This is the final part in our series on Crestview Genetics’ ground-breaking experiment with the ninth clone of Cuartetera, known as “B09.” Adolfo Cambiaso and Alan Meeker tackled the age-old question of nature vs. nurture: Could a clone trained in the United States by an American player be as good, or maybe even better, than the original, whose experiences were 100 percent Argentine? They got their answer in Palermo.
The experiment concluded in December 2018, when B09, for the second consecutive year, won the best-playing pony award at the Argentine Open final. This time she was “double BPP,” being named BPP of the final by the AAP and also by the Argentine Breeders Association.
Adolfo Cambiaso and Alan Meeker had proven their point. Although B09 is a Cuartetera clone, this was not a cloning experiment. Their cloning hypothesis, which they had already proven, was that two clones born, raised and trained under strictly identical conditions would grow up to perform as well as each other and the original. The older B clones had already proven that.
B09 became the next step of the experiment. What would happen if a clone was raised in a different environment than others from the same original? Would it be as good?
Unlike her counterparts, B09 stayed in the United States for her training while the others went to Argentina. The results were amazing. All the Cuartetera clones that competed (some are used only for breeding) excelled equally on the field.
The first day B09 arrived at Cambiaso’s farm in Argentina after winning the U.S. Open, she was turned out with the rest of the horses. Later when they brought her in for season, Meeker says she “was just fine” without the chicken (her companion in Florida). “She didn’t need it anymore. She is just like the rest of the horses now; she understands the regimen.”
He added, “It just goes to show there’s a big difference in how you can raise and maintain a horse. They each have their own epigenetic response, and moving the horse from one environment to another has an effect on that horse’s psyche and part of its epigenetic makeup. So if you can find a way to bridge one environment to another, and do it delicately like Adolfo did, you can still have success.”
B09 provided the ultimate proof of that. In the 2018 Argentine Open final Cambiaso doubled her, playing two entire chukkers with her. That’s unusual at that level because few horses have the stamina for it, let alone the ability to maintain peak performance for that long. Cambiaso made four of his 12 goals on that one horse (three in the third chukker and one in the seventh), propelling Valiente to victory on the biggest stage in the world.
It wasn’t just the number of goals that distinguished B09, but how she enabled Cambiaso to make them. Nearing halftime with Hilario Ulloa on his hip, Cambiaso spun B09 in the opposite direction, thundering downfield and receiving a pass from Pelon Stirling. Still under relentless pressure from Ulloa, Cambiaso put B09 into overdrive and scored at speed. Later, after the ball went out of play, he tapped once and then shot it into goal from 60 yards out. He won the ball out of the next throw-in, quickly turned B09 and accelerated, blowing past the last defender (Ulloa) to make arguably his best goal on B09).
At end of seventh chukker with time expiring, Pablo MacDonough found Cambiaso with a back shot. Cambiaso whirled B09 around to receive the pass and run toward goal. Under sustained and grueling pressure from the Las Monjitas defense, he quickly turned B09 in front of post (after losing the ball) and hit it through with a back hand.
“It goes to show that the nature vs. nurture argument may have some merits,” says Meeker. “If I had chosen my Texas ranch foreman to train B09, then she’d probably be a pretty smart cow horse and probably a worthless polo pony. By choosing an American 10-goaler and his training program, what I think I’ve proven – and I underline the word “think” – is that nurture does matter, but if you can mimic the quality of the training program, as long as you start with superior genetics you’re going to wind up with a superior result.”
Depending on the day, says the scientist, 80 to 85 percent of the Cuartetera clones perform as well, and sometimes better, than the original. “These horses are in the midst of their career, so you can’t fully say what their potential will be,” he acknowledges. “But each is a champion, without fail.”
We will be seeing more B09s for years to come. “We’re getting ready to do 44 embryo transfers, so we’ll probably get 30 Cuarteteras out of that,” said Meeker in February.
“I loved all the clones equally but am especially proud of B09. It served to quash a lot of the naysayers that were Ph.D’s in epigenetics at some of the major universities who said, ‘You’ll be lucky if you get one clone that’s any good. It just doesn’t work like that.’ I believe (and I underline “believe”) that I’ve proven them wrong.”