Denny Emerson opines on Mr. Prospector genes

Mr. Prospector photo courtesy Horse Collaborative publications.

Mr. Prospector photo courtesy Horse Collaborative publications.

BY DENNY EMERSON — If you believe that learning about sport horse pedigrees means anything, but you have no idea how to begin, here’s a good place to start.

Of all the fairly recent thoroughbred stallions which have had a major impact on creating the modern breed, if you are going to study just one, study this one: Mr Prospector.

Love him for his speed, or vilify him for his perceived tendency toward crooked legs and unsoundness, the reality is that Mr. Prospector is a huge influence on the modern thoroughbred. He was by Raise A Native x Gold Digger, (by Nashua, by Nasrullah), a foal of 1970.

If you read the article by Bill Nack following the death of Eight Belles in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, you’ll see that some consider him to be a key source of the increasing fragility of the modern thoroughbred, but in addition to that negative analysis, there have also been lots of perfectly sound descendants of Mr. Prospector.

He sired more than 1,000 foals, and in any population that huge, there will be lots of variation. Also, bear in mind that flat racing, in terms of limb stress, is about the hardest thing that can be asked of any horse, much less a 2 or 3-year-old baby.

That’s why in 3-day eventing, another “hard” sport, there have been plenty of sound Mr. Prospector line horses. They run, that’s true, but not at over 1,000 meters a minute on ankles and knees that are still not fully formed.

So just because you see Raise A Native or Mr. P in your horse’s pedigree, don’t assume an imminent breakdown. Be diligent in your long, slow fitness work, use good horsemanship, and all should be as well as with most other lines, I suspect.

Here are just a few of the elite race horses that are first, second and third generation Mr. Prospectors: Cryptoclearance, Unbridled, Coquistador Cielo, Tank’s Prospect, Gulch, Smart Strike, Fappiano and Zenyatta. Some great horses here, athletes with heart and drive, some that stayed sound “forever”, and some who did not.

It’s a fact of breeding that where the money goes, so the breeding decisions are apt to follow, and as racing has become more speed oriented, there’s been lots of line breeding to speed lines. When you have the same horse several times in the same pedigree, the traits you want get emphasized, but so do those you don’t want. So read Bill Nack`s article, get an overview from various perspectives then make up your own mind.

About the Author, Denny Emerson:

Named “One of the 50 most influential horsemen of the Twentieth Century” byThe Chronicle of the Horse, Denny Emerson was elected to the USEA Hall of Fame in 2005. He is the only rider to have ever won both a gold medal in eventing and a Tevis Buckle in endurance. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and author ofHow Good Riders Get Good, and continues to ride and train from his Tamarack Hill Farm in Vermont and Southern Pines, NC.

About Horse Collaborative: The Horse Collaborative is a new platform for horse people to connect and share with friends. Since launching in 2012, the Horse Collaborative has quickly cultivated and connected a passionate international community of horse lovers, athletes, equine professionals, hobbyists, dreamers, and people who just think horses are cute.

— Photo and story reprinted by Off Track Thoroughbreds with permission of Denny Emerson and the Horse Collaborative.

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