Horse running through field

Odysseus/Devil May Care, Take Two

by Roger Lyons

In a recent post about the breeding of Odysseus and Devil May Care, I argued that Odysseus is not bred to win a major stakes beyond 8.5 furlongs, as Devil May Care had just done. So, you can imagine how eagerly I anticipated Odysseus’ start in the Bluegrass Stakes (G1). Or perhaps, instead, you imagine trepidation. Either way, I was looking forward to it.

I didn’t expect him to win, but didn’t expect him to run last, either. Then came the sad news of the bone chip, which might well have happened during the race. As so often happens in racing, some questions never find ultimate answers, but that misfortune pales by comparison with the bad luck for Padua Stables, and I’d rather have been proven wrong than have it turn out that way.

In any event, my quarrel with his pedigree has largely, but not exclusively, to do with his close inbreeding to Mr. Prospector (3×3), based on Malibu Moon’s past success and opportunity. Statistical information like that only tells you what to expect based on a norm. Strictly speaking, you can only hypothesize. You can say something like this: if Odysseus is able to win a major stakes at 10 furlongs, then he is not at all typical of his breeding. Any given horse can become an exception to its breeding, but most don’t.

In that same post I also argued that Devil May Care is much more likely than Odysseus to be exceptional relative to the past performance of Malibu Moon’s Mr. Prospector inbreds. First of all, her inbreeding to Mr. Prospector is at 3×4, which is a huge difference. Secondly, she comes from the Roberto sire line, with which Malibu Moon has had good success from opportunity.

Of Malibu Moon’s five SWs inbred to Mr. Prospector, Devil May Care’s breeding is exceptional, especially in regard to her pattern of inbreeding to Mr. Prospector, and readers of my last post (if there are any) might guess exactly how. Odysseus’ dam is by Conquistador Cielo, by Mr. Prospector, which means Mr. Prospector is returned by the sire line of the dam. Devil May Care, on the other hand, is out of a mare whose second dam is by Mr. Prospector. That is to say, Devil May Care is inbred to a sire in the female line–the pattern shared by Eskendereya (inbred 4×4 to Northern Dancer) and Real Quiet (inbred 4×3 to Raise a Native).

The numbers are important. Of all the foals Malibu Moon has sired out of mares in some descent of Mr. Prospector, only five mares had Mr. Prospector as a sire in the female line. Two of those mares had foals inbred at a distance of 3×3. Throw those out because it’s too close. The foals of only three of those five mares were inbred at the much more effective distance of 3×4, like Devil May Care. So, Devil May Care comes from precious little legitimate opportunity.

We don’t know what is typical for that kind of breeding. It’s a new thing for Malibu Moon. Devil May Care has already gone farther in a major stakes than any other of Malibu Moon’s Mr. Prospector inbreds when she won the nine-furlong Bonnie Miss S. (G2). She’s done enough already, but, if she wins the Oaks, her pedigree is the new take on how to get a very high-class Malibu Moon runner inbred to Mr. Prospector.

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