By Alan Porter
Sometimes beliefs are challenged, other times they are reinforced. One of the tenants of our faith as Thoroughbred racehorse mating planners is that inbreeding and linebreeding to genetic relatives can have a powerful effect in upgrading a pedigree.
That belief gained some encouragement when Chinchon took the Independence holiday weekend’s richest prize, the $450,000 on offer for the winner of the BetFair/TVG United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park (VIDEO). This was the first group or grade I win for the 5-year-old, but Chinchon had long been established as a smart performer. Bred in Ireland and campaigned in France, Chinchon ran twice at 2, winning a nine-furlong event at Le Croise-Laroche, a French provincial track, by four lengths on his second outing. At 3, he kicked off the campaign with a good third to subsequent Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-I) winner Vision d’Etat in a 10-furlong conditions race at Saint-Cloud. A second in a similar event over the same course and distance followed, and then a four-length win over 10 furlongs at Longchamp. Allowed to take his chance in the 2008 Prix du Jockey Club, Chinchon ran with credit, finishing a staying-on fifth.
Following that promising stakes debut, Chinchon competed in seven additional black type events during the next 14 months, and while he failed to win he never finished worse than fourth, several times narrowly missing a major win. The long awaited stakes score finally came his way in La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte (Fr-III), on his final outing of 2009. Successful in the Prix Exbury (Fr-III) on his 2010 debut, Chinchon then ran off the board in the Prix Ganay (Fr-I) and fourth in the Grand Prix de Chantilly (Fr-II) where he was repeatedly blocked in an effort described by the Racing Post as “unlucky.” In the 11-furlong United Nations, racing on firm ground for only the second time of his career, Chinchon was held up at the rear in the early stages, but he rallied wide on the final turn and flew home to win going away.
With this victory, Chinchon advances his claims to be regarded as the best son of his sire, Marju. By Last Tycoon, a brilliant sprinter who stretched to take the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), Marju was probably best at a mile, the trip over which he took the Charles Heidsieck Champagne Craven Stakes (Eng-III) and St. James’s Palace Stakes (Eng-I), but he did last 12 furlongs well enough to gain second in the Ever Ready Epsom Derby (Eng-I). Marju has been a consistently successful sire, getting 58 stakes winners without ever reaching the forefront of fashion. Prior to Chinchon, his only grade or group I-winning males were Comic Strip (racing as Viva Pataca) and Indigenous, who attained that standard in Hong Kong. On the other hand, he’s done exceptionally well as a sire of fillies, his daughters including group or grade I winners Soviet Song, My Emma, Marbye, Marju Snip, Sil Sila, Pawnee Rhythm, and Bethrah.
Chinchon’s reinforcement of our belief in inbreeding and linebreeding to genetic relatives is true of his female line as a whole. The story really starts with Chinchon’s third dam, Northern Prancer. By Northern Dancer out of Sex Appeal, she was a sister to champions El Gran Senor and Try My Best, to Northern Guest (leading sire in South Africa), to classic sire Compliance, and to graded stakes producers Golden Oriole and Bella Senora. Foaled the year before El Gran Senor – the most outstanding of the siblings – Northern Prancer was undoubtedly “the weak sister.” She never ran, and while she did produce four winners from nine starters, neither she nor any of her daughters succeeded in producing a black type winner.
With two blank dams under any of her granddaughters, it might have been a reasonable expectation that Northern Prancer’s branch of the family would just fizzle out. Instead it has been revitalized by some clever matings, examples including stakes winners Entepreneur (who had close relatives Speedwell and Secretariat 3x3 in his pedigree) and Joku (whose pedigree has 3x5 inbreeding to Northern Prancer’s granddam, Best in Show, and also combines the genetic relatives Halo and Sir Ivor).
Then we come to Chinchon. His granddam Tijuana Tango, a daughter of Tejano and Northern Prancer. Unplaced in Ireland at 2 and 3, Tijuana Tango has subsequently produced seven named foals, three of which are minor winners. One of that trio, the Hector Protector mare Jarama, was purchased as a weanling for the equivalent of $22,713 at the 2000 Tattersalls December weanling sale.
As one might expect by now, Chinchon, the first foal of Jarama, has a clever pedigree. Chinchon’s grandsire Last Tycoon is a son of Try My Best, the brother to Northern Prancer, so Chinchon is inbred 3x3 to the full siblings. There is actually more going on in the pedigree as the genetic relatives Mill Reef and Riverman are both in the fourth generation, and the mating also manages to pack in nine crosses of La Troienne.
Now, there are times when we feel as if the universe is trying to tell us something, and July 3 was one of those. Less than an hour before Chinchon took the United Nations, the 2-year-old colt Sensational Slam made a winning debut by capturing the Clarendon Stakes at Woodbine. He is out of Roman Romance, a daughter of San Romano (by Cool Victor, a son of Tentam), and is out of Cartakris, a daughter of Kris S. and Northern Prancer’s Secretariat daughter Cartagena. Roman Romance was the only one of the five stakes winners to descend from Northern Prancer not to have close combinations of genetic relatives, earning more than a half-million dollars and winning multiple black-type events at Fort Erie. What is interesting about her son, Sensational Slam, is that he is by Grand Slam, whose broodmare sire is El Gran Senor. Like Chinchon, Sensational Slam has sibling inbreeding, this time with El Gran Senor and Northern Prancer 3x4.