First Published 2/22/2015
A great man once tried to teach me about race horses. I was no more than nine at the time. I vaguely remember the lessons and unfortunately I can only recall bits and pieces. I can see him at that kitchen table in South Philly and I can still hear his voice reminiscing over names like Graustark, Man o War, Ribot, Stage Door Johnny and War Admiral. I wish I could remember all of it. But one thing I do remember very well, his insistence that the greatest possibility for any given horse to have a lasting and successful career is the one who carries with him the stamina of the great runners of the past. He said that Stamina was the main ingredient, not speed. He said that the speed with which all horses naturally carry cannot ever be sacrificed.
The horse who possesses true stamina from his ancestors of the past and who does not let it affect his speed is destined to be “one of the great ones.” I recall him then smiling and saying, “Just like Jackie Gleason, one of the great ones!”
At the time, I didn’t know what he was actually talking about, but after my Grandfather passed away in 1989, I became more and more infatuated with the sport. I made it my business to unlock some of the things he tried to teach me.
Pedigree is a difficult beast to unravel. There are too many names, too many different styles within a chart, too many generations and way too many characters who can potentially influence a runner. A daunting task to say the least. As a matter of fact, within just the first five generations of a chart, there are 62 contributors, both male and female, to one single horse. Impossible to differentiate how any of the sires or mares can influence, not influence, add to or take away from. The research initiated by Lt. Col. J.J. Vuillier in France many years ago and continued by Dr. Franco Varola in the 60’s, leads us to the dedication of Steven Roman, who wrapped it all up into one complete package, Dosage.
“Dosage characterizes pedigrees solely through the evaluation and the cataloging of explicit qualities of prepotent or predictable speed and stamina inherited from selected key ancestors.” (Steven A. Roman)
“For any individual horse, speed and stamina are inversely related; one is always sacrificed in favor of the other. Whether cheap or high-class, all horses are limited in type by their inherited speed/stamina balance.” (Steven A. Roman)
That is, Mr. Roman, only if the horse is not destined to be one of “The Great Ones.”
After many years of studying historical dosage, I disagree with Mr. Roman on his point that ALL horses are limited by the speed/stamina balance and I have come to the conclusion that Little Gramps was right all along. The Great Ones sacrifice nothing. That it begins with Stamina and that their natural speed is not compromised. What if there is no speed inheritance to balance? How do some horses who are overly dominant in inherited stamina win over those who are overly dominated in speed? Why can't speed demons balance their endurance while stamina horses can still compete and win at short distances? I see no limitation with regard to Stamina horses over Speed horses. Speed horses are limited, stamina horses are not.
In the past, the Great Ones were easily defined by their inherited stamina. No proof is needed there. Champions like Ribot, Man o War, Graustark etc, all equipped with inherited European stamina and all showing evidence of contributing that stamina throughout their progeny. Fast forward to present day. Here are just a few of our contemporary champions that I have found who mimic the numbers of the greatest runners through the century. They all process dominant stamina just like their ancestors and did not compromise any of their natural and inherited speed. They are a rare breed but definitely all considered “The Great Ones”.
FRANKEL 14 Starts – 14 Wins. Nine consecutive Group One Wins.
Chefs Dosage Profile = 5-2-15-7-1 (30) Index = .94 CD = .10 Chefs dominance shows complete inherited stamina. Reines Profile = 2-8-3-13-7 (33) Index = .53 CD = Negative .60 Reines dominance shows complete inherited stamina.
ANIMAL KINGDOM 2011 Eclipse Award for 3 year olds Winner Kentucky Derby and Preakness Multiple Graded Stakes Winner
Chefs Dosage Profile = 2-0-6-0-0 (8) Index = 1.67 CD = .50 Inherited 3 times more stamina than speed to his optimum classic distance from the chefs. Reines Profile = 3-4-5-11-6 (29) Index = .48 CD = Negative .68 Reines dominance shows complete inherited stamina.
WISE DAN 2013 Horse of the Year, Grass Horse, Older Horse 2012 Horse of the Year, Grass Horse, Older Horse
Chefs Dosage Profile = 1-3-4-2-0 (10) Index = 1.50 CD = .30 The CD favors stamina and lacks in inherited sprinting influence Reines Profile = 6-5-5-5-7 (28) Index = .93 CD = Negative .07 Reines complete dominance in endurance and stamina.
SHARED BELIEF 2013 Eclipse Award 2 year Old 10 Starts – 9 Wins
Chefs Dosage Profile = 2-2-6-2-0 (12) Index = 1.40 CD = .33 Similar to Wise Dan, CD favors stamina and lacks in inherited sprinting influence. Reines Profile = 0-3-6-8-8 (25) Index = .31 CD = Negative 1.04 Zero sprinting influence coupled with severe stamina inheritance.