Family Matters: Dollar Bill Looks Suited to 1 1/4 MIles
by Eric Mitchell
Date Posted: 3/14/2001 3:04:42 PM
Last Updated: 3/15/2001 11:39:28 AM

Photo: Barbara D. Livingston
Dollar Bill has few excuses for failing to run 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May -- at least on paper.

The bay son of Peaks and Valleys seems to have everything going for him. For one, he is a dual qualifier. That means he was within 10 pounds of the top weighted horse (Macho Uno at 126 pounds) on the 2000 Experimental Free Handicap, and his dosage index falls below the statistical do-not-exceed mark of 4.00.

The long-striding colt, owned by Gary and Mary West, also has classic winners and champions peppered throughout his pedigree, and he loves to come from behind when he wins, which is the style of choice for most Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winners.

Bob Courtney Sr., who is co-breeder of Dollar Bill with his wife Evelyn, agreed the pedigree shows potential, but he wasn't quite ready to christen his homebred a classic-type horse the week before the Louisiana Derby (gr. II). The colt still had more to prove, he said.

"He has the ability to run a mile and a sixteenth and a mile and an eighth," Courtney said with conviction. "But we'll really see what kind of horse he is in Louisiana Derby."

Two days after the race Courtney said Dollar Bill not only proved he could go 1 1/4 miles, but could overcome adversity to do it. Dollar Bill clipped the heels of tiring Gracie's Dancer in mid-stretch and nearly fell. The colt recovered and finished fourth.

"When most horses that are making their run are shut down, then that is the end of them," Courtney said. "He showed he could regain his momentum and get up there for fourth-place money. It was unfortunate, but the horse came back all right and will be back to fight another day."

For anyone who is still skeptical, let's go back to the family.

No one needs to go very deep into Dollar Bill's pedigree to see potential.

His sire was Canada's horse of the year and champion 3-year-old in 1995. During his championship year, Peaks and Valleys won the Molson Export Million (gr. I), Meadowlands Cup Handicap (gr. I), and Illinois Derby (gr. II). All these races are 1 1/8 miles, and he won them by two lengths or better. He also finished second in the 1 1/4-mile Saratoga Cup Handicap (gr. III).

A stronger classic influence comes through the family of Saratoga Dame, Dollar Bill's dam. She is a granddaughter of Alydar, the dogged rival to 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed, and Sir Ivor, who won the 1 1/2-mile Epsom Derby (Eng-I) and 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes (Eng-I).

Both Alydar and Sir Ivor are chefs-de-race, which means they are among a select group of stallions that show up frequently in the pedigrees of top runners. Chefs-de-race are categorized into to one or two of five groups that represent different running aptitudes. The groups are labeled brilliant, intermediate, classic, solid, and professional. Brilliant represents the speed end of the spectrum while the professional category represents endurance.

The dosage profile of a horse represents the relative influence of the chefs-de-race going back four generations. Points are assigned to each chef according to where he is in the pedigree. A chef in the first generation contributes the maximum of 16 points because his genetic influence is the greatest. The second generation is worth 8 points, the third is worth four points, and the fourth is worth two points. From this formula, a profile is built.

Dollar Bill has a total of six chefs-de-race in his four-generation pedigree. On his dam's side are Alydar and his sire Raise a Native, and Sir Ivor and his sire Sir Gaylord. On the sire's side, the chefs are Blushing Groom and Nijinsky II. All but one of these chefs -- Raise a Native -- are listed as classical chefs-de-race.

Crunch the numbers and Dollar Bill has a dosage profile of 4-3-10-1-0 (brilliant-intermediate-classical-solid-professional). From these numbers is derived a dosage index, which represents how speed and endurance are balance in a pedigree. A dosage index of 1.00 is the perfect balance of the two extremes. Dollar Bill has a dosage index of 2.00, which is good as far as the classic races are concerned because history has show only three horses since 1940 have won the Kentucky Derby with a dosage index higher than 4.00. They were Strike the Gold, Real Quiet (5.33), and Charismatic (5.22).

Dollar Bill just squeaked in as a dual qualifier in February when he was listed at 116 pounds on the Experimental Free Handicap, a hypothetical spring race at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds. If a horse is within 10 pounds of the topweighted male, his chances of winning the Kentucky Derby improve.

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