A Key Ancestor for Encosta de Lago

While he is now considered an "elder statesman" of the Coolmore Australia stallion roster, there can be no doubt that Encosta de Lago (AUS) (TrueNicks,SRO) is one of the premier stallions standing in Australia this year. The son of Fairy King has amassed a sensational record at stud with 6.3% stakes winners to foals and 7.6% stakes winners to runners (up to his current 4-year-old crop) and is now closing in on 100 stakes winners for his career.

With over 1,400 foals that are 4 or older, the pedigree patterns that Encosta de Lago responds to are well established with mares by the Turn-to sire line, via either Hail to Reason or Sir Gaylord proving best. While this may be the case for the direct sire line, there is another stallion whose presence in pedigrees of the dams bred to Encosta de Lago has far outperformed opportunity and is a "Key Ancestor" for those looking to purchase yearlings by this leading sire.

Photo: Coolmore
Encosta de Lago (Fairy King—Shoal Creek, by Star Way)

Within five generations of the foal, there are 143 foals of racing age by Encosta de Lago that carry Bletchingly in their pedigree, with 14 of these being stakes winners (9.7% SW/foals), including group I winners Manhattan Rain (AUS) (TrueNicks,SRO), Mnemosyne, Racing to Win, and Aloha. The strike rate of Bletchingly appearing in the pedigree of these foals outperforms opportunity and not surprisingly diminishes the further back it recedes into the pedigree page. Eight-five foals have the presence of Bletchingly within three generations and 10 of these horses are stakes winners (12% SW/foals) while for the other 58 foals with Bletchingly appearing in the fourth and fifth generations there are just four stakes winners (7% SW/foals, which is getting back towards Encosta de Lago's general strike rate).

This diminishing effect of a key ancestor is not unique; rather, it is to be expected as the recombination of genes as generations progress makes it less likely that whatever "genetic goodies" Bletchingly provided for Encosta de Lago are inherited. In this vein, the presence of Bletchingly in mares bred to sons of Encosta de Lago hasn't proved so fruitful. With over 200 foals by Encosta de Lago's sons that contain Bletchingly in their pedigree within five generations, there are only two stakes winners with both of these being by the same stallion, Northern Meteor (AUS) (TrueNicks,SRO), a resident of Widden Stud, the same stud that once stood Bletchingly. The reason for the failure of sons of Encosta de Lago to act in a similar fashion to him with Bletchingly may come down to a generational effect—as time goes by Bletchingly appears increasingly farther back in pedigrees, and Encosta de Lago's sons themselves represent another generation for recombination.

For whatever reason, Northern Meteor may prove to be the exception to the statistics and be one that, like his father, responds positively to Bletchingly. With just 13 foals from his first crop carrying Bletchingly he has two stakes winners, Romantic Touch and Zoustar, who this weekend ran 1-2 in the J. J. Atkins Stakes (formerly T. J. Smith, Aus-I) for 2-year-olds. Both of these racehorses carry Bletchingly via his Golden Slipper-winning son Canny Lad, the same as Encosta de Lago's stakes winners Manhattan Rain, Mnemosyne, and Echoes of Heaven.

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