Animal Kingdom and the Kincsem Factor
One of the most frequently asked questions we encounter is, “If a horse is really far back in a pedigree can it have any kind of impact at all or should I simply let it ‘fall off’ the influence scale?” The answer is not a simple one.
Because the Stud Book has been closed for so many years, all our horses are inbred to some degree. If one takes the pedigree to its farthest reaches – either counting Bruce Lowe family numbers or the so-called ‘percentage of blood’ used by Vuillier in his original dosage theories – there can be considerable impact depending on the number of times an ancestor appears.
More intriguing than family numbers and dosage, however, are certain regional pedigrees – typey sorts like the inbred Germans that we find with horses like Animal Kingdom’s broodmare sire Acatenango, by Surumu, who is inbred to the great Alveole family that also includes Reines-de-Course [Ibidem (see Pedlines #67), the taproot for such great mares as Urban Sea (Pedlines #145) and the most recent family update in this issue.] Acatenango, our favorite German horse of all time, has been mentioned with affection and respect in these pages for many years and it does our heart no end of good to find him as the broodmare sire of an American classic winner in 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
But the Acatenango/Surumu inbreeding is but one key factor in Dalicia, Animal Kingdom’s dam. It is rather her dam that brings us to the point of this article, the legendary unbeaten Hungarian mare, Kincsem. For as long as we can remember we have written that pedigrees are history lessons and in the pedigree of Diasprina, third dam of Animal Kingdom, we have a remarkable case in point.
Kincsem, unbeaten in 54 starts, was not merely a Hungarian wonder. The daughter of Cambuscan (GB) out of Waternymph (GER) was born in 1874, bred by one of the government studs of Hungary. She won all her native country’s classics, then journeyed abroad and also won the Goodwood Cup in England; the Grand Prix de Deauville in France and Germany’s Grosser Preis von Baden (three times). At a later date we will do a family article on Kincsem, but for now Animal Kingdom serves as one lovely way that her influence is still felt.
Today, Kincsem lives on via a large extended family that, while it is mainly held up by Hungarian, Romanian, Polish and Russian lines, came full bloom in Germany via the Russian-bred mare Orsza by Gouvernant (FR). Orsza’s fourth dam was Kincsem. And, in true German fashion, the family’s names after importation all began with the same letter –“W” in this case.
The first of the W-line mares descending from Kincsem was the Austrian-bred Winnica, who heads this family today. From her taproot comes a whole line of fine horses including Wahnfried, winner of the German St. Leger and Waffenart, dam of Waldcanter, a stakes winner and good broodmare sire in his native Germany.
These two horses, Wahnfried x2/Waffenart, appear in a 5 x 4 x 5 pattern in the pedigree of Diasprina. Thus, the bottom half of Animal Kingdom’s pedigree has a treble of Kincsem! (For good measure, she also carries a double of Alchimist, tail-male of Acatenango, the family of which –Alveole- he carries a treble himself. So there are five lines of that family as well.)
Keep in mind that this is only the bottom half of Animal Kingdom’s pedigree and while he is, overall, linebred to Friar’s Daughter (Bahram x2/Dastur/Fille d’Amour), there is a feel if nothing more, very akin to the ‘international outcross’ that A. B. “Bull” Hancock used to extol when importing to his Claiborne Farm such lines as *Le Fabuleux, *Herbager, *Pago Pago, *Tulyar, and many others.
The Blushing Groom male line was really never expected to give Americans a lot of stamina, as he was widely regarded as a miler who would sire milers. Yet many of his descendents including Rainbow Quest, Blushing John, Nashwan, Runaway Groom, and Sky Beauty to mention just a few, could route with class and consistency. The problem with the Candy Stripes branch from whence Animal Kingdom descends was that its tail-female line (Family 1-B with a modern taproot of Prix Saint-Alary winner Prodice) was not really a ‘sire source’ clan, and while it did get Bubble Gum Fellow in Japan it is likely best know on these shores for producing the great mare Sangue.
Leroidesanimaux, while he carries a (BRZ) designator is no more a real South American than any other horse whose pedigree is a European/American mix. His broodmare sire, Ahonoora, largely underused as one might expect, holds down the Byerly Turk/Herod male line nearly all by himself these days and he has made his presence known not only via Leroidesanimaux but also as the broodmare sire of the wonderful mare Azeri. His remarkable son, Indian Ridge, was also sire of Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Ridgewood Pearl and broodmare sire of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Male winner Wilko, so there is little doubt that Ahonoora/Indian Ridge can perform on any surface required and compete at the highest level on these shores.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is that Leroidesanimaux hails from the same tail-female line (Jayjean) as Giant’s Causeway and the awe-inspiring producer Hasili. Leroidesanimaux’s dam, Dissemble, is a half sister to Hasili, she dam of G1 winners and/or champions Banks Hill, Cacique, Intercontinental, Champs Elysees, Heat Haze and Dansili. The only thing standing between Leroidesanimaux and sire success in the U. S. was prejudice and perhaps Animal Kingdom will put an end to that silliness once and for all.
The bottom line is that one can choose to believe that the great mare Kincsem or the great mare Friar’s Daughter or the great mare Alveole all count in Animal Kingdom’s pedigree or that he is simply a fluke in an ‘off’ year. The hard-core commercial breeders will say he’s just falling back on his Lyphard double (not!) But we don’t think so. What we think – what we really believe in fact – is that this is the kind of horse we should have been breeding all along.
Giacomo already proved recently that the commercial horse does not always win the classic races. Now along comes a horse who is even less commercial and displays for all who are intelligent enough to ‘get’ it the obvious: There is no such thing as ‘just’ a grass horse. Good horses run on all surfaces, or almost all surfaces. All horses run on grass in fields and every single commercial horse from Storm Cat (Storm Bird) to Bold Ruler (*Nasrullah) had a daddy who was a “grass horse”. Animal Kingdom shook up some commercial breeders real good and proper. And we hope he keeps right on doing so.
This is no freak or sport or one-race wonder. He’s bred to mature late, go long and stay in one piece. He’s got the right pedigree and the right trainer. Now all he needs is a bit of luck – and a few breeders with open minds – and he just might be a breed-shaping stallion when the time comes.
Reprinted from Pedlines #156, May-June 2011
The Family of Animal Kingdom