There’s an amusing battle of pedigree eggheads taking place over various blogs and forums about the constructs of pedigree and the relevance of inbreeding and linebreeding and the accumulation of certain ancestors…yadda…yadda…yadda. And as is so often the case when eggheads (can also be known as pedheads, but not always the case; some pedheads are not intellectuals!) battle, things get scrambled quickly and it’s difficult to separate the yolk from the white. Ran across an egghead waxing poetic about a pedigree recently and why it “worked,” but in his telling—he was one-upping another pedhead, by the way, in the comments section of a blog—he himself overlooked, or didn’t see, the obvious simple nick at work for the practical breeder.
Indeed, there comes a point when the jargon—so at home in the ivory tower where risk is a concept—becomes worthless to the practical breeder, who’s actually at risk one way or another.
Lately, the eggheads and pedheads have been circling the pedigree of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver like sharks on a feeding frenzy because SS has 7 lines of blue hen La Troienne, one of the most influential mares in the annals of The Stud Book. Most of what’s been written by these folks have attributed the success of the WinStar homebred to the accumulation of La Troienne, to the minimization of pretty much everything else. Many accounts haven’t even mentioned the role of the actual breeders behind the line of mares that led to Super Saver!
Quite simply, the single most important auteur behind the success of Super Saver is the late Ogden Phipps, who with his mother and son was responsible for breeding the 7 generations of mares from La Troienne’s daughter Baby League (acquired by Phipps) to Super Saver, whose dam, Supercharger, was bred by Phipps’s son, Ogden Mills Phipps.
What Ogden Phipps knew at the time he purchased Baby League and other daughters of La Troienne from the estate of Col. E.R. Bradley’s Idle Hour Stock Farm was the affinity, or nick, between them and the stallion War Admiral. Fully cognizant of this, Mr. Phipps (and his son later) bred his mares carefully, always returning the blood of War Admiral and La Troienne to this line of mares while carefully covering them with the best available stallions. In fact, an examination of the sires of the direct-line female descendants of Super Saver will reveal such breed-shapers as War Admiral, Nasrullah, Buckpasser, Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector, and A.P. Indy layered over the internal segments of pedigrees that contain War Admiral and La Troienne.
Much has been made that Super Saver’s pedigree contains 7 lines of La Troienne, but there has been zilch written that the same horse has 8 lines to War Admiral! What the Phippses did through the generations that even the eggheads and pedheads couldn’t see was to continually recombine the simple nick of War Admiral and La Troienne underneath the layering of high-class stallions. It was a practical breeder’s approach, and it paid actual dividends.