Horse running through field

Pedigree Profile: American Lion

by Roger Lyons

American Lion doesn’t have linebreeding that is intense enough for full compliance with the rules of pedigree correctness (that’s PC for short), but what he has will no doubt satisfy the linebreeding pedigree consultants until the preferred kind comes along. Tiznow’s sire, Cee’s Tizzy, is bred In Reality over Northern Dancer, so, in the vernacular, he’s a “close genetic relative” of American Lion’s dam, Storm Tide. Yes, she has Northern Dancer on one side of her ancestry and In Reality on the other, but, really, it’s not that close. I mean, In Reality is the paternal great-grandsire of her second dam. That’s getting a bit fast and loose with the concept of linebreeding if you ask me.

Besides, Storm Tide’s breeding is a cross of two ancestors that contribute very favorably to Tiznow’s foals–no, not Northern Dancer and In Reality. His numbers with both those ancestors are really quite moderate, as are his numbers with Mr. Prospector. It’s understandable. Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector are both represented by a wide range of descendents. You don’t expect any stallion to work well enough with all of them that he would have a good strike rate on an aggregate basis.

What Tiznow likes in Storm Tide’s ancestry is her sire Storm Cat and her broodmare sire Carson City–and, even more to the point of what’s working for American Lion, the combination of the two. Largely by virtue of that cross, Storm Tide scores at the 99th percentile of mares that have produced foals by Tiznow through 2006, as to how well her ancestry matches what he likes in a mare. Never mind the linebreeding. That’s a red herring.

Through his 2006 crop Tiznow has sired superior runners out of four of his 18 mates with Storm Cat in their ancestries (not counting Storm Tide). Those include dual-G1 winner Folklore, dual-G2 winner Informed, G2 winner Tiz Wonderful, and listed stakes winner Tiz Now Tiz Then, the last of these being the only one whose dam did not have Storm Cat in direct male descent. This looks like a simple nick between Tiznow and Storm Cat.

He’s also sired superior runners out of two of five mates that had Carson City in their ancestries. Those two were G1 winner Bullsbay, out of a mare by Carson City’s son, Lord Carson, and listed stakes winner Lady Chace, out of a mare by Carson City. This looks like a simple nick between Tiznow and Carson City.

It’s not incidental, though, that these two simple nicks add up to some seriously potent speed. The numbers suggest, in fact, that Storm Tide’s cross might be an extreme expression of a broader pedigree context involving Storm Cat and other strains of Mr. Prospector. It happens that the dams of Folklore and Tiz Wonderful are both bred Storm Cat line over Mr. Prospector line, the same broad sire-line cross as the dam of American Lion. Tiz Now Tiz Then is out of a mare by Seeking the Gold, and his second dam is by Storm Cat. Thus, even though Tiznow’s numbers with Mr. Prospector generally are only average, from nine mates of Tiznow bred from crosses of Storm Cat and Mr. Prospector, three produced superior runners by him, not counting American Lion. Speed is the common denominator of that sire-line combination. Note, too that Tiz Wonderful is out of a mare by Hennessy, an especially speed-oriented strain of Storm Cat.

I’m not going to keep up the pretense that In Reality doesn’t figure in this at all. After all, Folklore’s third dam is by In Reality, which almost certainly contributes to the speed delivered by Folklore’s dam. That’s far from saying, though, that, as a function of linebreeding, it invokes an abstruse blood affinity. It’s just a very effective method of inbreeding that very effectively reinforces speed. This is further supported by G2 winners Bear Now and Tizfiz, two of Tiznow’s four superior runners with In Reality in their ancestries. Both are out of mares whose dams are by speed influence Crafty Prospector, whose broodmare sire is In Reality.

I have a theory about Tiznow, which might be wrong, and, if it is, somebody who knows better should correct me on it. The reason why so many of the Tiznows–American Lion, for example– like to be on the front, or close to it, is not that Tiznow is a natural sire of speed. If that were the case, he would get some sprinters. His value lies elsewhere. The key is that his big horses get their speed from their dams, and Tiznow’s job, which he does extremely well, is to carry that speed farther than you’d otherwise expect it to go. That’s why American Lion is one horse that’s not going to stop in deep stretch at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

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