There are many wonderful people in the horse business that we want to hold onto forever – people like Bull Hancock, Col. Hall Walker, Lord Derby and of course the recently deceased John Nerud. There simply has never been anyone like him.
It was as though Nerud could see something no one else was able to grasp, reminding us of Uncle Peter in “The Look of Eagles” who, like the horses he chose, could look beyond the horizon to places other mere humans and horses could not see. As though it was fated, we recently saw the same thing in American Pharoah, who ended his career in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the showpiece of an event Nerud helped to fashion.
Two horses came to prominence in Nerud’s final year, one Liam’s Map more noteworthy than the other, a filly named Ahh Chocolate. But both reflect this ability to choose bloodlines and make them ‘sing’. Liam’s Map also won a Breeders’ Cup race this year, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. A lovely grey, taking his coat color from his sire Unbridled’s Song, he has been retired to stud at Lane’s End.
The pedigree of Liam’s Map is a study. He is tail-female to Dr. Fager’s dam, Aspidistra, and is inbred to her four times via Dr. Fager, Magic and a double of Ta Wee, his fourth dam.
In Reality, a stallion Nerud picked to counterbalance and inbreed to Rough’n Tumble, appears twice via Charedi, the second dam of Unbridled and Valid Appeal, broodmare sire of Trippi, in turn the broodmare sire of Liam’s Map. In Reality’s sire, Intentionally, is also intensely inbred to – twice via the aforementioned In Reality as well as twice via Ta Wee.
Carrying this linebreeding out, we find Rough’n Tumble four times as well – via Dr. Fager, My Dear Girl x2 and Minnesota Mac. Thus, the three corner-stones of Tartan Farm all appear along with Nerud favorites like Buckpasser, Caro, and of course Mr. Prospector.
The other horse who caught our eye this year that was something of a female version of Liam’s Map is Ahh Chocolate, a filly who won the G2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs. She tails to Ride the Trails, the dam of Nerud-bred Cozzene, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1985 and the majority of this influence is felt via her dam, Ahh by the late Saint Liam.
Ahh Chocolate’s pedigree, is quite simply loaded. For starters, she has a double of Fappiano and a treble of Dr. Fager, with four lines of Rough’n Tumble. Marguerite de Valois, a full sister to *Bull Dog and *Sir Gallahad III and the tail line of Fappiano, is x3 via Fappiano x2/Quiet Charm.
Though not Tartan/Nerud lines, Ahh Chocolate is inbred to Herodias, *La Troienne and Almahmoud. Herodias is via Cosmic Bomb/Not Afraid and Pilate; *La Troienne via Belle of Troy and Bimelech and Almahmoud via the usual – Northern Dancer and Halo.
What is unique about breeding Ahh to Candy Ride is that he not only descends from family 4-M like Ahh but he is inbred to her: His sire, Ride the Rails by Cryptoclearance, is 4 x 3 to half siblings Mock Orange and Alanesian and carried on out, this creates a treble of Maggie B. B., the bottom line of Ahh Chocolate. Furthermore, Candy Ride adds another cross of Fappiano, for a treble of that great stallion as well as creating doubles of *Herbager and Lyphard. It is quite remarkable.
So, of course, one cannot help but wonder what might happen if Liam’s Map were mated to Ahh Chocolate (though we really cannot recommend that, as it creates four Fappiano crosses [five Mr. Prospector lines in all] and seven Aspidistra lines). There is also a very rare cross of Le Fabuleux and his half sister Baloo (or x2 Anguar), but that is really not enough to make us go for such an incestuous mating.
Instead, let us sit back and watch how both of these gifts from the grand master of Tartan Farm play out over the next few generations. It is wonderful to see his legacy center stage and one can but hope that some of the Cozzene blood that seems to have dwindled to a trickle will find a resurgence if bred to Ahh Chocolate to reinforce it.
There is little doubt that Nerud was among – if not the most brilliant horsemen of his time. We were blessed to have his mind find its main love in the horse business. And as we close this commentary, let us not forget that two of the strongest influences of recent decades – Fappiano/Unbridled and Minnetonka are in the pedigree of American Pharoah, first winner of the newly-coined term ‘Grand Slam’. Somehow we think Nerud would have gotten a kick out of that. We sure did.
Reprinted from Pedlines #174, January-February 2016