It's not news that on January 8 the newly turned five-year-old Buena Vista (Special Week--Biwa Heidi, by Caerleon) was named Japan's Horse of the Year adding to her earlier championships as two-year-old filly and three-year-old filly.
Pedigree aficionados may notice that Buena Vista, who is tail-female to Reine-de-Course Schwarzgold (family 16-c), has no presences of Danzig, Raise a Native or Reviewer, stallions who we consider among the top disseminators of unsoundness in the modern Thoroughbred.
What may not immediately catch their eye, however, is the presence of what Ellen calls a "super nexus" in which Hail to Reason and Round Table appear in the same generation. In the case of Buena Vista the magic is in the fourth generation, 4S ( Hail to Reason)-4D (Round Table).
The most successful carrier of this genetic match is undoubtedly 1977 Horse of the Year Seattle Slew, who garnered three other championship titles, was the leading sire in 1984, leading broodmare sire in 1995-'96, and won eight Grade 1 races including the 1977 Triple Crown.
Slew had the super nexus, 3S (Hail to Reason)-3D (Round Table), with neither the "unsound" blood of Raise a Native (1961) or Reviewer (1966) coursing through his veins (Danzig was born the year Slew was winning the Triple Crown).
We commented on this cross in Pedlines #67 (August 2001) when we observed that Western Pride, 4S (Round Table)-4D (Hail to Reason), should have been an automatic bet in the appropriately named Round Table Stakes (G3) at Arlington Park. At odds of 21-1 he looked like a winner until Discreet Hero ran him down, but he was a solid second. Bettors who failed to pay attention to this were shaking their heads when that effort set him up for his next start a mere two weeks later, a 2 1/2-length victory in the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park. Paid $45.60, $17.20 and $7.00 across the board he did.
Western Pride did have a single line of Raise a Native--Mr. Prospector, but as we've often said, one presence does not a disaster make. It's when one starts doubling, tripling or combining unsound elements that one is courting disaster.
A single presence didn't hurt Western Pride, who won five stakes races, four of them graded, and earned $1,289,929 from 32 career starts.
Although Seattle Slew proved to be an excellent example of the power of the super nexus, he can only offer his progeny his Hail to Reason-Round Table heritage, and even these "non-nexus" relatives are disappearing. A study of the four generations of stallions advertised in the 2011 Thoroughbred Times Stallion Directory reveals only four: Chief Seattle, Golden Slew, and Slew City Slew, plus Relato Del Gato (by Tale of the Cat). The only advertised stallion in the book with the true nexus is, you guessed it, Western Pride.
It's possible there are a few other stallions who meet the criteria but simply don't have an ad, but finding them among thousands of stallions sounds like a job for SuperComputer.
But to emphasize its potency, a few examples that come to mind are:
Gourami 2Sx2D - Won 1986 Cornhusker Hcp (G2) and Board of Governors' Hcp (G3), four other stakes and placed in three more. Record 52: 11-6-9, $380,998.
Martial Law 2Sx2D - Won 1989 Santa Anita Hcp (G1). Record 14: 5-1-1, $592,749.
Miss Turkana 4Sx4D - Won 1993 Hillsborough Hcp (G3), five other stakes and placed in five others. Record 36: 9-4-2, $508,281.
Phi Beta Doc 3Sx3D - Won 1999 Saranac Hcp (G3) and three other stakes, placed in six more and set course records at Saratoga and Colonial Downs. Record 45: 5-6-1, $442,815.
As to soundness, note the number of starts for the above four, the overall average is 36.75, comparable to Western Pride’s 32.
Finally, if the super nexus that Western Pride offers appeals to you as a breeder, for the sake of the foal and the breed, send him a sound mare free of the elements we have been discussing.
Priced to sell, as they say in the auto ads, Western Pride stands the 2016 season at R. C. Kline Thoroughbred Farm in Orinet, Ohio, for a modest $1,500 stud fee that can produce a gold mine if you only use some common sense.
And keep me posted, it's been a long time since I've had a $45.60 winner.
Ron Parker's Super Nexus item appeared in Pedlines #154, January-February 2011