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Macho Too Mucho in Risen Star

We were always great fans of Holy Bull (TrueNicks,SRO). For a start, we're suckers for greys, and secondly, he represents that last hope for the continuation of the “other” branch of the Himyar line. The most familiar branch of this line – the oldest native American line, tracing back to a horse called Eclipse, not the great founding father foaled in 1764 but an English Derby winner imported in 1859 – is that of “The Black Whirlwind” Domino. Holy Bull, however, descends from Himyar through the 1898 Kentucky Derby winner, Plaudit. Both lines have frequently seemed in peril of extinction, but both have persevered into the current century, where the Domino line is best represented by Include (TrueNicks,SRO) (by leading sire Broad Brush).

If Holy Bull is to extend the Himyar line on into the 21st century, the most likely conduit may be his Champion Two-Year-Old Macho Uno (TrueNicks,SRO), a half brother to Awesome Again (TrueNicks,SRO). Macho Uno started his career in Florida but moved to Kentucky for 2008 (meaning his first Kentucky crop are two-year-olds of 2011). From his Florida crops, he has not been the most prolific stakes sire, nor the most consistent, but he has proved that he can sire top-class horses. To date he has 14 stakes winners from his first four crops, and they include Macho Again, winner of the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I), and an earner of over $1.8 million; Wicked Style, who gained a victory at the highest level in the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I); Harlem Rocker (TrueNicks,SRO), winner of the Canadian classic Prince of Wales Stakes and the Withers Stakes (gr. II), and disqualified after being first home in the Cigar Mile (gr. I); and graded winners Kays and Jays, and Mucho Macho Man, who entered the 2011 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) picture with a win in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II).

Neither Holy Bull nor Awesome Again have particularly strong strike rates over Mr. Prospector line mares, but Macho Uno might turn out to have a stronger affinity for the strain than his sire or half brother. It’s a little early to deliver a verdict at the moment, but Mucho Macho Man rates B on TrueNicks (click for report), Macho Uno having two stakes winners (both current three-year-olds) and a total of five stakes horses from 35 starters on the cross.

Mucho Macho Man’s dam, Ponche de Leona, is a daughter of Ponche (by Two Punch (TrueNicks,SRO)). A horse who, if memory serves us well, stood at least 17 hands, Ponche took time to reach his best, and won three sprint stakes as a 6-year-old, breaking a track-record for seven furlongs. Ponche de Leona was one of a handful of stakes winners sired by Ponche, earning black type with a win in the Anoakia Stakes at two. However, although she was speedy and precocious – she broke her maiden at 4½ furlongs – as far as Mucho Macho Man’s classic potential is concerned, it’s important to note that she won an allowance at Santa Anita over nine furlongs at five. Since Macho Uno won two graded stakes at nine furlongs, and was a good fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), there is every chance that Mucho Macho Man – who already has a second in the nine furlong Remsen (gr. II) behind To Honor and Serve to his name – will continue to progress as he stretches back out.

Ponche de Leona represented a major upgrading over the recent achievements of her family, as there are no other black type winners under either the second, or third dams (respectively by Nonparrell, a good Canadian two-year-old son of Hoist the Flag, and by Bravest Roman). The fourth dam Gal Sal was a stakes winner, and from a very notable family. She was a half sister to the Del Mar Oaks heroine House of Cards, from whom descends such as Yonaguska (TrueNicks,SRO), Halo Homewrecker, Honor The Hero, Cat’s At Home, Prenup, Dream Empress, Guided Tour, Tap Day, Euphony, King’s Mate, Possible Mate, and Jacksboro. Gal Sal’s granddam, Sunny Dale, is a sister to Sunny Vale, from whom descends Dynaformer (TrueNicks,SRO), Brian’s Time, Sunshine Forever, Monarchos (TrueNicks,SRO), Andover Way, Offlee Wild (TrueNicks,SRO), and Darby Creek Road, to name but a few.

This isn’t the most obvious pedigree to interpret, for us anyway. We can note that Macho Uno is out of a mare by Blushing Groom, and Mucho Macho Man’s broodmare sire, Ponche, is out of a mare by Nijinsky II, so frequently an excellent foil for Blushing Groom. It’s possible that Blushing Groom is a key factor for Macho Uno, as we can note that Khaled, a close relative to Blushing Groom’s third dam, appears in ten of Macho Uno’s 14 stakes winners (71%), and three of his five graded winners (60%). Now, we’d have to admit that the Khaled strain is generally coming in here at a generational distance which, if considered from the standpoint of Mendelian inheritance, renders it’s potential impact as negligible. That said, we are very certain that Khaled does not appear in anywhere near 71% of the U.S. thoroughbred population, so at the very least, this is a curious statistical quirk.

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