03/15/2007 12:00AM

Pocahontas's impact lives on

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LAS VEGAS - Pocahontas, a foal of 1955, won the Schuylerville Stakes at 2, and was the dam of 1965 3-year-old champion Tom Rolfe and the multiple stakes winner Chieftain. Producing such high-quality runners, Pocahontas was voted 1965 Broodmare of the Year.

Why talk about a broodmare whose offspring raced more than 40 years ago?

Cowtown Cat, who won last Saturday's Gotham Stakes, thrusting himself squarely into the Triple Crown picture, is inbred 5x5 to Pocahontas through her sons Tom Rolfe and Chieftain.

Cowtown Cat is the latest high-quality performer from the 2004 foal crop to have the Rasmussen Factor, a female family inbreeding pattern that is shared by several of this year's top 3-year-olds, including Nobiz Like Shobiz, Street Sense, Summer Doldrums, Teuflesberg, Flying First Class, Notional, and Cobalt Blue.

Tom Rolfe was from one of the first American crops of the great Ribot, the two-time Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner who was undefeated in 16 lifetime starts. Bred by Raymond Guest, the ambassador to Ireland, Tom Rolfe was one of two Ribot colts who shined in the 1965 Triple Crown. The diminutive Tom Rolfe went on to win the Preakness Stakes and finish second in the Belmont Stakes. After four consecutive victories in the Citation Handicap, Chicagoan Stakes, Arlington Classic, and American Derby, he finished a courageous sixth behind Sea-Bird II in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. That effort was better than it looked as it was not only his first start on grass, but he had developed a pus pocket in one hoof right before he departed to France and wore new shoes for the surface.

The other good son of Ribot that year was the unlucky Dapper Dan, an Ogden Phipps homebred who never won a stakes, although he just missed in two of America's most important 3-year-old races. His furious late run came up a neck shy of Lucky Debonair in the Kentucky Derby, and his late rally also fell short in the Preakness, when he again finished second by a neck, this time to Tom Rolfe, resulting in a one-two finish by sons of Ribot. In the Belmont Stakes, it was Tom Rolfe who missed by a neck to Hail to All, with Dapper Dan finishing less than two lengths behind in fourth. He was injured in that race.

Tom Rolfe was a good sire, and his most important foal was Hoist the Flag, the 1970 2-year-old champion who was the heavy favorite to win the 1971 Kentucky Derby. Hoist the Flag easily won the Champagne Stakes but was disqualified in a highly controversial decision. After a sensational victory in the Bay Shore Stakes, he broke down in a morning workout, retiring a winner of 5 of 6 starts and fueling speculation of what might have been.

His potential on the track was fulfilled as a stallion. He sired two-time Arc winner Alleged. Hoist the Flag became one of racing's great broodmare sires as his daughters produced such outstanding runners as Personal Ensign (dam of My Flag, Miner's Mark, Traditionally, and Our Emblem), Broad Brush, Bonita Francita (dam of Jules and Orpen), Coup de Folie (dam of Machiavellian, Coup de Genie, Exit to Nowhere, and Hydro Calido), Personal Flag, Sacahuista, Well Decorated, Sardula, Imperial Gesture, Cryptoclearance, Willamae (the dam of Will's Way, Willa on the Move, Lady Reiko, and Citidancer), Dixie Flag, Prospectors Delite, Top Account, Deputation, and Shaadi.

While Tom Rolfe inherited all the stamina he would ever need from Ribot, his half-brother Chieftain was exactly the opposite, inheriting quality speed from Bold Ruler, the leading stallion of that era. As expected by a son of Bold Ruler in the 1960's, Chieftain was a good juvenile, winning the Cowdin, Tremont, and Tyro stakes, and placing in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, Hyde Park, Youthful, and Great American stakes. At 3, he won the Governor's Gold Cup, and he had his best season at age 4, winning the Arlington Handicap, Laurel Turf Cup, and Capitol Handicap. He also was second by a neck to Gun Bow in a spectacular running of the Metropolitan Handicap, and also placed in seven other stakes that year.

Chieftain was no slouch as a stallion, either, siring champion Cascapedia, handicap triple crown winner Fit to Fight, Delaware Chief, Choose a Partner, Gentle Touch (dam of Dr. Carter), Goddess Roman (dam of Roman Diplomat), Imsodear (dam of champion Dearly Precious), Indian Maiden (dam of Ruhlmann), Linda's Chief, Lucky Lucky Lucky, Minnetonka (dam of Barrera, Ecliptical, Katonka, and Roundup Rose - the dam of Codex), Silver Series, Strait Lane (dam of Hawkster), and Waltz Fan.

Cowtown Cat defeated Wafi City, with even-money favorite Summer Doldrums finishing third. Cowtown Cat is now 2 for 2 against Summer Doldrums, whom he defeated in a 5o1/2-furlong maiden race last year at 2.

Wafi City ran well in just his fourth start. From the initial crop of the speedy E Dubai, Wafi City is from a female family of the highest class. His dam is a half-sister to stakes winner Bound by Honor, and his second dam is a three-quarter sister to champion Soaring Softly and multiple stakes winner Plenty of Grace. His third dam is a half-sister to Battle Creek Girl, dam of six stakes winners. Devil's Bag, Saint Ballado, Glorious Song, Rahy, and Singspiel all come from this female line.

Just as with Nobiz Like Shobiz, who finished third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, it would be foolish to dismiss Summer Doldrums because of his third-place finish in the Gotham. While Cowtown Cat was clearly best in the Gotham, Summer Doldrums was three wide over Aqueduct's inner oval and finished well.

Cowtown Cat's pedigree is slanted more toward speed than stamina, but his sire, Distorted Humor, has already proven with Funny Cide that he is capable of siring winners at 1 1/4 miles.

But it is Cowtown Cat's inbreeding to Pocahontas that is the key to his racing class.