06/11/2002 11:00PM

Grass influence lies just below the surface


LAS VEGAS - Several illustrations of why the hidden turf factor is a powerful pedigree tool occurred this weekend at Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.

At Belmont, Multiple Wins, a 3-year-old daughter of Sea Salute, finally got a chance to race on turf, the surface she was bred for, after 10 starts on dirt. With two victories, five seconds, and a third, Multiple Wins had a decent record on dirt, but her pedigree suggested she should be given the opportunity to try grass.

Multiple Wins was first out of the gate and Jose Santos took a snug hold of her into the backstretch, where she rated kindly behind the leaders. Saving ground along the rail into the stretch, Santos tipped her outside to make her run and she responded with determination to win by two lengths, paying $6.60.

Surface and distance preference come from the male parts of a pedigree (sire and damsire) and Multiple Wins gets an abundance of turf breeding from both sides of her pedigree. Her sire, Sea Salute, was a modest racehorse, racing only at age 4, winning once in five starts, but he possessed an all-star pedigree that assured his career as a stallion. Sea Salute is by Danzig, whose sons have become prolific sires of turf runners, and is out of the stakes-winning Seattle Slew mare Glowing Honor. Glowing Honor won the Diana Handicap on the turf twice, and is a half-sister to six other stakes winners, including Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero.

Multiple Wins inherits more turf ability from her damsire, Cormorant, a son of His Majesty (Ribot). While Cormorant achieved his success on dirt, he would have loved turf given the chance. In fact, Cormorant's most successful son, Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin, is a superior sire of turf runners.

The combination of strong turf aptitude and the significant class from her female family always suggested Multiple Wins would develop into a better animal on grass. Her stakes-winning dam, Princess Sybil, is a half-sister to stakes winner Alannan, and her second dam is a half-sister to Desert Wine and Menifee. Her third dam is the 1999 Broodmare of the Year, Anne Campbell. Undefeated Fasliyev, Europe's 1999 champion 2-year-old, also comes from this high-quality family.

Springing to life

Sometimes a trainer tries grass as a last option because a horse has been mediocre on dirt. Despite a pedigree with sufficient turf influences, As Told, a daughter of A.P. Indy out of the Smile mare Gana, had never raced on grass in eight lifetime starts.

Bill Mott finally put 3-year-old As Told on turf in a 1 1/16-mile allowance against a salty group of fillies and mares, and she was ignored in the betting at nearly 16-1 because of her undistinguished record. But the surface switch produced a dramatic turnaround, and As Told woke up, defeating 1-2 favorite Boana by 1 1/2 lengths. As Told returned $33.60.

So, where does the turf come from in As Told's pedigree? For starters, his sire, A.P. Indy, gets winners on all surfaces, and although his damsire, Smile, was 1986 champion sprinter, he comes from a sire line (In Reality-Intentionally) known for its turf prowess.

And what about As Told's female family? His dam, Gana, is a half-sister to Unbridled and Cahill Road, and his fourth dam, Magic, is a half-sister to 1968 Horse of the Year Dr. Fager and Ta Wee, champion sprinter in 1969 and 1970.

Five in a row for Orchard Park

Orchard Park won his fifth straight race last Saturday in the Jefferson Cup at 1 1/8 miles, and is the latest son of Hennessy to succeed on turf. Hennessy is a prime example of the hidden turf sire because although he achieved his success on the dirt at 2, he was ideally bred for grass and his young runners are lengths better on grass. Hennessy is by Storm Cat (Northern Dancer sire line) and is out of a mare by grass champion Hawaii. Orchard Park's female family produced two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner Lure.

Second in the Jefferson Cup was another up-and-coming turf star, Mr. Mellon, who was making his belated debut on turf after showing some promise on dirt. By Red Ransom, Mr. Mellon is out of the Summer Squall mare Mackie, another stakes winner out of 1993 Broodmare of the Year Glowing Tribute. Orchard Park's goal is the Secretariat Stakes, but at 1 1/4 miles, Mr. Mellon should turn the tables on his rival.

Fire the Groom's offspring win

Fire the Groom, a multiple stakes and group winner in North America, England, and France, had a good weekend. First, her 3-year-old son, Official Flame (Deputy Minister), won his U.S. debut in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance on the Belmont Stakes undercard, and on Sunday, her 2-year-old Gentlemen's Club, by first-crop sire Gentleman, won his career debut at five furlongs at Hollywood Park.

Gentlemen had high speed and class and won on dirt and turf, and his runners should also be versatile, while having a preference for turf. Gentlemen is by Robin des Bois (a full brother to champion Robins des Pins), who in turn, is by the influential turf stallion Nureyev.