A Tale of Two Fillies

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Distorted Humor

A Tale of Two Fillies

I recently posted a client success story regarding a Distorted Humor filly that broke her maiden in her first start, “Client Success: Homebred Distorted Humor Filly Wins First Out At Laurel” (See pic above). I had the honor of designing the OPTIMAL Mating that produced her for her owner and breeder. But, this wasn’t just any other mating! Not only was she a designed mating, but I co-bred her dam, which was also an OPTIMAL Mating.

In writing the post, it caused me to reflect on the story behind her and her dam. It also made me recall another filly that I co-bred that also broke her maiden in her first start and has become a graded stakes producer and has a son currently standing stud in Kentucky.

If you’re new here, most horses with OPTIMAL Matings will win in their first two starts. The results continue to amaze me!

In 2009, I had access to stallion seasons for Medaglia d’Oro and Lawyer Ron. The quest began to find the right mares in which to maximize this opportunity. I owned part of a mare with a friend and she produced an OPTIMAL Mating with Medaglia d’Oro, so that satisfied that season. But, I ended up recruiting another mare from a different friend and working out a foal share to accommodate an OPTIMAL Mating for Lawyer Ron.

Lady of Gold

The mare that was chosen to be bred to Medaglia d’Oro was named Ron’s Lady. She was by an obscure Nashwan stallion named Elhayq (IRE). However, she was a half-sister to the dam of 2007 champion older horse and MGISW Lawyer Ron (Langfuhr). Kind of ironic, huh!

A filly was produced and when the time came to sell her as a weanling, we sold her for $100,000 at the 2010 Keeneland November Sale. She was beautifully built, had a tremendous walk and was truly bred to be a racehorse.

The following September at Keeneland, her new owner decided to pinhook her, but to no avail. She RNA’d for $120,000. This was in the days when Medaglia d’Oro was not even close to being the commercial titan that he is today. The owner called me to ask if I knew anyone that would be interested in buying her. I made a few phone calls and she quickly became the property of a longtime consulting client.

The filly was ultimately named Lady of Gold and she ended up being a multiple Grade 3 placed winner of $254,598 with a record of 23-2-4-7. Below is a look at how her pedigree shaped up:


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To learn about how I use female families as the initial foundation of determining an OPTIMAL Mating, please refer to the following articles:

In the third generation of any existing or potential racehorse there are eight individuals that represent the eight direct families they come from. To review, of the eight, a minimum of one sire family and four racing families are required for of an OPTIMAL Mating. Again, this is just the basic framework that I satisfy to warrant a much deeper study of the pedigree characteristics.

For Lady of Gold, note the families that make up her third generation.

  • Sire Families (top to bottom) – 13C, 9B, 13E & 3L (dual qualifier) – only one required
  • Running Families (top to bottom) – 5H, 1L, 2F, 1L, & 3L (dual qualifier) – only four required

Note the appearance of the 1L family twice in the pedigree. Any time a running family can be reinforced in this way, the greater the chance of creating a superior racehorse.

Not only was Lady of Gold bred to be a racehorse, but she backed it up on the track. But, in the many years of analyzing pedigrees and designing matings, I have noticed that by building the right female families into a pedigree strengthens the capacity of resulting fillies to produce their own good racehorses, if bred correctly.

Lady of Gold passed away in 2019 in-foal to Arrogate but started her broodmare career showing the potential she was bred to have. Her first foal is Plot the Dots (4yo colt by Uncle Mo) and is currently racing with earnings of $151,892 and a record of 12-3-5-1. Her second foal is the first out winner pictured above, Gravity’s Rainbow (3yo filly by Distorted Humor), with earnings of $29,640 and a record of 1-1-0-0. Every mating for Lady of Gold was a designed OPTIMAL Mating.

Lady of Gold’s broodmare potential was unlimited but she has made a great start. At least she produced a filly that can continue to go forward and display her excellent pedigree structure on the racetrack and as a future broodmare.

Assets of War

The mare that was chosen to be bred to Lawyer Ron was Added Asset. She was a Lord At War (ARG) mare that was a Grade 3 winner of $330,022 and a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Added Time (Gilded Time).

The resulting foal was a filly with another great body and great walk. We also sent her through the ring as a weanling at the 2010 Keeneland November sale only for her to RNA for $16,000. All was not lost because she continued to develop and grew into a phenomenal yearling.


The following year, she was pointed to the 2011 Fasig-Tipton July Sale and was purchased by Stoneway Farm for $165,000. Over 10x her RNA price the previous year! Both stallion seasons had been commercially maximized for sure.

The filly was named Assets of War. She was another OPTIMAL Mating that broke her maiden in their first two starts when she won a Maiden Special Weight in her first time out at Churchill Downs defeating Irish Lute (Midnight Lute)(Grade 1 placed winner of $165,968) by a half length. There was great hope and speculation for Assets of War, but injury curtailed her career and she was eventually retired to be a broodmare. Here’s what her pedigree looks like:

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For Assets of War, note the families that make up her third generation.

  • Sire Families (top to bottom) – 3L (dual qualifier) & 14C – only one required
  • Running Families (top to bottom) – 2N, 1L, 3L (dual qualifier) & 1W – four required

NOTE: Go back and read “Why Are Some Stallions More Consistent Than Others?” and see if you recognize any familiar family patterns with Lawyer Ron. He left us way too soon but was making a great impact with limited opportunity and very little commercial support.

Assets of War was eventually bred to the young stallion Into Mischief. The resulting colt was named Instagrand. He was a $1.2 million sales two-year-old that won his first two starts by 20 1/4 lengths, including the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar by 10 1/4. Instagrand went on to retire with earnings of $316,760 from a record of 9-2-0-3 and is now standing stud at Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, KY.

I continually see sales catalog pages where seemingly good female families get derailed. Some may scratch their heads and wonder why while some may just write it off as racing luck. What I have seen in most cases is that these high-profile broodmares and race fillies were bred to the wrong stallions for the wrong reasons. Most of the time it seems to be for commercial reasons, sometimes it can be for personal prestige and sometimes it’s simply out of convenience or price.

The best of female families that have gone bad can be restarted and even good families can be created from lackluster ones. All of this can be accomplished by breeding to the right stallion. Although the goal should be to produce a racehorse with each mating, a “well-bred” filly that may not live up to expectations on the racetrack can be one generation removed from still being a great broodmare. It just takes a bit of “Designed Luck”!

Whether you are new to the game, experiencing more losses than wins or just looking for a new approach, I am confident that I can help you breed or buy a better racehorse. To find out more about OPTIMAL Matings and how they can help your program, please subscribe to my Blog/News page HERE to receive future information on complimentary mating recommendations, sales short lists, stakes winner pedigree analysis, news on personal client success and any other random thoughts or ideas that I may have. Also, receive a complimentary copy of my report “Blind Luck or Designed Luck? – How A Kentucky Derby Winner Was Bred” sent directly to your inbox.

For inquiries or more information about Shepherd Equine Advisers, please contact Clark Shepherd at 859-321-6618, or by email at clark@bloodstock-agent-ky.com.

I would love to hear any comments or questions that you may have. Please submit them below. Maybe we can address them in a future post!

I offer my expertise as a bloodstock agent, sales consultant, and pedigree analyst to assist in breeding or purchasing superior thoroughbred racehorses through sound pedigree principles, horsemanship, and consistent implementation of well-designed plans. To find out more about how my services can help your program, please contact me at 859-321-6618, or by email at clark@bloodstock-agent-ky.com.

2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Fillies

  1. Very interesting article, as usual. Now when I look at catalogs or past performances, I go thru female family and sire family analysis. Sorry for your loss of Lady of Gold.

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