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Maximum Security

Maximum Security – Three year-old Champion’s speed revealed

As the year 2019 fades into the rearview of history, the American racing industry breathes a sigh of relief and welcomes a new decade full of promise. Hopefully, decadent styles and norms of the past are gone to be forever replaced by a new era of accord. Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, Arlington, and minor stops in between have been tested in that tumultuous time-period of racing that we hope to permanently wipe from painful memory. In this new year, the extremely fast racehorse Maximum Security quickly helped us forget missteps and misfortunes as he emerged from the steel cage of racing referees’ restraint to claim title as best 3-year-old of the land.

In his most recent race at Aqueduct, he electrified us as he wired a good field, including Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner, Spun To Run when “he smoked them in the Cigar Mile”. In the Bold Ruler Stakes, he stopped the 7 furlongs timer in 1:20.76 after passing the 6 furlongs marker at a swift 1:08 pace. Both above and below, Maximum Security’s pedigree comes with nagging questions that exasperate breeders everywhere. He is bred and owned by Gary and Mary West Stables, trained by John Servis and primarily piloted by Luis Saez. When he was just a weanling his full older brother, Coastal Highway, sold for $125,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

On paper, the ancestry did not appear as fashionable and Coastal Highway would prove to be a runner who preferred to hide patented speed brought forth from a select few of his forefathers. The record showed a borrowed running style befitting his immediate sire lineage with a significant reduction in the racing class. We all recall that neither New Year’s Day nor his sire, Street Cry, could ever be categorized as thrift sprinters. The first dam, Lil Indy, was sired by Anasheed, a son of stamina influencer A P Indy and out of a collection of mares by Nureyev, Hoist The Flag and Herbager. These descendants are soaked heavy with crushing classic power genetically engineered to soar around the 2000 meters range and hopelessly void of early speed. Cresta Lil, the second dam, produced multi-millionaire and champion Flat Out a two-turn specialist who won Belmont’s prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup twice. The signature race runs at the classic distance of 2000 meters (10 furlongs) is a far cry from sprint. Therefore, it was not a major surprise that Coastal Highway inherited and demonstrated a slow, steady, methodical grind to his pace which is in coherence with his collective ancestors. A major concern was with Coastal Highway’s complete unwillingness to show competitive speed.

So how does Maximum Security, a runner with such stamina laden ancestry, inherit that level of speed? Before we delve deep into the question, let us briefly digress and peruse breeding programs that are popular within our industry. A useful pedigree application developed in Australia with the catchy name of G1-Goldmine is managed by Leo Tsatsaronis. In early 2014, I chatted with Leo at a conference and inquired about his system. A knowledgeable gentleman with a swag of confidence, low-buttoned shirt, and high spiritedness, with strong conviction he’s tightly attached to his theories. As he explained the concept, I grasped the principles and parallels his system advocates were in true concert with general themes and theories of nicking. Although there were deficiencies in sire prediction and race analysis, it was reassuring to know female contribution was considered which paved the path for G1-Goldmine to elevate to a more advanced level. In early November of 2019, I reached out to TrueNicks co-founder to discuss basic issues on breeding. While I have not yet received a response, I’m curiously hopeful and optimistic we will chat someday about their stance on the inclusion of female ancestors in the calculus and conversation of breeding. A rating of C+ was the rank TrueNicks gave the subject mating and we also had to use a microscope to find favorable angles inside the pedigree.

Usually, it’s the first few zygotes (or foals) that obtains the richest bounty of genetic inheritance from coupled parents. Coastal Highway, the first foal of this mating was foaled in 2015 and he missed the mark, the second foal of 2016 came with minimum risk as Maximum Security was right on target. The mating of New Year’s Day to Lil Indy would unite two broodmares, Justwhistledixie and Lil Indy, who both treasured separate speed links of Nearctic and Seattle Slew. Such subtle similarities are barely noticeable, yet they strengthen and sensationalize speed sources like those discovered in Dixie Union and Anasheed respectively. Also, Lil Indy’s second dam, Cresta Lil, introduced another trace of Nearctic at her sire-3 position.

Nature weaves it’s tapestry in unpredictable fashion as these reliable, scintillating speed variables threw a plodder in Coastal Highway with their first mating. I must admit this was a pedigree that did not excite from just a surface glance.  Maximum Security’s early workouts did not thrill onlookers either with pre-race exercises based on the low-level maiden claiming event he was entered in. For breeders all over, the actions and behavior of an older brother will undoubtedly gauge the expectations of younger siblings. But unlike his older full sibling, Maximum Security inherited superb cruising speed exhibited in all his races.

I was quietly delighted and somewhat confused when informed by a close acquaintance that Maximum Security had just won an Optional Claimer by 18 lengths. My immediate statement was “Remind me who is Maximum Security, which venue can I see him, what stakes is he pointed to?” The phone response was, “He’s by New Year’s Day, the target sire you talked about.” I knew the sire well because of his dam and her connection to the Florida Derby of 2016. Mohaymen, a son of Tapit, was favored and was also out of the mare Justwhistledixie. After the phone call, I opened Lil Indy’s pedigree profile and welcomed a soothing calmness that engulfed my entire being like a shot of morphine. Because embedded deep in my memory was Dixie Union’s direct line breeding to family 4-m plus the powerful Seattle Slew to Nearctic link. While looking at Lil Indy’s profile I noticed her 2nd dam, Rugosa, also line bred to 4-m and glowing above in the same light as Dixie Union was Anasheed, also with the same powerful Seattle Slew to Nearctic link.

The Seattle Slew to Nearctic match is found in many runners with G1 abbreviations behind their names. For decades breeders have been breeding primarily for speed which results in racehorse bloodlines today that are tilted more speed-oriented than they are of stamina. This observation is pronounced in American and Australian racehorses. The speed of Seattle Slew and Nearctic is visible in Cigar, Tiznow (Nearctic twice), Boston Harbor, Healthy Addiction (Nearctic twice), Hot Dixie Chick (Nearctic twice), Union Rags (Nearctic twice), Over Analyze, Offlee Wild, Honest Lady, Delta Princess, Agnes World (Nearctic twice), El Condor Pasa (Nearctic twice), Flatter, Flat Out (Nearctic twice), Turbulent Descent, Stormy Liberal (Nearctic twice), Golden Ballet, Drosselmeyer (Nearctic twice), Eskendereya (Nearctic twice),  and many, many others.

The Seattle Slew to Nearctic link is where we believe Maximum Security inherits his speed. Most good horses usually have one strong match, here we find two separate cases in one pedigree chart. As I reminisce clever conversations from the past, my mind wanders upon the process of G1-Goldmine. One wonders what high proficiencies they would affix to that fabulous Seattle Slew to Nearctic link. In 2019 Maximum Security unofficially won all but one race and is now poised to take on bigger challenges and enhance his largesse and fame.


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Blue Hens

Finding a blue hen is far from ordinary. The process of identifying broodmares before they become blue hens is one of the most valued tenets in bloodstock investment‍‍‍. Pause for a moment and realize that almost every great sire descends from an influential taproot mare close up in his pedigree.  

Now consider reports generated by pedigreeID that effectively zone in on a broodmare’s ability with patterns, numerical nicks and color codes that perfectly match producers of champion racehorses from the past.‍‍ We continue to pinpoint and predict prominence in the merger of female lines that highlight essential qualities‍‍ necessary to produce excellent racers and producers. Additionally, the amount of color-coded ancestors within a family tree signals the lofty status of a broodmare.‍


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California Chrome, promising sire prospect


The recent news of California Chrome’s pending acquisition as sire prospect to Japan adds another lawyer of intrigue to an already deliciously enticing argument. The lore of California Chrome’s mystique always escorts a set of narratives rife with heated debate and contentions. On one side are ardent fans who graciously bow at the altar of “Chromies” idols, while on the other side are die-hard blue-blooded bloodline believers who aspire to lessons of high-priced yearlings and proven six-figure stallions. There are naysayers who publicly profess to weaknesses in this maverick champion’s bloodlines. They see this type of stardom as uneasy, difficult to comprehend, or some weird form of distorted reality. Notwithstanding his charismatic style of winning, they write it off as an aberration, a freak of nature, or once in a lifetime oddity. Our role as analyst is different, we peep inside a pedigree in search of a promise; a promise for winning the next race, producing the next generation of champions.


California Chrome’s sire:


Lucky Pulpit, was a moderate stakes winner that emerges from A P Indy, a sire line that represents the last bastion of hope for the Seattle Slew male line. Not much can be added to the accolades of Pulpit besides the fact that his son Tapit is proving to be a prolific sire-of-sire and Lucky Pulpit’s female family is just as impressive as Tapit’s. Lucky Soph’s lone black-type stakes winner was Lucky Pulpit and like most mares of substance, she was non-black-typed as a racer. Her parentage shows sire Cozzene and dam Lucky Spell both stem from a branch of female line 4-m, a well-known speed source tracing back to the great foundation mare, Sallie Mcclelland, champion 2-year-old filly of 1890. Sallie Mcclelland’s 2nd dam was tap-root mare, Maggie B B, dam of Iroquois, the first American bred to win the Epsom Derby in 1881.


Lucky Soph’s sire line leads through Cozzene (4-m), a champion grass performer and son of Caro. There is something of particular importance here as Lucky Soph’s half-sister (or three-fourths if counting sire line) Trolley Song, was also sired by Caro. Trolley Song was the dam of the hugely successful sire, Unbridled’s Song, who sired Arrogate. Thus, when two of the three richest racehorses in American history California Chrome and Arrogate have the same mare, Lucky Spell, in the same pedigree position Lucky Spell is hovering above blue hen territory.


Female family A4:


Female family lines are road maps that guide us through journeys of yesteryears and California Chrome’s female line of A4 gleams with controversy and international interest. Decades ago there was the concern of this female line belonging to family 21. Our thoroughbred pedigree database, which was established in 1989, currently has this family listed as 21. Since The Jockey Club does not maintain female family numbers, other reference points include the thoroughbred industry’s premier database source at On their page, they list the 1792 mare Calypso (Medley X Young Selma) as the progenitor of A4 and her dam Young Selma as family line 21. For the sake of conformity, we reference the family as A4. In Japan, the family’s success manifested itself in two time Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Gentildonna (Deep Impact X Donna Blini – Bertolini), and Yamanin Paradise (Danzig X Althea – Alydar). Covfefe, Arch, Green Desert, Bertolini, Kimchi, Yamanin Paradise, and California Chrome’s 2nd dam, Chase It Down, were bred on the same cross of Danzig above with family A4 below.


Family line A4 has glorified the racing industry with these valid testimonials listed below:

Broodmare of the Year:  Courtly Dee; Sea Regent.

Champions:  Covfefe, Gulch; Althea; Yamanin Paradise; Festival of Light; Cascapdia; Kimchi; Mind Your Biscuit.

Kentucky Derby winners:  Clyde Van Dusen; Iron Liege; Swaps; California Chrome.

Top sires or future sires:  Durbar II; Creme Dela Crème; Arch; Bayern; Unreal Zeal; Green Desert.

Famous runners with indirect links:  Cape Cross; Invincible Spirit; Sea The Stars; Golden Horn; Kingman; I Am Invincible; Sheikh Albadou; Heat Haze; Desert Prince; Oasis Dream; Gentildonna; Yamanin Paradise; Uncle Mo; Blame.


Dam one, Love The Chase, sire line is legendary and it traces back to one of the most successful in modern racing. The genetic influence of Mr Prospector is pervasive and permeates each and every crevasse of racing. His DNA is guilty of thousands of winners stealing rich purses by winning on the front end. His bloodline represents refinement from the historic breeders who spearheaded this highly purified speed line. Mr Prospector’s son, Not For Love, dominated the Maryland circuit for decades. His full brother, Rhythm, was Champion 2-year-old colt of 1989. Their second dam was the 1972 Champion 2-year-old filly, Numbered Account who had two direct female lines leading straight to La Troienne. Both of Numbered Account’s parents, Buckpasser and Intriguing, descended from that glamorous blue hen commonly known as 1x. To top it all off, Intriguing was sired by a California bred sire, Swaps. There is a lack of space and time to dwell into Swaps genealogy, but this guy is a genetic miracle. Love The Chase have a double dose of this recording-breaking phenom.


Dam two, Chase It Down, was sired by Polish Numbers a son of Danzig and Numbered Account. This second appearance of Numbered Account created maximized benefits with double doses of A4 plus line-breeding to some of the best female family lines including 1x. We have noticed for some time that Danzig plus family A4 match sheds a curious case of class. It’s an interesting and powerful pattern found in champions and group winners who raced in America, Europe, and Japan. A good example is Hall-of-Famer Gentildonna. These types of runners are rough, rugged and persistent in the heat of competition. They not only survived they thrived on performing at higher levels of engagement.


Dam three, Chase The Dream, was purchased as a yearling by the once flamboyant trainer D. Wayne Lucas for the equally glamorous, National Football League team owner, Eugene V. Klein. His Blue and Gold silks still cloaked Chargers players and fans, especially when the team resided in San Diego. The sales price for Chase The Dream was $260,000 which is expensive even in today’s currency as it was in 1985. Chase The Dream’s success at graded stakes level was not surprising, she was sired by Sir Ivor and out of La Belle Fleur, an unraced daughter of Vaguely Noble. This segment of the pedigree insinuates both grass superiority and stamina, which are costly commodities of extreme interest abroad. Perhaps this piqued the Japanese breeders’ interests.


The prophecy to peep into the promise of tomorrow and foresee which racehorse will flourish or fail is a benediction abounding with pain and prosperity – from the stillborn of a well-planned mating to daylight victory of a well-meant maiden. All is impossible without the strength and versatility of the broodmare or female family because even the greatest sires are dependent on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) loosely expressed in female lines. Loudly and proudly we hear daily praises of a sire-to-sire match, then listen to crickets chirping when waiting for resounding revelation of female-to-female nicks. We hear the technology is not there yet and mare’s produce records are too small a sample to accurately assess. Weekend Surprise is everywhere there is an A P Indy chart, Gold Digger and Terlingua are in every pedigree profile that housed Mr Prospector and Storm Cat. Instead of a revolutionary shift in pedigree analysis, this is a common-sense technique we have implemented with precision. California Chrome has three female-to-female matches.


There are plenty of respected pedigree professionals who publicly proclaim the weaknesses found in California Chrome’s champion bloodlines. For example, this recent post on a popular Facebook group made a bold attempt to illuminate the pricking points and fragile deficiencies of a remarkable champion’s female family. In all fairness, there were other points of discussion in the post regarding flaws of Nicking but the gist was the importance of researching female family.


 “If you look only at a sire, most people will look at his conformation and his race record. Both are important and that’s all fine and dandy, but there are always going to be anomalies. A perfect example (and please forgive me for naming names, but this one is too perfect not to) is California Chrome. Winner of over 15 MILLION dollars, you would think that he should command the biggest stud fee in history. He stands for $30,000 dollars today. That is not much in the TB world. Why? Because he does not have the female pedigree to convince people that he will reproduce himself. His dam has produced nothing besides CC, despite having been bred to the same stallion three more times. Aside from Lucky Pulpit, she has been bred to Tapit, Pioneer of the Nile, Uncle Mo, Accelerate (the latter two, in their defense, are not old enough to race). Some of the most lucrative stallions in the industry today. But even when rebred to Lucky Pulpit, the most any of her other progeny have won is just shy of $68K. A far cry from the $15M CC won.” This post was copied from a Facebook Group


We are glad that someone has fearless confidence to voice the concerns of many. To the author, we offer our bold opinion presented throughout this article. It is a farfetched fantasy that a mare should produce duplicity of quality runners and champions to be considered well-bred. The assessment perfectly fits Pas De Nom profile, yet we witness the awesome and powerful effect of nature in Danzig. Pas De Nom did her job, just as lightning need not strike the same place twice for us to have faith and belief in the forces of nature.


Pas De Nom’s best produce was Danzig an undefeated son of Northern Dancer in 3 starts who never had the chance to win at graded stakes level. She was bred back to Northern Dancer and did not duplicate Danzig. She was also bred to Alleged, Raja Baba, The Minstrel, Robellino, and others yet failed to produce any racehorse of significant value. Yet the measurement of Danzig’s female-to-female matches did not disqualify him from being one of the all-time greats where sires are concerned.


A P Indy was bought by Tomonori Tsurumaki for $2.9 million at the 1990 Keeneland July Yearling Sale. He would go on to win the Santa Anita Derby, Belmont Stakes, Breeders’s Cup Classic, and be crowned Horse of the Year, Champion 3-year-old of 1992. Before setting the breeding world afire with a bounty of equine greatness, his dam Weekend Surprise was bred back to Seattle Slew and produced Devongate a non-winner in 3 starts with a total earning just shy of $2,000. It would have been premature to unfairly categorize the daughter of Secretariat as weak in pedigree due to the results of Devongate while ignoring the thrilling victories of A P Indy.


California Chrome’s third dam, Chase The Dream was costly as a yearling when purchased by the leading trainer in North America. Is it inconceivable that one of the most successful American thoroughbred racehorse trainers would spend so many resources on a flimsy pedigreed filly?


Market breeders usually require black type mares in their breeding operation, this standard is more important in producing high sales prices rather than producing high-quality runners. The black type mare benchmark is an unnecessary prerequisite in terms of producing winners, graded stakes winners, champions and even great racehorses – good runners come from anywhere there is proper management, supervision and training. Trolley Song earned less than $30,000 with only one win from seven starts, yet she produced Unbridled’s Song. Love The Chase earned less than $10,000 with only one win from six starts, yet she produced California Chrome. La Troienne earned less than $200 from seven starts and zero wins, yet she produced a dynasty that’s vibrant more than eight decades later.


What more proof can this family produce? Family exhibits throughout this article clearly show a family line with numerous champions, blue hens, world-class sires, sire-of-sires, track record holders, and Breeders’ Cup winners all dotted the pedigree landscape. Most will still believe the bloodline is weak because this pedigree represents a more complex form of female matching that is unfamiliar. We’ve always thought California Chrome to be a congenitally gifted racehorse running every step and exactly in tune to his pedigree. We understand why breeders from Japan’s Racing Association are interested in this big, bright, red iconoclastic millionaire.


Herman Lammey