06/12/2006 11:00PM

Rasmussen Factor's worth validated


LAS VEGAS - Now that the 2006 Triple Crown is over, it is time to take a look at some highly regarded 3-year-olds who were prevented from competing in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes due to injury, but who will hopefully return for the second half of this season.

Heading the list is last year's 2-year-old champion, Stevie Wonderboy. He is joined by Corinthian, who finished first in the Fountain of Youth Stakes but was disqualified to third for his erratic run in the stretch, and Barbican, who won 2 of 3 starts before being sidelined last winter. Another is last year's Arlington-Washington Futurity winner, Sorcerer's Stone, also injured this past winter in Florida, who will hopefully have a chance to fulfill the star potential he showed at 2.

This year's outstanding crop of 3-year-olds - both those who just ran in the Triple Crown and those who are about to return to the races - are a good example of the influence that female family inbreeding (FFI) and the Rasmussen Factor (RF), in particular, can play.

The RF is inbreeding to a superior female within five generations through different individuals, and Stevie Wonderboy (Stephen Got Even), like Jazil and Sunriver (first and third in the Belmont Stakes), is the result of this specific kind of inbreeding pattern. The dam of Bluegrass Cat (second in the Belmont) also has the Rasmussen Factor.

Stevie Wonderboy is by Stephen Got Even (a son of A.P. Indy), and is out of a mare by Summer Squall. A.P. Indy, a Horse of the Year and winner of the Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic, and Preakness Stakes winner Summer Squall are half-brothers, out of the influential broodmare Weekend Surprise. Thus, Stevie Wonderboy is inbred 3x3 to Weekend Surprise, meaning that Weekend Surprise is found in the third generation of his pedigree on his sire's side and his dam's side.

Since the RF is found in approximately just 4 percent of the entire Thoroughbred population ("Inbreeding to Superior Females," by Rommy Faversham and Leon Rasmussen, published by The Australian Bloodhorse Review, 1999), the results of the Belmont Stakes are simply remarkable.

Why is inbreeding to superior females more important than inbreeding to males? The answer is that the class of the Thoroughbred irrefutably comes from the dam and her tail-female (mother, mother's mother, mother's grandmother, etc.) family. So, multiplying the most important class factor in the pedigree just makes sense, and more often than not results in a horse of higher quality.

Jazil is inbred 5x5 to the 1954 Broodmare of the Year Traffic Court through her two best offspring, Hasty Road and Traffic Judge. Hasty Road was the 1953 2-year-old champion and winner of the Preakness Stakes, and Traffic Judge was a stakes winner at 2, 3, and 4. Both became highly successful stallions.

According to Faversham, the incidence of inbreeding to Traffic Court through her two sons, Hasty Road and Traffic Judge, was relatively uncommon, but had good results.

Along with Jazil, notable stakes winners inbred to Traffic Court are Send Me an Angel (Traffic Court 4x5), winner of the 1986 Australian Oaks; Son of a Pistol (5x5), a multiple Grade 2 and Grade 3 stakes winner; Knockadoon (5x5), winner of the Grade 3 Ben Ali and Risen Star stakes; El Angelo (5x5), winner of the Grade 2 American Handicap and the Grade 3 Inglewood and Bay Meadows handicaps; and Sangria (5x4), winner of the Group 3 Prix de Psyche and Grade 3 Violet Handicap. El Angelo and Sangria are double RF's, as they are also inbred to Almamhoud, who has had a profound impact on the breed through two of her daughters, Natalma (dam of Northern Dancer) and Cosmah (dam of Halo).

Sunriver, a full brother to multiple champion Ashado, is another rare double RF, inbred to Cosmah 3x4 (through her sons Halo and Maribeau) and Almahmoud (through her daughters Cosmah and Natalma).

While Barbican is not an RF, because his female family inbreeding is not within five generations, it is significant that the highly successful cross of A.P. Indy and Mr. Prospector is due in large part to the fact that both Seattle Slew (sire of A.P. Indy) and Mr. Prospector descend from the same legendary broodmare, Myrtlewood.

Travers shaping up as a showdown

Corinthian, who is back from a minor injury that sidelined him after the Fountain of Youth, may make his return at the current Belmont Park meeting in the Dwyer Stakes, which will also feature the return of Discreet Cat. A big effort could set up either one for a showdown with the heavyweights in the 3-year-old division in the Travers Stakes, which is shaping up as one of the year's big events, with Preakness winner Bernardini and Belmont winner Jazil, as well as Bluegrass Cat, Sunriver, Steppenwolfer, and possibly Brother Derek.

Corinthian is by Pulpit, and comes from one of the classiest female families in the Stud Book. In addition to being a half-brother to the talented Desert Hero (an RF, inbred to Busanda 4x5), his stakes-winning third dam, Number, is a three-quarter sister to champion racehorse and sire Nureyev, and a half-sister to Fairy Bridge, the dam of Sadler's Wells. Number is also a half-sister to Kilavea, the second dam of millionaire Bienamado.

Sorcerer's Stone was working toward his 3-year-old debut in Florida but suffered a bone chip and is out indefinitely. By Gulch, he is another colt from a very accomplished female family. A half-brother to multiple stakes-placed Holiday Thunder, his dam is a full sister to Grade 1 winner Dramatic Gold. Sorcerer's Stone's fourth dam is 1966 3-year-old filly champion Lady Pitt, whose career as a broodmare mirrored her success on the track.

Lady Pitt produced Blitey, who became a foundation mare for the Phipps family. Blitey's foals include stakes winners Dancing Spree, Dancing All Night, Fantastic Find, and the unraced Oh What a Dance, the dam of Heavenly Prize. Blitey is a half-sister to Bank of England, the third dam of Sorcerer's Stone.