Horse running through field

Pedigree Profile: Awesome Act

by Roger Lyons

In 1997 Crypto Star, winner of the Arkansas Derby (G2) at nine furlongs, was not the only runner by Cryptoclearance to have won a stakes at that distance. However, despite the perception of Cryptoclearance as a stamina influence, only one other of his offspring had won a stakes beyond 8.5 furlongs. That was Kingdom City, which happened to be entered in the undercard on Derby Day that same year. He had won the Round Table S. (G3) at nine furlongs two years before, but was not the same as a five-year-old. Neither of them fared very well on Derby Day 1997.

That distance barrier for Cryptoclearance remained intact only until the following year when Victory Gallop won the Belmont. The only other offspring of Cryptoclearance to win a stakes beyond nine furlongs was Volponi in the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Needless to say, Crypto Star didn’t take my money that Derby Day. Betting that a horse’s performance, especially in the Kentucky Derby, will be anomalous to its breeding is like drawing to an inside straight. No, I’m no fool, I found a much smarter way to lose my money.

One horse that won’t get my money this year is Awesome Act. I just can’t back a horse in the Derby with 4×2 inbreeding to Mr. Prospector, especially one that has not yet won a stakes at nine furlongs. Oh, and did I mention? The only runner by Awesome Again and inbred to Mr. Prospector to have won a stakes beyond 8.5 furlongs was Awesome Gem, which won the Hawthorne Gold Cup H. (G2), but that horse is inbred 4×4 and it was in the mud.

That analysis could easily go wrong for me because Awesome Act has already proven he’s exceptional in other ways. Through his 2006 crop Awesome Again has sired superior runners out of only six mares with Mr. Prospector in their ancestries, that from 103 opportunities. So, in that sense, what Awesome Act has done so far makes him a rarity.

One way in which Awesome Act is typical of his breeding is that his dam is out of Coup de Folie, by Halo, and that’s the kind of family that’s almost indifferent to the stallion that’s been selected for it. It’s a good thing, too, because Awesome Again has had a superior runner from only one of 26 of his mates that had Halo in their ancestries, and the eight additional mares that had Halo’s dam, Cosmah, descending in some other way all failed to fire.

No matter how Awesome Act might fare in the Derby, Awesome Again has already established his credentials as a versatile sire that can get classic-distance runners. Besides Awesome Gem, he’s sired Ghostzapper (Breeders’ Cup Classic–G1), Ginger Punch (Personal Ensign S.–G1), Rumor Has It (Kentucky Cup Turf S.–G3–and three other stakes beyond nine furlongs), and Hotstufanthensome (Mac Diarmida H.–G3); and nine furlongs is a piece of cake for many of his runners. However, if you check CompuSire online, you’ll see that the nearest inbreeding among the classic-distance stakes winners–outside of Awesome Gem–was 5×4 to Raise a Native in the ancestry of Hotstufanthensome. The rest, by today’s standards, were outcrosses.

Clearly, Awesome Act’s breeding does not fit the profile that is typical of the best offspring of his sire, especially those that won at classic distances. The question is, how exceptional can he be?

The one other thing that worries me is Volponi, that anomalous son of Cryptoclearance. Nobody was more shocked than I was when he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic because, you see, he’s inbred 3×4 to Mr. Prospector!

So, while I won’t be backing Awesome Act, I completely agree with Frank Mitchell when he says, “you just never know.”

2 comments to “Pedigree Profile: Awesome Act”

  • Michael Deming writes:

    I am a very big student of American breeding history and I have studied out TB history trying to narrow down the three most important sires in our history. I have found that the biggest influences have been sires from England and France. The three that I have come up with are:

    1. Pharos/Phalaris/Nearco/Nasrullah/Bold Ruler/Northern Dancer/Saddlers Wells, et al (the greatest family of them all)
    2. St. Simon/Chaucer/(Scapa Flow Blue Hen Mare) (many Chef De Race’s from this family)
    3. Teddy/Sir Gallahad/Bull Dog/Bull Lea (family of Citation) Asterus, Most of his greatness came from The blue hen, Plucky Liege by Spearmint

    The more I study the more I can see the influences of certain mares that made the differences. These mares like Scapa Flow by Chaucer, Plucky Liege by Spearmint and Shenanigans by Native Dancer just to name a couple. I have always believed in the importance of the sire in the breeding equation but the mare seems to be just as important and in some cases (like Teddy) even more important. Pretense sired a dam named Fall Aspen in 1976 that still has an impact today, 34 years later. From that mating came Dubai Millennium winner of almost $5 million, Fort Wood who sired Horse Chesnutt, Timber Country, an important sire in Japan and many, many others. In addition to this, Fall Aspen was named Broodmare of the year in 1994 after she birthed 4 grade 1 winners. When picking runners I hope you are keeping an eye on the “mommies as well.

  • Roger Lyons writes:

    Michael, thank you for your comments and for your interest in thoroughbred pedigree. And, you’re right about the mommies. In principle, for every sire with which one associates a certain level of quality, one has to assume that there are mares in equal number that have that same level of quality. And you’re right, too, in your implication that the dams of sires don’t necessarily get the credit they deserve because their sons get it all. Did you read my post, for example, on the Sadler’s Wells-Darshaan nick, which suggests the dam of Darshaan might be the key to it?

    Regards, Roger

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