Right on, Righteous Resolve

by Alan Leavitt

By the time this piece appears in print, we’ll all know the results of the Breeders Crown 2-year-old filly trot from Friday night (Oct. 28). At the time of this writing, Righteous Resolve was the second choice in the overnight odds, and win, lose, or draw, she’s a fascinating pedigree study (editor’s note: She finished third in the race won by Special Way).

Righteous Resolve is by Resolve, a son of Muscle Hill, and out of Motown Muscle, who won just under $500,000, by Muscle Mass. It’s not my brief to write ads for any stallion here, but Muscle Mass is one of the best trotting sires in our biz today, and he is a perfect example of the belief that a horse’s future potential in the stud is best demonstrated by success on the track at two.

Briefly, M.M. was a top stakes colt at 2, winning just a few bucks shy of $200,000. At 3, he barely eked out $30,000, and was never even a factor in the same company he could beat on a regular basis at 2.

I’m a firm believer in the omnipresence of 2-year-old brilliance in predicting a stallion’s sire potential, and here I’m in the best company possible. The greatest thoroughbred breeder of all time was Federico Tesio, and he went to great lengths to breed his mares to some obscure horses that showed sparks of brilliance at 2.

Under his philosophy, Tesio bred some of the best runners that sport ever saw, including his masterpiece, Ribot. Foaled in 1952, Ribot won all 16 races, including the Arc De Triumph twice. He raced from 5 furlongs to a mile and 7 furlongs in three different countries on all types of track conditions.

Not only did Tesio breed Ribot, he also bred six of the horses that appeared in the first three generations of Ribot’s pedigree.

As for his impact on the thoroughbred breed, even someone so removed from the thoroughbred scene as this kid can remember how great his sons like Graustark, Tom Rolfe, and His Majesty were.

But back to Righteous Resolve, who is a great trotter in her own right. She went into the Breeders Crown with a record of 1:53.1 and earnings of $405,748. Trained by John Bax and driven by Paul MacDonell, Righteous Resolve has won every start, with only one exception in a secondary race, including all the major stakes in Ontario.

And her pedigree is a beautiful example of how much of a good affect smart inbreeding can have. Righteous Resolve is inbred, 3 by 3 to Muscle Yankee, and she is linebred, 3 by 4 by 4, to the full brothers Valley Victory, and Wall Street Banker. She is also linebred, 4 by 4 to the Hambo winner American Winner.

As a quick review, if the sum of the generations in which the same name appears twice is 6 or less, the horse so bred is defined as Inbred.

When the sum of the generations in which the same name appears twice is 7 or 8, the horse so bred is defined as Linebred.

If the sum of the generations that has no name that appears twice for 8 or less, the horse so bred is designated as an Outcross.

The great majority of today’s trotters and pacers are outcrosses. The success of Righteous Resolve shows the synergy that Inbreeding produces. For a definition of synergy, think 2 plus 2 equals 9.

There is a huge opening for judicious inbreeding in the 2023 breeding season. Any breeder, large or small, who has a mare who hasn’t yet produced up to expectations, would be well advised to breed her close next time.

I’m not saying you should try for my annual I’m My Own Grandpa Award, given to the horse with the closest inbred pedigree every year. (For those unfamiliar with great country music, I’m My Own Grandpa is 14 verses that show the various marital complications and the children they produce that ultimately result in the narrator’s title condition. The song’s best version is sung by Willie Nelson.)

What I’d try with my well-bred mare who so far hasn’t produced a stakes winner, is a 3 by 3, or better still, 2 by 3 cross. As for picking a sire, if you don’t want to or can’t afford an established Big Dog, try a young horse who’s just entered the stud. Just insist that the horse you breed to, and this is so in every case, was a stakes contender at 2. The key to forecasting any stallion’s sire potential is 2-year-old brilliance. What he did on the track thereafter is irrelevant.

Finally, on an interesting but totally unrelated subject, there was an article in a recent New York Times lamenting that this year has been disastrous for edible mushrooms. No one knows quite why, but every mushroom lover is praying they make a comeback in ’23.

Reading the article, it brought to mind the true story of a condemned man who was asked what he’d like for his last meal.

“Mushrooms,” the condemned man replied.

“Okay,” the warden said, and then he added, “Just curious, how come mushrooms?”

The prisoner replied, “I always wanted to eat ’em, but I was always afraid to cause I thought they might be poisoned.”