06/17/2003 11:00PM

Forestry can follow in Storm Cat's footsteps

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LAS VEGAS - With the Triple Crown over, it is time to turn our attention to the 2-year-olds, and more specifically the juveniles by this year's group of freshman sires.

Betting horses by stallions who have never had offspring race presents a unique challenge to handicappers, and this is where pedigree plays its most crucial role.

This week's featured stallion is Forestry, who I expect will be the leading freshman sire by year's end. Based on his pedigree and performance, I believe Forestry has all the tools to become Storm Cat's best son at stud. Below is an analysis of Forestry's pedigree, what he did as a racehorse, and how to bet his offspring:

Race record: Forestry won 7 of 11 races at 3, the only year he raced, and finished out of the money only once. His victories included the San Pedro, Dwyer, and King's Bishop Stakes, and he finished third in the Haskell Invitational Stakes to Menifee and Cat Thief.

His King's Bishop victory at Saratoga was the race that highlighted his brilliance. One of the premier stakes sprints of the year, the King's Bishop has annually showcased horses with exceptional speed who have gone on to become major stallions.

In 1996, Honour and Glory won in a particularly strong field of sprinter-milers that included Elusive Quality and Distorted Humor.

Honour and Glory sired champion 2-year-old filly Caressing in his first crop, while Elusive Quality and Distorted Humor put on a major show last year as freshman sires. Distorted Humor narrowly won honors in 2002 as the top freshman sire, and the exploits of his best runner, Funny Cide, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, has skyrocketed his stock as a stallion.

Elusive Quality's runners, led by European sprinter Elusive City, have shown high speed on all surfaces, and his precocious offspring have made him an exciting young stallion.

Sire line: Forestry is by Storm Cat, who is fast becoming a sire of sires, with stallions like Hennessy, Forest Wildcat, Harlan, Tale of the Cat, Storm Creek, and Storm Boot. The world's most expensive stallion, Storm Cat plays a leading role this year as the sire of a group of freshman sires who are expected to do well.

In fact, five of the Storm Cat's sons are in the top 25 first-crop sire list according to their offspring's earnings: Forestry (ranked 4th), Stormin Fever (8th), Tactical Cat (9th), Exploit (12th), and Sea of Secrets (16th). Menifee, who is by Storm Cat's son Harlan, is also on the list at No. 20, and he is expected to ascend this list very quickly.

Storm Cat's sire, Storm Bird, was a champion at 2 in England and Ireland, and as a son of Northern Dancer he sired runners who were especially effective on turf. Storm Bird's best runners were champions Indian Skimmer, Balanchine, Prince of Birds, Bluebird, and Mukaddamah.

But Storm Bird also showed versatility by siring superior dirt runners, such as Summer Squall, winner of the 1990 Preakness Stakes, and Storm Cat, who narrowly lost a 2-year-old championship when he got nipped at the wire in the 1985 Breeders' Cup Juvenile by Tasso.

Female family: Forestry's dam, Shared Interest, was a multiple stakes winner whose victories included the Ruffian Handicap. She also placed in the Beldame Stakes, Shuvee Handicap, and Monmouth Oaks. In her young career as a broodmare, she has passed on her high quality to her foals.

In addition to Forestry, Shared Interest also produced the 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, Cash Run. Class in this female line runs deep. Shared Interest is a half-sister to stakes winner Left Court (by Valdez) and millionaire sprinter Sewickley (Star de Naskra), whose many stakes wins include the Vosburgh Handicap (twice), Fall Highweight Handicap, Tom Fool Stakes, and Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Shared Interest is by Pleasant Colony, who is the lone stamina influence found in Forestry's pedigree. The emphasis on Forestry's pedigree is speed, with his second dam by Dr. Fager and his third dam by Bold Ruler.

The most significant aspect of Forestry's pedigree, and quite possibly the key to his becoming a leading stallion, is the fact that his third dam, Bold Sequence, is a half-sister to Gold Digger, a multiple stakes winner by Nashua who produced Mr. Prospector.

Mating mares who have Mr. Prospector in their pedigree to Forestry will create exquisite inbreeding to Sequence. Because this pedigree pattern, called the Rasmussen Factor (inbreeding to a superior female within five generations through different individuals), intensifies the strongest element of a Thoroughbred's pedigree, it increases the likelihood of producing individuals of higher quality.

The late superstar stallion Danehill, who was inbred 3x3 to Natalma (the dam of Northern Dancer), was the best example of the Rasmussen Factor.

How to play Forestry's runners: First and foremost, know that Forestry's runners will have speed on all surfaces.

Forestry displayed ability on dirt, but he is what I term a "hidden turf" sire. While the majority of his runners will win on dirt, they will provide the most value on grass because Forestry is not associated with turf.

The degree of speed or stamina and surface preference will vary for his offspring based on the dam's sire. If they are out of mares by Mr. Prospector, Glitterman, Gone West, Notebook, or Valid Appeal, these runners will have additional speed.

Conversely, if they are out of mares by Stage Door Johnny, Le Fabuleux, Alysheba, or Broad Brush, they inherit stamina and could very well stretch out to middle distances.

I expect Forestry's runners to be very good 2-year-olds who will develop at 3. While the majority of his offspring will be sprinter-milers, I believe he will be as versatile a stallion as his sire, Storm Cat, with the ability to produce horses capable of getting classic distances.