Taking Charge of the Pedigree

The most recent weekend saw two Kentucky Derby (gr. I) preps with $1 million purses, and both resulted in upsets. The Florida Derby (gr. I, video) seeing longtime Derby favorite Union Rags and the well-regarded El Padrino finish third and fourth, respectively, behind gate-to-wire scorer Take Charge Indy. The Louisiana Derby (gr. II, video) fell to another pacesetter, the previously unheralded 109-1 shot Hero of Order.

For this post, our focus will be on the former. Take Charge Indy represents one of the last shots for his sire, A.P. Indy, to correct the anomaly that despite being the premier sire of U.S. dirt route runners of his time, he has not sired a winner of North America’s greatest dirt race. The closest that the now-retired A.P. Indy has so far come to winning a Derby was with Aptitude, who finished second to Fusaichi Pegasus (TrueNicks,SRO) in 2000. Our suspicion is that for all his merit as a sire, A.P. Indy represents something of an outlier to the modern breed: a true stayer (or at least a stayer relative to the mainstream U.S. commercial population), and that means his offspring tend not to reach the peak of their powers as early as the faster, more precocious types that sometimes still have an edge on the first Saturday in May.

On the score of speed and precocity, Take Charge Indy has more than a little help from the distaff side of his pedigree. His dam, Take Charge Lady, is a daughter of champion 2-year-old Dehere (TrueNicks). Take Charge Lady broke her maiden over four furlongs at 2 and won the Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) later that season. She trained on to add seven more graded wins at 3 and 4, including the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) and back-to-back renewals of the Spinster Stakes (gr. I). The second dam, Felicita, is by Rubiano, a son of Fappiano who wasn’t particulary precocious but was fast, earning honors as champion sprinter. Out of the Nijinsky II mare Ruby Slippers, Rubiano came from a mating that Pedigree Consultants planned, partly because of attraction to the pedigree patterns in Fappiano and Nijinsky II (the Mr. Prospector/Nijinsky II cross is still a solid TrueNicks B+ even with more than 600 foals bred on the cross), and partly because Fappiano had crossed so well with In Reality, the sire of the second dam of Rubiano.

Take Charge Indy is TrueNicks rated A++ on the basis of the A.P. Indy/Dehere cross that has also produced Friesan Fire (TrueNicks,SRO) and Vaulcluse (another Pedigree Consultants mating). Prior to that, the cross was an A+ on the basis of A.P. Indy with mares by Deputy Minister and his sons. And similarly, just as the mating that resulted in Rubiano was in part based on the success of Fappiano with In Reality, A.P. Indy and his sons have crossed very well with Rubiano mares (and for that matter with mares by Rubiano’s sire, Fappiano). While Take Charge Indy and Rubiano are clearly different types as racehorses, their matings serve as examples of genetic affinities within the entire pedigree, a topic that takes us back to the talk we gave at last year’s Thoroughbred Pedigree, Genetics & Performance Conference, where we showed a program in development that would see nick ratings joined by further assessments based on the whole pedigree.

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