07/17/2001 12:00AM

Gain an edge in turf races with the 'hidden' factor


LAS VEGAS - Last week, I categorized the 2001 freshman stallions as either speed or stamina influences, and also designated a number of sires as what I refer to as "hidden turf" stallions. "Hidden turf" sires are horses who had successful careers on dirt and are not thought of as turf sires in the way horses such as Theatrical, Nureyev, Roberto, and Alleged are, although they were well-bred for turf.

Go for Gin, Holy Bull, Thunder Gulch, and Hennessy are examples of the hidden turf sire. This certainly does not preclude them from being successful sires of dirt runners. Go for Gin has sired Albert the Great; Holy Bull has sired 2-year-old champion Macho Uno; Thunder Gulch has sired Point Given; and Hennessy has sired Harmony Lodge. That these stallions sired quality runners on dirt is hardly surprising, given their own racing records. But knowing these stallions are capable of siring turf runners is a powerful handicapping tool.

One of the best examples of a hidden turf sire is Gone West. Of course, his prowess as a sire of turf runners is no longer a secret, especially after his son Da Hoss won the Breeders' Cup Mile twice. But that wasn't always the case. Gone West won the Dwyer, Gotham, and Withers stakes and was considered a brilliant miler on the dirt. Like many exquisitely bred sons of Mr. Prospector, he was expected to be a good sire, and has surpassed all expectations. Of all the sons of Mr. Prospector at stud, Gone West is among the elite, due to the uncommon speed he transmits to his runners, combined with their ability to race on all surfaces. Gone West sired three stakes winners from his first crop, including West by West, and his accomplished dirt runners include Grand Slam, Commendable, Mr. Greeley, Pembroke, Supremo, and Western Fame, and recent Hollywood Juvenile Championship stakes winner Came Home.

Gone West's second crop included the superior miler Zafonic, champion 2-year-old colt in England and France and a champion at 3 in France. His grass stars then kept coming year after year, and they included Royal Abjar, champion 3-year-old colt and older male in Germany; Lassigny, winner of the Rothman's International Stakes; Tamayaz, a group winner in England and Ireland; Elusive Quality, winner of the Jaipur and Poker handicaps; Dance Parade, a group winner in England; Zamindar, a group-winning full brother to Zafonic; and Promontory Gold, winner of the Hill Prince Stakes.

Hennessy raced only at 2 and had a brilliant if abbreviated career. He won the Sapling, Hopeful, and Hollywood Juvenile Championship stakes, and also finished second in the Hollywood Prevue Breeders' Cup Stakes and Breeders' Cup Juvenile, by a neck to Unbridled's Song. Because he was a son of Storm Cat who was a prominent 2-year-old and possessed high speed, he went to stud with great fanfare. His first foals brought stratospheric prices, and although they showed promise last year as juveniles on the dirt, Hennessy is a prime example of a hidden turfsire.

Hennessy not only has a potent turf tail-male sire line (Storm Cat-Storm Bird-Northern Dancer), his damsire is South African wonder horse Hawaii, who was a grass champion in the U.S. Hennessy never raced on grass, but there is little doubt he would have been as proficient on turf as he was on dirt, if not better. To bear that out, Hennessy's runners are now winning around the world on turf, but they are usually ignored by players who do not think of Hennessy as a turf sire.

Last weekend, Johannesburg, a 2-year-old colt from Hennessy's second crop, out of the Ogygian mare Myth, remained unbeaten in three starts on the turf when he captured the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh in Ireland. Johannesburg defeated Wiseman's Ferry, another son of Hennessy, by four lengths. Johannesburg is bred to be a star sprinter. His dam, Myth, is a half-sister to Tale of the Cat and current European sprint sensation Minardi.

Wiseman's Ferry was also bred for speed on the turf. His dam, the Silver Deputy mare Emmaus, is a half-sister to three stakes winners on the turf, Bernstein, Caress, and Country Cat.

New hidden turf sires

Betting young sires before they get known as good turf sires is one of the best handicapping angles bettors have, and can yield profitable results. Don't expect big prices on the turf from runners by freshman stallions such as Spinning World, Danjur, Siphon, Cozy Drive, Helmsman, Marlin, Mighty Forum, River Flyer, Run Softly, Sandpit, Vaudeville, and World Stage, because they were accomplished grass runners. In fact, Holdthehelm, a son of Helmsman, won a maiden race on the turf last Monday at Hollywood Park after three dirt starts.

But there are plenty of freshman stallions who are hidden turf sires and their offspring will offer great value on the turf. These new hidden turf sires include Abaginone, Appealing Skier, Boston Harbor, Canyon Creek, Captain Bodgit, Cat's Career, Chequer, Crown Ambassador, Dr. Caton, Editor's Note, Gold Tribute, Jules, Langfuhr, Louis Quatorze, Open Forum, Outflanker, Pulpit, Smoke Glacken, Tejano Run, Touch Gold, Valid Expectations, Victory Speech, Whiskey Wisdom, and Wild Syn.