Class Dismissed - By Richard Zwirn

 (Originally published in the February 26, 2011 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions at the bottom of the column.)     

Richard Zwirn is a small-scale breeder in New York.

While Avalyn Hunter takes a rather hopeful view on whether high-class racemares make the best producers in her piece “From Fame to Foals” (The Blood-Horse of Feb. 12, page 390 ), sad to say, I am a bit more skeptical.

On many late nights over the last 25 years, I have secluded myself for however long I could keep my eyes open to scour the horse racing trades, sales catalogs, race entries/results, industry news, stallion registries, and the like. I have sought to become as knowledgeable as I can about this industry and issues dealing with vet science, genetics, marketplace conditions, statistics, and racing history. Regarding genetics, I have often hypothesized about certain trends in gender, color, track surface preference, birth order, birth dates, dosage, nicks—hoping to find a “key”—but never substantiated beliefs with any reliability or validity.

One piece of late night kitchen research I do feel like I’ve uncovered is that the best female racehorses do not necessarily become the best racehorse producers. (I hope I am not now blackballed by the folks at Keeneland or skewered in the “Letters to the Editor” section in the next edition of The Blood-Horse because of this sentiment.)

In the accompanying chart is listed some of the female household names of racing who have produced multiple foals. Besides these stars are dozens of fillies and mares we have loved and assumed would be the next “blue hens” upon retirement. However, sadly, none of these megastars have thrown a single American stakes winner.

These mares had every right to be “sure things” based upon race record and expert care, along with matings to the best and most expensive stallions in the land. Still, their production has been abysmal. The thousands of fillies they beat on the track probably have had greater success on the farm post-retirement than these heralded stars.

What’s wrong with this picture? Is it just God’s way? Did they over-extend or “empty” themselves while on the racetrack? Are there medication remnant issues? Do they possess too many masculine traits? Whatever it is, I believe this is no coincidence. Some old-time breeders and vets I have talked with suggest the untried or lightly raced mares with some class/pedigree have proved most successful. They sense the promise and potential were initially there. Some unfortunate things got in the way, and yet the mare was able to “save” herself for a breeding career. These experts go on to say they believe too much effort and stress at one point deplete an important, difficult-to-pinpoint energy reservoir.

I know it sounds very unscientific, but it occurs time and time again. It may be akin to a theory that the racehorses most prone to career-ending injuries during races are those that “stretch” themselves beyond their comfort zones due to their fierce competitive nature.

I’m not a great numbers guy. I’m sure the data presented in “From Fame to Foals” and the earlier related piece “Class Action” (The Blood-Horse of Oct. 23, 2010, page 3030) are accurate. But it is not a fair representation. If expectations, costs, and other advantages associated with these racehorses are factored in, top-class mares just are not measuring up. They are not begetting the quality outcomes one would expect from “breeding the best to the best.” And to perpetuate this fallacy is irresponsible. It creates inflation where it should not and has occasionally (and dangerously) put forth rules and regulations to be considered regarding the limitations on bloodstock to be allowed to breed.

In addition, the percentage of stakes winners born to non-stakes-winning producers is mighty significant. Hence, the excitement of breeding Thoroughbred racehorses…and the reason small breeders with moderate stock still have a shot. You never know for sure where the good ones will come from.


Don’t get me wrong. If I were the Mosses or Jacksons, the owners of female Horses of the Year Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra, respectively, I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. But for those of you who are just counting the days until the offspring of a Curlin/Rachel Alexandra or Bernardini/Zenyatta mating get to the races, I urge caution. They may not be the second coming of their mothers.

Below are listed millionaires, champions, or grade I winners that have produced multiple foals but no American stakes winners.

April Run Open Mind
Bayakoa Paseana
Christmas Past Runup the Colors
Christiecat Sharp Cat
Critical Eye Storm Song
Davaona Dale Surfside
Dispute Take Charge Lady
Easy Now Tuzla
Genuine Risk Wayward Lass
Heartlight No One Wilderness Song
J J’sDream Winning Colors
Lady’s Secret Yanks Music
Manistique You’d Be Surprised
Meadow Star


45 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Barbara

Ta Wee produced four American stakes winners: Great Above, Entropy, Tax Holiday and Tweak.

23 Feb 2011 11:34 AM
Footlick

It has been a long held belief that hard running mares leave something of themselves on the track.  But I feel more importantly is that mares need to come from a producing family, not just great bloodlines.  If she doesn't, she will have a harder time producing high class foals than her unraced counterparts who descend from top producing families.  Just my opinion though.

23 Feb 2011 11:35 AM
DBH

For all of the great mares out there, this list is pretty small and some had other issues that hindered a breeding career, like Genuine Risk.  Successful breeding requires 2 complimentary gene pools....regardless of who you are breeding.  I am not always sold on what the available services always rate as a great breeding match and owners tend to breed to a group of well named sires (for the sales ring as well) and they may not be the best match for the mare.   Both of these things are major contributors to what you are referring to.   Imagine telling an owner of a great mare that her best suitor has a $7500 stud fee ?

23 Feb 2011 12:25 PM
sceptre

The author's effort here is but another fine example of style over (rather than) substance- a practice, unfortunately, not limited to the topic at hand. It pervades almost all subject matter and can be witnessed in all forms of communication. The anecdote can prove a convincing argument to those who lack sufficient perspective.  

23 Feb 2011 12:52 PM
Susan from VA

I tend to agree.  Could it be that whenever an outstanding race mare is bred to an outstanding stud, the resultant foal has "too much of a good thing" - whatever that may be?  That is, too much of whatever factor made the two parents great race horses, cancels itself out?  Heck, if we knew what makes great horses, we'd have nothing but a bunch of Man O' Wars competing out there.  The unknown is what makes breeding both fun and frustrating.

23 Feb 2011 12:52 PM
Elaine

Unfortunatey, Mr. Zwirn, your homegrown research is incorrect. There is a direct correlation between racetrack performance and offspring success. An early study by Mordaunt Milner in the British bloodstock population found that non-winning mares make up 30% of the broodmare population but only 15% of the dams of stakes winners while stakes winners make up 5% of the population but 25% of the dams of SWs.

And the long held belief that good racemares "leave something on the track" was disproved with the advent of genetics and the discovery of a little something called DNA.

There are many factors that determine how successful a broodmare is. Certainly breeding "the best to the best" does not work is other factors are not in play. But starting with a quality racemare improves your odds more than any other factor.

23 Feb 2011 12:59 PM
Robert

You have to have quality and a female family to work with before you can breed consistently.  I would not pass up any of those mares.  I believe "DBH" hit the nail on the head with the comment on the $7500.00 stallion.  After Market stands for $7500.00 and I belive is a steal.  Quiet American stands for $15,000.00 and is another steal.  If the mare owners spent more time researching stallions and genotype and phenotypes, maybe more champions would come from lesser priced studs.  Maybe Not?  I like the following phrase when it comes to a broodmare.  I believe Seth Hancock said this, but I will pararphrase him just in case.  "I would rather have a well bred mare who could not run, then a mare who was an awesome racemare, but who has no pedigree."  I try to balance that out a little more, but I believe Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra will be good broodmares, and cannot wait until their first foals hit the races.

23 Feb 2011 1:09 PM
Byron Rogers

From a genetics viewpoint it is quite possible that these mares had genetic variants that helped make them good racehorses, but that these variants were in a form which made it less likely for them to pass these variants on (i.e they were hetrozygous for the variants).

23 Feb 2011 1:33 PM
Lmaris

We get the impression that stallions are much more important in the production of stakes winners due to two simple facts:

1)  They can produce 200% or more foals each year than any mare, and

2)  Owners of top mares don't send them to cheap stallions.

If a graded stakes winning mare produces a single graded stakes winning foal out of 10 foals, she's got 10% stakes winners.  That's better than almost all sires today, even the best ones.

If she produces, 2?  That would rank her in the best of all time if she was a stallion.

Yet if she doesn't, she's considered to be not producing as well as expected.

Appears that the old adage "A woman has to do something twice as well as a man to get 1/2 the credit" holds for equines as well.

23 Feb 2011 2:57 PM
scenceable

I don't think it's real evidence to list a bunch of good mares who have never had a stakes winner foal; you have to compare those against the good mares who HAVE produced good foals to see which is greater.

It would be like saying that chestnut horses are always better that other colors just because man o war and secretariat were chestnut. Totally invalid argument. I notice you ignore mention of the great mares who DID produce stakes winners. Plus, it could be that all the great stakes producing mares had great bloodlines and conformation and just didn't race; that's not the same as "quality" mares not producing "quality" foals.

You say "In addition, the percentage of stakes winners born to non-stakes-winning producers is mighty significant." - and by significant do you mean like... statistically significant? Has anyone actually crunched the numbers?

I'm not saying your theory is right or wrong, there's just no actual evidence right now. Theories like this just perpetuate the idea that breeding great horses is up to chance and not quality or talent. Then all these owners of mediocre horses are breeding them all over the place, contributing to the current over-population of thoroughbreds.

I mean yeah everyone has an opinion but when you spread this sort of psuedo-scientific information, people take it as fact, and that's an issue.

I just think there needs to be a lot more research in the area before any more speculation is done.

23 Feb 2011 3:11 PM
kk

Bayakoa is the grandmother of multiple Grade I winner Affluent.  Sometimes things skip a generation (or more).  Thank God, or I'd be as nutty as my parents!  :)

23 Feb 2011 3:17 PM
needler in Virginia

There's also a hidden truth (for ME, at least) here, Richard. The "greatest" horses we have seen, while not all "freaks", do stand head and shoulders above the rest of the very good, the good, the durable, the usable, the plater and the I-don't wanna-think-about-it, and WE HAVE NO IDEA WHY THEY DO!! Except for the size of Secretariat's heart and lungs what made him do what he did? What made Rachel Alexandra so fierce? What made Zenyatta achieve what she did and the WAY she did it? I  believe that these exceptional horses very rarely reproduce themselves. We don't know what will come of the royal breedings announced this week, but we DO know that Secretariat did his best work siring fillies who then passed his qualities along to THEIR offspring. Rarely, though were his extremely talented daughters the dams of extremely talented offspring. Funny the way nature works......we will never be able to reproduce Big Red or Zenyatta or Rachel or The Bid or John Henry or Slew or Affirmed by repeating the exact breedings that produced THEM. All breeding is a crapshoot; sometimes you win and sometimes you get snake eyes. It just seems to me that, but for a few notable exceptions, the really great ones don't pass that much greatness to their immediate offspring, and I DON'T think it's limited to the broodmares. It's just when evaluating an animal's success in the breeding shed, it's a lot easier to get your head around, say, 15 live foals produced by a broodmare as opposed to the hundreds of foals sired by a stallion. Her failures appear larger than those of the stallion. But is is failure? I don't think so. If ALL foals became Secretariat why would we even BET on races? It's the very special ones that give us chills and make our hearts stop. The odds are, though, the majority of horses born, the majority of dogs and cats born, the majority of humans born are gonna be good, usable, average representatives of their respective species........nothing more and nothing less. The very reason a special racehorse gets our blood pumping and our hair stand on end is that they ARE special and NOT common occurrences. At the end of the day, I think we're still trying to create magic and failing most of the time. I'd forget the "best TO the best" part and just pray hard for and hope for the best. You might check on how John Henry got here to believe in magic, though....it DOES still happen.

Cheers and safe trips to all, and well said, Richard.

23 Feb 2011 3:34 PM
Rachel

Oh please spare me...my pet peeve.....how many foals does a mare get to have in her entire lifetime? She's supposed to "wow" every foal? It's her fault the gene expression she's inherited or the "click" "nick" mate selection that's guessed at?

Besides, I'll tell you one thing...no mare EVER has to "reproduce herself" to me to be great. No mare is ever diminished because of the laws of gentetic expression.

I get so ripped at this "She left it all on the track" GOOD...that's all we asked of her.

23 Feb 2011 3:59 PM
Justine

A lot of successful racemares aren't necessarily bred to the stallions that COMPLIMENT them. They're instead shipped off to breed to the "best" and most expensive stallions around, wasting time and potential. And sometimes the racemares just aren't BRED to breed, aka they don't come from classy, stakes-producing female families.

Lots of factors come into play. I don't know about Rachel, but I'd put money down on Zenyatta becoming a good dam thanks to her female family (hello, Ms. Peterkin). I don't expect either mare to reproduce themselves, but I'd be more than happy if their future foals becomes stakes winners.

23 Feb 2011 4:26 PM
Taylor

I have to agree with DBH. I was really disappointed to hear Rachel went to Curlin. Her connections put little thought into that one.

23 Feb 2011 4:59 PM
Mookie's Hero

Yes, Gacicomo would have been just grest for Zenyatta as they bred the Kentucky Derby winner from a modest stallion. But don't forget Azeri and Mestique have produced winners as well as Personal Ensign. Perhaps some more data is required for an informed decision. But the most expensive stallion is not the answer for these mares.

23 Feb 2011 5:30 PM
Donut Jimmy

While I do not dispute the premise that not all great race mares are good producers, some of the names above either did not have enough foals to evaluate their quality (Paseana, Bayakoa and Genuine Risk had only 7 foals between them), had better success than suggested (several of your "failures" are graded stakes producers like Davona Dale and Meadow Star), or are still too young to assess (Summer Colony raced as a 5 yo and is only 13)

Keep in mind that the failure rate of young stallions going to stud is considered by most to be about 90%

Just as there are disappointments like Lady's Secret or Manistique, there are super producers such as Miesque and Personal Ensign.

I think these mares may have a much better record than average and than stallions in similar positions. Obviously given the different numbers, stallion "failures" have to be defined differently.

23 Feb 2011 5:37 PM
Stephi S.

The other side of the coin has mares like Personal Ensign, who produced, among others, Traditionally, Salute, Miners Mark, Our Emblem and My Flag, who are all stakes winners and some champions. My Flag produced Storm Flag Flying. Storm Flag Flying only has one foal surviving, and he stands at stud in Korea. I hope Zenyatta is another Personal Ensign as far as her foals go. She certainly was in her racing days.

23 Feb 2011 6:28 PM
slee

It seems that the "medication remnant" is a real possibility.  How many of these mares were treated with steroids while racing?  

And what about seasonal breeding and getting mares to come into season?  Once upon a time mares cycled into fertility when Mother Nature told them to.  How many mares now cycle when injected hormones tell them to?  Did Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra just happen to come into season in late February within a few days of each other?  Is it really a good thing to have foals born in January?  Are "early" eggs and uterine linings as good as ones that develop later in the spring?

Veterinary medicine and modern science know a lot, and, indeed, have gotten many mares successfully into foal when they otherwise would not have been fertile.  But how do we know when pushing Mother Nature around has gone too far?

23 Feb 2011 7:47 PM
Arts and Letters

Don't forget Dance Smartly.  She came from a fabulous breeding family, she ran like the wind, and had great offspring!  I rank her right up there with Personal Ensign.

23 Feb 2011 9:28 PM
sceptre

Byron-

Rather than "(i.e. they were heterozygous for the variants)", I think you'll agree better to say-As but one example (potential cause), they were heterozygous for the variants.

23 Feb 2011 10:14 PM
zeno

Many years ago a very good horseman who was the manager of Windfields Farm told me you either get in on the track or in the breeding shed, very rarely do you get both. I doubt either of those two mares will throw anything significant. I hope I am wrong, for the owners sake.

23 Feb 2011 11:40 PM
Kyri

There are a lot of champion, graded stakes-winning stallions who don't become great sires. They get some winners and even stakes horses, because they get a lot of mares, but they don't come close to reproducing themselves -- many of my favorite racehorses, such as Skip Away, Silver Charm, Point Given, and Free House haven't really set the world on fire with their get. I suspect that the number of great racehorses who do not produce particularly well is fairly even between mares and stallions (and the mares only get a limited number of chances).

As for the idea that they can leave their vitality on the racetrack, I don't know what scientific reason there could possibly be for that. I think that firstly not all horses are prepotent, and secondly if a mare gets bred to a stallion who's a bad match for her just a couple of times, that's a large percentage of her production record.

24 Feb 2011 12:58 AM
Dawn in MN

I am happy to say that I am not academically qualified to comment on genetics.

I do remember learning, in high-school biology that there are generally predictable results from combinations of genetic material...most offspring will fit a general pattern, but there are always a few offspring that defy the likely results, and are "different."  Secretariat’s heart and the commonly-used term “freak” for a very fast horse come to mind.  I'm with Needler on the "crap shoot" part.  

This topic is sure to produce fascinating conversation, and I would like to thank Mr. Zwirn for sharing his thoughts and his opinions.  This piece is an interesting departure from the usual.  

I encourage someone academically qualified to comment on equine genetics to chime in.  

Equally important to the conversation are the people who have witnessed, studied, or spent significant amounts of time thinking about the results of breeding first-class racing mares.  Science, observations and opinions are all important in a good conversation.  That is the beauty of this piece.

My only thought on the topic is that I think they breed the mares too often, and for too long.  Mine is a completely un-qualified opinion, fueled only by the Thoroughbred “obits” where the mares died of foaling complications, and my personal exprience of having two children.

24 Feb 2011 6:06 AM
Susan from VA

slee-

These mares have been kept under lights and no doubt have been cycling for some time.  They were bred now so they would have an early foal without risking a December foal.  I doubt if they were bred on the first ovulation coming out of transition.

24 Feb 2011 9:27 AM
deb

Famous horse, not so famous horse, its a crap shoot but thats the magic of it all.

I can hardly wait for the foals of Rachel and Zenyatta to come, great or not, its like a grandma thing, you love them anyway.

24 Feb 2011 11:00 AM
Pedigree Ann

Dawn, in the wild, mares are bred every year, as long as they live. The herd stallion will cover each mare whenever she comes into heat. Whether they get in foal or not and carry to term is up to Mother Nature.

What is different today with TBs is the lengths to which people go to make sure the mating produces a pregnancy. Hormones are given to some mares to make them cycle and then again to make sure they don't lose a pregnancy, even if their body wants to reject it. Too much money invested to lose the foal, you see.

24 Feb 2011 11:33 AM
Pedigree Ann

Mr. Zwirn, for your information:

Christiecat, dam in Japan of Excuse, black-type winner of over $1 million.

But as a statistician, I can tell you that anecdotes ARE NOT evidence. Anybody can pick and choose and come up with facts that back their point of view. Come back when you do a proper study.

24 Feb 2011 11:44 AM
John A

I always believe that this problem had to be with the hormone and possibly steroid the were so strong on the track, and i referring more on the mares who ran and beat the boys i always though that they were just different and it showed after in their offspring maybe with exception of Personal Ensign.

A great topic for discussion.  

24 Feb 2011 12:06 PM
Karen in Indiana

Here, here, needler in Virginia!

I wonder what the Phipps family would have to say about the hypothesis given in this blog? seems to me they valued performance WITH pedigree

24 Feb 2011 12:51 PM
mz

Yeah (coming to this late) what about Dance Smartly, Shuvee, Personal Ensign, and further back, Twilight Tear, Dahlia, Priceless Gem, Moccasin, etc.?

Mares can't have 100's of foals.

The idea of "leaving it on the racetrack" seems a very 19th Century idea to me.

This whole thing is more "lightning in a bottle" than anything else.

24 Feb 2011 2:14 PM
sceptre

Perhaps more important question:

Why did The BloodHorse deem this article worthy of publication in their MAGAZINE? Who's minding the store?

24 Feb 2011 4:30 PM
DownSouthRacing

Can someone explain to me how After Market is a steal at 7500? His yearlings from a 30k stud fee averaged 27,000. He was strictly a turf runner and has not had any baby hit the track yet. At 3000 maybe he is a steal. Definite steals right now are Quiet American, which was mentioned, Northern Afleet, Holy Bull, Pomeroy, Mass Media, Hear No Evil, Scat Daddy, Successful Appeal, City Zip to name a few. The author listed what 20 or 30 mares? Out of 30,000 foals born a year, thats a small example pool. Its kind of hard to take a multiple grade one winning mare and expect to reproduce her. Grade 1 fillys are very rare to begin with. Heck,if any person owned any horse, male or female, that won a grade 1 race just once in their whole lifetime should consider themselves lucky. Much less should they be disappointed because the superstar mare had only one foal to win a stakes.

24 Feb 2011 6:05 PM
Donut Jimmy

Given both the current rules on steroid use, and knowing the connections of these two mares, I think it unlikely that either of them ever got any steroids on the track.

Some of the mares in the past, particularly with certain trainers, probably got lots. The fact that they are both cycling now suggests strongly that they DID NOT get steroids on the track.

Also, as a veterinarian, I can tell you that if you want to get mares to cycle early, the best "drug" is simply light. I expect both mares have been under lights and are cycling right along. Trying to use hormones to get a mare through the transitional period is a fairly fruitless endeavor.

BTW the last time I saw the stats, the advantage went to February foals, followed by January and March foals and then simply the earlier the better.

24 Feb 2011 8:52 PM
Dawn in MN

I believe it was Tesio?, or someone like that a very long time ago, who proposed that each horse has some kind of an essential element that is combined and passed along to their off-spring when they are bred.

I haven't read it for a long time, but I seem to remember that Tesio's hypothesis was something that would support the opinion about leaving something on the track.

Sometimes old wives tales, etc. are supported by science once they are proven through the scientific method. There may be some unidentified truth to the leaving-something-on-the-track  theory that has yet to be quantified and proven trough science.  I mention that only to support my previous point that, "Science, observations and opinions are all important in a good conversation.  That is the beauty of this piece."

   I had a 15.2 hand quarter-horse-type mare when I was a kid.  I saved my money to have her bred to a fancy Arab stallion, she aborted.  I couldn't afford to rent the trailer to bring her back. My god-father's scruffy little 12 hand P.O.A. stud got her in foal. She carried that foal to term.  It was like Pedigree Ann said Mother Nature makes the call.  

25 Feb 2011 5:59 AM
JerseyBoy

Richard:

Here is some anecdotal evidence which might give you pause.

The top sire in Europe is Galileo. He won the Irish and Epsom derbies and was the European champion 3yo of 2001. His dam was Urban Sea who won the Arc de Triomphe. She also produced champion Sea the Stars. She raced 22 times. She was named Broodmare of the Year in England and Ireland, 2001.

A top international sire was Kingmambo. He was a top miler. His dam was Miesque. She was a Breeders Cup Mile winner and international champion. She She raced 16 times.

She was inducted into Hall of Fame.

Through their descendants, Kingmambo and Galileo are likely to affect the breed for years to come.

I know nothing about the breeding of horses.

25 Feb 2011 7:56 AM
Pedigree Ann

John A,

Personal Ensign is not an exception. Champion older mare Relaxing, the dam of Easy Goer and his SW siblings, ran third in the JC Gold Cup vs John Henry. Althea, who won the Hollywood Juvenile, Del Mar Futurity, and Arkansas Derby, foaled 4 SWs. Champion 3yo filly and Derby 5th Silver Spoon (won Santa Anita Derby) produced Demoiselle/Top Flight/Sheepshead Bay winner Inca Queen. Dahlia, who beat the guys in 5 countries, foaled 4 G1 winners, 2 G1-placed. Chris Evert, the filly champion who ran 3rd in the Travers, foaled 2 SWs from 5 foals. Multiple champion Susan's Girl won 29 of 63 races, but in several tries versus guys managed only a 3rd (in the San Pasqual); she foaled 2 SWs, including multiple G1 winner Copelan. Hall of Famer Gallorette won 21 of 72 starts, including the Met Mile, Whitney, Carter, etc., and foaled 2 SWs.

See? I can find counter-examples without any trouble, essentially off the top of my head. Citing examples is not proof of a hypothesis, either way.

25 Feb 2011 10:50 AM
Paseana

I don't pretend to know nearly as much about this subject as many here do, but the perception that GI-winning mares have trouble being successful broodmares, whether accurate or not, is out there.

I've always thought that the expression "left it all on the track" pertained more specifically to mares who experienced reproductive problems which made it difficult for them to conceive and/or carry to term....Genuine Risk and Paseana being the most high-profile in the last 30 years or so.  Genuine Risk beat Paseana in that contest by managing two live foals.....Paseana could only get one!

I don't think it's really fair to lump mares with these kinds of problems in with the girls who had no real issues reproductively, but just couldn't produce runners.....Lady's Secret and Winning Colors are poster-girls for that club.

The other thing that needs to be considered when looking at produce records for high-quality racemares is the surface they raced on.  While I have no stats at hand to support it, it seems that championship-caliber mares running on turf have a better chance of producing high-quality offspring.

That is, of course, going to bring up again the question of race-day medications, legal or otherwise, and what effect they have long term.  I don't think it's an accident that North America is the only broad jurisdiction in the world that allows race-day meds of any kind and is also the only broad jurisdiction that runs major GIs on dirt for fillies and mares.

This question has always fascinated me, and frustrated me as well, because I still have so much to learn.

25 Feb 2011 11:07 PM
New to the Game

Our South Carolina trainer who has been a successful pinhooker of graded stakes horses says he looks at the horse first, then the pedigree.  

Also when I have looked in the Bood Horse at high achieving racehorses' histories and bloodstock agencies' ratings on their nicking, some are rated C but have performed at the top.

26 Feb 2011 7:56 PM
Gerald BortolazzobMD

How about serenas song....Sophisticat, a grade 1  winner in Europe,  grand reward and harlington both grade 2 winners and serenas tune , a winner of multiple stakes. Now that's one productive mare!!    

27 Feb 2011 6:00 PM
Red Justinn

Nice, thoughtful article Richard. I have been doing similar since 1973. As you have already figured out, the Bloodhorse and Thoroughbred Times are essentially Breeders' Publications and selling Dreams not reality. Anyway, your study is not wasted oar at least you have company.

28 Feb 2011 5:47 PM
barillaro

 I completely agree w/you

02 Mar 2011 11:58 AM
barillaro

 how do you know what to do?  who knew Hard Tack + Swing On = Seabiscuit...Bold Reasoning + My Charmer = Seattle Slew; Reviewer+Shananigans= Ruffian; Bold Ruler + Somethingroyal= Secretariat.

  I would also think that visually you'd like to pair for breeding but, you have to admit, the Zen +Racheal breedings are very exciting.  I think the thing I like the most about it is, these foals are highly awaited...and...you never know...

02 Mar 2011 1:12 PM
dix

barillaro, My thoughts exactly!

Mares at best, baring infection, etc. may have 16 foals, most likely 4. Without something royal, there would be no secretariat.

Males do not reproduce themselves either!

07 Mar 2011 4:02 PM
The Beav

The first thing to a good breeding program is a fantastic broodmare.  Without that you won't get a fantastic foal.  How many foals are bred and never get to Kentucky? It is all the odds and we all know they are very small odds that any foal with get to be what we all consider "great". I am of the belief that the "horse Gods" only know who will produce that magic someone.  There are soooooo many variables that come into breeding a champion, how can you say that if the mare is considered great that she won't recreate herself?  Did she get all the opportunities than its Mom did?  Did the moons align just right to make it happen?  There is more "luck" to this game than we would admit to.  My vote, start with a great mare and you are more likely to get a great baby.  

08 Mar 2011 9:50 PM

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