Saturday, May 14, 2011

Drink up!

It's been a long time between drinks here at the Pedigree Curmudgeon. Those of you who read Thoroughbred Times Today will be aware that my workload there increased from one column a week on a pedigree or auction to two every week, a pedigree (occasionally sale) column on Tuesday and a commentary piece on Friday.

What I have found is that I cover the subjects I used to write about on this blog (and more) in the Friday commentary. The increased workload also reduces my motivation to post here because I'm an old curmudgeon who's supposed to be mostly retired, and I only want to do so much of anything that resembles work. This may be fun sometimes, but it sure feels like work too.

At the same time I do not want to let this blog die. There may well be subjects I do not want to talk about in TT Today that I talk about here at some point. Or not....who knows?

In the meantime, I plan to post some of those Today pieces here, a day or two after they appear in Today. Let me know if you think this is a waste, or something worthwhile.

So here pedigree story on Animal Kingdom, winner of the 137th Kentucky Derby. And perhaps I'll have some follow up comments once I get the hang of this thing again.

(Previously published in the May 10 edition of Thoroughbred Times Today)

Turf pedigree comes up roses in the Derby

Animal Kingdom is bred for the turf but proves a superior runner on dirt

by John P. Sparkman

It would be difficult to write a more turf-oriented pedigree than that of 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Animal Kingdom. In the first three generations of his pedigree, only two horses, his sire Leroidesanimaux (Brz) and Bubble Company (Fr), dam of Leroidesanimaux's sire Candy Stripes, even ran on dirt, and neither won. And yet, in his first start on dirt, Animal Kingdom blew away the field in the final eighth of the Derby.

Only two horses in the fourth generation of Animal Kingdom's pedigree, his great-great grandsire Red God and Navajo Princess, dam of Dancing Brave, the sire of Animal Kingdom's second dam, won on dirt. That did not stop Animal Kingdom from winning the first jewel of the American Triple Crown on May 7.

Animal Kingdom is from the second crop of 2005 champion turf male Leroidesanimaux, whose defeat in the 2005 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) by Artie Schiller ended an eight-race win streak that stretched over two racing seasons. Winner of one of three starts and placed in the Grande Premio Associacao Brasileira de Criadores e Proprietarios de Cavalo de Corrida (Brz-G1) in his native Brazil, he lost his first North American start, before sweeping all before him for the next eighteen months. That streak included wins in the 2004 Citation (G1), Inglewood (G3), and Morvich (G3) Handicaps, and the '05 Atto Mile (Can-G1), Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap (G1), and Fourstardave Handicap (G2).

A half-brother to Brazilian Group 1 winner Uapybo, by Blush Rambler, out of a half sister to the dams of leading French sire Dansili and Grade 1 or Group 1 winners Banks Hill (GB), Cacique (Ire), Champs Elysees (GB), Heat Haze (GB), Intercontinental (GB), and Promising Lead (GB), Leroidesanimaux retired to Richard and Audrey Haisfield's Stonewall Stud at a fee of $30,000 in 2006. A lengthy, handsome, correct horse very much in the mold of his line-founding grandsire Blushing Groom (Fr), Leroidesanimaux's stud career may have been hampered by the financial difficulties Stonewall encountered. Leroidesanimaux transferred to Stonewall's Ocala, Florida farm for the 2011 season, where he stands for a fee of $7,500.

Animal Kingdom is his third stakes winner and third graded winner from 140 foals age three and up, following multiple Grade 2 winner Always a Princess (out of Gabriellina Giof [GB], by Ashkalani) and Grade 3 winner Leroy's Dynameaux (Dyna Peak, by Dynaformer).

Animal Kingdom is the first foal of his dam, Dalicia (Ger), by the great German racehorse and sire Acatenango, a mare whose pedigree is German or Hungarian for nine generations. Bred in Germany by Carlton Consultants Ltd., Dalicia won only three of 21 starts, but one of those three wins came in the 2005 Preis der Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe (Ger-G3), where she beat multiple Group 1 winner Soldier Hollow by two lengths over 2,000 meters (9.96 furlongs). Imported to America by Team Valor and the Haisfields's Nevertell Racing Stable, Dalicia won one of five starts, a ten-furlong optional claimer over Santa Anita's turf course.

Dalicia is a full sister to Darwinia, dam of Daveron (Ger), by Black Sam Bellamy, winner of the Beaugay Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park on Derby day. Dalicia's dam Dynamis, by Dancing Brave, is half sister to Henckel Rennen (Ger-G2) (German One Thousand Guineas) winner Diacada, by Cadeaux Genereux), German highweight Desidera, by Shaadi, and stakes winner Diable, by Big Shuffle, from a family that has been producing top Central European stakes winners for 100 years.

Animal Kingdom is inbred 4x4 to Lyphard, with an inbreeding coefficient of 0.88%. Although his pedigree is basically an outcross, he is, in theory, inbred for ability on the turf.

That did not slow him down in the 2011 Kentucky Derby.


  1. Nice piece, John. I'm glad to see the blog is back in business.

    Animal Kingdom, from the male line of Nasrullah, is yet another reminder for breeders that turf form doesn't not prevent high-class dirt performance.

    Those horses, in particular, with a light, quick action and natural good speed (like Nasrullah and Leroidesanimaux) should be quite flexible in surface requirements.

    All the best,

  2. Yes, I've been beating that drum for quite a while, as have you. While the turf/dirt divide is real in some senses, it is vastly over rated as currently viewed in the industry. It is too frequently a self-reinforcing mis-judgment. A good horse is a good horse, and most of them (not all) are more versatile than given credit for.

  3. Yes, ideas about what a horse 'should be' can be dead wrong. Lawyer Ron's people thought he ought to be a turf and/or synthetic horse and it wasn't until one of his turf starts was put on the main track that they discovered they were wrong. Why they thought so is a mystery, since both parents were dirt runners, as were all four grandparents.

  4. Most of the time, Ann, people simply do not know the facts. Yep, most of A.P. Indy's best horses are dirt runners. But then again almost all of them run only on dirt or synthetic. Guess which great, recently retired stallion's progeny earned a higher percentage of their earnings on turf than the percentage of money available on turf?

  5. Thank you, and I don't think posting the Today pieces (when time allows) is a waste at all. And...I don't know (the answer.)

  6. I used to start my morning scan of blogs with Curmudgeon until it went dormant. Welcome back.

    The failure of animals to study the same literature that I do has always been a great disapointment to me, whether deer or racing pigeons. Thus it is no surprise that an animal with a turf pedigree would be so ill- bred as to win the derby, first time on dirt.

    Having wasted so much time fruitlessly trying to grasp why the classic methods of selective breeding don't work on thoroughbreds, I failed to notice how rash it was for me to call Frank Mitchell and announce that I would be rooting for the Leroy colt. Being a gentleman as well as a scholar, he manfully admitted to thinking that I had imbibed too much Tennessee tanglefoot

  7. Culpepper and Curmudgeon! This blog is over-limit for people from Tennessee. Readers beware!