalaris, and a little less commonly for a U.S. bred there is a "full-set" of the important sires bred on the Phalaris/Chaucer cross – Pharos and his brother Fairway, and Pharamond II and his brother Sickle, who of course are all three-quarters related. In addition to this quartet, the pedigree also carries Pladda, a three-parts-sister to Pharos and Fairway.

We'd have to admit that we had not noted this, and our suggestion was primarily based on the La Troienne background in Spend a Buck and Seattle Slew. In talking to Sal, however, and as we both ran pedigrees on our respective screens, it came to mind that Phalaris went back in male line to the greatest runner of the 19th century, Ormonde, and the Phalaris/Chaucer cross products were all inbred to St. Simon. That becomes important with regard to La Troienne, as she is also from the Ormonde male line; is inbred to Ormonde and a sister; and inbred to St. Simon and a sister. To top it off, most of the La Troienne comes in through War Admiral/La Troienne crosses, and War Admiral's sire, Man o' War, is out of a mare by Rock Sand, a three-quarters relative to the dam of Phalaris. So perhaps it's not surprising that a lot of Phalaris tied in with a concentration of La Troienne.

Funnily enough, the two backgrounds that were independently the drives for the mating that created Pica Slew – Phalaris (and particularly Phalaris/Chaucer) and La Troienne (particularly War Admiral/La Troienne) – actually come together in Pica Slew's male line ancestor Buckpasser, who is a great-grandson of Pharamond II, and whose dam is by War Admiral out of a daughter of La Troienne.

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