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A couple of responses to the posts on Dark Star and Native Dancer deserve attention, but since today was a busy Sunday, I’m going to answer the shorter one first.

Rosana queried whether the stride type of classic horse “improved the earlier American type … or replaced it? Where would you place, phenotypically speaking, Domino and the Fair Play line?”

Those questions are related because of the impact of the Jersey Act that the British General Stud Book used to make “half-breds” out of any horses who could not prove direct descent from animals registered in the GSB. (That was more difficult and more political than it might appear but also a discussion for another day.)

The immediate effect was to make most of the American lines “half-bred” and excluded from the GSB. This created an immediate push among American breeders to import important “pure” bloodstock, and among the horses who came over in the 1920s and 1930s were Sir Gallahad III and his full brother Bull Dog, Pharamond and his full brother Sickle, as well as the Swynford-line stallions Challenger, St Germans, Blenheim, and Mahmoud.

Talk about unintended benefits!

Anyway, the result was the decimation of the American lines, swept away in the waves of outstanding imports.

The Dominos and Fair Plays survived because they were very good and had some specialized traits that made them especially competitive.

The Fair Play stock was a type of strongly made stride horse that made continuing contributions to bloodstock, including Discovery as the broodmare sire of Native Dancer and Bold Ruler.

Although Domino himself was an elegant and very handsome horse, he possessed most of the traits of a power horse. Had he lived a normal lifespan, Domino would have made Phalaris work for his position as the preeminent source of speed in the modern Thoroughbred.

And even though the Domino and Phalaris stock were generally power types, they were power with finesse and could carry their speed much more effectively that purely “sprint” types.


Rosana also wondered whether “the role of advances in farm management (better pastures) and nutrition (vitamins, supplements, etc) in the physique of the American horse and, of course, selection toward a sprinter body” had created the power type.

I can’t prove it, but I suspect husbandry contributed to the improvement of power types, as well as their attractiveness in the commercial market, where we are heading with this discussion tomorrow. Cheers.