Stallions: The Good and the Sturdy

The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation published its second annual listings of stallions based on durability in an advertisement that appeared in a recent edition of The Blood-Horse. The stallions were ranked based on the performance of their offspring using the average number of lifetime starts per starter and the lifetime percentage of foals of racing age that have started.


To qualify, stallions had to be ranked within the top 200 sires based on progeny earnings in 2009. I thought it would be interesting to look at the Grayson's two lists, compare them to the 2009 ranking of stallions based on progeny earnings that appears on The Blood-Horse's website (, and find out which ones fared the best based on both durability and progeny earnings.


The sires that were ranked in the top 50 by 2009 progeny earnings, which helps make their offspring more commercially appealing, and in the top 100 on both of the Grayson lists were:

No. 2 (by 2009 progeny earnings), Distorted Humor, 14.36 starts per starter and 73.20% starters from foals of racing age.

No. 3, Smart Strike, 14.17 and 70.67%.

No. 7, Northern Afleet, 16.91 and 75.20%.

No. 9, Dynaformer, 18.01 and 78.90%.

No. 20, Yes It's True, 16.65 and 70.70%.

No. 31, Mutakddim, 19.56 and 76.66%

No. 44, Petionville, 18.93 and 79.00%.


The following horses in the top 50 by 2009 progeny earnings also ranked in the top 100 on at least one Grayson list:

No. 5, A.P. Indy, 68.43% starters from foals of racing age.

No. 10, Tale of the Cat, 69.47% starters from foals.

No. 14, Langfuhr, 78.99% starters from foals.

No. 18, Elusive Quality, 70.26% starters from foals.

No. 21, Pulpit, 69.80% starters from foals.

No. 24, Broken Vow, 14.46 starts per starter.

No. 25, Maria's Mon, 68.14% starters from foals.

No. 27, El Prado, 71.80% starters from foals.

No. 29, Unusual Heat, 15.21 starts per starter.

No. 32, More Than Ready, 72.28% starters from foals.

No. 38, Bernstein, 14.91 starts per starter.

No. 40, Grand Slam, 68.39% starters from foals.

No. 48, Touch Gold, 14.59 starts per starter.

No. 50, Cherokee Run, 79.39% starters from foals.


Of the Top 50 sires by 2009 progeny earnings, Mutakddim ranked the highest (21st) on the list of sires based on the average lifetime starts per starter list. Cherokee Run ranked the highest (11th) on the lifetime percentage of foals by racing age that have started list.





Leave a Comment:


Interesting that Petionville and Mutakkdim are both by Seeking the Gold and are both 3x4 Buckpasser.

28 Jul 2010 11:17 PM

This is very useful!

29 Jul 2010 6:37 AM

Only surprised that Dynaformer's not at the very top of the list.  Many a trainer has commented that the Dynaformers get better as they get older. Look at Perfect Drift.

29 Jul 2010 7:25 AM
Citation Lover

I am a newbie fascinated by pedigrees of horses. I need some very basic beginner-type information. Can you suggest where I might find this info. I've read the books and everything I can find online, and they all are too complicated or the authors assume the reader knows a lot more than I know. Any help will be much appreciated.

29 Jul 2010 10:30 AM
Karen D

I'm not as knowledgable as I would like to be on the breeding side of racing, but I find it really interesting.  Is there is further breakdown available that includes different surfaces, distance and running style? I would think that all of those considerations impact durability and would give a much better picture if you are talking about stats for a horse's entire career.    

29 Jul 2010 12:46 PM

Look at Cryptoclearance percentages of starters and then at the number of starts. I believe  he has had 2 Breeders Cup winners and numerous other stakes horses, his daughters also produce runners that can run a distance of ground and can give you a horse that can run a mile and out. This is supposedly what everyone is looking for, but you can't give one away. Why?

29 Jul 2010 1:13 PM
Tavner Dunlap

I have done empirical reviews of pedigrees for the past 120 years and what appears to most frequently excite them to stakes quality horses under PowerLines horse pedigree consultants.  My URL is at and I would be happy to help those interested in becoming better breeders of thoroughbreds.  

29 Jul 2010 1:17 PM

Citation Lover,

Go to the True Nicks page and look on the left hand side for the pedigrees link. Click that and you will find a ton of information. In my opinion the best way to learn about pedigree is to bury your head in the racing form and watch as many races as you possibly can.  After about five years you'll start to get a handle on pedigree. You'll develop a sense of what breed of horses like to run on. For example, different tracks, surfaces, and distances. The graded-stakes races are the ones you really want to focus in on. That is where you'll get to see alot of well-bred horses run, every weekend. Watch as many Triple Crown races on Youtube as you possibly can. Get yourself familiarized with the history of this series. You can get watch almost every Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont dating back to the last 40 years, as well as many other important races. Learn who the successfull Breeders are, i.e. Lane's End Farm, Darley, Three Chimneys, Claiborne, and a whole slew of other successful breeding operations. Read the Blood Horse and Thoroughbred Daily News everyday and this should help accelerate your learning. Hope this info helps you out.  

29 Jul 2010 1:23 PM

I'm quite sure that Ms. Biles realizes that these lists offer relatively little in assessing true "stallion durability". There are so many variables which influence starts/runner/stallion. The fact that progeny earnings were factored in did prevent this information from being entirely worthless, but despite this it is nearly impossible to draw from it any meaningful conclusions. As example, consider that claiming-type horses generally have far longer careers, and greater number of starts/yr. Also, better bred horses as a group start fewer times. Again, there are many, many variables other than what was presented here. A true assessment of "stallion durability" is likely beyond our means.

29 Jul 2010 2:06 PM

Citation Lover: when you're reading BloodHorse or TDN, also pay attention to the ads for various stallions.  I learned a lot by reading those ads and then figuring out pedigrees over time.

(Sorry BloodHorse Staff: but I also gotta thank The Thoroughbred Record (for when it existed) too --I remember poring over ads in that publication for stallions in the regional markets (Donut King, Poggibonsi [only because I drove through there in Tuscany and finally found out how he had been named], Bold Ruckus) as well as Claiborne (Bold Ruler, Nijinsky, Danzig) and Darby Dan (Graustark, Ribot) and Spendthrift (Raise a Native) and Gainesway (Lyphard, Roberto, Vaguely Noble) and man! I learned a lot over time just from those ads.)

Finally, fall in love with a horse.  Follow his/her get forever.

29 Jul 2010 2:11 PM

Sorry, but I feel obliged to add that Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation would do well in the future to devote these resources ($) otherwise. These donated funds could serve better in more direct study of equine infirmity and illness. I understand that PR is essential in attracting more funding (and this study might be considered as PR), but its relatively unscientific (almost naive) approach could cause some to question Grayson's overall credentials/worthiness. The longer I remain in this game, the more skeptical I become.  

29 Jul 2010 2:38 PM

For the person who wants to know more about bloodlines the advice to read the racing form is very good. Watching you tube is great also, but nothing beats going to your local track and watching horses run. When walking in the post parade before the horses run watch how they walk. How do they cover the ground? If they walk like Tim Conway's little old man they will never have enough stride to cover the ground when they run. Look at their feet. If you want to see why a horse is a claiming horse look at a graded stake horse vs. a claiming horse the difference is not hard to find there are four answers on the ground. Great big horses with itty bitty feet are a RX for leg problems hence the claiming tag. Some bloodlines like turf, some like mud. Pick a favorite horse and watch his races on Bloodhorse or you tube, then watch his sire or dams races pretty soon you should see a pattern. Study, study, study. If you want to learn you will never learn enough. Have fun.

29 Jul 2010 3:02 PM

Citation Lover,

I think the best way to learn pedigrees is to look at some.  Go to a sales web site and find the horses that have sold for a lot of money and then pull up their catalog page which includes their pedigree and a description of the race record and produce record of their mother (first dam), their mother's mother (second dam) and their mother's mother's mother (third dam).

You should soon get a feel as to why they sold for a lot of money.  Then look at some that didn't get a bid.  I saw one sad pedigree for an  upcoming regional sale--first foal from an unraced mare, out of a mare that earned $10,000 and produced no winners....  You'll get a good understanding of pedigree if you learn to read a sales catalog page.

If you go to the 2-year old in training sales and pick a few that you want to follow.  You can set up a free Stable Alert account with Brisnet and be notified with when they breeze and when they are going to race.  Pedigree is nice, but pedigree is only good if it does something on the racetrack.

Hope that helps.

30 Jul 2010 4:30 PM


You are right.  The study means nothing.

I hadn't appreciated it was put out by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.  In their defense, I am sure the study cost almost nothing to produce--they just needed to pull up some numbers and compile a list.

31 Jul 2010 6:32 PM

Surprise, surprise. Unbridled's Song isn't up there. I'm sorry but I've never seen such a fragile and brittle stallion siring even more fragile and brittle offspring. Winslow Homer is a joke. He may have talent but snapping his delicate bones every other race certaintly isn't productive! Unbridled's Song is one stallion that I would love to see as a gelding. Why can't more people breed for durability and strength anymore?

03 Aug 2010 9:10 AM

so who is number one on this list

it does not say

04 Aug 2010 8:20 AM

Citation Lover

There is no quick fix to what you want to learn.Try reading,Matriarchs by Edward L. Bowen and Foundation Mares by John P. Sparkman.After 40 years of racing,breeding and studying pedigrees I'm still learning.If you have any questions e-mail me.

04 Aug 2010 8:44 AM

I'm always irritated when major races broadcasted on TV do not list the sire and dam as they do jockey, owner,trainer, and purse winnings as the horses are shown in the post parade.  As a viewer I want to know this information, and I'm sure breeders would benefit from this.  Why do only the Triple Crown races show this?

06 Aug 2010 9:20 AM
Citation Fan4ever

Citation Lover, I am a newbie like yourself. The statement you made about the author assuming that we "know" more than we actually do, was spot on! For example in another post on here from "Rob" he says that "a horse is 3X4 Buckpasser?" What exactly does that mean? (3X4?)It may be very basic info for some but I don't have a clue! I have also read that anything beyond the 3rd generation is not relavent? Is it or isn't it and why not? These are the questions that I have, but never have been answered from reading an "advertisement" of a Stallion?  IMO Citation was one of the greatest TB's ever, but he never sired anything that could match his own racing record? Is there a "clue" in his pedigree to suggest that? I really wish I knew more than I actually do? Is there a "Pedigrees for Dummies?"

10 Aug 2010 9:07 AM

Citation Fan4ever

3x4 Buckpasser, means that Buckpasser is in the 3rd and 4th generation of the pedigree.

If anyone could look at a pedigree and tell if a horse would produce greatness, the people with the most $ would have the best horses.

Breeding thoroughbreds is not as basic as math, 1 + 1 = 2.

Horses that I am interested in buying for my clients are researched back to their fondation mare. Not just 3 generations.

We are racing a colt now, Snakebite Kit, 7 starts with 5 wins, 1 2nd, 1 3rd. Raced only in Louisiana, He is ranked in the top 10 grass males 3 years and up by Performance rates. We only have 3 brood mares.    

11 Aug 2010 8:22 AM
Fran Loszynski

My list is simply


and when I see in the pedigree

A.P. Indy and Maria's Mom, I go to the window to bet. Unbridled Song's foals have won me a few penny also.

20 Aug 2010 3:03 PM

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