Sire List Evolution - by Eric Mitchell

Changes have come to The Blood-Horse sire lists. Beginning with this issue, the statistics populating the sire lists will be slightly different to reflect shifts in racing and the commercial marketplace.

Because sire lists are ranked by total progeny earnings, the change likely to attract the most interest will be the inclusion of earnings from Japan and Hong Kong. 

It has been the long-standing policy at The Blood-Horse to exclude categorically all earnings from these two racing jurisdictions due to the tremendous disparity in purses paid. We know money does not necessarily equate to quality, but this truism is amplified by Japanese and Hong Kong purses. For example, a 2014 runner in Japan named Someries won two races including a minor stakes at Morioka Racecourse with a total purse valued at US$2.94 million. The then-4-year-old daughter of Hard Spun earned more than $434,000 for her two victories last year. Had she raced in the U.S., her earnings would likely have been closer to $100,000 for the year. So in the past we have avoided Japan’s and Hong Kong’s inflated purses by simply ignoring them.

The racing world continues to grow smaller, however, and the rationale for not giving stallions any credit for their runners in Japan and Hong Kong had to be addressed.

Going forward, Japan and Hong Kong earnings will be included, but the earnings will be adjusted so they are on par with North America. Here’s how it works. We compile the average purse per starter in Japan and Hong Kong from the previous year (in this case 2014) then compare these with the average purse per starter in North America. For 2014 the average North American purse was 45% of the average purse paid in Japan (US$48,394) and 19% of the average Hong Kong purse ($111,252). To level the field, progeny earnings will now include 45% of the reported Japanese earnings and 19% of reported earnings in Hong Kong. These averages will be adjusted from year to year to reflect changes in the markets. An overall evaluation of progeny earnings revealed a need to also put Singapore earnings on par, so these will be adjusted by 54%.

Japanese earnings are already having an impact on the list (see page 20). Current leading sire Tapit gets credit this week for $79,531 from a winner, A Shin Salty, and three other runners in Japan.

These earnings adjustments will not affect any of the international sire lists on, which will continue to reflect a straight conversion from native currency to U.S. dollars.

The adoption of black-type rules for stakes winners is the other major change to the sire lists.

Black type is the Thoroughbred industry’s standard of quality; black type drives the commercial market.

A couple of years ago the North American International Catalogue Standards Committee implemented a rating system for non-listed black-type races. In order to retain black-type status, a non-listed race (including open stakes with a purse between $50,000 and $74,999 and restricted stakes with purses of $50,000 or more) needs to maintain a minimum Race Quality Score. The new rating system and other changes, such as the evaluation of listed stakes by the American Graded Stakes Committee and Canadian Graded Stakes Committee, only further emphasize the need to focus on black type.

The third change will hardly be noticed, but all results from steeplechase and hurdle races will no longer be included. We dug in our heels for a long time in this area because steeplechasing is Thoroughbred racing and we still give an Eclipse Award to the year’s best steeplechase horse. But we also have heard from many breeders, owners, and bloodstock agents in the industry that the sire lists should reflect the primary focus of the industry, and that is flat racing.

The perfect sire list does not exist, which is why we provide insight into racing ability and value to the commercial market through a variety of different lists.

What is also true is that the only relevant sire lists are ones that change. 


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