Weekend Surprise and Inbreeding

Turffontein, South Africa, saw the most important meeting of the season during the weekend, with the peak of the South African Derby. We will not speak about any of the five Gr.1 Saturday winners but to a filly who finished second in the listed Highveld Sand Challenge four days earlier, The Royal Rumba.

Inbreeding to superior females, nicknamed the Rasmussen Factor by its pioneer, plays an important, often a key role in pedigrees of many race champions, excellent sires and broodmares. Danehill, 3x3 inbred to legendary Natalma, is the most famous of them, having become a brilliant stallion after his racing career and record holder in the number of progeny – stakes winners.

Natalma, and above all her dam Almahmoud, foaled in 1947, are mares who are most frequently inbred to in modern pedigrees. Five years after Almahmoud another excellent mare was foaled, whose influence on the global breeding was so exceptional that breeders often and successfully used inbreeding to this mare – it was Princequillo’s daughter Somethingroyal. She produced two exceptional horses – Sir Gaylord and Secretariat. The excellent Secretariat was the more successful on the racecourse but at stud Sir Gaylord proved better. Secretariat, despite being disappointment at stud compared to his achievements on the racecourse, proved gradually to be an exceptionally good damsire and the combination of individuals with the blood of these half-brothers, which brings inbreeding to Somethingroyal into the pedigree, is to be found in pedigrees of countless exceptional horses.

Among them, let us name the English two-year-old champion Grand Lodge, the winner of the Dewhurst Stakes Be My Chief, the winner of the Breeder’s Cup Turf Johar, the winner of the Prix Maurice de Gheest Cherokee Rose and the Gr.3 winner and Gr.1 placed Weekend Surprise, a fertile and immensely successful broodmare, voted, nineteen years after Somethingroyal, the Broodmare of the Year. The dam of fourteen horses, who died shortly after the last one, filly by Belong to Me, in March 2001, produced four black-type winners and two horses placed in black-type. It was her first product who made her a successful dam – the winner of the Preakness Stakes, Hopeful Stakes and runner-up in the Kentucky Derby Summer Squall, later to sire, among others, the winner of the Kentucky Derby Charismatic. Charismatic is 3x inbred to Somethingroyal. Her second product, the Gr.3 placed Honor Grades, also a successful sire of thirty-two black-type winners, performed well on the racecourse too, but the peak of her stud career came a year later when A.P. Indy was foaled. The yearling sold for USD 2.9 million justified the high investment on the racecourse, taking the Belmont Stakes (Gr.1), Breeders’ Cup Classic (Gr.1) and even earning 80,000 dollars more than was his price. The Horse of the Year and the three-year-old champion had an excellent start at stud and it was thanks to him that the once dominant Bold Ruler line returned to the spotlight.

The dam of three exceptional sires has left a remarkable trace. The Blacktypepedigree database currently includes just black-type race results since 2004, European black-type races and U.S. graded races since 2002. Even so you can find here (through Position Query service) 1,109 black-type winners with the influence of Weekend Surprise in the first four generations on the sire part of the pedigree and more 316 black-type winners, who have her influence in the first four generations on the dam part. Besides the three exceptional sons-stallions already mentioned (four more are at stud, with Tiger Ridge having been very successful in South Africa and Saithor having produced the winner of the Adelaide Stakes Demerger), the influence of Weekend Surprise has been spread by her granddaughters and great granddaughters.

It can come as no surprise, therefore, that we will find black-type horses inbred to Weekend Surprise. There are twenty-one of them in our database – seven black-type winners and more fourteen placed. The number includes only those horses, where the influence of Weekend Surprise is on the both sides of the pedigree, so that it does not include the progeny of horses inbred to this mare. Otherwise the number of horses would be significantly higher, namely thanks to the winner of the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Stevie Wonderboy. Historically the first horse inbred to Weekend Surprise and, so far, the only Gr.1 winner with this inbreeding, belongs among successful sires in Chile where he has produced, among others, Gr.1 winner Peso Veinte and more five black-type winners.

Besides Stevie Wonderboy group races have been won by Hot Summer, Mad Flatter and Theysken’s Theory. These are, same as most of black-type horses inbred to Weekend Surprise, inbred through two of her sons. Sex balanced inbreeding can be found only among three of twenty-one black-type horses. A. P. Indy is the majority source of Weekend Surprise’s influence and he is absent only in two black-type races. It will also be not surprising that the influence of A. P. Indy is mostly on the sire part of the pedigree (15 times) whereas on the dam side only four times.

Only in three black-type horses is an influence of Weekend Surprise borne by her daughter – it is Weekend Storm in Downtown Kid and Charlie’s Deere. From this perspective, the pedigree of Downtown Kid is very interesting as here the second influence of Weekend Surprise is through Summer Squall, the full brother to Weekend Storm.  

So far the last black-type race inbred to Weekend Surprise is The Royal Rumba mentioned at the beginning of this column. She is also the first horse whose pedigree includes Weekend Surprise three times. Her dam Temple Goddess, winner in South Africa, inbred 3x3 through A.P. Indy and Summer Squall, was covered by the runner-up in the Travers Stakes (Gr.1) Mambo in Seattle (Kingmambo), whose dam Weekend in Seattle is the daughter of Weekend Surprise and full sister to A.P. Indy. The Royal Rumba is thus inbred not just 3x4x4 to Weekend Surprise, but also 3x4 to Seattle Slew and, besides that, 3x4 to Mr Prospector.

Only fourteen years after the death of Weekend Surprise a thoroughbred succeeded in a black-type race who was three times inbred to this mare. Thanks to the exceptional success of A. P. Indy and his line, today represented foremost by Tapit, the number of horse with her blood is likely to grow, as is the number of those who will be inbred to this unforgettable dam.

Miloslav Vlček

Interesting article. I am a proper fan of Weekend Surprise. I would just like to point out the error in the second last paragraph. Weekend In Seattle is a full sister to A.P. Indy not Summer Squall.
Thanks a lot
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