Horse running through field

Forestry: Yes He Can

by Roger Lyons

I have to admit that, even though I included Shackleford along with Animal Kingdom and Astrology at the top of my Preakness superfecta pyramid, I really thought it most likely that Animal Kingdom would win. Just in case it turned out Forestry could sire a classic winner after all, I wasn’t going to allow my super to be ambushed by the revelation.

The prior question whether or not Forestry could sire a classic-distance runner of even notable class had been answered only once before, when Woodlander (Forestry-Madam Lagonza, by Kingmambo) won Belmont’s 10-furlong Lexington S. (G3) in 2005. That is hardly a credible precedent for expectations of classic potential, as is evident in how far out of favor Forestry has fallen in spite of his prolific stakes record. For breeders aspiring to classic success it was not just a question of distance, but also of class, and, once that view settles in, it becomes increasingly difficult for a stallion to get the kind of mare that can produce a horse like Shackleford.

Given Forestry’s record, it might be conjectured that Shackleford has gamed his pedigree–that he’s a fluke–but I don’t think so. Rather, it looks to me as if there’s a certain process at work, one that makes Shackleford an interesting case for pedigree analysis.

I think the reason why Forestry appears to have distance limitations is that he does not routinely make efficient use of the stamina influences contributed by his mates. Note that he has a superior-runner strike rate of only 2/32 with Unbridled (Shackleford’s broodmare sire) and 2/20 with Roberto (Sire of Lear Fan, broodmare sire of Shackleford’s dam). However, Forestry can make efficient use of stamina influences if they are mediated by ancestors that are more agreeable with him.

Hold Your Peace, sire of Shackleford’s third dam, with which Forestry has a strike rate of 2/6, seems a likely focal point. While I can’t confirm this, I also suspect there is some special relation between Fappiano (sire of Unbridled) and Hold Your Peace. Note that Astrology, which finished not far behind Shackleford and Animal Kingdom, is out of a mare whose first dam is by Quiet American, by Fappiano, and whose second dam is by none other than Hold Your Peace. I know it looks like a coincidence, but I believe in synchronicity.

Then there is the fact that Forestry has a strike rate of 10/86 with Dr. Fager (broodmare sire of Fappiano), which couldn’t make a difference on its own because of Forestry’s moderate strike rate with Unbridled, but Dr. Fager’s relation to In Reality, to which Shackleford’s dam is inbred, is well established by the many successful runners whose ancestries include those two influences.

My point is that the combination of these ancestors with which Forestry has quite good relations mediates his exploitation of the stamina influences contributed by Shackleford’s dam. Forestry is in similar circumstances with respect to the dam of Woodlander, mentioned above. He’s 1/9 with Kingmambo, 1/16 with Nureyev, and 4/90 with Seattle Slew. But he’s not bad with Graustark (6/65), to which Woodlander’s dam is inbred, and note that Forestry is out of a mare by Pleasant Colony, by Graustark’s full brother His Majesty–both out of Flower Bowl.

Linebreeding three ways to Flower Bowl wouldn’t mean anything at all, except for the fact that Forestry is 10/81 with Flower Bowl, and he’s 2/5 with mares that are themselves inbred to Flower Bowl. It seems a pretty good way for Forestry to make efficient use of stamina.

It’s now clear that Forestry can sire a classic winner from a quality mare that contributes reliable stamina and meets the conditions under which he can exploit it, and that makes him an opportunity for breeders who get it right.

3 comments to “Forestry: Yes He Can”

  • N.S. writes:

    Great post. I have only recently started wagering and played the Preakness for the first time where 3 of my 4 picks were in the money (luck?) []. I am getting into it with more passion now and interested in making key selections for the Belmont stakes.

    Going to follow your blog keenly and I could probably share more about Aquarius and Astrology if you would like to know! 🙂

    How do you rate Mucho Macho Man’s (Macho Uno-Ponche de Leona, by Ponche) chances at Belmont? Looks like he has mr. prospector from both sides?

  • Roger Lyons writes:

    Glad you like the post, N.S., and congratulations on your recent entry into the fascinating game of race playing. I have one thing to tell you. There is such a thing as beginner’s luck, and I firmly believe it has a certain phenomenology. It’s all about a kind of naivete that Heidegger called “openness to Being.” Keep in mind that knowledge is the enemy of that openness. I could tell you Mucho Macho Man doesn’t have a chance in the Belmont, maybe because he’s inbred to Mr. Prospector, and I might be right. But, if you let your increasing knowledge go too far, that’s when your beginner’s luck goes out the window.

  • N.S. writes:

    Very interesting. I agree with you on the knowledge confusing the naivette part. However, I have quickly recovered and now I see it more as a game for fun. So I am going to be “guessing” again in Belmont, more so because of the distance, I feel that almost any horse is a contender!! Thank you,

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