01/16/2017 9:03AM

Sparkman: Tommy Macho a modern breeding rarity

Barbara D. Livingston
Tommy Macho wins the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream on Saturday.

Inevitably, the explosion in stallion book size that began in the early 1990s led to a severe reduction in the number of stallions at stud compared to the number of mares. The dramatic reduction in the overall size of the breeding population dictated by the global economic meltdown of 2008 reduced the available choices in bloodlines even more drastically.

Those changes, along with the worldwide dominance of the Northern Dancer male line, have led to an increase in close inbreeding in the Thoroughbred population. That increased level of inbreeding, though, is almost always, de facto, to a highly successful sire, and it remains very unusual to see a high-class runner closely inbred to a female. Saturday’s Grade 3 Hal’s Hope Stakes winner Tommy Macho is one such runner.

Tommy Macho is by 2000 champion 2-year-old male and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Macho Uno out of Starstream, by 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again. Since Macho Uno and Awesome Again happen to be half-brothers, that means Tommy Macho is inbred 2x3 to their dam, Primal Force, by Blushing Groom.

This unusual pedigree was created by financier and Kentucky breeder John Liviakis, who sold Tommy Macho for $25,000 to Juan Naciff at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale. The Hall’s Hope was Tommy Macho’s fifth victory in 12 starts for Paul Pompa and P and J Stable, who purchased controlling interest in the colt after a promising third in his first start, which came for All American Stable.

Liviakis had claimed Tommy Macho’s dam, Starstream, for only $4,000 at Golden Gate Fields from the last of her seven wins in 20 starts for Ernest Woody’s Mercedes Stable. Starstream’s dam, Dominique’s Slew, by Seattle Slew, was one of a number of horses Woody acquired from Madeleine Paulson (now Madeleine Pickens), whose late husband, Allen Paulson, had purchased Tommy Macho’s fourth dam, Zalataia, by Dictus, after she defeated three-time Horse of the Year John Henry in the Grade 1 1983 Oak Tree Invitational.

Zalataia finished second to John Henry in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup a month later in her first start in Paulson’s colors, but did not win again. Those two top-class performances came after a high-class career in France where Zalataia captured two editions of the Group 2 Prix de Pomone and defeated colts in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville.

Zalataia rewarded the Paulsons with Madeleine Paulson’s Fraise, by Strawberry Road, who won the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Turf. Fraise’s half-sister Winnetka, by Theatrical, won the Hialeah Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Stakes, and she is the dam of Dominique’s Slew, as well as of Miss Madeleine, by Woodman, who is dam of stakes winner Southern Exchange, by Exchange Rate. Winnetka’s half-sisters Izara, by Blushing John, and Julie’s Angel, by Theatrical, are dams of Grade 3 winners Medaglia d’Amour, by Medaglia d’Oro, and Zappa, by Afternoon Delites, respectively.

Tommy Macho, who won the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap in 2015 and the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Stakes last year, is the third foal out of Starstream, who has an unnamed 2-year-old colt by Super Saver and was bred back to Macho Uno last year.

Tommy Macho is one of 39 stakes winners from 778 foals age 3 and up by Macho Uno, a list headed by 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man (out of Ponche de Leona, by Ponche), multiple Grade 1 winner Private Zone (Auburn Beauty, by Siphon), Brazilian champion Whoopee Maker (Palpitante, by Belo Colony), and Grade 1 winner Macho Again (Go Donna Go, by Wild Again).

Tommy Macho is the only stakes winner inbred to Primal Force, who was voted Broodmare of the Year in 2000. Primal Force, bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Bert Firestone, is by Blushing Groom out of stakes winner Prime Prospect, by Mr. Prospector. Primal Force was a talented filly who won 4 of 8 starts, including an eight-length victory over Grade 3 winner Voodoo Lily in 1:09.80 for six furlongs, but never ran in a stakes race. Purchased for $95,000 by Frank Stronach, she produced 12 foals for Adena Springs, but only Awesome Again and Macho Uno won stakes.

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Primal Force is one of only three mares who have produced two Breeders’ Cup winners. Unlike Hasili (dam of Banks Hill and Intercontinental) and Sweet Life (dam of Sweet Catomine and Life Is Sweet), however, both of her winners were colts, and her daughters have yet to make an impact as broodmares.

Tommy Macho might not be the last stakes winner inbred to Primal Force, although no others are likely to be so closely inbred.

Neither Awesome Again or Macho Uno are really dominant sires, but they are good enough that eventually their paths may cross in pedigrees again.