In a response to my post on Medaglia d’Oro (read it here) not being limited as only a “filly sire,” the internationally recognized pedigree pundit Alan Porter wrote that he had been pondering the issue and suggested that:
My guess is that it has been a conformation issue based mostly on “legginess” and that breeders will eventually begin to breed a different type of mare (his first G1 colt is out of a mare by the short-legged Thunder Gulch).
What is the biomechanics take on this?
Evaluating Medaglia d’Oro through the lens of biomechanics raises several interesting points. Size is one of these. Several commentators (and even an astute observer or two) have mentioned how big he is, but in physical terms, Medaglia d’Oro is not especially tall. Only a smooch over 16.1 hands, he is a solid mid-sized animal, not at all out of the norm by today’s standards for bigger Thoroughbreds.
Interestingly, however, Medaglia d’Oro looked rather bigger than that when racing. He carried his head somewhat high in a dashing, catch me if you can manner, and he didn’t drop his head like an AP Indy and appear smaller when he dug in for a fight down the homestretch.
The reason for his head carriage and greater appearance of height is that Medaglia d’Oro had a slightly elevated stride (like he was meeting the rising ground in the straight at Epsom all the time). It is a type of stride that can work really well for a horse who is proportioned to use it, and Medaglia d’Oro has absolutely lovely proportions for a free-running horse with outstanding extension. He has all those properties, and he was allowed to use them to full advantage in his racing career here in the States, where he won three G1 races and more than $5.7 million.
In short, the appearance of legginess is an optical illusion.
A second point of interest from Medaglia d’Oro’s biomechanics is that he also has many of the stride and mechanical traits that suit a turf horse, and there is every reason to believe that Medaglia d’Oro would have been at least as good on that surface as on dirt.
So the success of his racers on that surface is not likely to cease … only increase, increase, increase.
And third, Medaglia d’Oro is a sport. He ain’t like El Prado (and certainly isn’t a typical Sadler’s Wells or Northern Dancer). Neither is he Bailjumper (nor his sire Damascus). Although Medaglia d’Oro is really well proportioned and obviously highly talented as an athlete, he is similar to a surprisingly modest percentage of the broodmare population because his proportions fit his needs, not those of the “typical” Northern Dancer, Damascus, or Mr. Prospector critters. He will match some of them but not so many that it pays to go shooting in the dark.
In breeding to him, the best path to take would be to measure the mare, get a hard evaluation of her mechanical properties, and see how well she fits him. Then questions of pedigree, racing class, and economics will fill out the rest of the assessment.