The recent loss of blue hen Winter's Gone (article on BloodHorse.com) (pedigree) brings up an interesting question. Are the best producers usually well-bred mares that fared poorly in their own race careers?
Winter's Gone is an unplaced half-sister to grade I winner Bien Bien and two other stakes winners. After six starts in which her average finish position was seventh, she started out as a broodmare with multiple winners by Coronado's Quest and Victory Gallop. Next came Sharp Lisa, by Dixieland Band (on SRO), a grade I winner of over $650,000, and a year later Spring At Last, grade I winner of more than $1.1 million. The Touch Gold (on SRO) filly Sharp Susan -- a grade II winner who's still running -- followed by another year. It's not far-fetched to think that Winter's Gone's 2007 Storm Cat (on SRO) foal -- slated to be sold at the Keeneland September sale -- will go on to a successful career.
One of my favorite mares, Aspidistra (pedigree), accumulated only $5,115 in her 14 races and was a fairly cheap claim -- but she went on to produce champions Dr. Fager and Ta Wee, along with stakes winners A. Deck and Chinatowner, and graded-plaed Highbinder, and is ancestress to dozens of high-profile stakes horses.
The once-raced Somethingroyal (pedigree) didn't earn a dime on the track, but she produced four stakes winners and five additional stakes-placed winners -- not least of which was the great Secretariat.
Now, I'm not saying the best racemares always "leave it on the track" (Personal Ensign (pedigree) was Broodmare of the Year only eight years after being champion older mare... My Dear Girl (pedigree) was a champion 2-year-old before producing eight stakes horses... for just a couple of examples). But for breeders out there who can't afford stakes-winning mares for their broodmare band, take heart: some of the best producers are well-bred mares that didn't cut it on the track.