One of the biggest misunderstandings about breeding Thoroughbreds among most people outside the breeding business is that they expect there is a detailed consideration of physique, esoteric pedigree information, and some kind of deep insight involved in every mating that produces a good horse.
Here’s the truth. Most breeders in the commercial side ask themselves, “What is this mare worth and what stallion will get a sales-worthy foal out of her?” That’s it.
And when you consider that this is their job (breeding to sell, not breeding to race), you understand how things stand at the sales.
That said, some of the very best breeders I have met in nearly 30 years of writing and reading about Thoroughbred breeding are also commercial breeders. But each of those approaches the game this way: they breed as if they were going to race that foal.
One of those fellows is adamant about racing class in the sire. He will not use even a G1 winner that he thinks is a hound, who had his best day on the right day.
In discussing racing class, we got around to talking about Valid Appeal (1972 b h by In Reality x Desert Trial, by Moslem Chief), who won a single stakes (Dwyer), ran second in the Saratoga Special and Jerome, third in the Futurity and Saranac. His analysis of Valid Appeal was that he was a pretty good racehorse who overcame a lot. The son of In Reality was quite small, not especially “correct” in conformation, and went to stud after a dud season at 4.
The point that closed the deal for Valid Appeal as a stallion with this breeder is who he raced against and beat. He said, “The colt had speed, tons of it, like most of the In Reality stock. That’s good, but look at the horses he beat.”
Prime among those was Wajima, a big and gorgeous son of Bold Ruler who ran second to Valid Appeal in the Dwyer before going on a five-race winning streak that ended with victory in the Marlboro Cup and the Eclipse Award as leading 3yo colt of 1975. Wajima was syndicated for millions to stand at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky, and Valid Appeal had a listless 4yo campaign before going to stud at Mockingbird Farm in Ocala. The little guy never looked back.