In one of the comments on a recent post regarding the RF study, Sid Fernando (who blogs at Sid Fernando + Observations) wondered whether it would be possible to consider the intention of breeders by looking at the sires of RF horses. Sid suggested that, with the exception of the mating that produced Danehill, better sires mated to elite dams would not be mated with the intent of creating RF offspring. After a bit of consideration, that seemed to make sense overall to me, because the more prominent consideration in such matings is quality of the pedigree or athletic success. On the other side of the tracks, Sid thought that the lesser-pedigreed animals would be more likely to have “intentional” RF inbreeding and that the results from such a comparison would be interesting.
I mentioned this query to the Pedigree Perfessor, and he undertook the following response:
The hypothesis that the best sires are less likely to be intentionally mated to produce a RF foal does appear to be logical and rational.
Logic and rationality, however, bear little correlation with reality,
as you may have observed.
If the hypothesis were true, then RF prices would be lower than overall prices. In fact, they are higher. The prices reflect the overall quality of the pedigrees (including sires).
Nevertheless, I am willing to entertain this hypothesis one step further.
Probably everyone would agree that foals who sold for $1 million or more are generally by pretty good sires and have pretty good pedigrees.
How many of these 54,244 foals sold for $1 million or more?
204, or 0.38%.
How many of these 3,886 RF qualifiers sold for $1 million or more?
25, or 0.64%.
So the RF qualifiers had a HIGHER percentage of the very best pedigrees.
Look at it another way. The RF qualifiers (3,886) were 7.16% of all foals (54,244). Yet they were 12.14% of the foals that sold for $1 million or more (25 of 204).
I list those 25 foals below with pedigrees:
RF Qualifiers Sold for $1 million or more 1999-2002
(Boundary–Yarn, Mr. Prospector)
Marino Marini $1,800,000
(Storm Cat–Halo America, Waquoit)
Statue of Liberty $1,300,000
(Storm Cat–Charming Lassie, Seattle Slew)
Strong Hope $1,700,000
(Grand Slam–Shining Through, Deputy Minister)
Van Nistelrooy $6,400,000
(Storm Cat–Halory, Halo)
(A.P. Indy–Bosra Sham, Woodman)
Bushy Park $1,300,000
(A.P. Indy–Tis Juliet, Alydar)
Dubai World $1,400,000
(Deputy Minister–Good Mood, Devil’s Bag)
Thanks a Million $1,000,000
(Gone West–Etheldreda, Diesis)
(Storm Cat–Weekend Surprise, Secretariat)
Dubai Breeze $1,000,000
(Woodman–Floramera, Seattle Slew)
A. P. Petal $1,150,000
(A.P. Indy–Golden Petal, Mr. Prospector)
Al Mubhej $1,300,000
(A.P. Indy–Trumpet’s Blare, Vice Regent)
Sweet Arizona $1,600,000
(Gone West–Cinnamon Sugar, Wild Again)
Crown Entertainer $1,000,000
(Pleasant Colony–Court Hostess, Sovereign Dancer)
(Seeking the Gold–Sheila’s Revenge, Lord Avie)
Timber Legend $1,000,000
(Storm Cat–Lady Vixen, Sir Ivor)
(A.P. Indy–Miss Union Avenue, Steinlen)
(Saint Ballado–Pulsatilla, Gone West)
(Seeking the Gold–Escena, Strawberry Road)
Triple Act $2,200,000
(Theatrical–Multiply, Easy Goer)
(Theatrical–Tenga, Mr. Prospector)
(A.P. Indy–Wild Planet, Nureyev)
Great Exhibition $1,800,000
(Gone West–Touch of Greatness, Hero’s Honor)
Stenka Rasin $1,400,000
(Pulpit–Marshesseaux, Dr. Blum)
As you can see, these are indeed pretty good pedigrees and by pretty good sires. Therefore, I reject the hypothesis. The prices reflect the quality of the pedigrees and sires involved, and the RF group has HIGHER prices than the overall group.
As part of the decision-making process, better sires may not be “intentionally” mated to produce RF foals, but they appear to have their fair share of RF foals (or more). The “intentionality” of it is totally irrelevant anyway.
I would agree that owners of better mares probably do put more thought and effort into deciding on matings than owners of lesser mares. The former probably consider RF irrelevant (with which I would agree). They do not seek it out, but they do not avoid it either. The latter might indeed make more of an effort to seek out RF matings (if only out of desperation), probably to the detriment of more important matters, such as the physical qualities of the sires and dams involved. If you are paying more attention to making names on paper match up than to the physical qualities of the sires and dams involved, you should not be surprised when your results turn out to be below average.