by Alan Leavitt
I just had the opportunity to glance at the extensive pedigree of recent Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, and the inbreeding was, to plagiarize the colt’s name, striking.
As you will recall, Rich Strike was the second longest shot to win the most prestigious race in thoroughbred racing. That he was the beneficiary of a deadly speed duel between the two favorites does not change the fact that on May 7, 2022, he was the best horse on the 20-horse field.
He only entered the race at the very last minute, thanks to the last possible retirement of trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Here, a personal opinion RE: the 20-horsepower field that Rich Strike put to rest. I always thought a 20 horsepower field was basically unfair competition, with the bumps, lockups, crashes and having to run wide around the corners.
Rich Strike, however, going as far as the gate went, still managed to work his way through and around all the clutter without giving up too much cornering. Credit to her jockey, Sonny Leon, who learned his trade on Ohio’s second-tier tracks, and learned it well.
But back to Rich Strike and his pedigree. He is inbred, 2 by 3, with Smart Strike, and his sire, Keen Ice, is inbred, 3 by 3, with Deputy Minister. It’s about as deep in blood concentration as you’re going to find in any standardbred, and I’ve found it so rarely that I come to doubt it actually exists in any of our winners. of current issues.
But it surely exists in Rich Strike, and I offer it as positive proof that, when done correctly, inbreeding can create synergy, i.e. two plus two equals seven. that Smart Strike is sired by Mr. Prospector, proving once again that it is the 2-year-old racing year that gives the best insight into a stallion’s future potential as a sire.
Mr. Prospector only raced at 2 when he was devastating, despite being trained by someone who was roundly criticized by anyone with a printable opinion. He found himself standing in Florida, where he had very limited opportunities. Despite many handicaps, Mr. Prospector showed someone with keen eyesight that he was a real sire. I don’t know who it was, but a Kentucky rancher braved Florida alligators and snakes, bought Mr. Prospector, and the rest is just Rock ‘n Roll, as they say in Detroit.
Wait, before you hit the dance floor, two last quick thoughts on Rich Strike. I don’t like his chances at the Belmont. I can’t give you specific reasons, but it’s just my intuition.
However, I like his chances as a sire, even though he only made four starts as a 2-year-old. Obviously he wasn’t one hell of a racehorse at 2, but he made $38,069, which isn’t totally chicken feed.
But it is his inbreeding that gives him a real chance as a father. Now we’ll see which medium or large king sport dog is smart enough to pick it up. Or maybe even a Little Dog, who knows, when it comes to the rich people who live on the other side of the tracks. And hands down, this week, Rich Strike wins the I’m My Own Grandpa Award, an award created and bestowed solely by this kid.
Back in our real world, I was flattered to hear Andy Cohen ask me some questions about RE: his two beautiful mares, High Minded and Find Happiness.
For those who don’t know him, Andy is a nationally renowned legal analyst, and also an extremely smart and equally nice guy. He is a long-time client of Linda Toscano, one of the best trainers in our trade.
Cohen’s two fillies are by Captaintreacherous, and by Auniqueaquistion, by Cole Muffler. The only place I could think of looking was their 2-year race year when I tried to figure out what the best bet was for being a good producer.
No clues there, as they both raced successfully at 2 years old. Since I don’t believe that the phenotype of a mare, the living horse, which includes her racing record, has anything to do with her genotype, which is her genetic profile and includes her gene pool. speed gene, I had nothing to believe.
So I started working on the dams of these two Cohen mares. Nothing rang a bell in my memory until I reached their fifth dam, Ocean Bird. It belonged to one of my closest friends, who was also a transformative figure in the history of our sport, Stan Bergstein. Stan has left harness racing much better than he found it, and no one has taken his place since we lost him. Stan always made me proud to be Jewish.
Going back another generation, I found a good producer named Ella Pence. One of his daughters was a mare of mine, Tarella, by Tar Heel. She clicked several times with one of my sons from Adios, Airliner.
Airliner was another prime example of how important 2-year racing brilliance is in foreshadowing future bull power. Airliner won the first 2-year-old participation of his year, in Goshen, beating all other good colts of his year.
He came out of that race with physical issues that couldn’t be resolved at the time. I should mention that he was owned as a two year old by Leonard J. and Helen Buck, meaning he was selected as a yearling because he was a great breed and a great individual. The Bucks only bought the best and price was not an issue.
Ned Bower, a good trainer and driver, was hired as a private trainer by the Bucks when Airliner was 3 years old. Bower, a good friend, told me that even though Airliner was completely out of order at the time, he could still feel glimpses of his ability. and class when he sat behind him.
The Bucks eventually ditched Airliner and sent him through Harrisburg’s sale that fall. Two brothers who operated a cattle farm called Shadydale, Georgia bought him for $3,700 at auction.
Despite every handicap imaginable, Airliner made enough from its first three harvests to convince a young but ambitious rancher in Hanover, Pennsylvania to syndicate Airliner for $600,000. The horse became one of the best bulls of its time. And this kid was the young man who organized it.
I still haven’t answered the basic question Andy Cohen posed to me about what to do with his own two sisters, High Minded and Find Happiness.
So there you have it: sell them both this fall, Andy. While there’s no reason they both can’t be top producers, I see you strictly as a racehorse, someone who loves action. They’ll sell well, and you can take the money and buy a lucky yearling or two that you and Linda both like. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have a lot of fun with them next year and the year after.
And every time they go to the door, they’ll have the added benefit of me cheering them on, loudly.