Tackling the Mystery - By Eric Mitchell

Central to everything we do here at Blood-Horse is the horse.

Of our multifaceted mission to chronicle the life of this amazing creature that is the Thoroughbred racehorse, racing coverage typically attracts the most attention. We follow their racetrack successes, mourn the tough beats, and curse the bad racing luck, but life at the track is several chapters into the fascinating tale behind every horse.

The farms are where the tale begins. More specifically, in the mind’s eye of breeders—the genetic puzzle masters who blend research and imagination in the hopes of generating biological synergy. Sometimes reproducing the athleticism of an extraordinary sire or mare is the goal, but, for most, the aim is a successful blending of the right traits to improve on what you have.

These mating decisions are just the beginning of so many more challenges that lie ahead in producing a good horse, and the learning never stops.

Once the foals appear, breeders get that first glimpse into what their imaginations conceived and in time will see what traits are being transferred—not just stride length and muscle mass, but aptitude and will.

These stories are the richest. The ones about how breeders build and shape families over time, making adjustments in order to release the potential locked within the DNA, also how they develop and teach their young horses, laying a foundation that may determine success down the road.

Equally important to farm owners are the economic issues linked to their pursuit of producing a better racehorse. It is not a livelihood if you can’t make a living.

So the story continues through the marketplace, which generates its own intrigues and drama. Just as breeders have choices to make in producing top horses, so do buyers in determining which horses at auction will take them to the winner’s circle. Once in the hands of a trainer, we all wait with eager anticipation to see the strength of the chain wrought by many hands. The horse ultimately proves the value of a thousand decisions, and then the cycle starts again.

The life of the Thoroughbred is a fascinating, compelling mystery we never stop trying to solve. I look forward to my next challenge as Bloodstock Editor to help breeders and owners identify new analytical approaches to aid in decision-making, share the strategies of those finding success, track the exploits of our next crops of rising sires, and, in general, provide road marks for those engaged in this quest.

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