11/08/2005 12:00AM

Stevie Wonderboy no mere juvenile flash


LAS VEGAS - With a catchy name and a flamboyant owner in Merv Griffin, Stevie Wonderboy is a public relations dream for the racing industry.

The winner of the , Stevie Wonderboy is worthy of a championship after defeating the best runners of his generation and following his romp in the Del Mar Futurity. Stevie Wonderboy also has a pedigree that suggests he is just getting started and should be even better as a 3-year-old at classic distances.

Stevie Wonderboy is from the second crop of Stephen Got Even, one of many young sons of A.P. Indy who is an emerging sire of sires. Siring an impressive 13 stakes winners from his first crop (foals of 1994), A.P. Indy is among the world's elite stallions. He is the most important son of the late Seattle Slew at stud and the best link to the great Bold Ruler sire line.

A.P. Indy's initial crop yielded Pulpit and Accelerator. Pulpit won the Blue Grass and Fountain of Youth Stakes and finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby despite incurring a career-ending injury in the race. He is fast becoming a major force at stud, siring such runners as Stroll, Sky Mesa, Tapit, Essence of Dubai, Purge, Lydgate, Melhor Ainda, and Wend. Accelerator won the Pilgrim Stakes at 2 and finished second to Captain Bodgit in the Wood Memorial Stakes, but injury prevented him from running in the Triple Crown. He was a fast-closing third the following year in the Metropolitan Handicap and was sent to Turkey, where he died in 2003.

Old Trieste, a gorgeous and flashy chestnut son from A.P. Indy's second crop, had uncommon speed and won the Swaps and Californian stakes, and the Del Mar Breeders' Cup and Affirmed handicaps. Old Trieste died of laminitis just as his first crop of juveniles started winning in 2003. With just a limited number of runners from three foal crops, Old Trieste sired Silver Train, who won this year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, and Minister Eric, who was second in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

A winner of one race from just two starts, the unheralded Malibu Moon got national attention when he sired 2-year-old champion Declan's Moon in his second crop. Other young sons of A.P. Indy at stud include 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, Congrats, Flatter, Golden Missile, Aptitude, Friends Lake, Jump Start, Crowd Pleaser, Mingun, and Gradepoint.

Stephen Got Even won the Donn Handicap and Galleryfurniture.com Stakes and was third in the Woodward Stakes. Stephen Got Even's third dam, Avum, was a half-sister to 1980 2-year-old champion Lord Avie, as well as stakes winner Jolly Johu, who was second in the 1974 Belmont Stakes.

A product of the Rasmussen Factor

Stevie Wonderboy is yet another example of the power of inbreeding to an influential female. He has the Rasmussen Factor (RF) - inbreeding to a superior female within five generations through different individuals - as he is inbred 3x3 to Weekend Surprise, through her two sons A.P. Indy and Summer Squall. Weekend Surprise is also an RF, as she is inbred 2x4 to another great broodmare, Somethingroyal, through her two most important sons, Secretariat and Sir Gaylord. According to Rommy Faversham, who along with the late Leon Rasmussen wrote "Inbreeding to Superior Females," the RF is found only in approximately 3 to 6 percent of the Thoroughbred population but has accounted for an inordinately high percentage of stakes winners.

The Rasmussen Factor, and inbreeding to females in general, has become de rigueur in Europe, Australia, and Japan, but is still not widely used in this country. Three of the greatest stallions in the world - Danehill, Sadler's Wells, and Sunday Silence - owe their success to the RF.

The late Danehill was inbred 3x3 to Natalma, through her son Northern Dancer (by Nearctic) and daughter Spring Adieu (Buckpasser). Danehill was Australia's greatest stallion, and his influence spread to Europe and the U.S.

Sadler's Wells, still going strong at 24, has become as legendary and prepotent in Europe as his own sire, Northern Dancer. Sadler's Wells has sired stakes winners from a variety of female families, but a big part of his success as a stallion came when he was mated to mares with Never Bend in their pedigree. Sadler's Wells's damsire is Bold Reason (Hail to Reason-Lalun), and Never Bend was by Nasrullah out of Lalun. Inbreeding to Lalun resulted in an extraordinarily high strike rate of stakes winners, and breeding Sadler's Wells to sons and grandsons of Never Bend - such as Mill Reef, Riverman, Irish River, and Be My Guest, created the "Lalun factor."

Sunday Silence was inbred 5x6 to Selene, and many of Sunday Silence's stakes winners were RF's, because he was bred to mares by Japan's former leading stallion, Northern Taste, who was an RF. Northern Taste was inbred 3x2 to Lady Angela, through her son Nearctic and daughter Lady Victoria. A winner of five stakes, including the Group 1 Prix de la Foret, Northern Taste was even more influential as a stallion.

Crossing Sunday Silence with mares by Northern Taste and other Northern Dancer-line stallions - such as Nijinsky II, Viceregal, and Lyphard - created inbreeding to Almahmoud. Faversham and Rasmussen noted that eight of the first 20 group winners sired by Sunday Silence were from daughters by sons of Northern Dancer, which created 4x5 inbreeding to Almahmoud. Those eight were Dance in the Dark, Dance Partner, Marvelous Sunday, Bubble Gum Fellow, Rosen Kavalier, Summer Suspicion, Agnes Kamikaze, and Prime Stage.

In addition to the high class created by the doubling of the influential mare Weekend Surprise, Stevie Wonderboy has many stamina influences in his pedigree, including A.P. Indy, Secretariat, Summer Squall, and Roberto, and it appears the best is yet to come.