Anne Peters



Anne Peters
P.O. Box 3926
Midway, KY 40347
(859) 846 - 9794




Pedigree Theories and Selection Techniques

Nicks or Not?
Some historic and modern nicks

Just what the heck is a "nick" anyway? Being curious as to where this term came from, the author consulted Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary and discovered that it actually had a genetic definition: "to complement one another genetically and produce superior offspring." Yup. That about sums it up. A nick is a cross of two bloodlines that seems to produce superior results.

Nicks have been around as long as there have been Thoroughbreds, and probably as long as there have been animal breeders. Some of the earliest include the Godolphin Arabian crossed on daughters of The Bald Galloway, a cross that produced this foundation sire's most important offspring Lath, Cade, and Regulus. Lath and Cade were out of the same mare, Roxana, while Regulus was out of a second daughter of Bald Galloway named Grey Robinson.

Another important early nick was that of Eclipse on Herod mares, and in the next generation, of Herod's son Highflyer on daughters of Eclipse. Moving forward through time, we also have the Lexington/Glencoe nick, Galopin/Hampton, Bend Or/Macaroni, Isonomy/Hermit, Fair Play/Rock Sand, Nasrullah/Princequillo, Raise a Native/Nasrullah cross, Seattle Slew/Buckpasser, Storm Bird/Secretariat, and Pleasant Colony/Nijinsky II.

Modern examples include A.P. Indy on Mr. Prospector mares, or Gone West on The Minstrel mares, or Sadler's Wells on Darshaan mares. Nicks can also describe a male line trend, for example, Seattle Slew line sires (like A.P. Indy) on Mr. Prospector line mares, or Mr. Prospector line sires (like Gone West) on Northern Dancer line mares (like those by The Minstrel). Of course, going back a generation on either side of the nick theoretically reduces it's genetic impact by half, so the further back the sireline is traced, the less influence the ancestor can have on the mating itself.

This is where some become distracted, by strict adherence to the male line/male line tracking of sire and dam. The further back one goes strictly by sire's male line and dam's male line, the less of the pedigree is being examined. For instance, crossing a son of A.P. Indy on a daughter of Seeking the Gold gives the Seattle Slew/Mr. Prospector nick in the third generation of the resulting foal. The third generation includes eight possible ancestors, and this nick involves only two of those eight. What about the influence of the other six ancestors? Clearly the bulk of the pedigree is being ignored.

A fourth son of the Godolphin Arabian, also an important runner and sire, was Blank, out of the Little Hartley Mare, a daughter of Bartlett's Childers. No Bald Galloway there, nor in his second dam, Flying Whigg by Williams' Woodstock Arabian, but Blank's third dam was the mare Points, a full sister to The Bald Galloway. Hmmmm.

Likewise in modern pedigrees, if we look at the pedigrees of the best stakes winners of any given stallion, a pattern often emerges that may not be obvious if one was just tallying up his best nicks to broodmare sires or broodmare sirelines. And the pattern often helps us understand the "why" behind the nick. With the Godolphin and The Bald Galloway, we'll never know because both of their pedigrees disappear from the record rather quickly. Is it possible there's some genetic relationship tying the Godolphin Arabian to The Bald Galloway? But consider that the Godolphin came to England via the court of France, and that the Bald Galloway was sired by a horse known as the St. Victor Barb, who also came to England via France. Although separated by thirty years, it's possible that the St. Victor Barb shares some ancestors with the Godolphin Arabian, since both probably came from a royal stud in North Africa, but it's purely speculation on the author's part.

But take for instance, Holy Bull, who apparently has a nick with mares from the line of Nijinsky II, producing the three stakes winners, Confessional (G1), Turnofthecentury (G2), and Crash Course (G3). The first two of these are out of mares by Nijinsky II's son Green Dancer, and Green Dancer's son, Greinton, respectively. The third is out of a mare by Shahrastani (by Nijinsky II). What's unique about Green Dancer's pedigree is that he is from the same immediate family (that of Ampola) as Grey Dawn II, who is the sire of Holy Bull's second dam.

Considering the proliferation of Nijinsky II blood, with few close pedigree ties to Holy Bull, through his many sons and daughters, is it a complete coincidence that he's working with Holy Bull through one of the few sources that has a strong link to Holy Bull's pedigree? Is this the true "nick" with Holy Bull? It's also interesting that while none of Holy Bull's stakes winners is out of a mare that goes back in male line to Princequillo, quite a few of these have close or multiple strains of Princequillo or his son Prince John. As to why Holy Bull nicks with Princequillo and Prince John, we'll leave that for another day.

The point here is that the male line/male line nick has some value in pointing out successful patterns, but some equally influential patterns will often be overlooked if the student does not look at the entire pedigree of the top runners sired by any given stallion or produced by any given mare. The most important thing to remember is that nicks don't have to be the cross of a sire's male line on a dam's male line. Look at the whole pedigree and get the whole story.

This article originally appeared on the website Pedigree Post, October 7, 2001. Copyright by Anne Peters 2001.

Godolphin Arabian x The Bald Galloway mares = Lath, Cade, Regulus
Eclipse x Herod mares = Dungannon, Sergeant, Whiskey, Gohanna
Lexington x Glencoe = Kentucky, Norfolk, Asteroid, Idlewild, Maiden, La Polka, Gilroy, Acrobat, Daniel Boone, Optimist, Monarchist, War Dance, etc.
Galopin x Hampton = Diamond Jubilee, Persimmon
Bend Or x Macaroni = Ormonde, Bona Vista, Kendal, Laveno, Orvieto, Martagon, Ornament, Ortegal, Doremi
Isonomy x Hermit = Gallinule, Star Shoot, Seabreeze, Prisoner, Ravensbury
Fair Play x Rock Sand = Man o'War, Mad Hatter, Mad Play, Chatterton
Phalaris x Chaucer = Pharos, Fairway, Sickle, Pharamond II, Colorado, Caerleon, Fair Isle, Warden of the Marches, Meadow Rhu
Man O'War x Ben Brush = War Admiral, Seabiscuit
Nasrullah x Princequillo = Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Mill Reef, Bold Lad, Bold Bidder, Riverman, San-San, Revidere
Raise a Native x Nasrullah = Alydar, Mr. Prospector, Native Royalty
Seattle Slew x Prince John = Slewpy, Slew The Dragon, Vernon Castle
Seattle Slew x Buckpasser = Slew o'Gold, Fast Play, Slewacide

Northern Dancer x Secretariat = Secreto, Summer Squall, Storm Bird, Chief's Crown

Exclusive Native x Crafty Admiral = Affirmed, Our Native
Storm Bird x Secretariat = Summer Squall, Storm Cat, Cinegita
Danzig x Sir Gaylord = Green Desert, Danzig Connection, Magical Strike
Danzig x Somethingroyal = Chief's Crown, Green Desert, Danzig Connection, Magtical Strike
Pleasant Colony x Nijinsky II/Northern Dancer = Cherokee Colony, Colonial Affair
A.P. Indy x Mr. Prospector = Mineshaft, Pulpit, Bernardini, Malibu Moon
Gone West x Northern Dancer = Zafonic, Elusive Quality, Grand Slam
Sadler's Wells x Darshaan
Fappiano x Vice Regent = Victory Gallop, Cryptocloser, Halfbridled, Bright Feather
Fappiano x In Reality = Unbridled, Real Quiet
Maria's Mon x Seattle Slew = Wait A While, Super Saver, Latent Heat
Roberto x Nureyev
Deputy Minister x Princequillo = Open Mind, Forest Camp
Unbridled's Song x Storm Cat