Reader Question -- Cross Produces Grade I Winners But Rates Poorly... Why?

Question from RyanMy question is why do I get a B rating nick but when you look at the cross and it has produced G1 stakes winners?  Then the opposite happens when I get a A++ nick but there may not even be a graded stakes winner produced?

Alan's reply:  Hi Ryan. Thank you for the question. The reason that the you might get a B rating (not that bad in itself) for a cross that has thrown a grade I winner, and an A++ rating for a cross that doesn't have a graded winner, is that the rating is based on stakes winner production relative to opportunity.
The fact that sire-line cross has produced a good horse (or even several) does not necessarily make the nick a good one relative to opportunity.

For example, one can take the Unbridled's Song/Seattle Slew cross. It has produced grade I winners First Defence and Midshipman, but they are the only stakes winners out of 39 starters on the cross. This is well below opportunity for both Unbridled's Song and for the Seattle Slew-line mares that have visited him. (Incidentally, the two mares that produced First Defence and Midshipman were very high-class runners themselves.) So, although the cross is capable of producing a very good horse -- in fact a champion -- both Unbridled's Song and the Seattle Slew mares that have visited him have done much better on average with other matings.
On the other hand, one might have an inexpensive stallion that has a high strike rate on a specific nick, but has not produced a graded winner. This would indicate that the affinity between the sire and the broodmare sire, or broodmare sire line, is high, but the cross has not been tried with the highest level material. (By way of contrast, if a top-class sire has several stakes winners on a cross, but a lack of graded winners, one might be more cautious.  We like to promote "intelligent interpretation" of TrueNicks reports, and we include a list of the top five horses bred on the cross to help in your research.)

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