failed sires, perceptions in breeding horses, stallion quality, stallion success, success at stud, sunday break, vindication
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.
Some stallions can achieve success without the benefit of top mares. Mr. Prospector sired 11 SW’s out of his second crop, while standing in Florida for $7,500. He now stands for $250,000 no- guarantee and is bred to the best mares in the world. He has yet to equal 11 SW’s out of any other crop. Perhaps this also points out the difficulty in identifying which mare is a “top mare” as a broodmare prospect.
You often hear farm managers say that he or she can spot the sons and daughters of a particular stallion among a large group of foals because the stallion stamps his get. When a great race horse goes to stud, you would like that stallion to reproduce himself. In such a case, one would like the mare to act as a sack or a carrier, with the stallion’s genes dominating over the mare’s genes. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if Secretariat or Man 0’ War sired a son or daughter which exhibited the exact race track abilities as they themselves did?
The reverse is also true. When a great race mare goes to the breeding shed, one would like her to reproduce herself. But great race mares are usually bred to prepotent and dominant stallions. which may create somewhat of a genetic conflict. This could be one reason why many great race mares do not become great producers, It might also be true that being a great race mare and being a great broodrnare result from different qualities of aptitudes in a mare.
Great broodmares are those who produce many superior runners. Maybe what makes a great broodmare, in some cases, are those who allow the stallions to dominate the gene pool. It would be an interesting study to compare the successful foals of multiple Stakes-producers with their sires in terms of conformation and overall looks.
Yes, good horses will do well, regardless of how they are mated. Should do better with better mares, etc. But you do see stallions and mares who need to dominate to produce effective racers. Biomechanics can help with some of those considerations.
Kevin A Burke said:
The breeders perception of stallions often leaves me puzzled. If one is breeding to sell a weanling or yearling, I can understand the rush to a sire that is considered a commercial success, (I might not agree with the choice), but I can see the reasoning. What puzzles me is when I see someone breeding to race, and they to jump on the bandwagon of the latest “flavor of the year” so to speak. I can not help but think they are misguided, either by their own thought process, or by their advisers.
“In digging for gold” I have found there are many regional stallions, that have never stood in Kentucky, and yet, with limited crops, have percentage’s that would be the envy of many a Kentucky Stallion.
Chief among these finds is Raffie’s Majesty.
He has stood in New York since 1999. He now has nine crops of racing age (including 23 two year old’s of 2010) for a total of 132 foals of racing age.
From 109 foals of three years and older he has 84 starters, 64 winners, (64 multiple winners), 10 stakes winners, with an additional 5 stakes place horses. In my rough calculation this comes to 77% starters, 77%winners, 11% stake winners, and 17% stakes placed. These numbers are from the most part produced with matings to mares of no great consequence on the race track or in the breeding shed.
The value of Raffie’s Majesty is not in the $3,000 Dollar Stud Fee, but in the resulting progeny produced by him. Yet, because he is labeled a regional stallion I have known people who are looking to breed to race to dismiss him outright. I have often wondered what the results would be if he were offered a book of mares with a better pedigree, and race record.
Not sure where I am going with this thought but I guess only to say, a stallion can have success and yet still be considered a failure.
Where is Mr. Prospector standing for $250,000? I think somebody forgot to tell Jughead that Mr. P died many years ago.