Saturday, January 31, 2009

Full Brothers, Half Brothers, Horse Racing and the Presidency -- Nicanor and George Obama

UPDATE: Nicanor is no Barbaro. He finished a well-beaten 10th, out of 12 horses, in his racing debut.

You might have noticed this morning that George Obama, our president's "half brother," was busted in Kenya on marijuana charges. Meanwhile, here in South Florida, a 3-year-old horse named Nicanor will be making his long-awaited racing debut. The ado is all because of his pedigree. He is a younger "full brother" to the beloved Barbaro, the popular Kentucky Derby winner of 2006 who died from injuries sustained on the track.

So much of thoroughbred racing hinges 0n pedigree, and full brothers and sisters often receive special notice if their older siblings dazzled on the track. The theory, of course, is that if, say, Secretariat is produced from the mating of Sire A and Dam A, a duplicate will result if the same mom and dad hook up again. Sometimes it works like that. But, as we all know -- especially those of us who have had multiple children -- siblings are seldom alike. And, usually, the same holds true in horse racing.

Writing on just this timely subject in the Saturday edtion of the Daily Racing Form, turf columnist Jay Hovdey mentions the late Aureliano "Cuba" Baez, a barn foreman who once worked for Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally. Baez, notes Hovdey, "played professional baseball and jai alai and could flip quarters like nobody's business." When Hovdey pointed out once that a new horse in McAnally's barn happened to be a full brother to a stakes winner, Baez responded: "I got a dozen full brothers back in Havana. Not one of them is worth a damn."

Half brothers and sisters, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen in racing, seldom merit extra attention, and aren't even referred to as "half" siblings, such is their prevalence. That's because sires, especially the top studs, cover dozens and dozens of mares each year. Sire A might be bred to dams A through Z, as well as every dam in the Russian and Greek alphabets. Daddy's got kids all over the map Just glancing at today's Gulfstream card, I found three separate instances in which a sire has same-age offspring hooking up in the same race.

All eyes at Gulfstream this afternoon will be on Nicanor when the bay colt is put to his first test nearly two years to the day (Jan. 29, 2007) that Barbaro succumbed to injuries he fought for eight months to overcome. The underlying hope is that Nicanor carries on the family legacy created by Dynaformer and La Ville Rouge, the brother siblings' sire and dam. I'll update you with the result later today.

As for George Obama, well, I expect he'll be news in the mainstream media. But if it were up to racing people, such news wouldn't raise an eyebrow. Not with his pedigree.


  1. Jejejejeje

    Wish this got wider readership.

  2. J.G. and I appreciate your loyalty. BTW, keep an eye out for my upcoming post touching on Toronto.


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