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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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Dehere mares seem to really relish stallions with Secretariat in their pedigrees-resulting in the offspring being linebred/inbred to Secretariat. I've noticed it for a couple of years now, and from my vantage it's quite a potent "nick". The glaring "exception" to the "rule" is the excellent producer, Candytuft, as none of her first ten foals carries a Secretariat in their sire...There must be something rather special about Dehere's "brand" of Secretariat. Those who control Friesan Fire might be well advised to consider offering him more Secretariat (if far enough "back") or, perhaps, Somethingroyal alone, as there's also some evidence to suggest that the latter (sans Seretariat) works well with Dehere.  

sceptre 05 Apr 2012 7:35 PM


With Dehere as the Broodmare sire, Secretariat appears anywhere in the sire in 259 foals of racing age, 168 runners, 125 winners and 14 stakes winners (5.5% SW to foals). Take Charge Indy is the first G1 winner with the previous best being Friesan Fire and Oratory, both G2 winners.

With Dehere as a Broodmare sire, A.P. Indy appears anywhere in the sire in 64 foals, 34 runners, 27 winners and 6 stakes winners (10% SW to foals). All of the A.P. Indy/Dehere combinations are in the Secretariat/Dehere combinations so when you back these out you are looking at the Secretariat/Dehere combination without A.P. Indy at 4% SW to foals.

I would say that there is more value in using A.P. Indy anywhere in the pedigree than using Secretariat as a standalone influence. These are the type of nuances that we believe that our planned whole pedigree assessment will tease out.


Byron Rogers 06 Apr 2012 12:12 PM

Thanks for that useful information, Byron. While true stats can often serve to clarify misperceptions-and numbers don't lie-, limited stats sometimes don't portray accurately the "broader" reality. I had contended that linebreeding/inbreeding Dehere mares back to Secretariat was a rather potent "nick". The stats you offer appear to contradict this conclusion. I grant that I could be mistaken-my belief derived solely from cursory observation, and not from review of numbers/stats-, but while your numbers do give me pause, I'm still inclined to trust my style of observation. While % SWs is a reasonable methodology to employ for this case, it wasn't (and isn't) the sole criteria/stimulus for how I arrive at such opinions. I admit that the SW stat often corresponds to the overall "quality runner" percentages, but I sense this isn't here (Dehere broodmares crossed with Secretariat) the case...I don't wish to split hairs, but 5.5% SW/foals is a nearly 50% improvement on average for the breed. Also, as Dehere is a relatively "young" broodmare sire, all else equal these Dehere/Secretariat offspring are earlier in their careers than average. You noted that there were 10% SWs/foals for Dehere mares with A P Indy anywhere in their pedigrees. Of those 64 foals, how many were sired by A P Indy and of those, how many were SWs? Also, I doubt that there is anything close to a 10% SW strike rate among (all) foals of racing age containing A P Indy anywhere in their pedigrees. Perhaps another revealing stat would be the % of SW for all racing age foals of Dehere mares that (the foals) were not sired by stallions containing Secretariat. There's more to play with all these statistics, but I should tell you that my focus was originally stimulated by the fact that I neither considered Secretariat nor Dehere as particularly positive influences. That's partly why I made the remark-"Dehere's brand of Secretariat"-that he may possess, and often pass on a highly desirable "cluster" of Secretariat alleles. But, such a remark as this is begging the question. I agree, first things first, there must be PROPER evidence to substantiate the observation.      

sceptre 07 Apr 2012 4:12 PM

Hi Byron,

After thinking more about it, I'm sorry I made that last post. It's far too easy to poke holes in legitamate stats and requires too much effort from the other to then defend. I plead guilty to the above, and don't feel this matter is worthy of your attention.

sceptre 09 Apr 2012 11:10 AM

I always wondered if Dehere or even his full brother Defrere would blend well with A.P. Indy.  In my opinion, Inbreeding to Secretariat can help if you are looking to concentrait the genes for the Large Heart and gives you a doubling up of the perfect conformational horse.  I personally don't see anything wrong with that.  Several years ago, there was a filly named Bishops Idea.  She was 2x2 to Secretariat.  Her breeder intentionally inbred her to see if the size and scope of Secretariat came through.  It did to some extent, but she never ran against top flight competition.   A.P. Indy with Dehere/Defrere is a cross I would not shy away from regardless of the stats.  Even reversing it....Dehere on top of the pedigree and an A.P.Indy mare on bottom or a granddaughter of A.P.Indy...breeders should continue to try both ways.

Robert 09 Apr 2012 1:11 PM

Hi Robert,

In reply to your "large heart" comment, I thought I'd share something Byron Rogers said in the comments for an earlier Princequillo blog:

At the Pedigree & Genetics symposium earlier this year, four world respected equine geneticists - Dr Jamie Macleod, Dr Emmeline Hill, Dr Steve Tammariello and Dr Matthew Binns, all confirmed that the myth of the x-factor was exactly that....a myth. Three of the four geneticits mentioned above were part of the Equine Genome project that sequenced the horse's genome and Dr Binns co-wrote the original horse genome map.

While there may well be genes associated with large hearts, more specifically left ventricular size and wall mass, and indeed there will be genes that regulate heart stroke, there is no evidence whatsoever in their studies that the inheritance of such genes follows the mystical pattern as described in Marianna Haun's books.

It is romantic to think that the great mare Pocahontas has in some way weaved her magic through the maze of inheritance and recombination of genes, but it just doesn't work that way. Scientists who study heart size are now finding that the sire has just as much of a role in determining heart size of the resultant foal as the mare. As an example, in talking to quite a few of the companies that measure hearts they have mentioned independently that the stallion Tapit is almost homozygous for heart morphology with his colts and fillies getting a similar heart shape to his own. There is no fabled "x-factor" at work.

"While I have to applaud her for her belief in something, what Marianna Haun wrote in her books doesn't work how she has described it and it has lead many breeders astray. Heart size and function looks to be polygenic and certainly outside the scope of something that relies totally on the x-chromosome.

Genetics is going to bring a lot of things to the table in the next few years and have a lot of misconceptions and myths like this put to bed.

Byron Rogers

Ian Tapp 09 Apr 2012 4:05 PM

I have a mare by Rubiano out of a Dynaformer mare--I noticed that she crosses well with son's of Giant's Causeway, would son's by AP Indy also be a good cross on her--just trying to get some idea as to which way to go--this would be her 1st foal--thank you---

Greythorobred 11 Apr 2012 10:09 PM

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