This post came to us from reader and fearless commentator Shimatoree, who offers his observations and reflections on the Thoroughbred and racing class.
Jay’s article on the issue of comparing today’s thoroughbred racehorses in America with those of the bygone days is interesting to say the least.
A little perspective must be added, though, to the lure of the by-gone days and the Thoroughbred.
What is missing from the article is a mention of other factors which played a role in the soundness of the by-gone era Thoroughbred.
As Tesio has pointed out in his comments the sociological and political factors of human beings plays a role in the evolution of the Thoroughbred race horse . (italics are the editor’s)
The owners in the past were few and mostly very wealthy capitalists. It was well known that a lot of these owners used to simply shoot the horses that could not run fast enough or were unsound.
So a large number of the unsound horses were eliminated, and those that remained were sounder.
In those days, no one thought much about culling horses rather brutally. In fact, no one much objected to doing the same to human beings either, and even though this sounds like a polemic, the historical facts speak for themselves.
And from my experience, to think that some sort of help will come from the genetics experts is completely false as no help is likely to come in this field.
Yes, there is lots of talk and theoretical discussion, but in a practical sense – nothing of substance will be achieved as is the case in human medicine.
The issue of unsoundness has nothing to do with either inbreeding or outcrossing.
It is simple – if you inbreed to sound stock, you will have sound stock and so on.
And the elimination of the FASHION factor from commercial breeding. Those that write on this topic of Thoroughbred breeding in journals and magazines need to have the courage and character to speak up.
For example, today Unbridled’s Song is a very popular stallion, and his offspring are in great demand.
Yet not one journalist from a trade publication has written about the fact that his offspring are extremely UNSOUND.
No bloodstock advisor has spoken about this. The filly Eight Bells died after breaking down in the Kentucky Derby, and practically no one said anything about this.
His sons are in great demand, and they are producing the same unsoundness.
Just look at the stallion Songandaprayer. His offspring are very fast but break down very often too. Dunkirk sold for $3.7 million. He has made very few starts. Should we blame that on anything other than the fact that his father is Unbridled’s Song, who sires very unsound horses? If we did that, we would be less than honest. Following the Belmont, Dunkirk has a condylar fracture, and trainer Todd Pletcher says the colt will be back. And I could go on.
When how much you can sell your yearling for becomes the end in itself, the question of soundness goes out of the window.
The yearling seller is only interested in selling his yearling for good profit, and after that it is not his problem.
The advisors and trainers who are mostly responsible for selecting the yearlings for owners are not doing their job in a responsible fashion by knowingly selecting unsound stock.
What makes the thoroughbred racehorse good and sound is a combination of many things, but you have to start with the right parents so the bone and ligament soundness is there.