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Reader's Question: Zenyatta & Rachel

On 27 Jul 2010 8:46 PM, John writes:

"Why does Rachel Alexandra get an A++, while Zenyatta gets just an A+? Am I missing something?"

Ian's response:

Hi John,

Thanks for your question. TrueNicks is a sire line nicking program that measures how well a sire line/broodmare sire line cross has fared at producing stakes winners. TrueNicks is a particularly useful research tool when planning matings, assembling a stallion's book of mares, or evaluating pedigrees of young racing prospects.

For Zenyatta, TrueNicks rates her sire Street Cry when crossed over Hail to Reason line mares as A+, with a variant of 4.61. This means that the Street Cry/Hail to Reason combination has produced stakes winners at a rate 4.61 times the average of 1.00 (TrueNicks C). This considers how Street Cry has done with mares by all other broodmare sire lines bred to him, and how mares by Hail to Reason line broodmare sires with daughters bred to Street Cry have done with all other sires. Click here to view Zenyatta's TrueNicks report.

This is not a "pedigree score" per se, but rather it describes the track record of the cross to date, considering all international starters and stakes winners. In other words, Street Cry has nicked very well with Hail to Reason line mares. As you can see in the TrueNicks report, other top horses bred on the cross are Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) winner Cry and Catch Me and Eclipse Stakes (gr. III) winner Southdale.

The breeder can use the TrueNicks data as a research tool while planning a hypothetical mating. When considering sending your Hail to Reason line mare to Street Cry, you now know the record that other mares of her sire line have had with Street Cry. If other factors (including – but not limited to – conformation, racing aptitudes, produce history, inbreeding, economics, etc.) are favorable, you can act confidently that the nick has had proven success. Click here for an explanation of variant scores.

Rachel Alexandra's rating of A++ represents an emerging nick that has just branched away from the successful El Prado/Forty Niner cross (TrueNicks A+), which is also responsible for grade II winner Dean's Kitten. Medaglia d'Oro/Roar is a specific cross with just three starters to date, but has shown immediate success with two stakes winners – Rachel Alexandra and multiple stakes winner She's Our Annie. While the cross is unlikely to maintain this incredible strike rate, the TrueNicks report illustrates the cross's initial success and should be a point of consideration for breeders. Click here to view Rachel Alexandra's TrueNicks report.

Also, keep in mind that the TrueNicks ratings for Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are not made in comparison to one another, but are relative in context to the respective sire and broodmare sire lines of each pedigree.

I hope this answers some questions about the ratings, and please feel free to comment below with any additional thoughts.

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Ian,  Would this happen to be another form of 'East Coast Bias'.

sodapopkid 27 Jul 2010 10:56 PM

Haha, good one, sodapopkid!

Unfortunately the TrueNicks algorithm can't resolve the East vs. West debate. All starters and stakes winners are calculated objectively, regardless of which coast, state, or nation they come from.


Ian Tapp 27 Jul 2010 11:07 PM

Also so remember this only takes into account the sire line and broodmare sireline "nick" % up to this point in time, and there's whole other world out there that can "nick" well...this is only a good tool.

Rachel 28 Jul 2010 6:21 AM

I will use True nicks for narrowing our choices at yearling sales (keeneland and timonium primarily), and have been pleased with it. I like to see A/B ratings with a graded wnr on the cross ,and the yearling must be a good walker and physical.

L Ramey 28 Jul 2010 9:46 AM

Thank you for this interesting info. I'm always eager to learn more. There should be a "Nicking for Dummies" for people like me. Thanks again!

Barbara W 28 Jul 2010 9:57 AM

Very interesting Ian, Thank You.

Greg J. 28 Jul 2010 10:23 AM

Why not just say it?  Rachel is a faster horse then the slow moving Zenyatta.  AND Rachel wins on dirt where it matters.  Zenyatta is a poly plastic specialist and will be exposed if they are crazy enough to run her in Kentucky.  She will get whipped like a pony.

Draynay 28 Jul 2010 12:08 PM

L Ramey,

If you like the data that the current TrueNicks report gives you to create your shortlist, stay tuned. We have been at work on enhancing the TrueNicks report with more features and information and will have a new TrueNicks report to release this coming fall which will give you even more data to use to make your breeding and racing decisions.

Thanks for using TrueNicks.

Byron Rogers

brogers 28 Jul 2010 4:22 PM

Reminds me of the great John Henry.

He had all kinds of negatives but still became a legend.  East Coast will dig up anything to tear Zenyatta down.  By the way who were those horses Rachel beat last time? Never heard of them. LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!

lynnhurst 28 Jul 2010 4:43 PM


Great stuff!  I never fully understood it, but i do now.

PMAC14 28 Jul 2010 9:15 PM

I was surprised at the very low dosage numbers on both Z and RA.Please tell us how you use the dosage #s in selecting mates.Also,what research is available on this subject? Thanks for your helpful breeding insights.

jt 29 Jul 2010 8:26 AM


We include dosage on TrueNicks reports as a service to breeders, although it is not factored into the rating. We did a report on nicking and dosage which you can view for free by clicking here.

The authority on dosage is Dr. Steve Roman. His website is www.chef-de-race.com


Ian Tapp 29 Jul 2010 9:56 AM

its funny how people choose to over look the fact that Queen Zenyatta has also won on dirt as well and reguardless dirt or polly slow start or fast start it only matters who crosses the line first in the end and for some amazing reason Queen Zenyatta has done it 19 times!!! Hmmmm? Not bad lol if we gave awards style points or purses to the horses who started a race as if they where going to just take off and leave all the others in their wake relaunch, atticus, first dude and just about any blushing groom horse you can name would win style points on how they have started races but my friends like everything in life there comes an end or finish and to me a horse who is a strong finisher is worth a solid bet and Queen Zenyatta is a very amazing horse with freakish like ability to finish and great breeding by no means do i take anything from the above mentioned horses atticus is a still at $4.000 stud fee secritariat/neryve oh! wow!!! Get It While its here!!!!! and up close  relaunch and blushing groom bloodlines are very powerful lines for speed and first dude if he comes away from the track sound will go down in history as one of the greatest producing stallions to ever live Watch and see! I also hear that Rachel is being bred to the great Curlin thats not a bad cross at all it should produce a very nice horse if i owend Queen Zenyatta i would breed her to Concern if he is still avalible i know both horses are late finishers but theyre both great finishers plus thier bloodlines conect so well at polar ends of the pedigree and in my soul i feel like they could conect and make a SUPER HORSE and if not a super horse you could always say a horse made from that type of breeding will have a sire and dam who have spotted other horses 12 to 15 lengths in more that one race only to come back and destroy the field showind heart and most importanly! FINISH!

ZORRO 01 Nov 2010 11:06 AM

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