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More breeders have been turned off by unrealistic claims for biomechanical evaluations than most anything else.

The process is fascinating for those interested in statistics, is sometimes immensely enlightening for breeders, and offers some captivating options for looking at horses from a different perspective.

But biomechanical analysis will NOT give anyone a silver bullet to kill the game. Nothing is that easy. And breeding racehorses is complex, puzzling, exhilarating, and humbling. There are so many facets that nothing is going to solve the equation and resolve all the variables.

Which, if you like the sport, is a good thing.

One of the things that biomechanics does give us is an outline of the different types of racehorses and the individual strengths that allow them to succeed under different conditions. The horses with the best biomechanical balance tend to be the most versatile, and they also tend to be more consistent in reproducing their form.

For instance, in a race with a very strong pace, a horse with a good balance of stride and power can lay reasonably close because of its efficient stride, without burning too much energy, then power for home as less efficient horses tire.

In contrast, the horses who are not so balanced in their mechanical qualities but who are nonetheless very finely tuned in respect to stride or power can be exceptional horses. English Derby winner Slip Anchor, an exhorbitantly talented stride racer, needed to be ridden gusto to give him maximum use of his exceptional stride and place his opponents in the predicament of having to go with him or having to try to catch him. At his best, that was nearly impossible.

While Northern Dancer and Raise a Native are examples of mechanically balanced Type I horses from the 3-year-old crop of 1964, two leading members of the 1966 crop of 3-year-olds were more specialized. Buckpasser was a Type II,  with emphasis for power in his mechanics, and Graustark was a Type II who had more stride. Each was a tremendous athlete and became an important sire, and both were quite close to the Type I center.

As stallions who were very popular, and experienced considerable success, Buckpasser and Graustark are examples of what a more specialized stallion can accomplish at stud, and these two horses indicate the various aptitudes present in the Thoroughbred.

But it was not poor genetics or planning that made it difficult for Buckpasser and Graustark to breed on in the male line yet succeed more greatly as sires of broodmares. Instead it was opportunity. Their sons, who were more specialized and somewhat farther from the norms of the breed than their sires, had fewer opportunities to cover mares compatible with their specialized traits. The daughters of Buckpasser and Graustark, however, were well suited as mates for biomechanically balanced, high-class horses such as Northern Dancer, who had extraordinary success when crossed with Buckpasser mares, for instance.

 

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