Should Greater Good win the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), it would make the second time in the past three years the winner cannot stand at stud.
Funny Cide, who won the 2003 Derby, is a gelding. Greater Good is listed as a colt but because neither of his testicles has descended, he has no value as a stallion prospect.
For the record, Greater Good, by the Phone Trick
out of the General Assembly mare Gather The Clan, is known as a bilateral cryptorchid. There are many unilateral cryptorchids, known in the industry as a ridgling, meaning one undescended testicle. However, a male Thoroughbred with both testicles undescended is rare.
"In my career, and I've been in Ocala (Florida) 20 years, I've only seen 15-20, and that covers all breeds of horses," surgeon John Peloso said. A partner in the Equine Medical Center of Ocala, Peloso does the veterinary work for Becky Thomas, who broke and readied Greater Good for the races.
Thomas owns Sequel Bloodstock and is a partner of Lewis Lakin in his Lakland operation. Lakin bred and races the winner of the recent Rebel Stakes (gr. III), a victory that makes Greater Good one of the favorites for the April 16 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and a solid contender for the Kentucky Derby three weeks later.
"I've had thousands of horses go through my property and I see one or two single cryptorchids a year," Thomas said, "but this is the first bilateral (cryptorchid) I've ever seen."
Obviously it has not hurt Greater Good's racing performance. The colt has won five of seven starts including four stakes, and earned $436,275. Last year for trainer Bob Holthus, Greater Good won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) and Kentucky Cup Juvenile Stakes (gr. III). Before the Rebel this season, he won the Southwest Stakes.
"The funny thing is, if he had descended testicles, he would have been put through a sale," Thomas said. "Mr. Lakin's policy has been to not race many colts. This is an exception.
"The mare has had mostly fillies, and when she has a colt, we get one without (descended) testicles."
(Gather The Clan has produced 11 foals, including a filly this year by Pure Prize. Of her 11 foals, eight are fillies.)
Thomas said when Greater Good arrived in Florida, "as the others' testicles started dropping and developing, his simply did not." She said they tried to stimulate the process with hormones, but "got nowhere."
The situation never comprised his training, Thomas said. "He was fine in his early training; always trained very well. I broke him just the same as any other horse."
Peloso said Greater Good is still considered a colt because he has not been gelded. However, the veterinarian said Greater Good "cannot be a breeding animal.
"His testicles are not functional. The testicles should be two degrees cooler than the horse's body temperature but his are cooler than that. They have been at an inappropriate temperature for too long."
Rick Bailey, registrar for The Jockey Club, said the Principal Rules and Requirements of The American Stud Book cover both cryptorchid (both testicles undescended) and monorchid (one testicle undescended). In both cases, The Jockey Club and track programs would list the horse as a ridgling, Bailey said.
Bailey said no change may be made to registration papers without notification from the owner or state veterinarian. He said Greater Good's registration papers were received by The Jockey Club in March 2003, when he was a yearling. His foaling date is April 1, 2002.