09/13/2005 11:00PM

Bloodlines can help spot value on grass


LAS VEGAS - With so many tools now available for handicappers, finding value is more difficult than ever. More and more, players are turning to the once-esoteric world of pedigree handicapping to find such value.

Pedigrees are most commonly used in deciphering maiden races, where first-time starters should be evaluated based on the distance and surface of the race through the sire's aptitude for either speed or stamina, dirt or turf.

Knowing pedigrees is certainly a plus for every handicapper, but knowing how to apply pedigree knowledge is even more important. The male parts of the pedigree (sire and damsire) are indicators of distance and surface preference, and the dam and her female family are indicators of racing class.

Turf races, in particular, create betting opportunities, because a horse's form can be dramatically different on grass than on dirt. Horses who performed poorly on dirt may be dismissed in their first start on grass, even though they were always meant to be on turf. A recent example comes from the offspring of Black Minnaloushe, a son of Storm Cat who was a champion at 3 in Ireland and is one of this year's freshman sires. Black Minnaloushe's runners are predominantly bred for grass, and most of his 2-year-olds in this country have started their careers on dirt with poor results. On the last Saturday of the Saratoga meet, Stream Cat, a son of Black Minnaloushe, displayed a dramatic form reversal racing on turf in his second start, winning the restricted With Anticipation Stakes. Stream Cat inherited a double dose of turf (T2), since his late damsire, Irish River, was a strong grass influence.

Stallions who raced well on turf are naturally expected to sire grass runners. But the offspring of horses who are bred for turf but achieved success on dirt - such as Hennessy, Holy Bull, and Go for Gin - may offer greater value. I call such stallions hidden turf sires.

The following is a small sample of young stallions whose offspring should be given special consideration on turf:

Arch: Winner of the Super Derby, Arch is associated with dirt and not turf, but as a son of Kris S. (by Roberto), Arch may have been better on turf but never got the chance to show it. Arch's offspring, however, are certainly proving to be much more effective on turf, including Montgomery's Arch, Prince Arch, Chilly Rooster, and Overarching.

Forestry: While Forestry raced exclusively on dirt, as a son of Storm Cat he has a license to be a good turf sire. His sire line (Storm Cat-Storm Bird-Northern Dancer) has been dominant on grass for many decades. Some of Northern Dancer's sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons whose offspring should be given special consideration on grass are Awesome Again, Giant's Causeway, Bernstein, Dixie Union, Cat Thief, High Yield, Stravinsky, Tactical Cat, Menifee, Stormin Fever, Bianconi, Military, Tale of the Cat, Tomorrows Cat, Concerto, Deputy Commander, and Touch Gold.

Grand Slam: Because he is a son of the versatile Gone West - whose damsire is the powerful grass influence Secretariat - he automatically is a hidden turf sire capable of getting winners on grass. Other such sons of Gone West include Mr. Greeley, Commendable, Came Home, Speightstown, West By West, Proud Citizen, Dance Master, Elusive Quality, and Tamayaz.

Point Given: Point Given is a 2005 freshman sire, and I expect his late-maturing foals to show an affinity for turf. He is by Thunder Gulch, who, like his sire, Gulch, was a champion on dirt. But both Thunder Gulch and Gulch have had success as hidden turf sires. Some of Gulch's turf runners include English champion Nayef, Harayir, Torrential, and Snowdrops. Thunder Gulch's grass runners include Australian Group 1 winners Tempest Moon, Shot of Thunder, and Tully Thunder, as well as C'est L'Amour and Stylish.

Langfuhr: Like Storm Cat, Danzig had brilliant speed on dirt as a racehorse, but his sons - including Langfuhr - are extremely versatile. Danzig's sons have proven to be superior turf sires, including Danehill, Chief's Crown, Polish Precedent, Green Desert, and second-crop sire War Chant.

Pulpit: Like other sons of A.P. Indy, most notably the late Old Trieste, Pulpit is fast becoming a reliable sire of grass runners, getting such stakes winners as Stroll, Lydgate, Mystery Itself, Melhor Ainda, and Ecclesiastic.

Unbridled's Song: A brilliant racehorse on dirt, he has offspring who are equally adept on dirt and turf. Because Unbridled's Song is not associated with grass, his offspring usually offer more value on turf. Unbridled's Song's sire, Unbridled, is by Fappiano, primarily a dirt sire who also got turf winners. Unbridled was out of a mare by a stayer and turf influence, Le Fabuleux, and he also has sired turf winners, such as stakes winner Mustanfar. Unbridled's Song also has a strong source of turf in his damsire, Caro.

Victory Gallop: Best known for his Belmont Stakes victory, in which he thwarted the Triple Crown chance of Real Quiet, Victory Gallop has been getting grass winners since his first crop were 2-year-olds, beginning with Galloping Gal, Rousing Victory, Morine's Victory, and many more runners who seem to move up on turf.