The best way to learn almost anything is by using examples and discussing the topic with others who are knowledgeable and who might have a different perspective. When deciding the merit of a mare as a potential addition to your broodmare band, the more you know what to look for, the better!
Today we'll look at a mare being offered on Starquine.com.
Ferris Wheel (pedigree) is a 1993 mare whose page has a couple of red flags -- but whose royal pedigree makes those problems worth looking into a bit further. The mare is a daughter of Deputy Minister (have I mentioned how much I like him as a broodmare sire?!?) out of the Graustark mare Nalee's Fantasy. Ferris Wheel wasn't much of a runner -- she never broke her maiden -- but her dam was graded stakes-placed and her second and third dams were major stakes winners. In fact, you have to go back to the sixth dam before you find a mare that wasn't a black type runner.
Ferris Wheel is a closely-related half-sister to Ascot group II winner Silk Slippers (where Ferris Wheel is by Northern Dancer's grandson Deputy Minister, Silk Slippers is by the great Canadian sire's son Nureyev). Beyond this one big winner, however, Nalee's Fantasy's other foals were disappointing (three went unraced and the other two were non-winners -- all from exceptional sires).
It was quite a different story for Ferris Wheel's granddam. Nalee produced 11 foals, of which three were stakes-placed, two others graded-placed, two were stakes winners, and another (Meneval) was a classic winner at the Curragh. Of the remaining foals, two were winners and the lone unraced foal, Nalees Flying Flag, went on to produce four stakes horses including a multiple grade I winner (1987 champion 3-year-old filly Sacahuista). Clearly, you don't have to go back too far in the family (Bruce Lowe family 9-F) to find truly exceptional blood.
Okay, so the mare didn't win -- red flag number one. Her own half-siblings were mostly below the standards set by earlier generations of the family -- red flag number two. What else?
Red flag number three is both a concern that would cause many breeders to shy away, and probably the only reason that this mare is being offered for the low package price of $20,000.
Her produce record could only euphemistically be described as "spotty." After a 1998 filly by Runaway Groom that saw success neither on the racetrack (she was unraced) nor in the breeding shed (her only offspring is a non-winning 5-year-old), Ferris Wheel slipped twice (to Danzig in 2000 and Kingmambo (SRO) in 2001 -- reportedly due to MRLS) and was barren once in the next three years. Her 2002 filly by Roar (SRO) did win, but the $5,700 maiden claiming purse is hardly impressive. Since then, Ferris Wheel was barren once, had no report for two years followed by a 2006 Honour and Glory (SRO) filly that died as a foal, and again had no report in 2007.
Things might be looking up on that front, however, as Ferris Wheel has a 2008 filly by exciting first-crop sire Strong Contender (SRO) by her side.
For the sake of disclosure: I met Milestone Farm's John O'Meara, the seller of this mare, a couple of years back at a Fasig-Tipton mixed sale where we shared a consignors' barn. Milestone Farm stands the Mr. Prospector horse Mancini (SRO), a half-brother to top-tier stallion Unbridled's Song (SRO). Mancini has good progeny sales figures and the young sire already has a couple of juvenile stakes winners. I recall Mr. O'Meara as a straightforward seller who didn't shy away from telling prospective bidders the good and the bad about his offerings. I contacted him when I saw the Starquine listing to verify a few details, and he also added that the mare is 17 hands and is currently open (she was not bred in 2008). I have never seen Ferris Wheel.
As always, I hope to hear constructive ideas about what type of breeding program might be appropriate for this mare and what stallions might be a good match.
* * * UPDATE: As of Aug, 14 at noon, the mare is now listed at $10,000; her 2008 foal is not part of the package. * * *