In this latest installment of breeding enthusiast Don Rae’s Behind The Breeds series he focuses on two recent qualifiers, Mantra and Lucky Money.
By Don Rae
Mantra, a two-year-old colt by Rock N Roll Heaven from the Auckland Reactor mare Tempest Bromac (out of the McArdle mare Tasmcmanian) was bred by I N Behrnes and Mrs A M Behrnes, and qualified at Pukekohe (left-handed) on Saturday, 25 November.
Tempest Bromac is only eight years old and Mantra is just her second foal – the first, Storm Watcher, is a three year old by He’s Watching who has qualified from the Matt Purvis barn.
Rock N Roll Heaven has had a somewhat rollercoaster ride as a stallion in New Zealand. Over three years (2017-19) he served an average 90 mares each year and enjoyed great success at the sales. Life has clearly changed for this horse who came to New Zealand breeders as one of the top ten earning horses of all time. Over the past four years, his servings have numbered well down on his peak periods, ranging from between 15 to 31 servings through 2020 to 2023.
He was a terrific race horse. In 2010 Rock N Roll Heaven was voted Dan Patch Horse of the Year, Dan Patch Pacer of the Year, and Dan Patch and O’Brien Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer of the Year.
By 2019 in USA, Rock N Roll Heaven had sired the winners of over $US26,000,000, 253 winners, 82 with $100,00 plus earnings, 24 with $250,000 plus earnings, 8 with $500,000 plus earnings, 3 with $750,000 earnings and one millionaire, a filly, Sassa Hanover.
His race track victories included the Breeders Crown, Little Brown Jug, Battle of the Brandywine and Messenger Stakes. While winning the Little Brown Jug in record time (1:49.2h), Rock N Roll Heaven became the first horse to pace two sub-1:50 miles on the same day.
These are all stunning facts and statistics and so one must ask the difficult question – has he slightly underachieved as a New Zealand sire? Maybe yes, maybe no.
A G’s White Socks has been his top earner, currently recorded as $AU680,604 from 17 wins, 20 seconds and 12 thirds. A durable and honest horse, he raced in New Zealand at the highest level from three until eight years of age. He won the 2018 Easter Cup, two Methven Green Miles and the 2018 Taylor Mile and was placed many times in big races. Uniquely, he placed in two Messengers owing to the change in race conditions from being restricted to four-year-olds to being for horses of all ages.
Alpha Rock was a high class Rock N Roll Heaven colt here who won eight races before being exportd and has subsequently paced 1.49.5,1M in America. Dance Time is also a very good mare who has won 13 races, Superstar Legend has done the same albeit at a different class but who wouldn’t want to own a horse that has won 13 races? In total, Rock N Roll Heaven has sired 23 horses who have won five or more races. These are not poor results.
Personally, I am of the opinion that hope always remains for any stallion of quality provided fertility still exists. All it takes is one great horse and opinions can be changed.
Back to the dam side, grand dam Tasmcmanian has enjoyed good success in the breeding paddock, leaving five winners from seven foals to date. Tas Man Bromac, a good winner for Nathan Williamson, won ten races in New Zealand and a further four in Australia to take his lifetime earnings to $AU162,086. Taroona Bromac won three times in four starts before going to Australia where he has taken his record to 16 wins, $AU144,200 in stakes and a mark of 1.53,1M*AUS. Trendy Bromac won twice and took a best time of 1.54.6,1M in doing so while the one win mare Tilly Bromac by Santanna Bluechip has already left Balducci, eight wins in Australia with a mark of 1:53.8M*AUS.
Tasmcmanian is out of the US-bred mare Shy Devil by No Nukes out of Bashful Angel by Albatross from Halo(USA) by Armbro Nesbit from Angel Hair.
We’ll trace the bottom line of this pedigree all the way back to the 1924 mare May Dodge. Two fillies are recorded as being left by May Dodge: Romola and Nora Adele, both by the Peter The Great horse The Senator.
The Romola line leads to horses like What’s Next ((1.51.6,1MUSA, damsire of Bettor Cover Lover, 1.53.8,1M, $917,702), Rockne Lobell (damsire of Bob’s Blue Boy, 11 wins, $231,755), Sportswriter (1.48.6,1MUSA, Sire of 129 N.Z. bred winners), Tall Dark Stranger ((1.47.2,1MUSA) and Downbytheseaside (1.48.6,1MUSA and now a high profile freshman sire).
Romola Hanover has had an influence on New Zealand breeding through her sons Nevele Romeo and Nevele Bigshot. Her daughter Romona Hanover also appears in the pedigree of champion sire Art Major (sire of 606 N.Z. bred winners) and his full brother Perfect Art. Captaintreacherous (sire of 64 NZ bred winners) and Panspacificflight (sire of 54 NZ bred winners) are two more direct descendants of Romona Hanover.
Nora Adele is no less important and appears in the pedigree of sires of such varying influence as Valerian, Saigon, Der Kommissar, Acquisitor, Life Sign, American Ideal (448 NZ bred winners), Mr Feelgood (32 New Zealand wins plus 7 Australian wins, $AU3,366,157), He’s Watching, Rob Roy Mattgregor, Make A Deal and Western Ideal.
It’s a really interesting family and there are now several New Zealand-based mares with the May Dodge name a few generations back in their pedigree. I guess the challenge with these mares will be to find a suitable outcross mating the more we see doubling up of American influences. No superstars have been bred yet from that part of the gene pool.
Second up is a Marlborough qualifier, Lucky Money, a three-year-old filly by American Ideal who is the only offspring from the Art Major mare The Coup De Grace out of the unraced Lindauer Lady, by Fake Left out of Lethal Lady.
Raced by Shirley Morrison and trained by Don Morrison at Blenheim, this is from a family that the Morrisons have had success with since acquiring the Doug Grantham-bred 1970 mare Night Sky, who was by Emory Hanover from Susan Earl.
Lucky Money qualified second in a two-horse heat at the Marlborough Owners, Trainers and Breeders meeting on Saturday, 25 November 2023 at the Waterlea Raceway.
His grand-dam Lindauer Lady left three winners from her first four matings and the first was the prolific Horace Foxley who won two from four in New Zealand before going to Australia (mainly in Queensland) and racking up 40 wins, 34 seconds and 41 thirds, taking a mile rate of 1:53.5M*AUS and banking $AU265,401 in prize money.
Madiba, who raced in Australia as Our Madiba NZ, won five times in New Zealand and another eight races in Australia for 13 wins in all, $AU129,329 in stakes and a mile rate of 1:53.2M*AUS. Obviously, two very good returns for Australian buyers of the Morrison breed.
Lethal Lady, the dam of Lindauer Lady, managed four wins during her racing career and left two minor winners. Night Sky, Lethal Lady’s grand-dam, left four minor winners so one has to burrow further back in the pedigree to find more gems but they are there.
Night Sky was bred in 1970 by Doug Grantham from the A J Corrigan-bred mare Susan Earl who was by Robert Earl from the 1939 Jack Potts mate Nancy Potts. Nancy Potts won four times after not starting racing until aged six. (Incidentally the 1984 Tudor Hanover mare Night Lady is the connecting link between Lethal Lady and Night Sky.)
Nancy Potts was a very good broodmare – out of the Nelson Bingen mare Tamahine, three out of her six matings turned out very good horses. The best was the Light Brigade trotting mare Light Oak who won 15 races from 79 starts; her best run was possibly her fourth in the 1963 Rowe Cup behind Doody Townley on Pohutukawa but she did win the 1963 E G Bridgens Memorial Gold Cup Free-For-All and several 2:15 class races at Alexandra Park.
Another fine horse from Nancy Potts was Johnnie Earl, who won nine races from 36 starts. He won the 1962 Adams Memorial Gold Cup Handicap beating Takitimu(1953), Susan Blue and Danty Star, with favourites Flying Fiver, Smokeaway, Loyal Parade and Zenith all down the track.
The matriarch of this line of the family was Earl Marie, also by Robert Earl from Nancy Potts, who notched up seven victories including the 1954 New Zealand Oaks in the hands of “the Maestro” Maurice Holmes defeating Malabella driven by C C Devine.
Her first foal, the unraced Scotch Marie, became the dam of another Oaks winning filly, the high-class Marie Gibbins who won eleven times. In April 1973 she won the 7th North Island Oaks beating Hill Crest, Llanasa and Red Summer with Loyal Drift the favourite finishing a well-beaten thirteenth.
As a four-year-old, Marie Gibbins won the 1973 Thames Trotting Cup and in 1975 she took out the open class Patrons Free-For-All at Alexandra Park as well as winning the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders’ Stakes at Addington beating Just A Glow and, in one of those quirks of history, Van Glory, a daughter of the same Malabella who had been beaten by Marie Gibbins’ grand-dam Earl Marie in the 1954 Oaks. Scotch Marie later left a good-class brother to Marie Gibbins in Brilliant Emory who won nine races before going to America.
Back to Earl Marie, she also left the handy Marie Hal (four wins) who in turn left Its Doctor Hal who won 10 in Australia.
Further back in the pedigree we find the 1906 mare Muricata who left Cup class performers in the roan Taraire and Ahuriri. Taraire was the leading Kiwi stake earner in 1922-23 with £2700 and Ahuriri distinguished himself by winning back to back New Zealand Trotting Cups in 1925 and 1926 for master trainer James “Scotty” Bryce. Taraire ran third in the 1924 New Zealand Cup, was sold to Western Australian interests in 1925 and later went on to win the 1926 Australasian Pacing Championship, which was a forerunner to the Interdominions.
Scotty Bryce always asserted Ahuriri was one his two fastest horses ever and was capable of a two minute mile even back in those days. He also always felt Ahuriri should have won a third Cup in 1928 but for interference by Padlock which Bryce felt he would have won instead of running third behind Peter Bingen and Great Bingen.
Bryce knew what he has talking about. He trained the winners of six New Zealand Trotting Cups in 1916, 1923, 1925-1927 and 1933. Until Cecil Devine came along and equalled the feat in 1979 with Lord Module, they held the record up until Mark Purdon took up the mantle over the past three decades.
Muricata, through her last unraced foal Great Muricata and just three subsequent generations – the 1946 mare Nature Girl (6 wins), the 1963 Johnny Globe unraced mare Tirina and her foal the two start maiden 1978 filly Great Abbe by Scotch Abbe – also features in the ancestry of the good class trotter Breton Abbe who won 13 times for the late Murray Edmonds and earned $175,748 in stakes before being exported to America.
Breton Abbe won the 1993 Rhodes Memorial Flying Mile, an Interdominion Consolation beating Knight Pistol (she also won an Interdominion heat at Harold Park in 1994 and actually competed in four Interdominion series), the 1992 Group 2 Rosso Antico Stakes (the race later became the Northern Trotting Derby), the 1992 Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton and it was indeed a pity that such a grand mare wasn’t able to be retained for New Zealand breeding stock. Sunnivue Phileah (4 wins) and Mixed Faith (5 wins) are two relatively recent winners from this trotting branch of the family.
Scotch Abbe is an interesting influence; he left 76 N.Z. bred winners, 50 Pacers (9 in 2.00) and 26 Trotters. The pacers Bad Luck (12 wins, 1.55.2 USA) and Mack Dougal (10 wins, 1.55.2 USA) were his best two winners. As a broodmare sire he did somewhat better, about twenty-five percent better with 102 NZ bred winners as dam sire, 65 Pacers (12 in 2.00) and 39 Trotters (2 in 2.00). The dual gaited Strietross lead that list with 20 wins all up – 11 wins pacing and 9 wins trotting. Breton Abbe (13 wins), Justa Kiwi Girl (9 wins), Front Up(1981) (7 wins), Jimmy Scott (7 wins) were other good trotters out of Scotch Abbe mares so his influence certainly doesn’t disqualify good trotters enabling to be bred. Andronicus by Honkin Andy was the best pacer with Scotch Abbe as dam sire with eleven wins for John Vincent. By the by, Justa Kiwi Girl has subsequently left Justamollyarcher (13 wins, $AU114,700) so the Scotch Abbe trotting ability does seem able to be passed on to later generations.
Rae’s Rule of Thumb for the greatest sires of broodmares suggests that the number of broodmares’ winners should be doubled from the number directly sired. So, assume a sire leaves 50 winners, if he’s a great broodmare sire he should be dam sire to 100 or more winners.
Lordship is an example of this theory; he sired 485 winners and was dam sire of 996 winners. Many great broodmare sires however don’t meet this mark so the theory is not conclusive, merely indicative; In The Pocket sired over 600 winners and was dam sire to over 900 winners while Sands A Flyin’ sired nearly 300 winners while only being the dam sire of roughly half that amount. It seems to more often apply where an unfashionable stallion doesn’t leave too many winners but later, his broodmares seem to leave a surprisingly large number of winners. It’s an interesting metric to keep in mind while looking at pedigrees, anything above 50% is pretty good.
Reverting to Lucky Money, some might say he is humbly bred coming from one of the smaller centres of harness racing in New Zealand but, trawling through the pedigree, one can find genuinely good to high-quality horses back through the generations.
As always, we wish the very best of luck to connections and, if history repeats, maybe we will see another Morrison horse debuting at Westport over the Christmas period?