- Three Chimneys showed off Big Brown this week; his services are available for $65,000 a shot. The Form reported that those who inspected the Derby winner during an open house on Wednesday were impressed, in some cases, surprisingly so.
Controversy has followed Big Brown throughout his three-year old year, and his coming studly service is no different. Many have derided the idea of a horse with such fragile feet passing his genes along; and one wacko group actually suggested he be castrated. But even his more lucid detractors see him as a poster boy for what they see as the fragile nature of the current breed.
But personally, I'm excited about his prospects as a stallion. He proved able to handle both dirt and turf, and, as we've noted on numerous occasions, his pedigree goes far beyond his inbreeding to Northern Dancer, inbred to Round Table and Damascus, with a dab of the likes of Forli and Roberto, as he is. Pedigree Goddess and current Three Chimneys pedigree expert Anne Peters, from whom, along with Alan Porter, I've learned what little I know about breeding, delivers a long dissertation on the stallion on the Three Chimneys website here. (Their classic book Patterns of Greatness II is a must-read for anyone interested in the subject if you can find it.)
Since I'm not particularly intrigued by the concept of adding even more Northern Dancer to the mix, I focused more on the sections on the outcross possibilities - Big Brown is completely free of Mr. Prospector and Seattle Slew, to start. Ms. Peters discourages the addition of more Damascus ("he's not a premier source of soundness"), opting instead for supplementing the Round Table or Roberto blood there. Since Round Table is the sire of Poker, the broodmare sire of Seattle Slew, the possibilities of that line, most prominently through AP Indy, seem encouraging. Whatsmore, the latter's son Pulpit descends directly from Monarchy, a full sister to Round Table. I encourage you to check out Ms. Peters' piece if you're so inclined (keeping in mind that it's her job at Three Chimneys to play up the positives of as many angles as possible).
The Three Chimneys site has a hypomating feature, and it's fun to play around with some hypopossibilities, especially with respect to future broodmare prospects. For example: A mating between Big Brown and Zenyatta, a daughter of the Mr. Prospector stallion Street Cry, would create inbreeding to Roberto and Forli, and add another strain of Princequillo (the sire of Round Table). A mating with Music Note, a daughter of AP Indy, would create the Rasmussen Effect (inbred to State, the dam of Big Brown's broodmare sire Nureyev), and compliment the Round Table/Princequillo blood through her sire line and the presence of Secretariat (whose broodmare sire is Princequillo). For those "willing to roll the dice" in the words of Ms. Peters, Goldikova or Forever Together would create 3x3 inbreeding to Danzig, yikes. And IEAH might one day, hopefully not too soon, consider their own Stardom Bound, a daughter of the Pulpit sire Tapit as she is.
- Ray Kerrison made a quite coherent case for Big Brown as Horse of the Year in the NY Post on Saturday. I have to agree that either Curlin or Zenyatta would seem less than satisfying choices to me given the way things played out....especially Zenyatta, who beat up on a lackluster distaff division all year long and declined to try the boys. And, as Kerrison points out, Big Brown won as many Grade 1's as either, including the Derby, the biggest 1 of them all. I found Kerrison's questioning of Big Brown's less-than-spectacular Beyers to be most interesting. He points out that Thoro-graph's Jerry Brown rated his 20-post Derby win as "the greatest Derby since we began charting races in 1982." And of the Preakness, he writes:
Big Brown scraped bottom with a shocking 100 Beyer. That's 18 points below the all-time Beyer Preakness champ, Smarty Jones, who won in 2004 with a 118.
Now get this: Both horses ran their Preaknesses on fast tracks, Big Brown ran the trip more than one full second faster than Smarty Jones (while under wraps through the last furlong), yet he gets 18 fewer Beyer points than Smarty Jones. That is incomprehensible. [NY Post]