Webinar Q&A: You asked, Alan answers! (Part II)

You asked, Alan answers! (Part (II)

The Blood-Horse recently hosted an online seminar called "What Is TrueNicks," in which Alan and Byron presented an overview of the TrueNicks system and answered users' questions. The response from the Webinar audience was overwhelming, and the TrueNicks co-founders wanted to make sure every question was answered. Here is the first round of questions, with responses from Alan. Look for additional updates over the next few days. If you have not seen the free Webinar, you may see it here: http://www.bloodhorse.com/webinars/truenicks1/register.asp

Those who have already registered may sign in here to re-view: http://www.bloodhorse.com/webinars/truenicks1/index.asp.
- TrueNicks Guru

Q: Any idea why some "nicks" don't seem to work in reverse?
Alan: There are a number of reasons why successful nicks might not work in reverse. For example some stallions, such as Secretariat and Alydar, are good broodmare sires and poor sires of sires so something like the Storm Cat/Alydar cross, might not achieve much when reversed. There is also the potential impact of sex-linked genes or sex-linked expression of genes, or that a particularly stallion who carries on a male line being a different phyiscal type, and having different affinities than his sire (for example Point Given (TrueNicks, SRO) and his sire Thunder Gulch).





Q: What is the highest variant number that you have seen?
Alan: I have seen variant numbers in the high 500s. This usual means there have been two or three stakes winners from very few runners on a cross. While the variant is interesting, the letter grade is the important thing to look at, horses rated B+ and above being the ones which particularly markedly improve over opportunity.




Q: I like Star Wars and follow the Empire Maker - Listen Well (by Secretariat) Jedi Code. What is his TrueNick rating?
Alan: You must love the offspring of Skywalker! Jedi Code is rated a "D."




Q: One problem with nicks is that by the time you discover their their value several years have gone by. What rule do you use for first year stallions???
Alan: For first year stallions, or other unproven horses (or when the first cross nick has not been tried to the degree a significant result is possible), TrueNicks looks first at the sire of the sire and his sons with the broodmare sire (or sire line), and extrapolates from there. It isn't universal, but there is a tendency for stallions to like the same strains as their sire and his other stallion sons.




Q: What if any are your thoughts on "Volponi"?
Alan: Volponi was obviously a very good horse on Breeders' Cup Day, although he never performed at that level either before or after. He was only a C nick, but did have an interesting pedigree, as his sire was a Mr. Prospector/Ribot cross, and his dam a reverse of that cross. He never looked as if he would have much appeal as a commercial sire, and so it proved.




Q: Why might I get a different letter grade from TrueNicks then I get from Werk Enicks? Why believe one over the other?
Often the TrueNicks letter grade and the Werk grade will be somewhat similar, but there are cases where the dramatically differ.
Alan: There are a number of reasons why this could be so.

Firstly, they are calculated in different ways. TrueNicks uses the comprehensive Jockey Club Data base so that the ratings are based on actual opportunity, on all known foals and starters on a cross. The Werk program does know, nor not take into account the number of attempts at a mating.

The TrueNicks program is updated daily, so the rating always reflects the latest results. It appears that the Werk rating is updated only ever six months.

TrueNicks calculates it ratings on the basis of all stakes winners that qualify for black-type on the basis of the rules of the International Cataloging Standards Committee (as per sales catalogs for major U.S. auctions). The Werk data base is comprised of some stakes winners in some countries, over various periods of time.

Given the comprehensiveness of the data, and that it considers success relative to true opportunity, we believe that TrueNicks is the more reliable program.




Q: How do I get access. What is the cost?
Alan: TrueNicks can be obtained from the TrueNicks website, at www.TrueNicks.com or The Jockey Club information services, at www.equineline.com (report 10TP). For a growing number of stallions, TrueNicks are complimentary (see the list on the TrueNicks site), for all others the cost is $20 per nick.




Q: How helpful is this for a stallion owner with an unproven stallion?
Alan: TrueNicks is very helpful for owners of unproven stallions. Although it is not universal, in general, stallions often work with similar lines to their sire and his other stallion lines. TrueNicks will help discover these. If intelligently applied - with due consideration for the whole of the pedigree, and other potentially important inbreeding and linebreeding - TrueNicks can greatly increase the probability of an unproven horse covering mares that will help him.



Q: Are there certain crosses that you like when it comes to synthetic surfaces. I like the sire to be by either AP Indy or Storm Cat or their sons and the same with the dam......Mr P works as well
Alan: I honestly haven't started to really look at nicks for all-weather surfaces. One of the problems is that there is quite a difference between the different all-weather surfaces, let alone dirt and turf to all-weather.




Q: Do you believe that the strongest influence in a horse for his potential ability, not as a sire/dam but in his capabilities as a performance horse, is the sires in the 2nd generation back from the site/dam (the horse's grandparents)?
Alan: Genetically, the sire and dam are likely to be the greatest influence, but certain factors do seem to "generation skip." It does also seem that stallions - assuming they are at least relatively high-level performers - seem to somewhat reflect their pedigree rather than their race records. Great racehorses with moderate pedigrees generally don't have great records as stallions.

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