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Every week when I’m talking with people about pedigrees and matings, someone will say, “Oh, I couldn’t breed to that horse. He’s a failure.”

There’s usually good reason for that statement. Most stallions who go to stud do not hit par with their offspring, do not match the production quality of their mates (if at stud in Kentucky), and end their days at stud in other locales.

But there are always exceptions to the rule of “failure.”

For instance, this weekend, juveniles by Sunday Break and Vindication won the Sanford at Saratoga and the Tyro at Monmouth.

The cumulative stats tell the story: Sunday Break sired six stakes winners from 232 foals, and Vindication sired 11 stakes winners from 384 foals. Sunday Break has been exported to stand in France, and Vindication died unexpectedly. Both stallions are siring stakes winners at a rate less than the par of 3 percent for the breed and quite a bit under the break-even proportion of 5 percent that most breeders consider acceptable for a goodish stallion. The breed shapers sire stakes winners in the 10 to 15 percent range or higher.

So how did Sunday Break and Vindication sire a good graded winner and an unbeaten listed winner?

Each stallion  had some outstanding qualities in and amongst the other traits that got in the way of making him a fairly consistent sire of good performers.

In evaluating really good racehorses, most possess two or three of the traits that make a top racehorse to an exceptional degree. Reproducing those exceptional traits is harder than most would believe, however, and the horses who generally reproduce well are those with almost every good trait of a racehorse, even if it’s not to an exceptional degree.

You might say they are really good specimens of the “average.”

Then they don’t have to reproduce two or three special traits in the extreme to get a classy offspring. They only have to pass on some of their good qualities, and a good athlete results.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, those animals with nearly all the good qualities are hard to find. They are like digging for gold.