Victoria Derby: Can a pedigree analysis assist?


History and Update

Elimination of chances in the Victoria Derby by pedigree analysis will help point to a winner. The process can eliminate horses that will be not suited by the distance of the race. The Victoria Derby was first run in1855. Some of the greats of the Australian Turf have won it. Phar Lap, Comic Court, Tulloch, Sky High, Tobin Bronze, Dulcify, and Mahogany to name a few. In recent years the Race has lost some of its glamour as racing authorities continue to cut the length of races to the detriment of true stayers. I would contend that it is not the horses that have failed to live up to the challenge, but the racing authorities.

In the last 20 years Derby winners have won an additional 21G1 races, 11G2, 6G3 and 11L races. There is no doubt these horses would have done better if there were suitable races for them.  However, the racing authorities with their policy of pouring money into glorified quarter horse races have virtually shut the door on the racing career of most derby winners.

The Victoria Derby: A Winner’s Pedigree

Unless you are going to send a mare to the Northern Hemisphere for breeding, you are limited to Sothern Hemisphere stock. In the last 20 years what bloodlines have been successful? The table shows the list to start your looking.

There were a couple of surprises. The first is the presence of only one horse from the Mr Prospector line.

Sadler’s Wells: Super Racehorse and Super Sire


Danzig: The Power of Northern Dancer

Lion Tamer (Storming Home-Lioness) from the Machiavellian sireline. Considering the influence Mr Prospector has on the world breeding industry (Fapianno, Unbridled, Woodman, Empire Maker Gone West, Kingmambo etc.) It is surprising he doesn’t rate here. Perhaps when American Pharoah gets going  things will change.

Secondly, I judged More Than Ready, from the Halo line, from his Golden Slipper deeds but he is more versatile than that. Not only is he the sire of two Derby winners (Benicio 2002 and Prized Icon 2016) but has produced many classic G1 winners at 2400m or thereabouts. Some of his winners are Eagle Way, 2016 Queensland Derby, More Than Sacred 2013 NZ Oaks, Dreamaway 2011 WA Derby/Oaks double, and Say the Word 2020 Northern Dancer Stakes in Canada. So any horse from More Than Ready should not be dismissed as merely a sprinter.

So to cut  chances in the Derby field to a manageable level consider the pedigree lines presented in the table. To select a winner you have to consider other annoying things. The barrier, the jockey, the state of the track, and the form of the horse. You can then sit back and enjoy the race

War Front: Latest Danzig super sire

Future Prospects

Finally. if you see anything related to War Front, have a real good look. He is the grand sire of last years winner Warning and the hottest property in the world today. His stud fee for next year will probably exceed $400,000 (Aust) .



Comparing Sire Lines at the Highest Level

Comparing Sire Lines at the Highest Level

There is interest in comparing sire lines at the highest level in racing jurisdictions around the world. I have just completed an exercise for an American client in evaluating the sire lines in last week’s Kentucky Derby. Some of the world’s current leading sires are surprisingly absent.. To look at the issue further I decided to compare the top sires in America with those in Australia. I have not used the usual tools (average, earnings, winners per runner, stake earnings etc).

Keeping it very simple I have measured how many times a sire occurs in the pedigree. as the basis for this comparison. The data I have used comes from  two important races for 3yo as they are the top of the crop at the time they raced. The results will perhaps show what was important to breeders four years ago and perhaps also today. I have used the standard 5 generation pedigree (30 horses,15 on Sires side, 15 on the Dam’s side). The examination was not to find all the sire/broodmare lines, but look at which horses are contributing most to the pedigrees of the combined field. One can of course extrapolate from there.

Comparison of Sires in Kentucky Derby 2020 and Caulfield Guineas 2019.

I have chosen to compare the current sires whose progeny make up the fields in these two races. Both races are G1 races for horses of three years, of similar distance, worth approximately the same stake money. Exceptional winners of both races usually go on to be successful sires. They are also Races that owners would love to win.

Seattle Slew: a true champion in every way

The Kentucky Derby commenced in 1875.  In the last 50 years or so Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Sunday Silence (1989) and Unbridled (1990) have gone onto great things.

A P Indy: a son of Seattle Slew with 63 active sons at stud

The Caulfield Guineas commenced in 1881. It has also unearthed a string of talent. Luskin Star (1977), Redoute’s Choice (1999) Lohnro (2001), and Starspangledbanner (2009).

To have a position on the list a Sire has to be mentioned at least three times. The results are tabulated below:

What is interesting in the data?

Firstly, the stalwarts Mr Prospector and Northern Dancer maintain their powerful influence in both Countries.

  • The low showing of Danzig in America compared with Australia is surprising. No Danehill blood in the Derby begs many questions. One wouldn’t think quality would be one of those. Danehill was the broodmare sire of Frankel, considered by some (not by me) to be the world’s best horse ever. Danehill currently rates 83rd in Northern Hemisphere’s broodmare sire list. Perhaps there is something in that.
  • The Champions, Seattle Slew and A P Indy are well represented in the Derby but are noted to be largely absent in the Guineas.
  • The same could be said for Storm Bird and his son Storm Cat. The Storm Cat line is going well in America. Into Mischief, a great grandson of Storm Cat was America’s most sought-after sire in 2020. Storm Cat  has 92 active sons at stud.

Genetic Diversity

Horses in today’s thoroughbred population can trace their paternal linage to just three stallions. Similarly, more than 70% of thoroughbreds can trace their maternal linage to just 10 mares. Thus, there is little genetic diversity. Incorporation of the genes from some of the outstanding sires could provide that small change which separate success from failure in the breeding business.

Will Winx be a better Broodmare than other Champion Mares?

It has been reported that super mare Winx (Street Cry-Vegas Showgirl) is going to be serviced by the Danzig line stallion I am Invincible. Is this another example of “Best to the Best”? Is there something in the combined pedigree that will provide confidence that the mating will produce a significant racehorse? What does a PRI about the projected racing ability of Winx progeny tell us?

Sire’s Performance

As sires go, I Am Invincible was a good racehorse but nothing special. Thirteen starts for 5 wins, 2 two placings and $270k in stakes earnedHis sire, Invincible Spirit, was a better racehorse winning a G1 and 2xG3. He stood in Australia for 4 seasons, returned to Ireland and now commands 60,000 euros. The female line of I Am invincible is not strong with a 6GFI of 4.1%. However, his grand dam sits right in middle of a thick vein of Pedrille bloodlines.The fact that s stallion’s fees are a poor predictor of a foal’s prize winning potential has been established for some time.

Mare’s Performance

Winx’s sire Street Cry was an excellent racehorse. He won the Dubai World Cup and the G1 Stephen Foster Handicap in America. His impressive deeds continued as a sire. His sire line has produced 241 SW, with 46xG1 individual winners.   As a broodmare sire he has produced 52 SW.  The Winx female line is weak with a 6GFI of 2.82% and she is the only G1 winner in 6 generations.

Putting the two together, what do we get?

New foals are about to arrive

The overall picture is of a complete outcross. There is plenty of line breeding in the back end but this is beyond the fifth generation and unlikely to have much impact in a sixth generation progeny. In the absence of any information to apply some of the favoured techniques in Pedigree Analysis, we can look at the statistics of breeding of Street Cry broodmares. The following comments can be made:

  • Street Cry broodmares have not produced a SW to any in the Danzig–Green Desert sire line
  • Storm Cat line sires have produced the most SW (12)
  • Following him are Mr Prospector(10), Danzig (10 including 5 from Danehill)
  • Sadler’s Wells has produced 6 with the most G1 performers (2)

The sole G1 winner from a Danzig line stallion Bellamy Road (from Chief’s Crown) was Diversify who won 2xG1. He joined War Admiral, Dr Fager,  Alydar and Kelso (who won 3 times)  as winners in the time honoured Whitney Handicap (now the Whitney Stakes ). The winner of this race automatically qualifies as a starter in the end of season Breeders Cup Classic worth $8m. So it is worth winning. But I diversify.

What does the PRI say?  

A PRI score can tell us the projected racing ability of Winx progeny. The PRI score for the I Am Invincible progeny is 68.8 which in my library suggest it will be unlikely to win in the city. Galileo would probably produce a stakes winner with a score of 88.5.   The best local I found was Lonhro with a score of 91.7 but you would need a colt because that is G1 territory. The Danehill line and there is plenty around would be worth investigating but I haven’t done that.

So, is I Am Invincible a good match for Winx?  I will let you draw your own conclusions.