With the outside temperature dipping to zero degrees and her Oregon farm blanketed with thick snow, Dalene Knight welcomed another pure white "miracle" into the world.
"She's absolutely spectacular," Knight said of the filly, the 14th white Thoroughbred to be born at her Painted Desert Farm in Redmond, Ore.
Now named Snow Robin, the filly born Jan. 7 is the latest proof that Knight's genetic matchmaking continues to beat incredible odds.
Snow Robin is the first Oregon-bred foal by Rob 'N Gin, who started stallion duty at Painted Desert last year. Knight and partner Don Irvine bought Rob 'N Gin, who had been standing in New York, in 2002 because the grade II stakes-winning son of Farma Way had the right combination of looks, breeding and on-track success. Now 10 years old, the near-black stallion won $989,178 including the Jersey Derby and the Kentucky Cup Mile. His first crop of New York breds are 2-year-olds this year.
"He's gorgeous and very big, about 17 hands tall," Knight said of Rob 'N Gin. "We breed a lot of jumpers and sport horses, and size and looks are important."
Weighing 130 pounds at birth, Snow Robin looks like her mother, Snow Baby Go, a daughter of Airdrie Apache and one of the original three white Thoroughbreds to be born at Painted Desert in 1999.
"She has just a little red pigment on her ears, but that's common for white Thoroughbreds," Knight said of Snow Robin. "We've already had a tremendous amount of interest in her. If we keep her, she'll definitely end up at the race track."
Before 1999, the Jockey Club had registered only nine white Thoroughbreds in more than 200 years of pedigree record keeping. But that was before Knight started breeding mares to Airdrie Apache, a son of the Mr. Prospector stallion Naevus and the Northjet mare Not Quite White – one of those first nine white Thoroughbreds.
With dual registration as a Paint and a Thoroughbred, Airdrie Apache is chestnut with liberal splashes of white. But with amazing regularity, he passes on his mom's rare white gene to his offspring.
Rob 'N Gin also has the right bloodlines to produce paint and white Thoroughbreds, "if you go way way back," Knight said.
"Genetically, if you put the right ingredients in the mix, it's possible," she said.
Expected soon at Painted Desert is another Rob 'N Gin foal out of the Carson City mare Cucina Cucina, the mother of Triple Crown prospect Hosco. Winner of the San Miguel Stakes (gr. III), Hosco has small white "birdcatcher" markings on his neck and shoulders.
"I can't wait to see how that baby turns out," Knight said.