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Not Enough Data? How the Key Ancestors Report Gives a Breeder an Answer

As a consultant, there is a tendency to feel that you should have a ready answer for most inquiries. There are times, however, when the correct answer is "I don't know."

We were reminded of this when presented with a query regarding the mare Cameron's Buddy. The 10-year-old mare is by Frisk Me Now, a multiple graded stakes winner of $1.7 million, but the sire of only four stakes winners, and still yet to appear as the broodmare sire of a stakes winner.

Frisk Me Now's sire, Mister Frisky, started his racing career in Puerto Rico, subsequently took the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and ran third in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) when brought to the U.S., but he was much less successful as a sire or broodmare sire.

Finally, Mister Frisky's sire is Marsayas, a son of Damascus who won two races and $20,700 in eight starts, and who—Mister Frisky apart—had a negligible impact on the breed. In fact, there are only 12 total stakes winners out of mares by Marsayas, his sons, and his grandsons combined.

As a result, when one takes a logical first step and looks for successful crosses with the sire line of the mare, there is very little evidence from which to draw conclusions. When we considered a group of 50 stallions, there was only sufficient evidence for TrueNicks ratings to be calculated for three of them, and then only on the basis of the rather generic cross of Northern Dancer and his sons and grandsons with mares by Marsayas. So as far selecting a mate for Cameron's Buddy using TrueNicks ratings, we're coming close to our "I don't know" answer. (Incidentally, there are also no black-type winners in the first two dams of the mare, and very little obvious for "pattern" breeders to get hold of either.)

Fortunately, the nick rating, while a very important metric when sufficient evidence to draw conclusions is available, is not the only weapon in the TrueNicks armory. The Key Ancestors report considers the whole pedigree of the mare, searching the database of The Jockey Club Information Systems for mares with a similar pedigrees to the subject mare, then considers the ancestors found in stallions bred to those mares and the outcomes, arriving at a list of individuals that have exerted a significantly positive or negative influence for "likebred" mares.

Here is a list of the top 15 Positive Ancestors for Cameron's Buddy - the ones that we want to see in the pedigrees of the stallions that she is bred to.

You will notice that only Blushing Groom establishes enough significance to be considered a key ancestor but that there are plenty of ancestors who have a positive impact on the foals out of mares bred similarly to Cameron's Buddy. Just as there are positive ancestors, the program also establishes the negative ones.

The TrueNicks Key Ancestors Report with Analysis has now given us a much better shot at answering the challenge of the owner of Cameron's Buddy, one of finding a stallion for a breed-to-race program (the owner races her foals locally), and at a fee of $10,000 and under for stallions standing in Kentucky.

Looking at these objectives, our preference would be for a proven sire, and ideally one that has at least been a solid achiever that the market hasn't recognized, or has forgotten, rather than one that has descended to this level after failing to meet expectations at higher fees. So, what did we and the Key Ancestors Report come up with?

  1. Run Away and Hide (TrueNicks) - He has a double of Blushing Groom, the horse that came up as the most positive key ancestor for Cameron's Buddy, and has other positive ancestors In Reality and Hoist the Flag. He's also been an overachiever, with six stakes winners, three graded, in his first two crops, including graded scorer Mico Margarita (dam by a grandson of Seattle Slew, a horse doubled in the pedigree of the mare).
  2. Birdstone (TrueNicks) - Three-time grade I winner Birdstone sired classic-winning champions Summer Bird and Mine That Bird in his first crop, and he has some smart 3-year-olds in his "rebound" crop this year. He has three notably positive ancestors, headed by the strongly positive Storm Bird (his broodmare sire), and he's a grandson of Unbridled, and Unbridled over Mister Frisky has produced a stakes winner from its only starter.
  3. Successful Appeal (TrueNicks) - A consistent stakes sire, he's from the sire line of the strongly positive influence In Reality. Although it didn't come into the calculations, we'll also note that Successful Appeal does have a trio of stakes winners out of mares from the Damascus line.

If you want to run a Key Ancestors Report for your own mare, you can do so by clicking here. As you can see from above, the report is able to find some positive ancestors to consider even with the most obscurely bred mares.

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