08/04/2004 12:00AM

Hidden turf sires well worth seeking out


LAS VEGAS - Last week, I finished writing "Pedigree Handicapping," a book published by DRF Press that is due out this fall, and I used dozens of examples showing how using pedigree handicapping resulted in major betting coups. In fact, there have been several examples over the last three weeks showing the importance of using pedigrees in handicapping.

One was Extent, a 2-year-old filly by Pulpit from a female family of extraordinary class (which produced Sadler's Wells and Nureyev), who won at first asking in a Belmont Park maiden special at 17-1. Following on Extent's heels was Balletto, another 2-year-old filly with an even more imposing pedigree who won her career debut at Belmont, also at 17-1. Balletto returned on Monday in an allowance at Saratoga and defeated 3-5 favorite Paragon Queen, paying $8.

But there is much more to pedigree handicapping than just maiden races. As most horseplayers know, pedigree plays an important role when horses are asked to do something they have never done before, such as trying a different distance, or changing surfaces.

And then there is the "hidden turf factor," a subject I devote an entire chapter to in "Pedigree Handicapping." Of all the aspects of pedigree handicapping, the hidden turf factor has proven the most lucrative.

The hidden turf factor occurs when a horse is by a stallion who achieved success on dirt and is not generally considered to be a grass influence, but was very well bred for grass. Hennessy, Holy Bull, Grand Slam, and Unbridled's Song are just a few examples of hidden turf sires.

Of course, this does not preclude offspring by these stallions from winning on dirt. Obviously, since these sires achieved their success on dirt, they are more than capable of getting winners on dirt. But because these stallions are not associated with grass, their runners are often ignored in the betting when they run on turf.

Unbridled's Song was from the first crop of Unbridled, and showed brilliance from the start. A winner of two of his three starts at 2, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he may have been the most gifted runner from an exceptional foal crop that included Grindstone, Louis Quatorze, Skip Away, Editor's Note, Honour and Glory, Hennessy, and Will's Way. But, chronic foot problems curtailed his career.

Like his sire, Unbridled's Song got off to a great start at stud, and his first crop included eight stakes winners: Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine, Songandaprayer, Griffinite, Extend, Even the Score, Unbridled Time, Arianna's Passion, and Australian group winner Grey Song.

The majority of Unbridled's Song's offspring inherited his high speed, and subsequent foal crops yielded stakes winners Buddha, Marylebone, Domestic Dispute, and Eurosilver, causing his stud fee to skyrocket into the lofty $125,000 range.

While most of his runners appear on dirt in this country and have been very successful, I always believed Unbridled's Song would be a sneaky good sire of turf horses if given the opportunity, because of the presence of Caro as Unbridled's Song's damsire. More important, because Unbridled's Song was known for his achievements on dirt, his runners were going to be tremendous overlays on grass.

I mentioned this in my presentation on the freshman sires for the 2000 Handicappers Expo, and on the same day two horses by Unbridled's Song won on turf.

Last Monday, Unbridled Echo and Seducer's Song, two 3-year-old fillies by Unbridled's Song, won on the grass. Unbridled Echo won a maiden special on the grass at Ellis Park, paying $65, while Seducer's Song won the Grade 3 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga, returning $15.40.

Unbridled Echo was badly beaten in two dirt starts and was trying grass for the first time. The race appeared wide open, and Unbridled Echo offered great value.

Unbridled Echo comes from a female family of immense class. Her fourth dam was Canadian Horse of the Year and U.S. 3-year-old champion filly Fanfreluche, who became Canada's 1978 Broodmare of the Year. Fanfreluche's descendants include La Voyageuse, L'Enjoleur, Medaille d'Or, D'Accord, Grand Luxe, Fit to Lead, Aube Indienne, Conserve, Time Bandit, and Smackover Creek.

Unbridled Echo has more grass in her pedigree than meets the eye. In addition to her hidden turf sire, her dam's family included grass influences Forli, Sir Ivor, and Northern Dancer.

Meanwhile at Saratoga, Seducer's Song scored a mild upset to win the Lake George Stakes over 3-1 favorite Venturi, a Danehill filly making her U.S. debut for Bobby Frankel.

Seducer's Song is out of a mare by another strong hidden turf sire, Housebuster (by the grass sire line of Mt. Livermore-Blushing Groom). Renowned grass influence T.V. Lark is also found in her female family. Add in the high class of her female family (her dam is a half-sister to Silvery Swan, the dam of El Corredor), and it is no surprise that she would have an affinity for turf.