Here at Premier Pedigrees we firmly believe that there are times to linebreed, there are times to outcross breed, and yes ... you guessed it, even times to inbreed where the opportunity is presented, for best outcomes.
A lot depends on opportunity with the pedigree of the mare you have placed in front of you and the strength and desirability of particular ancestors within her pedigree and whether these can be favourably built upon with the available pool of stallions.
For a heavily inbred mare, an outcross stallion is probably the preferred option. A mare with desirable ancestors present may present better linebreeding opportunities if you decide to concentrate on the multiplication of a perceived superior ancestor.
And a mare with powerful female presences, especially featuring close-up in her pedigree may present inbreeding opportunities to stallion's carrying the same influential female presence up close.
In this particular article we are going to focus on inbreeding with Rainbow Blue being used as our example.
With specific reference to the standardbred as a breed, inbreeding describes the mating of close relations such as two individuals from the same immediate maternal line or two individuals who share a common ancestor that occupies a prominent or close-up position in each horse's pedigree.
A 1x2, 1x3, 1x4, 2x2, 2x3 or 3x2 duplication are all inbreeding positions ( in some cases incestual ) in the standardbred with Factor 5 ( say 1+4 or 2+3, you add the generational numbers rather than multiplying them ) being recognised as the outer edge of inbreeding.
Whilst this breeding practice has largely been avoided mainly because of the increased chance of duplicating any faults the doubled-up individual may carry, there have been some successful stories documented with so-called "inbred" horses such as C R Kay Suzie ( a full-brother and sister are present at her second generation ) and A Stud Named Sue ( had two half-brothers at his second generation ) in North America where close-up duplication has taken place to seemingly fault-free individuals.
In Australasia, both Make Me Smile ( NSW Derby winner ) and Smiling Shard ( Australian Breeders Crown Final winner ) were bred on the same genetic template carrying a half-brother and sister at their second generational level.
In the thoroughbred world all four of the above horses are clear examples of inbreeding forces at work but technically in the standardbred world the common duplicated ancestor occurs at the third generational level and is at a 3x3 position in the pedigree ( Factor 6 ) therefore at the very inside edge of linebreeding. Nevertheless the point here is that close-up duplication of female ancestors in particular can be very effective and especially with regard to speed enhancement.
If you are going to undertake inbreeding or very close to it then it is recommended that you do so to superior and correct individuals.
Often standardbred inbreeding occurs to a superior female rather than a male forebear but in the case of our subject study Rainbow Blue we are going to focus on a close-up male forebear duplication.
Bred by Winbak Farm, Chesapeake City, Maryland, Rainbow Blue was foaled on 8 March 2001, almost six months to the day before 9/11. She was purchased for just $10,500 at the 2002 New Jersey Classic Yearling Sale by ex-North American baseball star George Teague Jnr along with his sister Brenda and good friends Kevin and Ron Fry ( K & R Racing ), all of Houston, Delaware.
Trained by part-owner George Teague Jnr and mostly driven throughout her career by Ron Pierce, Rainbow Blue was to achieve a lifetime record from 32 starts of 30 wins and a 3rd placing, bankrolling $1,428,934 with a personal best time of 1:49.4.
As a two year old in 2003, Rainbow Blue won 6 of her 7 starts, earning $102,674 but was to have her debutante season curtailed because of a knee injury.
Returning in 2004 as a three year old, Rainbow Blue was to sweep nearly all before her winning 20 of her 21 starts, bankrolling $1,195,010 and taking a personal best of 1:49.4.
She was the leading money winning pacer in 2004 and the first three year old filly to win two sub 1:50 miles. Her average winning margin of victory in her three year old season was 2 3/4 lengths.
Her extraordinary achievements in 2004 saw her elected as North American 3YO Pacing Filly Of The Year, North American Pacer Of The Year and North American Horse Of The Year, the latter seeing her edge out Trotting Triple Crown winner Windsong's Legacy for the Dan Patch Award by 119-98 in the tightest vote since veteran trotter Savoir beat 3YO Filly Pacer of the Year Silk Stockings in 1975.
This achievement also allowed Rainbow Blue to join Fan Hanover ( 1981 ) and Bunny Lake ( 2001 ) as the only female pacers to win the Horse Of The Year award, ironically all three fillies winning it in their three year old season.
Her four year old seasonin 2005 saw Rainbow Blue win all 4 of her starts earning a further $131,250, running 1:49.24 again before succumbing to a tendon injury that brought an end to her wonderful racing career.
In 2012, Rainbow Blue was inducted into the United States Racing Hall Of Fame and deservedly so.
Rainbow Blue is by Artiscape out of Vesta Blue Chip, the latter a daughter of On The Road Again.
A perusal of Rainbow Blue's pedigree is an interesting exercise as it contains multiple genetic delights.
Firstly, she is bred on a 5x5 reverse-sex cross to Meadow Skipper which not only provides her with a breeding core but also a potential "engine room".
This is compounded by an intricate direct maternal line which sees her granddam Penny Royal bred on the famed Adios/Tar Heel golden cross whilst her great granddam Greentree Marie was bred on a Tar Heel/Adios cross.
And here is where we believe things get interesting genetically.
Rainbow Blue is also inbred 3x2 to On The Road Again on what is known as a female reverse cross ( as opposed to the much more common reverse-sex cross ). Observant breeders may also be aware that the highly successful New Zealand stallion Holmes Hanover was also bred on a reverse female cross at 4x2 to large heart progenitor Tar Heel. And he was a significant stamina influence as well, just like On The Road Again.
For those not aware, On The Road Again has frequently been acclaimed as the second greatest stamina horse ever produced in North America, behind only the legendary Cam Fella.
Could it be that On The Road Again is both the stamina influence and the speed influence in Rainbow Blue?
The stamina coming from his paternal pedigree ( via Happy Motoring / Most Happy Fella ) whilst the speed is derived from his maternal pedigree where his damsire Bye Bye Byrd "triggers" the deep maternal Adios presences in Rainbow Blue's dam Vesta Blue Chip by feeding her Adios's full-sister Adieu ( granddam of Bye Bye Byrd ).
It could be the case that this inbred 3x2 reverse female cross that Rainbow Blue carries is also in a position of great influence and one where we see "returning the best blood of the mare to the best blood of the stallion" right up close and personal and in the favoured second and third quartiles of the pedigree match i.e. right where Rainbow Blue carries it.
Lots of speculation here but good sense at the same time and it just could be that this inbreeding presence featuring On The Road Again is the very reason why Rainbow Blue turned out as good as she did on the racetrack.
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.