Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

Breed for Distance, America: Drosselmeyer

Can you imagine a Kentucky Derby run at the extended sprint distance of one mile in the not too distant future?


Drosselmeyer was never considered the best of his generation. As a juvenile, he needed four races to break his maiden in his final start of the season. At three, he was defeated in his first three attempts in stakes racing before finally breaking through in the Test of the Champion, the Belmont Stakes. As an older horse, he languished with only a listed stakes victory in his first six starts, before busting out with a late run that swept him to victory one evening at Churchill Downs. Drosselmeyer’s victory in America’s richest race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, meant not only did he finish out each season with an impressive victory, but also that he became only the second horse in history to win the Belmont Stakes – BC Classic double. The first horse to accomplish the feat was the iconic American sire, A.P. Indy.


WinStar Farm’s Drosselmeyer is one of the most decorated sons of champion sire, Distorted Humor. Also a WinStar stallion, Distorted Humor’s stud fee stands at $100,000 live foal, one of the highest in the country. He is the only active stallion to sire all three legs of the Triple Crown. Funny Cide had given his sire wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness back in 2003. As a gelding, Funny Cide could not carry on the genes of Distorted Humor, but with his Belmont and Breeders’ Cup Classic victor, the 19-year-old stallion may have a son ready to take up the mantle as one of America’s best stallions. Making that prospect even more exciting from a racing purist standpoint, is the promise of distance that Drosselmeyer brings to the table.


The first foal by Drosselmeyer  was born Tuesday in the Bluegrass at Denali Stud. The chestnut colt was bred by Galatyn Stables and is the second foal out of the winning Hennessy mare Heather's Angel. On the surface the foaling is just one of thousands every year in Kentucky, but looking at it another way, this colt could be the first of a revitalization of something American breeding sorely needs … distance.


While Distorted Humor has carried on the excellent speed and class of sire Forty Niner, and broodmare sire, Danzig, he was not a distance animal himself. While a talented runner, his best distance was probably only seven furlongs. Meanwhile, his big, beautiful chestnut son, Drosselmeyer only really got himself into the race after seven furlongs had already been run. Once a $600,000 yearling purchase, Drosselmeyer would seem to have it all. Out of the grade 1 winning Moscow Ballet mare, Golden Ballet, he promises American breeders a classic mixture of speed and stamina in his pedigree, with a real long-winded ability on the track.


So getting back to that original question … Can you imagine a Kentucky Derby run at the extended sprint distance of one mile in the not too distant future? For the sake of thoroughbred racing in our country, I sure hope note. I consider losing distance influences like I’ll Have Another, Empire Maker and Summer Bird to Japan in recent years to be nothing short than a major blow. Celebrating new distance influences in our nation like Drosselmeyer, however; is a step in the right direction.


So far, it would seem that American breeders are willing to go against their speed and precocity at any cost tendencies and give a shot to a young stud who never won a race shorter than a mile. In 2012, Drosselmeyer covered 132 mares in his first season at stud, which included no less than 28 WinStar mares. This would seem to demonstrate a strong belief in the young stallion, not only from one of the finest farms in America, but also a vote of confidence from the entire industry. Who knows? Maybe if young distance influences are given the opportunity to flourish in the Bluegrass, stamina in American racing will not be completely lost.



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Older Comments about Breed for Distance, America: Drosselmeyer ...

I haven't read the article but I must ask this: Can you imagine someone breeding to Drosselmeyer when Flower Alley and Distorted Humor are still alive and well?
Yes, I have no idea how accurate the tests are or will prove to be. I find the research interesting, but realize it's being used for monetary gain.
But POTENTIAL is just that. A certain probability that this or that WILL happen.......Someone has a smart marketing agent like the one who cons people to buy breathe rite strips for horses.
Yes, t_v, absolutely after the fact. The randomness and possible combinations during breeding are pretty much infinite. I do think breeders/owners are going to be using the new tests as they become available though.
Granted but you are looking AFTER THE FACT. How can one GET that precise genetic combination into a sperm or ova, and secondarily will it be expressed in the individual? Many genetic qualities are augmented or retarded by operator genes that come with the specific gene is question. Linked genes are only expressed if all are there.......THINK about the complete RANDOMNESS of the process and you will realize that knowing that is FINE for the individual who is already here, but NO WAY can anyone predict it in a breeding.
t_v, Current research (since the mapping of the equine genome) is beginning to hone in on the genes responsible for speed,etc., in the thoroughbred. Myostatin (MSTN) variants seem to be partially responsible, with the locus known for at least one. There is a test being marketed by at least one of the performance genetics companies. The test is for colts/fillies already "on the ground", not as a predictor for the breeding shed. Here is a link to one of the studies--done by a group from the UK I think. Dr. Emmeline Hill is a primary researcher in this area. I believe she is part of a company doing the marketing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3091701/
No having been actively a member of this game in and outside the press box for years, I have become a realist and all this pretty horsey baloney has been put in perspective
And yet your thinking is within the box. You're define a pessimist.
In Functional Ultrastructure of cells taught by Dr. Sjostrand from Karlinska Instutue, I recieved the highest marks of the class for creating a new (subsequently found to be incorrect) model of cell membrance synthesis. OUTSIDE the box is where I live.
Having said that I KNOW genetics, and the archaic phenotype breeding is a complete crap shoot once the genes are ranmdomly redistributed in meiosis. Science has NO idea which genes or groups of genes of linked genes or operant genes create speed stamina etc. I doubt there is a single path, so breeding becomes a crap shoot. Always has been.
When you refer to a person in a sentence is phrases ..in college WHO has one way of thinking. I live in the antifragile world of Talbe Nassem, I abhor routine, and oft quote the statement by Heraclitus "You never step in the same river twice," so your psychological help 5 cents, does not cut it here.
Travel, i never said they would increase. I just named you several stamina influences on dirt, in this country. My point is we don't train for it anymore either. It's not all just about the breeders.
TV..You're one of those guys in college that have a one way path of thinking. Professor throw a curve ball at them during exam and they freak out. So let me think outside the box for you. If you have horse with stamina and soundness(foundation) breeders will eventually mix in speed(which the US is full of) which will produce some great colts/fillies. Eventually get get back the breeding shed before the 80's.
quote: If you built them with Stamina and soundness, speed will be inevitable! ...not really fast twitch fibers are there or they are not....Speed is born not made.
watch the Ascot Gold Cup and you will get lots of sleep: 20 furlongs
If you built them with Stamina and soundness, speed will be inevitable!
I wouldn't mind seeing faster 10f races. I think the 10f or longer races are being discussed here. Sorry, really not being facetious, but I fell asleep watching the '11 One Count Stakes.
If they change the distance of any of the Triple Crown races, I will give up on American racing entirely
"vic": I could care less if it takes a field 2 weeks to run 9f. You should know that part of handicapping a race is to "envision" how the race will be run, and that day/race I "envisioned" Drosselmeyer getting to the wire first AFTER "the rest of the field collapsed". IF that is what you call "lucked out", then I'll be happy to get lucky more often than not.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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