03/06/2007 12:00AM

Derby colts and their female families


LAS VEGAS - Female family inbreeding - or FFI as it is known in breeding circles - was the method of choice for the great "uber-breeders" of yesteryear.

Federico Tesio, Marcel Boussac, Lord Derby (The 17th Earl of Derby), and H. H. Aga Khan were the architects of the breed by using FFI to shape the Thoroughbred, as documented by Rommy Faversham and Leon Rasmussen in their landmark 1999 book, "Inbreeding to Superior Females."

Leon Rasmussen, the oft-honored scribe who wrote the "Bloodlines" column for 37 years in Daily Racing Form and The Morning Telegraph, died on Aug. 15, 2003 at the age of 88, and was an ardent believer in FFI.

Rasmussen was also a regular contributor to Owner-Breeder magazine, and because he was a staunch advocate of FFI, Jack Werk, publisher of Owner-Breeder, dubbed this pedigree pattern the Rasmussen Factor, or RF, in 1994. The RF is a specific form of FFI. To qualify as an RF, a Thoroughbred must be inbred to a superior female through different individuals within five generations.

According to Faversham and Rasmussen, the RF accounted for approximately 3 to 6 percent of the entire Thoroughbred population back in 1999. While that number may be slightly higher in 2007, it is still significant that such a high percentage of stakes winners are RF's, considering they make up less than 10 percent of all Thoroughbreds.

Why does all this matter? Remarkably, many 3-year-olds heading for the Triple Crown, including top runners Nobiz Like Shobiz are Street Sense, are RF's. Let's look at some of them.

Nobiz Like Shobiz: Despite a disappointing third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a race he was expected to win, Nobiz Like Shobiz must still be considered a favorite for the Kentucky Derby. He is inbred 5x4 to Swoon's Tune through her daughters Song Sparrow (by Tudor Minstrel) and Lilt (Herbager).

Street Sense: Last year's 2-year-old champion and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner is inbred 5x4 to Natalma, through her daughter Raise the Standard (Hoist the Flag) and Northern Dancer (Nearctic).

His sire, Street Cry, is by the late champion Machiavellian, who was produced by Raise the Standard's daughter Coup de Folie. Coup de Folie was an exceptional broodmare who was an RF herself, inbred 2x2 to the half-sisters Natalma and Cosmah. Inbreeding to Natalma or her dam, Almahmoud, has been particularly successful, and the most famous result is the late Danehill, one of the world's great stallions.

Summer Doldrums: Like Street Sense, the impressive Whirlaway Stakes winner Summer Doldrums is inbred to Natalma, this time 5x5 through Raise the Standard and Northern Dancer. Summer Doldrums is one of the favorites for Saturday's Gotham Stakes.

Teuflesburg: Winner of the Southwest Stakes, Teuflesberg is inbred 5x4 to the Claiborne Farm matron State, through her daughters Narrate (Honest Pleasure) and Border (Spectacular Bid). By last year's leading freshman sire Johannesburg, who is also the sire of Fountain of Youth Stakes winner Scat Daddy, Teuflesberg descends from one of Claiborne Farm's most productive female families.

Of particular significance is that Teuflesberg is a Formula One RF, a term that Faversham and Rasmussen used to describe a unique RF pattern where both the sire and the dam descend from the same taproot mare. Teuflesberg's sire, Johannesburg, and his dam, St. Michele, both trace to State in tail-female line (dam, dam's dam, dam's granddam, etc.).

The Formula One RF is even rarer than the RF in general, but this dramatic pedigree pattern has an even more powerful punch.

Teuflesberg's female family is responsible for producing Johannesburg, Pulpit, Tale of the Cat, Minardi, and Round Table.

Belgravia: Winner of the Hollywood Prevue Stakes and last seen finishing fourth in the Hollywood Futurity, this Mr. Greeley colt is inbred 5x5 to Somethingroyal, through her sons Secretariat and Sir Gaylord.

Imawildandcrazyguy: Second in the Risen Star Stakes, he is inbred 4x5 to Shenanigans through her son Icecapade and daughter Laughter. Shenanigans is also the dam of Ruffian, On to Glory, and Buckfinder.

Flying First Class: This exciting maiden winner has yet to be tested for class and is another inbred 5x5 to Somethingroyal, through her sons Secretariat and Somethingfabulous.

Cowtown Cat: Third in the Swale Stakes, Cowtown Cat is inbred 5x5 to Pocahontas, through her stakes-winning sons Tom Rolfe and Chieftain.

Notional: Inbred 4x4 to La Morlaye through her daughters Indian Call (the dam of Siberian Express, the sire of In Excess) and Lady Tramp.

Pavarotti: He is not yet a winner, having run second in his only two starts. But trainer Todd Pletcher is very high on this $2.5 million yearling purchase. He is a double RF, inbred 5x5 to two exceptional broodmares: Glamour, through her son Poker and daughter Intriguing, and Miss Disco, who is famous as the dam of Bold Ruler.

Officer Rocket: While not an RF, his dam Ocean View is inbred 5x4 to Two Lea through her sons Tim Tam and On-and-On.

Cobalt Blue: While not an RF because his inbreeding to Somethingroyal is 5x6, Cobalt Blue was sired by Golden Missile, who is is an RF, inbred 5x5 to Imperatrice, the dam of Somethingroyal and her half-sister Speedwell.

Admiralofthefleet: This Aidan O'Brien-trained Royal Lodge Stakes winner is inbred to Natalma three times, through her offspring Northern Dancer, Spring Adieu, and Raise the Standard.

It simply makes sense that duplicating the most important female names in a pedigree magnifies high class.