05/29/2006 11:00PM

Few can match Sunriver's female line

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Sunriver is one of two Belmont probables who has the Rasmussen Factor.

LAS VEGAS - While this year's Belmont Stakes may not have the Kentucky Derby or Preakness winners, it is coming up as a competitive affair and promises to be a very entertaining race, with at least 11 3-year-olds set to run, as of Monday.

Trainer Todd Pletcher holds a strong hand in the Belmont, with two royally bred colts.

Bluegrass Cat is the slight prerace favorite off his game second-place finish behind Barbaro in the Kentucky Derby. A one-time leading Triple Crown candidate, Bluegrass Cat had a stellar 2-year-old campaign, capturing the Remsen and Nashua stakes, but looked ordinary in winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes in his 3-year-old debut. He then finished second to Deputy Glitters in the Tampa Bay Derby after losing a shoe and ran poorly in the Blue Grass Stakes over a Keeneland surface he obviously disliked. Following those three efforts, Bluegrass Cat was dismissed at 30-1 in the Derby.

By Storm Cat, Bluegrass Cat is out of the unraced A.P. Indy mare She's a Winner, who was bred by Ogden M. Phipps. She's a Winner is a full sister to stakes winners Accelerator and Daydreaming, and a half-sister to stakes-placed Harborage. His stakes-winning second dam, Get Lucky, is a full sister to 2-year-old champion Rhythm, as well as successful sire Not for Love. Bluegrass Cat's stakes-winning third dam, Dance Number, was one of three important foals (along with Private Account and Polish Numbers) out of the 1969 2-year-old filly champion, Numbered Account.

Pletcher's other Belmont colt, Sunriver, who was excluded from the Derby field because he lacked sufficient graded earnings, may be better than Bluegrass Cat at 1 1/2 miles.

Sunriver was third behind Barbaro and Sharp Humor after a wide trip in the Florida Derby. He returned off a seven-week layoff to win the Peter Pan Stakes over Lewis Michael and looks like a colt who should have no problem with the Belmont distance.

Proven pedigree pattern

Sunriver is one of two Belmont probables who has the Rasmussen Factor (inbreeding to a superior female within five generations through different individuals). In fact, Sunriver is a rare double RF, in that he is inbred to two very influential broodmares. He is inbred to Cosmah through her sons Halo (Hail to Reason) and Maribeau (Ribot), and is also inbred to Almahmoud through her daughters Cosmah (Cosmic Bomb) and Natalma (Native Dancer), who is the dam of Northern Dancer. This coveted pedigree pattern of female family inbreeding has already proven highly successful - Sunriver is a full brother to two-time champion Ashado.

Of all the Belmont Stakes contenders, Jazil, who finished in a dead heat for fourth with Brother Derek in the Kentucky Derby, has the most intriguing pedigree. The other RF, he is inbred to C.V. Whitney's important producer Traffic Court, who was 1954 Broodmare of the Year. Traffic Court is the dam of Hasty Road (by speed influence Roman), the 1953 2-year-old champion who won the Preakness Stakes and finished second in the Kentucky Derby. Traffic Court also produced Traffic Judge (by Alibhai), a stakes winner at 2, 3, and 4. His stakes wins included the Woodward, Withers, Ohio Derby, and Jerome. He also finished third in the 1955 Preakness Stakes behind Nashua.

In addition to female family inbreeding to Traffic Court, Jazil has a spectacular pedigree top and bottom. He is by Seeking the Gold, one of Mr. Prospector's best sons on the track and as a stallion. Seeking the Gold was a member of the very deep foal crop of 1985, which included Forty Niner, Winning Colors, Risen Star, Brian's Time, and Dynaformer. Jazil's dam, Better Than Honour, won the Demoiselle Stakes, and his second dam, Blush With Pride, won the Kentucky Oaks. His third dam, Best in Show, was 1982 Broodmare of the Year, and in addition to Blush With Pride, she also produced Sex Appeal (the dam of El Gran Senor, Try My Best, and Compliance). Best in Show's other notable foals include Irish 2-year-old champion Malinowski; Group 3 winner Monroe; Nijinsky's Best, the dam of Yagli; and Minnie Hauk, who established her own successful branch of this female line.

Minnie Hauk is the dam of Aviance, the Irish 3-year-old champion filly who won the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes. Aviance was even more impressive as a broodmare, producing Denon, Imperfect Circle, and Chimes of Freedom. Imperfect Circle is the dam of Breeders' Cup Mile winner Spinning World. Chimes of Freedom was 3-year-old champion in England and France, and her foals include four stakes winners: champion sprinter Aldebaran, Good Journey, Tomisue's Indy, and Sea of Showers.

Racing class is found in the dam and her tail-female family (dam, dam's dam, dam's granddam, etc.), and Bluegrass Cat, Sunriver, and Jazil are prime examples of this high quality.