Bloodlines Presented By Mill Ridge Farm: Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Phalaris In A Pedigree? - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Bloodlines Presented By Mill Ridge Farm: Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Phalaris In A Pedigree?

Clairiere, ridden by Joel Rosario, defeats Secret Oath in the G1 Apple Blossom

If there were an award for “inbred of the week,” it should go to Clairiere, who carries a plethora of inbreeding. In particular, she is inbred to a couple of sires that some commentators have declared as negative influences for inbreeding. The closest of these is Mr. Prospector (by Raise a Native), who's in the pedigree of the Grade 1 Apple Blossom winner 3x6x4, in descending order from her male line.

Mr. Prospector comes through a trio of sons: Smart Strike, Fappiano, and Carson City. All three are significant contributors of speed and toughness. Despite the popular opinion that Mr. Prospector was brittle or fragile because his own career was interrupted by physical issues, the stallion is, in practice, an unequivocal source of athletic ability and quality performance.

A higher proportion of the offspring of Mr. Prospector got to the races than the norms of the breed. Likewise, more of them won, and they won more often, and they won at a higher level than their contemporaries or the breed averages. As a result, Mr. Prospector was a leading stallion around the world.

In short, Mr. Prospector sired racing stock that was sounder than himself, and these were not occasional departures from the norm among his sons and daughters. They were consistently sturdier and yet retaining much of the freakish speed that Mr. Prospector possessed.

A handsome, not over-large or over-heavy son of the very substantial Raise a Native, Mr. Prospector had brought the top price of $220,000 at the 1971 Keeneland July select yearling sale, and trainer Jimmy Croll had purchased the colt for owner A.I. “Butch” Savin. Unraced as a 2-year-old, the colt developed into the winter racetrack sensation of later 1972 and 1973. Mr. Prospector's local fame came as a result of the colt's impressive works.

The dark bay son of Raise a Native and the Nashua mare Gold Digger flamed through his works in south Florida during the winter of 1973. Trained by Croll, Mr. Prospector did not see the point in conserving his speed, and in the cooler months before Secretariat came out of his winter hibernation, the talking horse in Florida was the “freak” in Croll's barn.

Most horsemen wished he had been in theirs.

As a result, Mr. Prospector's workouts became as well-attended by the insiders and knowledgeable horsemen as major racing events. Just to see that horse perform.

In addition to blazing fast workouts, Mr. Prospector translated his morning talent into afternoon performances that made him unbeaten in his first three starts, including a track-record performance at six furlongs in 1:07 4/5 at Gulfstream Park. He appeared to race with such ease and elan that, naturally, clamor arose to send Mr. Prospector against the leading racer of his crop: Secretariat.

To attempt that, Mr. Prospector was entered for his first stakes race in the 1973 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs. It was his prep for destiny and a shot at Secretariat, but Mr. Prospector finished second. His first defeat and his first serious injury, as he was found to have chipped an ankle.

Mr. Prospector returned from his enforced layoff and won a pair of stakes the following year at four, as well as finishing second to 1974 Horse of the Year Forego in the Carter Handicap.

In all, Mr. Prospector won seven of 14 starts, with six more in the money. The payoff was going to stud, which Mr. P did in Florida at Aisco Stud, where he sired first-crop champion It's in the Air (1978 juvenile filly) and Belmont Stakes winner Conquistador Cielo (1982 Horse of the Year).

Both of those champions were bred on crosses with Nearco lines, especially to Nasrullah, and Clairiere herself carries multiple repetitions of Nearco, notably through Nasrullah, Royal Charger, and Nearctic, with multiple repetitions of the latter's son Northern Dancer.

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The essence of Clairiere's pedigree, however, is greater than the particular mingling of these iconic names. She is one of the best examples of deep linebreeding to Phalaris, with at least 32 individual lines of ancestry going back to Lord Derby's son of Polymelus. Most of these descend through the great sire's sons Sickle, a half-brother to classic winner Hyperion and the male-line ancestor of Mr. Prospector, and Pharos, a full brother to classic winners Fairway and Fair Isle and the sire of unbeaten Nearco.

Does this mean that Clairiere is a multiple Grade 1 winner because she has a particular number of occurrences of Phalaris in her pedigree? No, it's not as simple as that.

Clairiere is a top-class racehorse and beneficiary of some of the best genetics in the breed because she is by one of the best sires in the world and out of a top-quality broodmare. Curlin was a classic winner, multiple Grade 1 winner, and Horse of the Year at three and four before retiring to become one of the best sires in the breed, and Clairiere's dam, Cavorting, won three times at the Grade 1 level during her racing career.

Cavorting's first two foals to race are Clairiere and her 3-year-old half-sister La Crete (Medaglia d'Oro), who won the Silverbulletday Stakes at the Fair Grounds earlier this year. A pedigree doesn't get a lot better than this.

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