Taking Stock: The Mare Nick


$8.2-million American Pharoah-Leslie's Lady filly | Horsephotos


“What about the mare?”

This is the response that I got recently from a breeder who was grilling me about nicks. She's fairly new to the business and had been doing her homework. She'd run pedigree nick reports with one of her newly acquired mares, and after a while she'd realized that the nick ratings were based on the success of the cross between the sires (or their sire lines) in which she was interested and the sire (or his sire line) of her mare.

Yes, that's the classic definition of a nick, I explained. It's based on sire-line crosses. It's a great starting point to analyzing a mating, I said, but, of course, the mare is important, as is her family and their produce records.

“Are there mare nicks?” she asked.

Well, yes, there are, in the sense that some mares or female families seem to have a specific affinity for a certain sire or sire line despite what a nick (or sire line cross) may initially indicate. In most cases, these nicks come about because the mare has had success with a certain stallion and the breeder decides to either go back to that stallion or to another from the same line.

Leslie's Lady

Take the mare Leslie's Lady (Tricky Creek), a stakes winner who was bought by Clarkland Farm for $100,000 in 2006 at the Keeneland November sale after she'd produced four foals. Her yearling at the time was a colt by Harlan's Holiday (Harlan, by Storm Cat) bred by James T. Hines Jr. He'd sold for $80,000 a month earlier at the Fasig-Tipton October sale. The next year, B. Wayne Hughes bought that colt–Into Mischief–for $180,000 at OBS March, and he won the Gl CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in late December. He became Leslie's Lady's first black-type winner from three foals of racing age at the time.

Judy B (Marquetry), a winner of $44,960, was Leslie's Lady's first foal. The mare's second foal was Louis the Bold (Orientate), a winner of $58,265. Into Mischief was her third foal, and he was followed by two unraced fillies, Victory Party (Yankee Victor), bred by Hines; and Daisy Mason (Orientate), the first of the mare's foals bred by Clarkland.

In the spring of 2007, well before Into Mischief had raced, Clarkland bred Leslie's Lady to Rockport Harbor (Unbridled's Song)–producing One World, a winner of $47,115–but in 2008, after Into Mischief had become a top-level winner, Clarkland sent Leslie's Lady back to Harlan's Holiday. The colt from that mating, Florida Holiday, wasn't much in the sales ring or at the track. He made just $25,000 as a Keeneland September yearling and placed on the track. That mating, however, was followed by a visit to Henny Hughes (Hennessy, by Storm Cat). The resulting filly was champion Beholder, who Hughes purchased for $180,000 as a yearling and earned $6,156,600.

After Beholder became a Grade l winner at two in 2012, that made Leslie's Lady the dam of two outstanding runners by Storm Cat-line sires, prompting Clarkland to go back to the Storm Cat sire line after two foals by Curlin–the unraced Curlin to Mischief and the placed Leslie's Harmony. The latter was a $1.1 million Keeneland September purchase and a financial homerun for Clarkland, but the mare didn't click with Curlin from two tries.

Leslie's Lady was bred to Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway, by Storm Cat) in 2013, but the resulting foal died in 2014. The following year she had a colt by Scat Daddy (Johannesburg, by Hennessy). He was Grade l winner Mendelssohn, a $3 million Keeneland September yearling and the mare's third top-level winner. Like the other two, he was by a Storm Cat-line sire, and the path through Hennessy was the same as with Beholder.

Clarkland bred Leslie's Lady next to Medaglia d'Oro and American Pharoah. The colt by the former, now two, is unnamed and was a RNA at Keeneland September, but the filly by the latter was the record-breaking $8.2 million yearling at Keeneland this past September, now named America's Joy. She'll have every opportunity to give her dam a black-type winner by a sire that's not from the Storm Cat line, but Clarkland has gone back to what worked before by breeding Leslie's Lady– the 2016 Broodmare of the Year–to two Storm Cat-line sires. She has a weanling by Not This Time (Giant's Causeway) and was bred this year to Kantharos (Lion Heart, by Tale of the Cat, by Storm Cat).

Brown Berry

The case of Brown Berry (Mount Marcy), a foal of 1960, is more pronounced. This prolific mare had 19 foals, nine by Ribot-line sires. From these nine, she produced four black-type winners and three black-type placed horses, a total of seven stakes horses. Her notable offspring included two mile-and-a-half classic winners, Avatar (Gl Belmont S.) and Hours After (G1 Prix du Jockey-Club):

Unconscious (Prince Royal ll {GB}, by Ribot {GB}) – Stakes winner of $373,300.

Avatar (Graustark, by Ribot) – Classic winner of $464,609.

Monseigneur (Graustark) – Won G2 Prix du Conseil du Paris and G2 Prix d'Harcourt.

Hours After (Alleged, by Hoist the Flag, by Tom Rolfe, by Ribot) – Classic winner.

Glorieuse (Prince Royal ll) – Black-type placed.

Conmemorativo (Hoist the Flag) – Grade lll-placed.

Estoril (Graustark) – Grade lll-placed.

Grausberry (Graustark) – Black-type placed.

The 10 foals by non-Ribot sires were by such notable stallions as Nureyev, Sir Ivor, Vaguely Noble, Damascus, Khaled, and Fleet Nasrullah, and this group managed one black-type placed runner, Khalberry (Khaled), among them. Brown Berry, obviously, had a thing for Ribot-line horses, and the various breeders who owned her throughout her career her mined this connection.

Schwarzblaurot line

The Gestut Schlenderhahn female line of the mare Schwarzblaurot (Ger) (Magnat {Ger}), a daughter of the great German racemare Schwarzgold (Ger) (Alchimist {Ger}), has been prolific in Europe since the 1950s, and its members in tail-female include, among others, G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Sagace (Fr), U.S. champion turf horse Steinlen (GB), and G1 Epsom Derby winner Slip Anchor (GB).

There are breeders around the world that collect members of this “S” family, including the Yoshida brothers in Japan, who are having continued success by breeding mares that trace to Schwarzblaurot to their ubiquitous Sunday Silence-line sires.

Teruya Yoshida of Shadai bred the Sunday Silence black-type winner Manhattan Cafe (Jpn) from this line in 1998 and more recently is enjoying success from another member of this line, the Grade l winner Stacelita (Fr) (Monsun {Ger}), whose foals include current Group 3 winner Schon Glanz (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}). Away from the Sunday Silence line, Stacelita is the dam of 2017 Group 1 Japanese Oaks winner Soul Stirring (Jpn) (Frankel {GB}).

Likewise, Katsumi Yoshida of Northern Farm is represented as the breeder of 3-year-old black-type winner Velox (Jpn) (Just A Way {Jpn}, by Heart's Cry {Jpn}, by Sunday Silence), who is a Schwarzblaurot-line colt and is one of only three black-type winners for his sire.

Last Sunday, Katsumi Yoshida and son Shunsuke Yoshida's Northern Racing was represented as breeder by the 2-year-old Japanese Group 1 winner Salios (Jpn) (Heart's Cry), whose G1 German Oaks-winning dam Salomina (Ger) (Lomitas {GB}) traces in tail-female to Schwarzblaurot.

Last year it was reported in Racing Post that Katsumi Yoshida had privately purchased the 2016 German Oaks winner Serienholde (Ger) (Soldier Hollow {GB}). As you might guess from her name, she's a descendant of Schwarzblaurot.

Previously, Northern Racing had the prolific Schwarzblaurot-line mare Biwa Heidi (Jpn) (Caerleon), who had great success with Sunday Silence and his sons. She produced:

Admire Japan (Jpn) (Sunday Silence) – Black-type winner of $1,559,402.

Admire Aura (Jpn) (Agnes Tachyon {Jpn}, by Sunday Silence) – Group 2 winner of $2,455,945.

Buena Vista (Jpn) (Special Week {Jpn}, by Sunday Silence) – Group 1 winner, Horse of the Year, and earner of $17,018,548.

Tosen Reve (Jpn) (Deep Impact) – Group 3 winner of $2,455,791.

Joie de Vivre (Jpn) (Deep Impact) – Group 1 winner, 2-year-old champion, earner of $1,188,345.

Sang Real (Jpn) (Zenno Rob Roy {Jpn}, by Sunday Silence) – Group 2 winner of $720,580.

The Schwarzblaurot illustration is of a family many generations removed from the principal that's still succeeding with a particular sire line, whereas the cases of Brown Berry and Leslie's Lady are specific to a single mare having success with sires from the same line.

However it happens, these are examples of affinity between components within a pedigree, and this is also the simple explanation behind a sire-line nick as well.

None of this is rocket science.

Sid Fernando is president and CEO of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc., originator of the Werk Nick Rating and eNicks.

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