Derby Threat: Brethren

by Alan Porter

Last weekend on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) scene, the most impressive performance was the effort of the much-touted Brethren in the Sam F. Davis (gr. III, video below). In terms of a classic pedigree, Brethren (TrueNicks A+) is almost uniquely qualified, as not only has his sire Distorted Humor (TrueNicks,SRO) been represented by a Kentucky Derby winner (Funny Cide, 2003), but his dam, Supercharger, produced last year’s winner Super Saver (TrueNicks,SRO).

This means that if Brethren does make it to the line-up at Churchill Downs, he will be bidding to create history, and in the 135 years that the Derby has been contested there have never been two winners produced by a single mare, let alone two winners in consecutive years. There will also be more than a touch of irony in the situation as Supercharger was purchased by WinStar Farm, the owners and breeders of Super Saver and Brethren, from Ogden Mills Phipps, and for all their long and storied association with the thoroughbred, the Phipps family have never been represented by a Kentucky Derby winner. The aforementioned irony is compounded by the fact that not only did Phipps sell Supercharger carrying Super Saver, the result of a mating that he had planned, but he also had bred Supercharger to Super Saver’s sire, Maria’s Mon, earlier in her career, but this throw of the genetic dice resulted not in a classic performer, but in Hedge Fund, who proved to be no better than a hard-knocking runner, grinding out $160,699 with five wins from 57 starts between the ages of 4 and 7.

The female line that produced Super Saver and Brethren has been developed by the Phipps family since the mid-1940s, when the Phippses acquired some of the bloodstock holdings of the late Col. E. R. Riley’s Idle Hour Farm, one of those acquisitions being Baby League, a daughter of Bubbling Over and La Troienne, who now appears as eighth dam of Super Saver and Brethren. Here the La Troienne influence goes significantly beyond the tail female line. A look at the pedigree of the duo’s fourth dam, Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Numbered Account (by Buckpasser), shows the closely related Busanda (dam of Buckpasser) and Striking – both by War Admiral out of daughters of La Troienne – 2x3. The next two sires in the female line, Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector, didn’t add to the La Troienne background, but the mating with Supercharger’s sire, A.P. Indy (TrueNicks,SRO), certainly did, as he is by Seattle Slew (dam inbred to the sisters Busher and Striking, Striking also being the sixth dam of Supercharger) with a second dam by Buckpasser, and as a consequence Supercharger has War Admiral/La Troienne combinations through Busher, Striking, and Busanda 6x6x5x5x6 in her pedigree.

Supercharger was no more than useful as a runner, but is a sister to the 2010 Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) victor Girolamo, and to the graded scorers Daydreaming and Accelerator, both of whom were also grade I-placed. Supercharger is also a sister to She’s A Winner, the dam of Bluegrass Cat (TrueNicks,SRO). A son of Storm Cat, and like Super Saver and Brethren, bred by WinStar and trained by Todd Pletcher, Bluegrass Cat won the Nashua Stakes (gr. III) and Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at two, and the Sam F. Davis and Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at three, and was runner-up in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Now standing at WinStar, Bluegrass Cat has made a promising start to his career, and was one of the leading freshman sires of 2010.

Speaking of Bluegrass Cat, his WinStar-bred and owned half brother Cal Nation (by Distorted Humor out of She's a Winner, so a genetic full brother to Brethren) won his maiden impressively on Feb. 5 at Gulfstream (video), stamping himself as a possible classics contender.

Supercharger and She's a Winner’s dam, Get Lucky, is a graded stakes-winning daughter of Mr. Prospector, and is a sister to Champion 2-Year-Old and Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner Rhythm, and to stakes-placed Not For Love (TrueNicks,SRO), subsequently an outstanding sire in Maryland.

We’ve no doubt that the WinStar team realized that Supercharger’s covering sire, Maria’s Mon, built on the La Troienne influence, as his sire, Wavering Monarch, is out of a mare by Buckpasser, who is inbred to La Troienne, but she must have also struck the eye as a perfect mate for home stallion Distorted Humor. With Funny Cide (dam by Slewacide, by Seattle Slew out of a Buckpasser mare) in his first crop, Distorted Humor rapidly demonstrated a potential genetic affinity for the influence of Seattle Slew, and events have proved that that was not a false lead. Distorted Humor has gone on to sire four stakes winners from 17 starters (23.5%) out of mares by Seattle Slew himself, and nine stakes winners from 57 starters (15.8%) out of mares by sons of Seattle Slew. At the time of Supercharger’s purchase there had yet to be a stakes winner for the Distorted Humor/A.P. Indy cross, but the merits of the nick has been well advertised by one of the first runners on the cross, Any Given Saturday (TrueNicks,SRO), who had recently run a very promising second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II). Any Given Saturday didn’t win a classic, but after gaining his first stakes win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes – a race which is becoming a recurring theme here – he did add the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II), Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II), and Haskell Invitational (gr. I), over Hard Spun (TrueNicks,SRO) and Curlin (TrueNicks,SRO). The Distorted Humor/A.P. Indy cross has now produced five stakes winners from 27 starters (18.5%), Any Given Saturday and Brethren being joined by Endorsement and Z Humor as graded winners on the cross. See Brethren's TrueNicks Enhanced Report below.

In addition to being bred on a proven nick, Brethren also has some interesting inbreeding in his pedigree as Distorted Humor is by a son of Mr. Prospector out of a mare by a son of Northern Dancer, and his granddam, Get Lucky, is by Mr. Prospector out of a Northern Dancer mare.

Click here to view the TrueNicks Enhanced report for Brethren.

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