Winstar Farm

WinStar Constellation Spring 2019

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C O N S T E L L A T I O N C O N S T E L L A T I O N 00 Pattern Recognition As WinStar Farm's pedigree advisor, John Prather has done his part over the last two decades to support the operation's rise as a racing and breeding powerhouse. By Glenye Cain Oakford Ask pedigree advisor John Prather about his work and you'll get a deceptively simple answer. "Research is what I do," he said recently, adding that the core of his philosophy is summed up in the tagline he uses at the bottom of his emails: "Seeking the power of the pattern." The philosophy is straightforward: f ind patterns in pedigrees that have contributed to success, and then repeat them. But this dictum is based on Prather's deep study, over decades, of Thoroughbred bloodlines, families, and racing performance, and its force comes from his ability to ferret out patterns that seem to have contributed to racing and breeding success, analyze them, and apply them in mating plans. His ability to do this and get good results has made him one of the most sought-after pedigree analysts in the business, although Prather himself is modest about that. Tall, gentlemanly, and serious but good-humored, he generally prefers for the horses to do the talking about his successes. "I'm just a tool for breeders," he once explained to BloodHorse. "I don't like to take the credit." Prather's association with WinStar began even before the operation had gotten out of the starting gate, when—working with manager Rich Decker—he helped plan the equine mating that put WinStar in the Triple Crown limelight for the first time. That mating was between the unproven stallion Distorted Humor and a mare named Belle's Good Cide, a match that would not have seemed obvious to many at the time. But that pairing produced 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner Funny Cide—and made WinStar a classic-winning breeder for the first time. Since then, Prather has been a key advisor to WinStar, working as part of WinStar's team to recommend matings for the operation's breeding stock and analyze pedigrees for horses WinStar might purchase. Asked by WinStar CEO Elliott Walden to evaluate future 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify's bloodlines when he was offered at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale, Prather examined the colt's pedigree and noted, "There's a lot to like here." "That meant that there were multiple layers of pattern, and there was some good stuff there," Prather said. "From day one, Kenny Troutt clearly articulated a dream, which I still remember," he added. "As they would travel around the country to look at mares to buy, I got to travel with them, and Kenny had a pocket full of pencils, sharpened, and a legal pad. He was always thinking." The dream, indeed the plan, was to stand valuable stallions who would fuel WinStar's rise as a racing and breeding powerhouse, and over the next two decades Prather has done his part to contribute to the fulfillment of that dream. PATTERN RECOGNITION C O N S T E L L A T I O N 28

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