The death of the champion thoroughbred Secretariat in October 1989 and his subsequent autopsy findings revealing an enormous 22lbs heart size was the inspiration behind writer Marianna Haun and her 1997 work the X-Factor Theory claiming that the large heart gene is located on the X-chromosome hence meaning that a colt foal can only inherit an over-sized heart from his dam and as a stallion this can only be passed on through his daughters.
Such a brave theory is only that and in more recent times with modern day mapping of the equine genome there is no scientific confirmation that heart size is passed on via the X chromosome.
But what we do know from in the thoroughbred world is that certain female lines can throw horses that carry larger hearts than normal and this size can vary dependent on the taproot source.
Marianna Haun in her famous workings of the late 1990's contended that 28%of the thoroughbred population carried the large heart gene in some shape or form.
Large hearts of up to three times normal size ( estimated at 6 lbs back then ) were initially attributed to the male forebear Eclipse ( 1764 ) who possessed a 14 lbs heart ( the same size as that of Phar Lap's ).
A decade or so later along came Diomed ( 1777 ), the best racehorse in Great Britain since Eclipse, whose daughters it was claimed could pass on 18 lbs hearts.
A widely speculated belief was that the mare Pocahontas ( 1837 ) was the source of all present day large hearts, something widely dispelled by large heart authority Harold Matthews who claimed that Pocahontas possessed a 15 lbs heart and because of this she was only capable of passing on a 15 lbs heart, in other words the heart size does not go up or down but rather remains constant from generation to generation.
Matthew's identified four what he termed " base root " large heart mares originating from in the mid-1600's.
These included Darcy's Royal Mare ( 1690's ), the source of an 18 lbs heart, Royal Mare ( circa 1665 ) and Montagu Mare ( circa 1650 ), both the source of 16 lbs hearts, and the Vinter Mare who writer James Hardiman in his work "Confused Pedigrees and Mistaken Identities" believes was the same mare as the Montagu Mare by another name.
It has been claimed that early large heart progenitors were in existence before the thoroughbred was established, many of unclaimed parentage originating at Darcy's Stud, being left over "Hobby-Running" horses of King Charles reign ( aka Royal Mares ) of which there was an estimated population of just over 100 mares.
These mares did not carry any Barb, Arabian or Turk appendages of the "Oriental" breeds, the first of these entering the thoroughbred breeding genepool being the Old Moroccan Barb ( aka Fairfax Moroccan Barb ) in 1637 as seen in the pedigree of the Spanker Mare.
So can we relate any of this development of the large heart gene inheritance in the thoroughbred across to the standardbred, a breed which is far younger in establishment but which derived much of it's origins from the thoroughbred breed in association with other breeds of defined gait such as the Clay and Morgan breed?
In an attempt to answer this question we would like to focus back on the thoroughbred stallion Diomed.
Eclipse has long been considered as a prime mover in the development of the large heart gene in modern day thoroughbred pedigrees through his daughters but it is perhaps his near contemporary Diomed that has had a far more profound effect on the modern day standardbred.
Diomed was intensely linebred to the Spanker Mare ( no fewer than 9 close-up presences including this mare being his own 7th dam ) but more importantly he carries the large heart gene of Darcy's Royal Mare ( a source of 18 lbs hearts ) being out of a mare named Sister To Juno, by Spectator, out of Partner Mare, out of Bonny Lass, by Bay Bolton, out of Makeless Mare, out of Brimmer Mare, by Brimmer, out of Darcy's Royal Mare.
Whilst other large heart sources are attributable in the standardbred world as coming through the little known origins of the stallion Pilot Jnr ( and passed on through his daughters ) other acclaimed female sources are the likes of Midnight ( 1865 ) a daughter of Pilot Jnr with two lines of Diomed and a line of Glencoe ( another thoroughbred large heart source ), Esther ( 1860's ) from the Diomed sireline and possessing five lines of Diomed along with her dam being bred on a 3x3 reverse-sex cross to Glencoe, and Miss Russell, the last-mentioned being a daughter of Pilot Jnr out of Sally Russell, the latter also from the Diomed sireline.
In contemporary standardbred breeding circles any mention of the large heart gene and first thoughts move towards Tar Heel or more specifically towards the daughters of Tar Heel.
This is little surprising as Tar Heel's tenth dam is the thoroughbred Robert Wickliffe Mare, a daughter of Diomed.
This means that Robert Wickliffe Mare was a carrier of Diomed's large heart gene directly attributable to Darcy's Royal Mare ( a source of 18 lbs hearts ).
Of particular interest here is that Robert Wickliffe Mare is also the granddam of Family 558 matriarch Jessie Pepper which sees the maternal line through Princess Royal, Roya McKinney, Rose Scott, Rosette and Leta Long all equipped with the large heart gene.
From yesteryear we have the stallions Kentucky and No Nukes as well as present day stallions such as Rock N Roll Heaven descending from the Jessie Pepper family.
Daughters of these male influences are potential large heart gene carriers.
But for now, let us return to Tar Heel and more specifically his own pedigree composition.
Tar Heel is by Billy Direct out of Leta Long, by Volomite out of Rosette.
Whilst his sire Billy Direct does carry the presence of Midnight deep in his maternal bloodlines it is through his dam Leta Long that Tar Heel's large heart gene is derived.
But from which side of her pedigree is the key question?
Leta Long's sire Volomite is out of the mare Cita Frisco who is by San Francisco out of Mendocita.
Mendocita is a daughter of Esther ( see comments earlier as above ).
San Francisco's dam is Oniska who is linebred 4x5 to Miss Russell ( also see earlier comments above ), a daughter of Pilot Jnr.
Miss Russell is herself heavily inbred to strains of Diomed inheriting one strain through the dam of her sire Pilot Jnr with her own dam Sally Russell being more intensely bred to Diomed than any other female Stud Book product.
Plenty of genetic connections to large heart influences here but it is through Leta Long's dam Rosette that the large heart gene has been passed to Tar Heel according to "the experts" on this subject.
It is not our intention to be contentious here but rather just informative.
Rosette is claimed to have derived the large heart gene from her sire Mr McElwyn ( even though her damline traces directly back to Diomed ) who in turn derived his from his dam Widow Maggie who got hers from Peter The Great who got his from the brilliantly fast mare Santos.
Santos got her gene in turn from her sire Grand Sentinel who got his from dam Maid Of Lexington who got hers from Mambrino Pilot who inherited his from Juliet, another daughter of Pilot Jnr.
And from Tar Heel down the line the large heart gene passes with Bret Hanover inheriting the large heart gene from his dam Brenda Hanover, a daughter of Tar Heel, meaning Bret Hanover had the ability to pass on the gene through his daughters as well.
Before we leave our segment on Tar Heel we would like to share a couple of interesting facts on this stallion.
Tar Heel derived his name from the state of North Carolina where the practice of stripping pine trees to produce turpentine earned these workers the nickname of "Tar Heelers".
Tar Heel, a Little Brown Jug winner himself, was known as the "King Of Queens" in the breeding barn because the genes he passed onto his daughters were considered "very special".
Even today, we still laud the deeds of a Tar Heel daughter such as Romola Hanover when we peruse the pedigrees of current top stallions such as Art Major and Captaintreacherous.
Back in the 60's, 70's and early 80's it was claimed that Tar Heel's daughters propped up most stallions and both launched and saved many as they invariably produced a stallion's best runner.
Tar Heel ( 1948-82 ) lived to the tender age of 34 years at a time when the average lifespan of standardbred horses was 24 to 27 years. A son of Tar Heel in Waco Hanover recently became the longest lived standardbred on record reaching 41 years and 281 days.
One can only ponder at the thought that some of these achievements were heart related.
The interest in large inherent hearts and heart scores will always remain when one can find or develop a superior "V8 versus a 4-Cylinder" product.
A larger heart can pump more oxygen giving the horse optimum speed, greater endurance and capacity for exercise.
Australian researcher Dr James Steel created the Heart Score as a genetic marker for X-Factor through the use of an Electrocardiogram ( ECG ) to measure heart size, a scale that correlates heart weight, stroke volume, cardiac output and aerobic power.
Heart scores of average horses were typically in the range of 104-116 but Steel determined a break point of 117 for female and 120 for male horses to pinpoint potential larger heart animals.
As a point of interest here Secretariat was asserted to possess a heart score of 180.
Another study of standardbred ( trotters ) by Nielsen and Vibe-Petersen of the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University of Copenhagen found that 41 stallions with a heart score of 115 or greater amassed double the earnings of 81 stallions with heart scores below 115.
In conclusion, on this non-exact science of the large heart gene, we do hope though that your funds investment scheme does include a few shares in a medical instruments manufacturer as the demand for stethoscopes begins to reach insatiable heights in the quest for that larger hearted horse with the competitive edge.
The Couriers of Extasy
Astute standardbred breeders ( of both pacers and trotters ) will be well aware of the many good horses produced that carry a double ( via two individual ancestors ) of the revered female bluehen Extasy ( 1896 ).
We can quote as examples the likes of Beach Towel $2,570,357 ( the best offspring of French Chef ), Western Hanover $2,541,647 ( the best offspring of No Nukes ), Cam Fella $2,041,367 ( the best offspring of Most Happy Fella ) and Jenna's Beach Boy $1,972,172 ( the best offspring of Beach Towel ) as all carrying doubles of Extasy.
La Coocaracha, General Jujon, Safe And Sound and Rowleyalla were all top Australian racehorses that carried a double of Extasy.
And so too did one of Australia's best sires of all time in the Cam Fella horse Fake Left.
An additional line of Extasy through a different individual to those already present in Fake Left produced some of this stallion's finest racetrack products the likes of Drop Dead Gorgeous, General Jujon, Bronski Warrior, Aquagold, Cherry Cheer and Five Star Comfort.
It also produced his best runner, the incredible Blacks A Fake.
And it is Blacks A Fake who we will briefly use as an example of illustration here.
His sire Fake Left carries Extasy through two individuals; Good Time ( as present in grandsire Most Happy Fella ) who holds Extasy as his 5th dam via her daughter Pleasant Thoughts, and Dale Frost whose damsire Raider carries as his own granddamsire Prince McKinney, a son of Extasy.
So we have Extasy coming through son Prince McKinney and daughter Pleasant Thoughts in Fake Left.
To add the third individual line we need to analyse the pedigree of Blacks A Fake's dam Colada Hanover ( a daughter of Vanston Hanover ) noting with special interest in Vanston Hanover's direct maternal ( or "bottom line" ) that his 4th dam Vesta's Pride is a daughter of Spencer.
Spencer's dam is Petrex, a daughter of Extasy, meaning Blacks A Fake carries in his pedigree three individual lines of Extasy desirably sex-balanced for maximum influence through Extasy's son Prince McKinney and daughters Pleasant Thoughts and Petrex.
The interesting thing to note here specifically with reference to Blacks A Fake's pedigree is that these lines of Extasy come through both pacing and trotting forebears yet they appear to fuse with relative comfort.
To further understand this we are best guided by both the origins of Extasy as well as her own racetrack and breeding exploits.
Extasy's pedigree and family origins are the oldest of any Standardbred tracing back through foundation mare Kathleen ( Family 123 ) who was by Pilot Jnr, the only trotting sire that Kathleen's dam Little Miss ( a full-blooded thoroughbred mare by Sovereign ) was put to.
Little Miss traces back to an English thoroughbred mare ( Cub Mare ) foaled around 1700.
Little Miss's own pedigree was heavily immersed with crosses of the Spanker Mare and her dam Old Peg with the latter tracing closely to great English thoroughbred sires such as Flying Childers, Bartlett's Childers, Jigg, Fox and Basto, many of whom were heavily inbred. Retain a mental note of this for later in this article.
It was Kathleen's mating with Harold that produced Ethelwyn in 1882.
Pilot Jnr, sire of Kathleen, earned a reputation as one of the greatest broodmare sires of all time, his daughters striking accord with a wide range of sires.
Sires of more recent times benefitting from multiple infusions of Pilot Jnr include the likes of Adios, Albatross, Artsplace, Western Hanover, Speedy Crown, Super Bowl and Valley Victory.
Ethelwyn was bred on a template, Harold over a Pilot Jnr mare ( Kathleen ), the same cross that produced the elite racemare of that time Maud S.
Harold was inbred 2x2 paternally to Abdallah I, with his sire Hambletonian 10 and dam Enchantress both being out of maresby Bellfounder.
Ethelwyn's mating with Dictator was to produce Grendel, an unraced mare who went on to become the 5th dam of the trotting stallion Bill Gallon, best known as the sire of Galophone ( winner of 51 of his 112 starts ).
Another daughter of Ethelwyn's in Impetuous equalled the World Record for a 2YO trotter and went on to become the ancestress of Southwind Tempo ( $2.4 million, 1:48.2, a multiple Group winning pacing mare ).
But it was Ethelwyn's mating to Baron Wilkes that was to produce Extasy in 1896.
Extasy was 3x3 paternally linebred to Hambletonian 10.
Her sire Baron Wilkes was by George Wilkes, a son of Hambletonian 10 and flagbearer for a sireline branch of Hambletonian 10 for many decades but near extinction today.
Baron Wilkes dam Belle Patchen was by Mambrino Patchen, a great broodmare sire who carried multiple strains of a significant English thoroughbred influence, Diomed.
Diomed had 4 crosses of Flying Childers, 1 of Bartlett's Childers, 2 of Jiggs, 1 of Fox and 2 of Basto.
Any of this sound familiar? Just take a look back at our previous comments on Little Miss to spot the remarkable resemblance.
Could the blood of Mambrino Patchen ( standardbred ) and that of Little Miss ( thoroughbred ) have fused in the one pedigree i.e.that of Extasy to produce a legacy mare?
Diomed was the first winner of the Epsom Derby in 1780 and has long been referenced as a possible large heart source.
Just to digress here for a moment. Tar Heel ( through his daughters ) has always been recognised in standardbred breeding circles as a large heart progenitor and it may be no coincidence that Tar Heel's 10th dam Robert Wickliffe Mare is also a daughter of Diomed.
Diomed is intensely inbred to the Spanker Mare with no fewer than nine lines, one of which features in his direct maternal bloodlines where we see the Spanker Mare featuring as his 7th dam.
Trotting breeding enthusiasts in particular may be interested in a comment in William Preston Russell's book "Kingdom For The Horse" where he noted that the heaviest concentration of Diomed can be found in the descendants of Miss Russell, Midnight, Mambrino Patchen and American Star.
Switching focus back onto Extasy, as a racehorse, her most notable feature was that she was dual-gaited and immensely talented in both gaits.
In 1898 she won the 2YO Pacing Division of the Kentucky Futurity, setting a World Record for her age and gait which stood for 29 years until broken in 1927.
In 1899, as a 3YO trotter, Extasy won a heat in the Senior Division of America's oldest Futurity, another significant accomplishment.
As a broodmare Extasy produced two sons and four daughters.
Her sons both became sires, Prince McKinney ( by McKinney ) and Lord Dewey ( by Admiral Dewey ) with each siring about a dozen mares that would their bloodlines. The closest these two can be found in the pedigrees of Australasian mares today are through the presences of Sandydale ( his dam is by Lord Dewey ) and Raider ( his granddam is by Prince McKinney ) with the latter being far more common as the damsire of Dale Frost.
It is however through the daughters of Extasy that she can also be found reasonably comfortably in modern day pedigrees.
Extasy had four daughters; Petrex, Ethel Volo, Pleasant Thoughts and Pleasant Memories.
Whilst Pleasant Memories has made little impact in extending Extasy's presence in the breeding world there is little doubt that the other three have produced dynasties across America, Europe and Australasia and it is from these three that descend past and current influences ( male and female ) carrying lines that trace directly back to Extasy.
By looking at these three in a little more depth we hope we will unlock some modern day influences ( "the couriers" ) that you can look at for additional lines of Extasy just as the breeders of Blacks A Fake may have done with their mare Colada Hanover.
Petrex ( by Peter The Great ) left a predominantly trotting influence and was influential in Australasia through her son Spencer ( still present in numerous present day trotting pedigrees ) and daughter Esprit ( imported downunder ).
From Esprit descended Inter-Dominion champions of both gaits in Castleton's Pride and Sir Castleton ( trotting ) and Golden Reign (pacing ) whilst Spencer has a major role to play in Extasy being found in the pedigrees of the trotting influences Hoot Mon, Florican, Rodney, Spencer Scott and Emily Scott ( female ) to name but a few so all these presences can be looked for in the bloodlines of the new sires of today.
Pleasant Thoughts ( by Prodigal ) commenced her breeding career in much the same way as Petrex looking like she was going to establish a strong trotting bias.
She was the dam of World Champion trotting mare Nedda who trotted a mile in 1:581/4 in 1922, a time that was to stand for another 19 years.
It was however Nedda's daughters Meda ( 5th dam of World Champion racemare Handle With Care and 9th dam of the ultra fast Hurrikane Kingcole ) and Nedda Guy who went on to swing this branch of Extasy's family into full pacing mode with Nedda Guy in particular having a large influence through the impact of her two daughters in On Time and Olympia.
On Time had six offspring, one son Good Time ( found in many modern pedigrees of today ) and his 3/4 sister Adioo Time ( dam of Able Bye Bye ) whilst Good Time's four other full-sisters ( My Time, Next Time, Our Time and Your Time ) are much harder to find in modern day pedigrees.
John Bradley in his wonderful 1999 masterpiece "Modern Pacing Sire Lines" in his section on Good Time stated "Good Time's maternal family is known as Kathleen ( or Ethelwyn ) and is one which has shown extreme speed for decades".
No wonder breeders look for additional individual lines of Extasy to breed good horses like Blacks A Fake!
Good Time can be found in numerous pedigrees. Just to name a few relevant to our part of the world that may be found back a few generations in the broodmares of today are Best Of All, Boyden Hanover, Colombia George, Race Time, Butler BG, Chairmanoftheboard, Dragon's Lair and Miles McCool whilst it must not be forgotten that he can be found tucked behind influential broodmares as well the likes of Helen Hanover etc.
Olympia stakes her claim to fame as being the 4th dam of the bold front running free-legged pacer and wonderful outcross influence Big Towner ( who can be found in numerous pedigrees today including through a female double in a stallion as recent as Always B Miki ). Big Towner has a presence in older stallions the likes of Stature but is also present in a host of more contemporary stallions the likes of Art Major (and his sire sons ), Fear The Dragon, Stay
Hungry and others.
The third and final big producing daughter of Extasy is Ethel Volo ( by Binvolo ).
Ethel Volo only had three daughters.
Whilst one was largely of no consequence, Ethelinda was a Kentucky Futurity winner who left Hambletonian winner McLin Hanover ( later exported to Italy where he became a champion sire )but far greater things were to aspire from another of Ethel Volo's daughters in Mimzy.
Mimzy left two full-sisters in Pick Up and Follow Me, both by the relatively unheralded but well bred Follow Up.
Follow Up was 3x3 delta pattern bred to Peter The Great and descended maternally from the family of Minnehaha coming through the Madam Thompson branch of the famous "Thompson Sisters". As downunder breeders you will probably be more familiar with legendary broodmare Spinster coming from this family although Spinster does come through the other branch of the Thompson Sisters via Tillie Thompson.
It should therefore come as no surprise that Pick Up's progeny were pure pacers and Follow Me's progeny were pure trotters as we have seen this divergence with even Spinster's
progeny just as much as we have seen it with the family of Extasy.
Follow Me's daughter Stenographer was superior to the trotting colts of her time and became the first 3YO trotting filly to claim the North American Horse Of The Year title.
Stenographer left Keystone Selena ( by Hickory Pride ) who was to become USA 2YO Trotting Filly Of The Year ( claiming an amazing 21 juvenile wins ) and subsequently the granddam of the successful Australian trotting stallion Keystone Salute.
But it was Follow Me's full-sister Pick Up who was to provide a far wider impact in the pacing ranks through her Adios daughter Dottie's Pick.
Dottie's Pick was to have six foals; two sons in Armbro Hurricane and Eagle Armbro who were full-brothers by Tar Heel and both finding their way to New Zealand as sires. She also had four daughters in Armbro Fancy and Armbro Kerry ( full-sisters also by Tar Heel ) as well as Armbro Impel ( by Capetown ) and Armbro Lenore ( by Bye Bye Byrd ).
Of her four daughters, two in particular, Armbro Fancy and Armbro Impel should be familiar to Australian and New Zealand breeders as they feature in the pedigrees of two of the most dominant stallions of the last decade ( both North America and Australia and New Zealand ) and will continue to do so for decades to come through the exploits of their sons and grandsons as well as their broodmare daughters. We refer here to Bettor's Delight and Somebeachsomewhere.
Armbro Fancy is the granddam of Armbro Emerson, damsire of Bettor's Delight, who has been acclaimed as the most likely source of speed in Bettor's Delight's progeny but we will also acknowledge here that Bettor's Delight's dam Classic Wish was also a source of high speed. Did she acquire her speed from her sire Armbro Emerson?
Armbro Impel features as the dam of Armbro Nesbit who presides in the maternal bloodlines of Somebeachsomewhere behind the latter's damsire Beach Towel. In fact, Armbro Nesbit is Beach Towel's damsire.
What is of interest here is that when we look at the full 7-generational pedigrees of both Bettor's Delight and Somebeachsomewhere we find that Bettor's Delight possesses three individual strains of Extasy via son Prince McKinney ( Raider ) and daughters Pleasant Thoughts ( Good Time ) and Ethel Volo ( Armbro Emerson ) whilst Somebeachsomewhere goes one better with four individual lines of Extasy.
These come via son Prince McKinney ( via Raider as present in Dale Frost ) and daughters Pleasant Thoughts ( via Good Time in Most Happy Fella ), Ethel Volo ( via Armbro Nesbit in Beach Towel ), and the one Bettor's Delight hasn't got in Petrex ( via Spencer who can be found as the sire of Averill, damsire of Steady Star ).
Moving forward, these Extasy presences will mean it is going to be a good deal more difficult to find a new individual line of Extasy in a mare for the sons and grandsons of Somebeachsomewhere than it is for the sons and grandsons of Bettor's Delight where there is marginally more wriggle room.
With these useful guidelines time for you to to build your own Blacks A Fake.
Premier Pedigrees was born out of Ken Mackay's passion for horse pedigrees to offer a very affordable pedigree matching service and valuable recommendations to new and existing Australian and New Zealand clients for both thoroughbred and standardbred mares.