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Meant as a measure of female family inbreeding within a thoroughbred’s pedigree, the RF has shown to be an uncanny method of identifying some of the world’s longest priced winners in the biggest of races.
When the frontrunners in this year’s 148th running of the Kentucky Derby set a totally unrealistic pace, the contest, as they say, “fell apart”. As a result, the longest shot on the board, a colt without a starting berth only a day earlier picked up the pieces and scored at 80/1 – the second biggest upset in the classic’s storied history.
The winner, a striking chestnut, Rich Strike, by Keen Ice, turns out to be a particularly well-named individual once his five generation pedigree is examined. Featured are three strains of the essential matron Gold Digger (5X5X5), two through her crowning achievement, the great Mr. Prospector and another through his much less known full brother, Search For Gold.
Meeting the criteria (inbreeding to a superior female through at least two individuals within five generations), Rich Strike’s eleventh hour invite meant there were two different RFs in this year’s twenty horse field.
When the dust had settled, the winner needed every pixel on the tote board to record his gargantuan payoffs. And, oh yes, Rich Strike was another bombshell of a Derby hero who manifested the Rasmussen Factor.
In our 1999 book, Inbreeding to Superior Females, my late, great mentor Leon Rasmussen and I surely must have evoked some incredulity when we introduced female family inbreeding as a unique pedigree handicapping phenomenon. From 1976 to 1997, we found RFs had a 77% ROI (return on investment) in the Kentucky Derby. For good measure, The RFs’ returns from their collective win mutuels in the Breeders’ Cup during the same period were also successful (57% ROI).
The key caveat was that these kinds of healthy returns appear to occur most frequently in races of the highest class. Tables 1 through 3 evaluate the results from wagering to win on racehorses demonstrating the Rasmussen Factor since our book was published (by Andrew Reichard) almost a quarter of a century ago. The tables’ three races, the Kentucky Derby, the Melbourne Cup and the Prix l’Arc De Triomphe, arguably represent the most prestigious trio of racing venues in the world.
Table 1, it seems. has some simply outlandish results. In the last twenty-five years, betting the RF has generated more than five and a half times return on investment (559% ROI).
The last four years have featured Derby winners Rich Strike and Country House who had the second (80/1) and third (60/1) longest odds in its 148-year history, respectively. Both were RFs.
Five RFs won the 25 runnings including Triple Crown winner Justify. Nine of the Derbies had no RF entrants. The average was 1.25 RF per field. Finally, RFs averaged 7.1% of the fields and won 20% of the time.
For completeness sake, I went back and reviewed the five generation pedigrees of every Kentucky Derby starter since the race’s inauguration in 1875. The first 148 runnings (through 2022) have included a total of 210 starters whose pedigrees have demonstrated the Rasmussen Factor. These 210 RFs have been part of 198 total entries. As such, a two dollar ticket to win on the lot would cost $396.00. The yield included twenty of the highest priced winners in Derby history with the $396.00 wagered returning $675.70, a 71% return on investment.
Table 2 charts the RF’s wagering performance in the Melbourne Cup since the book’s release almost 25 years ago.
In the race that stops the nation, RFs have had a return on investment well above sea level (+25%) but nowhere near the Derby. At an average of 3.4 RFs per running, the much larger number of wagers, compared with the latter, tend to mathematically limit the possibilities. It seems, around one RF per race, regardless of its odds, seems to create the best opportunity for outrageous returns. From 1997 to last year, RFs made up 15% of the Cup fields and captured 40% of them.
RFs have won the last three Melbourne Cups. I covered last November’s heroine Verry Elleegant (at 16/1) and her Formula One inbreeding to Cotehele House in depth earlier this year. At the moment, she appears on course in her attempt in late fall to become the first horse to capture what would be a sensational Melbourne Cup / Prix l’Arc de Triomphe double.
Of note, the Rasmussen Factor cannot claim to have come even close to the best returns for a betting angle in the Melbourne Cup. That honor goes to the placing of win bets on horses who were trained by the late, great ‘Cups King’, Bart Cummings. From a total of 89 starters, Cummings conditioned the winners of twelve runnings which translated to an 85% ROI.
Table 3 charts the RF’s comparable performance in the Prix l’Arc de Triomphe. The Arc fields averaged 2.4 RF starters per running, but with smaller field sizes than the Melbourne Cup both made up about the same overall percentage.
RFs comprised about 15% of the Arc fields taking almost a third (32%) of them resulting in a rather satisfying return on investment of 272%. The windfall was led by three RF winners over 20/1. Last October’s shocker was German-bred and trained Torquator Tasso who went off at 80/1, the third longest winning odds in the Arc’s illustrious history. Named after a 16th century Italian poet, his five generation pedigree is another demonstrating the Formula One pattern, in this case via the 3X4 cross of the full sisters, Alya (Ger) and Allegretta (GB).
Inbreeding to the family of super-sire Galileo’s grandam Allegretta has in recent years become one of Europe’s most effective patterns of female family inbreeding. This was covered in detail in the May 2018 issue of Bluebloods.
Let’s be clear. Numbers aside, the idea that any sort of breeding theory could actually identify an exaggerated share of winners in the world’s biggest races, particularly those that come in at boxcar prices, is indeed far-fetched. Maybe even lunacy. Just the same, I hope it continues.
It kind of reminds me of that old Woody Allen joke. You know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, “Hey Doc, my brother’s crazy. He thinks he’s a chicken!” The therapist replies, “why don’t you try getting him some help?”. “I would”, the guy admits,” but I need the eggs”.