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THT Bloodstock

" A horse liv​es by the laws of their nature. Where they fit in to the herd, how they interpret their world, how they learn, how they're coached, how they 

ultimately perform, is governed by the rules of that nature; it is wise to make an effort, to understand it."  ~ Kerry M Thomas​



Herd Dynamic Capsules, Derby 2022

Posted on May 3, 2022 at 5:50 PM

Color Analysis Shorts & Competitive Keys

Kentucky Derby 2022


Herd Dynamics; bringing the horse, into focus…

I have long believed that one of the best ways to bring the magic of horses to a wider audience was through sharing the intricate beauty of herd dynamic profiles, their unique “personalities”. It is the emotional connection that is the most endearing and so to can it be the most enlightening.

This year, in addition to our more comprehensive Kentucky Derby Analysis which sells through Brisnet, { find the link at the bottom of the home page before the Derby, and after check for it on Big Race Analysis section } I wanted to offer an avenue of accessibility to all those who, like myself, are horse lovers. During the course of our month-long efforts to study and develop the full profiles of the contenders I always have a collection of scribbled notes about them and their behavioral genetic traits. Those singular characteristics that make them “who” they are, are of course detailed at length in the full report, what follows here are some fun snapshots of that unique information. These free capsules are my invitation for horse lovers everywhere to get to know the athletes in a different way by showcasing some of the captivating ingredients of the athletic psychology tour work in herd dynamic profiling reveals. My goal is to broaden not only the appreciation and love for “who” the athletes are, but offer a window into the inner world of all horses.

I hope you will enjoy these, and feel free to share the link to this blog with any and all who enjoy the wonderful world of the horse.

Kerry M Thomas

Founder of THT Bloodstock





Cyberknife; Gun Runner Colt Trained by Brad Cox

I remember Pete and I were at Fasig Tipton in Timonium Maryland and we made it a point to look at two Gun Runner colts, they were quite matter-of-fact in their personality traits. Their herd dynamics even on a cursory look were very straight forward and some behavioral genetic stamping was evident. It’s interesting to go back and review the profiles of colts we did for past derby reports who now have progeny of their own in the derby.

Cyberknife has all the earmarks of a behavioral pattern that is fast cycling and what we call a hi-rev IHD or Individual Herd Dynamic. His sustained operating system and manner of athletic expression could be described, if he were a human athlete, as hyper-active, at times walking a slippery line of emotional stability. This is an athlete who shifts his gears and drops the clutch every chance he gets, a “go now” personality.

Competitive Key: Body control and space awareness under competitive stress.


Barber Road, Race Day Colt Trained by John Alexander Ortiz

Very business minded with an even-emotional energy distribution, he seems to have a knack for handling the unexpected. Barber Road certainly comes to the party with a vibe that says “I feel it, I can handle it”. He doesn’t seem the type to be easily discouraged and this lends itself to those personalities that typically exude the professionalism you expect in a pro athlete, the proverbial cool cat under pressure.

I get the sense Barber Road has sneaky athletic intelligence, a playful heart, solid grit and has the wherewithal to gut it out in tight spots. I’d go in to battle with these character traits any day!

Competitive Key: It will be of vital importance for him to stay within his cool and collected mindset.


Tiz The Bomb, Hit It A Bomb Colt Trained by Ken McPeek

One thing that rings clear about some athletes, when they’re locked in, they move as my dad used to always say, dish-rag loose and have the ability to stay locked in. Tiz The Bomb’s forward expression has substance. As an athlete competing against hi-level competition this tendency is an important asset. All athletes when under competitive stress are required to increase the rate of their psychological gear changes in a controlled manner if they hope to maintain mental and physical pace, and this is something that Tiz The Bomb shows he’s capable of doing. It will be important for him to operate with optimum efficiency on all cylinders in order to minimize the emotional stresses that this distance can bring to bear.

I find it beautiful to see when a horse like this hits his zone, he’s clearly operating in a happy place mentally. It cannot be understated how important that is, a joyful horse is a game competitor.

Competitive Key: Environmental interpretations are going to be important for sustaining competitive edge.


White Abarrio, Race Day Colt Trained by Saffie A Joseph, Jr

His emotional expressions could seem physically translated as ardent, but they’re not. I think White Abarrio can best be described as an intense athlete who isn’t tense. That is to say, though he may wear his emotions on his sleeve, he doesn’t necessarily reveal them to strangers unless you’re within his combat zone. Another Race Day pro, one of the striking characteristics he brings to the game is the symbiotic relationship between his herd dynamic traits and his physical talent.

From start to finish this guy sees himself forward, grabs the ball with a firm hold and dares his peers to take it from him. And if you happen to have it, he’s the guy who will be eager to nudge it from you.

Competitive Key: Emotional energy will need to be proportionally distributed within the IHD combat zone.


Mo Donegal, Uncle Mo Colt Trained by Todd Pletcher

There are some personalities that are clearly alert and environmentally sensitive, ready to act or respond at a moments’ notice. There are some that seem to be rather ho-hum and plodding & it’s clear the only way they’d get out of bed is if it caught fire! Then there are those who may seem disinterested, utterly forgettable, until they show up like a steady hand in an uncertain night. Mo Donegal is that individual who reads the room and understands the vibe before determining how to respond to it. When he does respond, he does so with quiet authority.

A face in the crowd at times, Mo Donegal is that personality with all the glittery appeal of a diamond in a mud puddle, the deeper the water, the more brilliant the shine.

Competitive Key: The jockey’s tendencies and the horse’s nature need to be compatible here, timing is key.


Zandon, Upstart Colt Trained by Chad Brown

Some athletes you watch and as you get to know them better, paying attention to the little details in their personalities and their mannerisms of expression, you sit back and think, “raw athletic talent”. Naturally athletic is the defining tendency in Zandon. Equipped with inherent depth to his emotional energy, this colt is his fathers’ son in many ways when it comes to personality traits and the fast rhythmed, hi-energy character. These types of herd dynamics often beat to their own drum, ready to take on the world how they find it, they’re always willing to go find out what’s around the bend.

Fearless and strong, Zandon reminds me of that yet to be seasoned athlete who carries a bearing of confidence, as if they’ve been there and done that. We know they haven’t, but the impressive ability to adapt to sudden changes paired with emotional energy to spare gives an air of influence that, despite some bumps along the road, leaves us expecting there is more to come.

Competitive Key: Finding that exacting synchronicity between mind & body right from the start.


Taiba, Gun Runner Colt Trained by Tim Yakteen

Experience is often relied upon to help us through future situations, helps us anticipate them and learn what to expect. Experience helps shape our personalities through the building of character and it does much the same equines. There are those athletes that rely on seasoning to grow-forward, building their foundation brick-by-brick. Then there are those scant few who seem to have a wealth of seasoning, character and tough-it-out veteran grit, who are in reality, still wet behind the ears. Taiba is that type of herd dynamic.

Taiba has the audacity to calmly nip at your heels, agitating his peers in a casual manner, luring them into acquiescence; he just might be in front of you before you knew he was behind you.

A matter-off-fact, authoritative forward expression moving freely through the environment are the prevailing tendencies on display. Professional mannerisms in the heat of battle with a flair for the assumed, Taiba carries himself with casual yet fast cycling athletic rhythms. He gives the appearance of one moving as if on a carpet above the ground.

Competitive Key: Stay within himself, be true to his nature and not being afraid to exercise patience.


Messier, Empire Maker Colt Trained by Tim Yakteen

Finding synchronicity between the outside and inside world is hinged upon fluency of interpretation, itself predicated upon the efficacy of the sensory system. With athletic expression Messier is vocal about what is going on within him, both when he is influencing the environment or responding to changes in it. Some roads we’re on are smooth, some are bumpy. Sometimes there is open space in front of us and sometimes we sense something may well be around the next bend. Messier walks a fine line between push-and-shove and wait-and-see, sifting through the sand to find the gold that could be there, while learning how deep to dig and how far to reach.

An above average competitive nature housed within an emerging herd dynamic leaves the door wide open for the trajectory of his growth pattern. No lack of effort and try certainly go a long way, and Messier is largely of a determined-to-fight through it kind of horse. Time will tell if he’s found an athletic plateau or if the heat of battle amongst his peers reveals sustained grit, power, and focus; ingredients to which he has access.

Competitive Key: Keep psychological time to adjust to the changes in the environment.


Smile Happy, Runhappy Colt Trained by Ken McPeek

It is interesting not to mention exciting to profile a Kentucky Derby contender who is the son of a Stallion that was selected and purchased as a yearling on your recommendation. Smile Happy is that horse for us at THT. In 2013 at Keeneland September, the yearling who topped our herd dynamic list and ticked all of our boxes, was a Super Saver colt who became Runhappy. Each horse is of course unique, yet there are definitely behavioral characteristics that present themselves from herd dynamic stamping. Worth mentioning above all is that Smile Happy exudes a joy when he is racing. His sensory system is high functioning and he has shown in his brief career that he can apply a sustained mental focus and effort over protracted time-in-motion.

Smile Happy has a very keen ability to read the room, and his responses to environmental changes are concise and athletically expressed. His nature is one of independence from the crowd with a strong Group Herd Dynamic that lends itself to his ease of adaptability. Rarely carrying any internal stress, Smile Happy has behavioral traits that help him absorb & process changes in the environment.

Competitive Key: Drawing on his environmental awareness to grit it out and sustain competitive edge.


Simplification, Not This Time Colt Trained by Antonio Sano

There are those who are “real characters” as they say, and there are those who express a lot of character. To put it simply, Simplification is an athlete that tends to wear his heart on his sleeve, expressive and honest at every step. One of the most important parts of any athlete is their mentality, there is nothing that underwrites underachiever quite like physical talent undermined by mental fatigue. This is not an issue here, Simplification is the very definition of terms like workman, hard trying, gritty effort, determined rhythm. He sometimes uses a hammer where a paintbrush would do, but truth be told this behavior trait I’d rather have in an athlete than be devoid of it.

Simplification is a straight forward kind of guy. His emotional energy distribution congregates in the forward aspect, though he has enough balance in his sensory efficiency to keep his path and avoid trouble much of the time. His fast-rev internal rhythms are supported by his physicality though he can find himself a little one directional, making sensory leads changes nonsensical to his mindset affecting physical lead changes.

Competitive Key: Finding tactical finesse while maintaining natural grit to help avoid mental/physical fatigue.

Charge It, Tapit Colt Trained by Todd Pletcher

The personality traits of the individual have much to do with how they learn, the rate at which they learn, and how what they learn is ultimately expressed. Charge It is one of those athletes whose mental aptitude has great potential when in an environment where he has the time to absorb it in-sync with his moderate to methodical mental cycles. A strong and well-balanced mind-set are evident, what is also evident is that because of the rhythm of his nature, he’s a student who likes to stay in class.

Charge It distributes his emotional energy quite evenly and though his physical talent appears to have the ability to support tactical motion, his current demeanor on the growth pattern slide-rule lends itself to a little deliberation; some are the dirt bike, others are the Harley. Time in motion is a definite asset with this psychology, what is yet to be determined is if Charge It is along his competitive education path far enough to take his hi-rev cycles and mental rating ability, up a notch.

Competitive Key: Maximizing his physical rhythms with an increased urgency in the competitive zone.


Zozos, Munnings Colt Trained by Brad Cox

There is emotional energy, and there is athletically expressed emotional energy. When you lay your eyes upon Zozos, not only can you see the athletic expression, you can feel it. With a steady rhythmical hum, he enters the gate, ready, emotionally engaged and when the gate opens, it’s immediately clear this is a competitive nature in its purest, perhaps even its simplest, form. Straight forward and honest, this horse has the get-things-done kind of personality, if you were in the playground and picking a team for kickball, (one of my favorites back in the day) Zozos would be picked first because you just know… You know you’re getting a gamer.

With this type of psychology, where emotional energy distribution stays housed primarily within the forward aspect, the internal growth patterns are knitted together rather firmly, making external experiential growth primary. This can be a problem for lesser herd dynamics, but this athlete knows nothing of a defeatist attitude and if I’m a recruiter at the combine I look at him with a nod of approval. There is something to be said for the matter-of-fact expressions. A piercing personality is an asset for Zozo.

Competitive Key: Allowing the environmental chaos to sort itself out for a hard push down the stretch.


Epicenter, Not This Time Colt Trained by Steve Asmussen

Professional athletes give off a certain vibe, they have an air of confidence about them that is less “cocky” than it is “matter-of-fact”, when you know, you know. Epicenter brings a natural, high-level herd dynamic presence with him where he goes, evident even in his first race was his poise. Athletic expression in motion defines competitive nature in its purest form, competitive edge is born from the sustainment of it. When the density of stress elevates, it requires the intensity of grit be equal to it, Epicenter is the manifestation of this.

A high degree of emotional intelligence provides a very good base for more versatility than has yet been called upon. A personality with synchronicity between mind and body provides fluency within his athletic rhythms and a natural cadence between the internal and external allows freedom of movement. He is a very intense competitor, a fast learner and harmonizes quickly with the influx of environmental stimulus. Perhaps not a 100% completed herd dynamic growth pattern, but very near it.

Competitive Key: Acknowledging that there is more tactical versatility at hand, patience & trusting in it.


Tawny Port, Pioneerof The Nile Colt Trained by Brad Cox

When it comes to being athletic, there is no substitute for effort, it is the cornerstone of competitive nature and aids a great deal in any horses’ capacity for growth. Tawny Port is that sort, an athlete that is true to himself and gives his version of “best-effort” at every turn. This honest hard-trying athlete has a fairly well-balanced personality that has seen some recent progression in that both environment and peers have become more readily comprehended. A fact which has assisted his time-in-motion emotional energy distribution by making it more efficient.

Another key factor of personality is that all important sense of independence among the crowd, and Tawny Port’s growth pattern has started to define his sense of independence. These personality types find themselves getting comfortable over time and even if they don’t completely adapt to all of the changes in the environment as they happen, when push comes to shove their determination forward staves off mental fatigue in combat.

Competitive Key: Avoid situational chaos, take advantage of any chance to leap frog herd dynamic peers.


Happy Jack, Oxbow Colt Trained by Doug O’Neill

Efficiency of sensory lead changes is the cornerstone of available equity within the mind to body fluency sequence and psychological growth patterns. Disruptions in this sequence certainly doesn’t make one devoid of ability or talent, it just makes the process of learning more dependent on tutoring. When this happens in a condensed time-in-motion format such as competition on the track, an athlete can sometimes feel a little anxious. I consider Happy Jack as a horse to fall in to this range, which translated into athletic performance compromises total herd dynamic strength.

This is not to say that Happy Jack isn’t nor can’t be an athletic achiever, what it does mean is that the larger body of work will be saddled with environmental requirements that upper level, more independent minded peers, are less likely to assist with. This adds to the challenge and places a stronger slant onto pure physical talent as the mind works to sort things out.

Competitive Key: Environmental/herd placement to minimize interpretive demands.


Pioneer Of Medina, Pioneerof The Nile Colt Trained by Todd Pletcher

The balance between mind and body affects the cadence between horse and environment, athletic expressions are in large part emergent properties of these. When there are tendencies of personality that gnaw away accumulatively at total performance, the reliance upon physical talent is heavier. Pioneer Of Medina is a fine athlete representative of one who has enough physical ability to help offset any minor holes in the herd dynamic. His psychological rhythm by nature seem to dance on the line between focusing on singular tasks to trying to absorb multiple stimuli. His current growth patterns are slightly anchored by the demands of interpretation at speed which can leak emotional energy from the forward aspect, some of that energy pushes down through the body.

Efficacy in the sensory lead changes are less than fluent but the addition of equipment has helped to cone his emotional energy forward. Hard trying and physically talented, when Pioneer Of Medina is able to get the right physical position, the duration of competitive distance shrinks. The use of blinkers is wise here and the right jockey will be too. Where equipment works in partnership with the physical horse, the rider works in partnership with the emotional horse.

Competitive Key: Understanding that mental rhythm is dependent upon physical rhythm, get position early.


Classic Causeway, Giant’s Causeway Colt Trained by Brian Lynch

Control of one’s emotions is a valuable skill, especially for the athlete competing at high-levels; it is a trait of behavior, you cannot teach it. Classic Causeway is just such an athlete. Displaying an independent nature from herd chaos and an emotional intelligence that allows him to operate devoid of the weight of stress, he cuts through the environment with purposeful motion. There is good functionality in the Group Herd Dynamic (GHD) collaborative with athletic expressions that are manifest in the faster cycled Individual Herd Dynamic (IHD), where competitive edge lives.

Classic Causeway can hold his own against peers from a herd dynamic point of view. That said, the physical horse has to be able to sustain the mental horse’s competitive nature as effectively at the end of a race as it does just out of the gate. Having naturally athletic expression is an asset and helps greatly in not misusing emotional energy, which contributes to sustaining the physical output. With tendencies such as these an efficient collaboration between mind and body fluency can carry an athlete forward.

Competitive Key: Conserving physical energy by harmonizing mind & body cadence with the environment.


Crown Pride JPN, Reach The Crown Colt Trained by Koichi Shintani

Athletic expression comes in many forms and varieties based upon the rhythms of personality. There are the subtle and the refined that emerge from the methodical GHD. There are the urgent and forward fast cycling, more commonly associated with the IHD. And there are some moderately cycled personalities that dip into both. Crown Pride has a very expressive and determined, aggressive natured vibe to his fast cycling personality. Raw and powerful mannerisms that dance along the line between purposeful and reactive, a balancing act of psychology in motion that his physical talent and raw power sometimes have to push through.

With edgy mind-to-body fluency, and true physical talent, I would describe Crown Pride as having the behavioral characteristics of that individual who is going to do an act, and ask for forgiveness later. His emotional extension is dwells nearly 100% of the time in the forward aspect. This tendency enhances forward focus yet risks an interruption in the internal cycles. A sincere and pure athlete, he has depth in his emotional energy, how useful he applies it is up to him.

Competitive Key: Keep the operating system ahead of the body so he can balance rhythm to environment.

Summer Is Tomorrow, UAE; Summer Front Colt Trained by Bhupat Seemar

A fast rhythmed cycle from start to finish best describes Summer Is Tomorrow’s personality, for he is giving it all he has the moment the gate opens. Psychologically speaking, these fast-forward mentalities are athletically expressive with a determination that runs slightly on the edge of over-doing it. A hard trying horse that’s of an all-in character, Summer Is Tomorrow (I wish it was!) moves into forward space with teeth gritting enthusiasm. Hyper-sensitive at times to changes in the environment and/or urgency from the jockey, this is the type of mind-set that responds best to a rider with feel. He is already operating at optimum rev, the clutch is already dropped, he needs no firm hand nor strenuous emotion in saddle.

One thing about athletes with these psychological rhythms to be mindful of, if you ask too much too early, you run the risk of mental and physical stamina running out. Interestingly enough, extra time-in-motion can be an asset as it assuages the intensity of in-the-moment battles for position, helping to relax and more evenly distribute emotional energy.

Competitive Key: Easing through situational chaos and not being urged, avoid over-intensification unnecessarily.

Ethereal Road, Quality Road Colt Trained by D. Wayne Lukas

Mind to body fluency is essential for the sustainment and optimization of physical talent, it is what allows for the fluid translation of identified stimulus. Some horses rely heavily on the Group Herd Dynamic part of their psyche to harmonize their rhythm into an IHD competitive drive, and some are shifted into that faster cycled rhythm from the start. Ethereal Road’s tendencies seem rather drawn to shifting from GHD to IHD with a sense of drag. These psychologies are generally carrying the burden of needing to outsource to herd dependency, meaning they’re conviction of releasing the herd and shifting into an independent motion can be a struggle. Once shifted into his faster cycling rhythm Ethereal Road has shown a sustained competitive nature, however he is yet still searching for his breakaway sense of moving independently. Competitive edge remains in the shadows, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Ethereal Road has shown there is a solid competitor hidden away inside this oft times perplexing athletic psychology, especially when time and environment help him sort things out. An early shift into more targeted focus points can help protract it. The jockey can have a lot of influence in helping the colt negotiate the environment and get him into a physical rhythm early to facilitate the cadence in his mind.

Competitive Key: Minimizing environmental awareness demands, finding early open space.


Rich Strike, Keen Ice Colt Trained by Eric Reed ** Derby A/E List**

Each horse has unique manners of athletic expression and there is no one size fits all to any personality trait nor tendency. Rich Strike’s manner of expression has the earmarks of one who struggles with the internalization of stress, and where there is a degree of that, his tendency in motion remains athletic. Athletic and a true, hard trying gamer is the prevailing behavioral trait. The balance for Rich Strike is finding psychological harmony through his physical motion.

By the looks of him one could logically surmise this herd dynamic rhythm is of the faster sort, a hi-rev cycle. Though in reality, his internal cycles are more methodically paced. This helps his mind to body fluency find cadence over a period of time in motion. Rich Strike can rely on his consistent determination in competitive drive when in combat to optimize every bit of physical talent he has. This is all you can ask for in any athlete, sincere and honest effort every time.

Competitive Key: Finding early position, harmonize mind to body fluency, smoothly transition forward.

Rattle N Roll, Connect Colt Trained by Ken McPeek **Derby A/E List**

Herd dynamic growth patterns are a tell all in so many ways for the trajectory of the athlete, it is a reflection of who they were, who they are, and who they’re likely to become. Rattle N Roll progressed well via a very defined psychological growth pattern which, housed within the GHD, truly supports his competitive nature over the all-important Time-In-Motion (T.I.M.). This type of athletic psychology is best expressed at distance, it fits his internal rhythms and his ability to conserve and distribute emotional energy.

A horse with such alacrity in his sensory clearance as evidenced by his interpretative efficiency relies upon the harmony of mind to body fluency to eat up time over distance. The sensory system, with no signs of sensory lead change interruptions in any of his performances, were hampered in his last two races by equipment. Herd dynamic growth patterns generally happen in 3 stages, one stage is developmental; another is refinement & versatility and the hoped-for final stage is a herd dynamic power surge. Rattle N Roll is a solid athlete, very capable and worthy. I’m not sure what stage he is at now in his growth pattern because when there is applied sensory disruption it can interrupt internal growth. We will get an idea in his next race if it is devoid of sensory impeding equipment. But rest assured, there is depth within this herd dynamic that may well find itself again.

Competitive Key: Allowing the inherent and natural athlete to manifest without over-influencing.


*Extra* We had already profiled Un Ojo, so I thought I would add his capsule for you.


Un Ojo, Laoban Gelding Trained by Ricky Courville

As herd animals the greater majority of horses step up to the plate with some form of outsourcing dependency in tow, be that sensory sequence gaps or a hidden inferiority complex that when push comes to shove, sees some fade in the heat of battle. When it comes to Un Ojo, he’s having to negotiate environmental changes and situational chaos with one of his primary senses compromised, the lacking of his left eye. No doubt that since the unfortunate circumstance that led to the loss of his eye, Un Ojo has done well to adapt, most horses can indeed rely on their inherent nature for assimilation.

Lucky for him that his personality has surely assisted his adaption, for he has all the earmarks of a sweet, patient and discerning sort and where there is some hesitation in various aspects, he can be forgiven. On the one hand, Un Ojo is a steady psychology, a rhythm indicative of the group herd dynamic. Surveying the environment to determine the proper mental pace with which to move. The fact that the left oblique is visually challenged does pose some risk to the methodical mindset as efficiency in environmental interpretations are key for the dial-up, into target IHD battle zone. Just like in real estate it’s about location, location, location, for Un Ojo.

Competitive Key: Finding placement that allows the majority of herd chaos to develop in front of him, then launch his cannon shot.





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Thank You,



“Herd Dynamics Matter, every horse, every discipline, everywhere.” THT


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