03/12/12

2012 Kentucky Derby Long Shot Dullahan Wins Breeders Futurity

While Dullahan is not a top 10 favorite to win the Kentucky Derby he is considered by many to be a great prospect. Other long shots are: Creative Cause, My Adonis,News Pending and Take Charge Indy. Good luck.

Kentucky Derby hopeful Dullahan, Howe Great in Gulfstream turf race

Dullahan, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, pulled away from Majestic City to win the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last fall.

When the weights for Sunday’s Grade III Palm Beach Stakes were assigned, it was fitting both Grade I winner Dullahan and Howe Great were given the task of carrying four more pounds than the rest of the six-horse field.

Not only are the two colts the most accomplished runners in the bunch, they both have the added burden of being compared to classic performers with direct ties to each of them.

Though the Palm Beach Stakes is run over the Gulfstream Park turf, the 11⁄8-mile race is likely to have an impact on this year’s Kentucky Derby field thanks to the presence of Dullahan, who is making his 2012 debut, and Howe Great, the 8-to-5 favorite in the morning line.

A start on the first Saturday in May has been the goal for Dullahan ever since he captured the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last October and finished a game fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.

While the son of Even the Score is winless in three tries over a dirt track and isn’t scheduled to run on the dirt again before the Derby, his connections have at least one good reason to believe he will ultimately make that transition.

Dullahan is a half brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who himself was winless on the dirt until winning the first leg of the Triple Crown.

“I think dirt will be his best surface, as it proved to be with Mine That Bird,” said Jerry Crawford, whose Donegal Racing partnership campaigns Dullahan. “I want to keep him on soft surfaces until (the Derby) because it’s better for the horse.

“A lot of horses who get into the Kentucky Derby have no hope of getting a mile and a quarter. The fact is most of the horses bred to get a mile and a quarter have a strong turf influence.”

Should Dullahan make it to the Kentucky Derby, he will have followed the same path as one of Donegal Racing’s best runners.

Paddy O’Prado, who eventually became a Grade I winner on turf, used starts in the Palm Beach Stakes and Grade I Blue Grass Stakes on the Polytrack at Keeneland to set up his third-place run in the 2010 Kentucky Derby.

Barring any setbacks, Dullahan is also scheduled to use the 11⁄8-mile Blue Grass Stakes on April 14 as his final Derby prep. Along with returning to the site of Dullahan’s lone career win, trainer Dale Romans liked the way the chestnut colt bounced out of his prior Keeneland effort en route to the Breeders’ Cup.

“He ran a monster race on the Poly at Keeneland, and he’s run some really nice turf races, but his race in the Breeders’ Cup was sneaky good,” said Romans, who also trained Paddy O’Prado for Donegal. “He got really squeezed. He got shut off in the first turn, was all the way back to last, and showed a big run down the lane. The Breeders’ Cup I thought was as good as any race he’s run.”

Though he isn’t directly related to 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, Howe Great does share the same owner and trainer and — like his stablemate — kicked off his 3-year-old season over the Gulfstream Park turf.

Trained by Graham Motion, the Team Valor homebred has won three of four career starts and opened his 2012 season with a front-running victory in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes on Jan. 21 that was easier than his 21/2-length winning margin suggested.

While he has done his best running on turf, the son of Hat Trick broke his maiden over the dirt at Parx Racing last October and hasn’t been seriously challenged in any of his victories.

“I think it’s kind of like the deal we had last year,” Motion said of Howe Great. “He has to take us there (to the Derby). If he ran well here and we ran him in the Blue Grass and he ran well there, it’d be hard not to take a shot at the Derby. He’s done something Animal Kingdom hadn’t done at this point and that is win a race on the dirt. I think it would have to be something you’d consider. I don’t think distance will be an issue for him.”

Howe Great looks to be the lone speed in the Palm Beach so if he gets away easy up front, Dullahan may have to unleash a monster effort to deny his rival his first graded stakes win.

“Obviously at Gulfsteam, it is very favorable to be on the lead so it should work out for him,” Motion said.

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com.

Posted on Sat, Mar. 10, 2012 05:31 PM

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/03/10/3482436/kentucky-derby-hopefuls-dullahan.html#storylink=cpy

02/26/12

Texas A&M Researchers Unlock Quarter Horse Genome

COLLEGE STATION, TX – A truly American horse breed, the American Quarter Horse first came to being in the early colonial era in America. And in a study recently reported in the journal, BMC Genomics, researchers at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), working with collaborators in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the AgriLife Genomics and Bioinformatics Center, have sequenced the first Quarter Horse genome – unlocking the secrets of what makes this breed so unique.

Genome sequencing is not a new science, but advances in sequencing technology, often referred to as next-generation sequencing, have made it easier and cheaper to sequence the genome of an individual, which can then be analyzed for clues causing genetic disorders and distinctive traits. The Texas A&M Quarter Horse is the first horse to be sequenced using next-generation sequencing technology.

“Genome sequencing aids our study of normal and abnormal genetic variation,” said Dr. Scott Dindot, Assistant Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology at the CVM. “This project is important because it is a start towards understanding what genetic factors make breeds unique, and what mutations may play a role in presenting or diagnosing disease.

Dr. Noah Cohen, Professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences in the CVM and collaborator in the study, underscored the importance of the role genetic variation plays in the disease process.

“This study represents a valuable contribution to our understanding of genetic variation in horses,” said Cohen, “including efforts to study the relationship between genetic variation and susceptibility to important diseases in Quarter Horses and other breeds.”

The first horse genome to be sequenced and assembled, a Thoroughbred mare, was completed by a large international consortium. This reference assembly was used to map the Quarter Horse genome and to identify differences in genetic information between the two horses. The sequence data from the project has been made available publicly for researchers interested in equine genetics.

“The horse used in the study, a mare named Sugar, is the descendant of key foundation sires in the Quarter Horse breed,” added Dindot. “We were able to identify several genetic variants in this mare, both good and bad, known to be common among Quarter Horses. Results from this study have increased our knowledge of genetic variation in horses three- to four-fold, and proved that through collaborations such as this, we can one day apply this state-of-the-art technology to identify and possibly to manage genetic disorders not only in horses, but also in other species.”

The genome sequence of a Quarter Horse has a the potential to have a tremendous impact on the equine industry, as the American Quarter Horse Association represents the largest breed registry in the United States. The information from this study may lead to improvements in performance in horses, and facilitate the management of health of horses everywhere.

“Many diseases and ‘syndromes’ are the result of genetic variation,” said Dr. Jason Sawyer, Texas AgriLife Research scientist and Associate Professor of animal science. “Perhaps more importantly, the ability to combat infectious diseases may be greatly impacted by the underlying genome and the variation that arises during recombination. This study has identified areas of variation that may play a role in the health and disease resistance of horses. While more research must be done to specifically identify desirable and beneficial variants, this study has set the stage to enable those future studies.”

Funding for the study was provided by the G. Willard and Ginger Pool Equine Teaching and Research Endowment, the Link Equine Research Endowment, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M Department of Animal Science, and the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology at the CVM.