Saturday, December 21, 2013

Welcome to Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners

With the startup of PM Online we enter a new phase in the development of Pedigree Matching.

While my interest in the influence of pedigree on breeding and racing success has primarily been on the standardbred breed, I have been watching the top performers of other performance breeds to see if the same principles apply in their pedigrees. I am convinced that they do. Here are some examples drawn from the past year.

Thoroughbred breeders are generally convinced that inbreeding of any kind is bad and as a consequence the pedigrees often show little of the kinds ot patterns that show up in top standardbreds. In that respect the situation is similar to the approach of the French trotter breeders. The net result is that the overall success rates in producing top performers is less than half that of standardbreds generally. Similarily when this approach does produce a special individual it is because of the extreme outcross nature of such matings, the much touted hybrid vigour, that can and does succeed spectacularly on relatively rare occasions. But not all top thoroughbred performers come from such matings by any means. Four of the top earning horses in North America are the following:

Will Take Charge by Unbridleds Song
Game On Dude by Awesome Again
Orb by Malibu Moon
Mucho Macho Man by Macho Uno

The basic approach to pedigree matching is to outcross on sire line and inbreed maternally. The sire lines in thoroughbreds are more numerous than in standardbreds but the majority of sires currently standing in North America descend from Bartletts Childers, the full brother to Flying Childers a sire that is responsible for the vast majority of the modern day standardbred stallions. This sire line splits at a sire called Phalaris 1913 into two sire lines that are commonly described as the Nearco and Native Dancer lines. Nearco's line is famous for the great Northern Dancer and his siring legacy while Mr Prospector is a sire from the Native Danver branch that is prominent, as is Northern Dancer, both as a sire of sires and as a strong maternal influence through his daughters.

Orb is by a Nearco line sire and from a Native Dancer line dam and thus considered an outcross on sire line since the common ancestor on sire line is several generations away. He is inbred maternally to Mr Prospector 3x4 and also inbred to the Nearco line maternally with Northern Dancer and Turn To, both grandsons of Nearco, across the pedigree maternally.

Will Take Charge is outcrossed on sire line in similar fashion but the other way around being by a Native Dancer line sire and from a Nearco line dam. He also is inbred maternally to Nearco through grandsons Nasrullah and Northern Dancer.

Game On Dude is actually linebred on sire line to Nearco with the sire line through Northern Dancer and the dam sire through Turn To. Maternally , however, he is inbred to both Nasrullah and to Raise A Native, son of Native Dancer.

Mucho Macho Man has over $7 million made lifetime and he is outcrossed on sire line being by yet another line descending from Bartletts Childers through Roughntumble. He is strongly inbred maternally to both Mr Prospector 4x4 and to Nasrullah 5x6.

As you can see all four have pedigrees typical of the best standardbreds and I will point out two others. Remember the Breeders Cup race a couple of years ago when the great mare Zenyatta took on the best male horses and came second by a head to Blame. Guess what. Blame is outcrossed on sire line through Turn To (Nearco) to Native Dancer and is inbred maternally to Northern Dancer 4x4 and Raise A Native 5x4,  And then there is the mighty Zenyatta. She shows yet another pattern familiar to standardbred breeders. She too is outcrossed on sire line by a grandson of Mr Prospector and from a mare through Turn To. Her maternal connections are a typical standardbred outcross pattern with her maternal lines through Hail To Reason (Turn To) and Hoist The Flag being duplicated in the maternal lines of her grandsire Machiavellian.

I'll add one more for the Quarter Horse breeders and that is the horse I posted about earlier, One Famous Glass, the quarter horse colt, by a first crop sire, plucked from a 1200 strong yearling sale for $10,000 based solely on a pedigree reminiscent of standardbred success. That colt has just been named Horse Of The Year in Canada for 2013. He is owned by my son Charles who created the original Pedigree Matching computer program.

Perhaps the quarter horse breeders, as well as the thoroughbred breeders, can learn from these examples that maternal inbreeding is not that bad after all.

Game On Dude
Mucho Macho Man
Will Take Charge
One Famous Glass

Friday, December 20, 2013

PM Online

Just in time for Christmas - PM Online is indeed online.
The PM-Online service is offered on a subscription basis with a variety of payment and access options. You can choose the bargain priced Basic level that includes all of the functions of our previous PedigreeGuru web service, or you can choose a Guru level subscription for more advanced features, including all of your favourite Globetrotter program functions that allow you to add, edit and store information on your own horses as well as do complex searches and profiles for stallion performance and for yearling sales. An added feature for Guru level subscribers will be the EasyMatch function that provides stallion choices for your mares at the click of a button.

Visit PM-Online for a free two day trial and find out more about the worldwide Globetrotter database that now contains over 2.2 million horses including standardbreds and related breeds such as coldblood and French trotters, and Tennessee Walking horses.

If you are interested in thoroughbred pedigrees then you will want to try out Globerunner, a parallel service for pedigree research of thoroughbred and quarter horses, again with an international database approaching two million horses.

It is our hope that PM-Online will form the basis for a truly worldwide database supported directly by the various registries. To this end we are offering complimentary basic access to any registered member of any organization that directly supports the database with ongoing data updates or through commercial endorsement.

While other sites may provide similar information we are committed to providing the tools to make the information work for you in your search for a future champion performance horse. We encourage you to help us in that quest by sending us your suggestions for improvements.
As an incentive we are offering subscription credits for active database participation and also for referring this site to your friends. For every ten referrals that subscribe and identify you as the reference you will receive a one year membership extension worth $100 at the basic subscription level. For 50 referrals you can upgrade to Guru level for one year, a value of $400. As a Guru level subscriber you will be authorized to add/edit data and earn further credits to allow you to continue to use the site free at the Guru level.

Guru members can also choose a lifetime subscription that entitles them to become a PM Online partner with an interest in the future development and success of PM Online.

For more information on membership options, including our referral incentive program and PM-Online partner opportunities, you can contact me personally by calling:

902-628-5581 (Canada) or by email to

You will also find us on Facebook shortly and on our Pedigree Matching website. The link to PM Online is also on the website at and will be active effective Saturday, Decenber 21st.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Forest City Sale

The last major sale of the year will be the Forest City sale in Ontario. The organizers decided to delay this sale to November to see if the situation would be more clear in Ontario by then. Im not sure that is the case and although the Canadian Open sale was up from its disaster last year, the future for breeders in Ontario is still far from clear.

A look at the pedigrees for this years sale shows that old stalwart Camluck still has a lock on the best pedigrees of the sale which does not say a lot for the breeders in Ontario and their sire selection. It always amazes me that breeders can make choices either in total ignorance of the facts or in total denial. This sale is full of yearlings with no chance and as a result there are fewer than 40 of the 300 plus yearlings that have a legitimate chance of success.

Attached are the profiles for the yearlings - you can judge for yourself.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Harrisburg - the Mecca of Standardbreds

I cant go to Harrisburg this year since I am slated for cataract surgery but those of you that go there are in for a treat. This is the biggest standardbred auction in the world and it has a worldwide audience. In addition to the over 1000 yearlings there is a mixed sale of epic proportions that features many of the best breeding stock and racehorses in North America. It is definitely a bucket list event and maybe, just maybe, you can pick up a champion while you are there.

Attached are the profiles of the yearlings in Book One of the Harrisburg Black Book. The sale features such great champion stallions as Muscles Yankee, Somebeachsomewhere, Credit Winner, and Art Major as well as several first crop sires that will get a lot of attention.

First crop sires are a guessing game for both breeders and buyers - that is if they do not understand pedigree matching. The fact is that picking the best is not a secret process, nor is it a roll of the dice. If you stick to the principles of outcrossing on sire line and inbreeding maternally you will increase your chances considerably over the average sale goer.

One way to give yourself an edge over the competition is to use stallion profiles to predict which yearlings are correctly matched. Every stallion has a profile for success that is established in its first year crop and never varies. The success of a first year stallion can be predicted based on the profiles of similar stallions that already have offspring racing. This is an established fact that most breeders and buyers do not recognize.

Here are the links to the profiles of the Harrisburg yearlings - happy matching.

Lexington Trotting Yearlings

The trotting yearlings in Lexington this year will offer a large number from the first crops of Lucky Chucky and Muscle Massive. The buyers are lucky to have some help in picking out the right ones with the help of profiles from Donato Hanover and Muscle Mass respectively.

Lucky Chucky is by Windsongs Legacy, a son of Conway Hall while Donato is by Andover Hall, his full brother. They are both out of mares by sons of Valley Victory, Muscles Yankee and Donerail, and both of these sires are Speedy Crown - Noble Victory maternally. The second dams of Lucky Chucky and Donato Hanover are by grandsons of Stars Pride, one by a son of Nevele Pride and the other by a son of Super Bowl.

Donato Hanover has been very successful breeding to mares by Speedy Crown line sires particularily sons and grandsons of Valley Victory and especially those with second or third dams through Super Bowl or Bonefish (Nevele Pride) so you can reasonably expect Lucky Chucky to do likewise. Interestingly the best one by Donato is the reverse being from a Super Bowl line dam that is inbred to Speedy Crown and while this is a minority part of the profile it did produce the best one and similar pedigrees for Lucky Chucky are therefore worth looking at.

The unfortunate part though, is that the breeders, as it seems for every new sire, have for the most part guessed wrong again and I can put just seven yearlings by Lucky Chucky on my acceptable pedigree list from the 27 entries and a couple of those are stretches of the imagination.

Muscle Massive and Muscle Mass are full brothers so they are pretty much guaranteed to fit the same type of mares although they do stand in different jurisdictions so there will be some regional variation in the broodmare sires accordingly. Muscle Massive was also the better racehorse, being a Hambletonian winner, and his success rate should be better considering the quality of the mares to which he has been bred. That is not a guarantee, however, since Muscle Massive, like Lucky Chucky, has not been well treated by the breeders with respect to the right mares.

I wrote about the situation of Muscle Mass in an earlier blog on the 2012 first crop sires racing results. I was disappointed with his performance and although his second crop has produced an exceptional filly to go with the one really good colt in his first crop he still has not made much of an impression beyond the Grassroots level with the rest of his performers in Ontario. I mentioned the lack of matings to Angus Hall mares by Muscle Mass which I felt was the big problem there but Massive seems to have a better selection with several good mares by Andover, Conway and Angus Hall in this sale. The key here, of course iis the Arnie Almahurst line dam and coupled with Valley Victory maternally is a logical fit for Muscle Massive.

The other part of the profile to look for is for mares with no Speedy Crown maternally, the pattern for Riveting Rosie by Muscle Mass. One interesting nick is that all of the five $100K plus winners to date have third dams through Super Bowl or another son of Stars Pride. Where that comes from I don't know but given the "all over the map" nature of the profile for Muscle Mass to date it is the only part of the profile that fits all of his best.That and the fact that 13 of his top 16 are from non Speedy Crown line dams should help to find the better ones.

The profiles for both the pacing and trotting yearlings can be found here

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lexington Pacing Yearling Profile

The 2013 Lexington yearling sale will see the first crops of three sires of special interest.

Rock N Roll Heaven will no doubt be the big attention getter based on his exceptional racing career and large book of mostly New York based mares. My first impression is that, as usual, the breeders have largely missed the boat, and I am somewhat disappointed at the quality of the mares to which he was bred. As a result there are just a handful of colts in Lexington that make my list.

The maternal lines of Rock N Roll Heaven are through Artsplace and Cam Fella. There are no other sires with the same combination with foals already racing although we do have Rockin Image with his first crop in Indiana who is Real Artist (Artsplace) and Cam Fella. The latter also has a large book and at first glance a much better matched first crop from some very decent mares that could easily have sold at Laxington and Harrisburg.

The closest sire with foals racing is Western Terror, and of course his full brother If I Can Dream. They, like Rock N Roll Heaven, are Western Hanover line sires and from a dam that combines Artsplace and a Most Happy Fella line second dam being by On The Road Again. We can use the established profile for Western Terror to get us in the ballpark and then refine it to reflect the Cam Fella presence in Rock N Roll Heaven's dam to come up with a predicted profile. The profile for the top 16 by Western Terror is as follows

Non Meadow Skipper line dams with Volomite line 2nd or 3rd dams or broodmare sire with a Volomite line dam (10)

Double Meadow Skipper line with Cam Fella line 1st or 2nd dam or broodmare sire with Cam Fella dam (5)

If I Can Dream is already showing the same pattern with his best, Forty Five Red, from an Artsplace mare with a third dam by Matts Scooter. His next best is from a mare by Art Major with a second dam by Camluck.

The presence of a Volomite line, usually through Direct Scooter, is a dominant feature of this profile and since Rocknroll Hanover also has Direct Scooter maternally it is highly likely to show up in the best by Rock N Roll Heaven. That factor coupled with Cam Fella and/or Abercrombie maternally will be a big part of his pattern of success. One broodmare sire I would be watching for is Bettors Delight, a Cam Fella line with an Abercrombie line dam. Another would be Art Major mares with Cam Fella or Matts Scooter maternally.

Sportswriter is the fastest son of Artsplace and was well received in Ontario. His maternal lines of Jate Lobell and Big Towner make him similar to Major In Art, another Ontario sire whose first crop is racing with limited success to date. In fact the profile for Major In Art is all over the map so far and that is not a sign of a consistent and successful sire.  Sires with Jate Lobell dams generally have not been anything special to date with the possible exception of Yankee Cruiser who has an Albatross line second dam to help him out. That is not the case with Sportswriter who will have to depend on the diminishing presence of Big Towner coupled with No Nukes line in the dams to make his mark. A local sire in PEI, Articulator, has done just that although his maternal line is the flip side of Sportswriter being Big Towner - No Nukes. His best to date have either Big Towner and/or No Nukes maternally and that is what I would look for at least in this first crop.

Art Colony was an exceptionally fast two year old who did not make it back at three. This is a big strike against his chances as a sire but he does have something special to offer and that is a maternal line similar to Somebeachsomewhere being Beach Towel - Cam Fella. SBSW has done well with Abercrombie line dams inbred to Meadow Skipper. That will not be an option for Art Colony but Most Happy Fella line dams that are inbred to Meadow Skipper or Abercrombie (Adios line) will certainly be a big part of his pattern of success since that is also part of the profile for SBSW.

Here is the link to the profile for the Lexington pacing yearlings.

The table shows the sire lines in the first four dams along with the success rates of crosses to date for the yearlings cross and his dams cross. Those numbers appear under the first and second dam sire. The first number is the number of times the cross has been tried, the second number is the percentage success rate in producing $100K plus winners. Also in the table, for those of you who follow maternal influences, there are listed the occurences of the key maternal mares, Adioo (A), Hatteras (H), Kathleen (K), Manette (M) and Oniska (O), together with the X-factor trigger mares Helen Hanover (A2)  and Margaret Parrish (M2).

You can read more about these maternal factors in my book Queen Among Queens available from this link.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Big Heist and One Famous Glass

Here are a couple of Pedigree Matching success stories with very different backgrounds.

Cliff and Kathy Coonfer have a small breeding operation in Alberta. Like many small breeders they keep two or three mares, raise yearlings for the local sales and occasionally keep one for racing themselves. Last week I got the following message from Kathy via Facebook.

"Hi Norm. Remember about three and a half years ago when I sought your advice when I bought two new mares and then had to make breeding decisions? Both mares' two year olds are in their first stakes races this weekend. We are very pleased with them both so far and look forward to watching their progress. Appreciate your expertise and willingness to help me with mare and sire selection. Cheers, Kathy"

It turns out that their colt, The Big Heist, is now the track record holder at Lacombe for two year old geldings with a record of 1:55.3 taken just after Kathys message. The filly Make Three Wishes is also a winner in 1:59.2 and was a close second in the Starlet stake at Lacombe. Getting two year olds to the races is a low percentage business in North America and reflects the poor overall success rate of breeders generally as noted in my previous post "Percentages". Kathy, however, has learned to do her homework as the pedigrees for her two prodigys attest to.

I did help her out with buying the mares and suggesting possible sires but she and Cliff made the final choices and obviously also know how to raise winners as well. Kathy has a penchant for sibling crosses and The Big Heist is a case in point. He is by No Pan Intended whose second dam is the Albatross mare Best Of The Best. The dam of The Big Heist is Red Star Sugar Gal by Daylon Marshall, a British Columbia stallion that few have probably heard of outside that province. His dam is also Best Of The Best making him a sibling to Classic Wish, the dam of No Pan Intended.  There is more. The third dam of Red Star Sugar Gal is also by Albatross making her inbred maternally to that great maternal influence (see my previous blog A Pattern To Watch For). Kathy and Cliff are off to a flying start with their new broodmare and their second foal, a yearling colt by Blue Burner, will likely get some real attention in the upcoming Alberta sale.

The other story is closer to home and in fact is about a horse owned by my son Charles, now a veterinarian in Ontario. One of his clients races quarter horses and enticed Charles into buying a yearling. They set off for the big yearling sale in Oklahoma and Charles, who created the original Pedigree Matching program for me, studied the pedigrees looking for one that showed the patterns of success he was familiar with in standarbreds. He was also aware that there was a sire called Beduino who is the equivalent to Albatross when it comes to impact on maternal lines. The colt they settled on was called One Famous Glass. His sire was One Famous Eagle, at that point an unproven sire. The dam of One Famous Eagle is by a son of Beduino and the second dam is by Dash For Cash. The dam of One Famous Glass is by a grandson of Dash For Cash that also has a dam by Beduino, making the colt inbred maternally 4x4 to both Beduino and Dash For Cash in typical standardbred fashion. There is an added fillip to the pedigree since there is a son of Streakin Six on the sire line and a daughter of Streakin Six on the maternal line, a pattern that is prominent in such top trotters including Muscle Massive.

On Labour Day, at Ajax Downs in Ontario, One Famous Glass, now three, beat some of the best quarter horses in Canada in a three year old and up elimination for the Canadian Maturity and goes into the final with the fastest elimination time and a chance to be the Horse of the Year in Canada with a win. His biggest threat is the other elimination winner, Lookingforagoodtime, whose pedigree has a similarity with a 3x3 maternal cross of Dash For Cash and Beduino in the dam.

Charles has also learned to do his homework just as Marg Neale, the Queen of Canadian pedigrees, promoted when she was quoted in Hoof Beats magazine.

"I’ve always talked about breeding for dominance – finding the individual that is the strongest aspect of the mare’s pedigree, then finding the stallion that has that individual in a certain place in his pedigree.”

“We have been conditioned by the restriction of catalogues and advertising to view our horses, at most, as three generation animals. There are a great many people out there today that will tell you there is no reason to look beyond the grandparents of any animal. I thoroughly disagree. It is, however, a handy position to take for those unwilling to do their homework”

“There is a model of breeding that is like a pattern, and the pattern persists over generations, although, of course, the names change."
It seems that not only the names change but the breeds also. One thing has not changed, however, and that is the need to do your homework.
In a few weeks time we hope to launch PM-Online, the long awaited internet version of the Pedigree Matching Globetrotter program. Then you will have the most comprehensive pedigree analysis tools at your fingertips and no more excuses. We will also have an option for thorobred and quarterhorse breeders called Globerunner.
Happy homework

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


One of the things you must know if you breed or buy horses is that genetically you are likely to have just one out of four breedings to the same sire that produce something special. Mind you 25% is a lot better than the 4-5% success rate for breeders overall but be prepared to be disappointed more often than not.

There have been some exceptions to the genetic rule such as the Hall brothers, Conway, Angus and Andover who were three of eight, and there have been exceptions in the other direction such as Albatross and his eight failed full siblings making him one of nine.

Another good case in point is the success of world record 2yo trotter Cooler Schooner 2,1.51.3f who is already over two seconds faster that her full sister Broadway Schooner, a winner of  $895K.  There have been two others with the same breeding who raced but did not beat 1.57.

What was the difference ? The pedigree is the same but the random nature of genes and how they interact defies sameness and indeed if you compared all four individuals you would likely see why. Conformation is a big part in yearling selection especially when you are looking at full siblings to something special.  Deweycheatumnhowe had four full siblings before he came along, all of them raced, but Ray Schnitker claimed that Dewey was much the best conformed of them all. It is generally agreed that Andover Hall was the best conformed of the Hall brothers too and his results as a sire have backed that up although I'm sure there are some contrary opinions regarding Conway Hall whose son Windsongs Legacy could have been one of the greats of all time but for his early death.

Getting back to Cooler Schooner she is by Broadway Hall, another son of Conway Hall, and from a mare that is inbred maternally to Speedy Crown. This is a typical feature of sires that have no Speedy Crown maternally. In the case of Cooler Schooner, however, she also has a double connection to Conway Hall since her dam carries a combination of  Arnie Almahurst and Stars Pride, as does the dam of Conway Hall.

The bigger farms seldom go back to the same sire since they have so many stallion options. It keeps the buyers guessing but it results in a lot of failed breedings, hence the 4-5% success rate. So what do you do as a breeder ?  Make sure that your first choice is your best choice and stick with it. The percentages will repay you accordingly. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Record Smasher

Last night at the Charlottetown Driving Park a Maritime bred two year old filly set a record - not that unusual you say ? In this case, however, with the filly going in 1.55.1h she not only broke the track record for two year old fillies but also the mark for any two year old pacer in the Maritimes as well as setting a seasons record for fillies in Canada on a half mile track.

The breeder of this phenom is none other than my horse owning partner Bill McNeil of Saulsbrook Farms in Windsor, Nova Scotia. The dam of Saulsbrook Alana is Atlanta Girl, purchased by Bill in the 2006 Harrisburg sale for $10,000 and trained down by his son Alan who you might remember as the lad who bought Lis Mara as a yearling on my recommendation, broke and raced him then sold him at four to race on and make oalmost $2.3 million lifetime.  Alan goes to the sales each year looking for reasonably priced fillies to sell as three year olds after they have qualified and shown promise racing. In the case of Atlanta Girl, also bought on my recommendation, she made it to the races at two and took a mark of 1.57.2f  but she did not come back at three so based on her early ability Bill opted to add her to his small broodmare band rather than sell her.

Bill and I get together each spring and go over his mares and it was decided to breed her in 2010 to Western Paradise - Why ?  Western Paradise is Abercrombie - Meadow Skipper maternally, just like Western Ideal, and that sire has done best with Abercrombie line dams and especially those mares with second dams through Most Happy Fella. Atlanta Girl is by Real Artist and from a dam by Cambest, son of Cam Fella. An added bonus was that if the match produced a filly she would be inbred maternally to Helen Hanover through two daughters of Ensign Hanover, son of Helen Hanover.

This was to be her third foal since she had been bred twice to Royal Mattjesty with limited success. Those breedings were made because there was a partner in Atlanta Girl that had a breeding share for that Ontario based stallion which turned out to be not a very good reason for choosing a stallion. Needless to say I was not in agreement on that mating given the pedigree.

Just before Alana went through the Truro yearling sale I got a call from Reg Macpherson asking me about her pedigree. What could I say - "I think she will be just fine Reg" . He bought her for $10,000 and it looks like she is "just fine" and then some.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Gold Cup And Saucer Time - Night of hopes and dreams

The stage and spotlights are set for the 54th running of the Sobeys Gold Cup & Saucer Saturday at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino. The field will be called to the gate at two minutes to midnight over the legendary Charlottetown Driving Park oval. Post time for the 14 dash program is 7 p.m.

The favourite is Hillbilly Hanover by Dragon Again from Hall Of Fame mare Hattie by Abercrombie. Outcrossed on sire line and inbred maternally to Abercrombie he is one of eight %100K plus winners from this great mare who also has two millionaire offspring in Holborn Hanover and Hyperion Hanover.

Customers will have an opportunity to play several promos on the card including a Pick 4 with a guaranteed $10,000 pool beginning on race 11. Players will be able to select Pick 3 beginning on races six, nine and 12 while race 13 will also offer a late double.

The action will be carried live from Charlottetown on the Bell Aliant Race Day broadcast at and from the following locations....

- Rideau & teletheatres
- Sudbury & teletheatres
- Inverness
- Truro
- Saint John (EPR)
- Fredricton
- Western Fair
- Flamboro
- Georgian
- Trois Rivieres
- Assiniboia
- The Red Mile
- Freehold
- Meadowlands
- Yonkers
- The Meadows
- Hoosier
- Suffolk
- Plainridge
- Running Aces
- Los Alamitos

My colt Scarlet Chaser is the favorite to win his O'Brien Gold division in Race #5. His daddy Hussy Chaser won on Gold Cup night in 1999 - Heres hoping
My partner in the colt, Bill McNeil of Saulsbrook Stables, has a three year old daughter of Hattie
by Somebeachsomewhere so if Hillbilly and Scarlet both win it will be a memorable night.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Whos Watching Hes Watching

Last night the world saw it’s first two year old colt to pace in 1:50 over a 5/8 track. Hes Watching, a $3,000 purchase at Harrisburg, was an easy winner and a boost to the fortunes of his sire American Ideal who has struggled to produce top colts. With the exception of Heston Blue Chip the other ones in his top four are all fillies. These four millionaires would be a credit to any sire’s record but with an overall success rate of about 6% in producing winners of over $100K, American Ideal needs this colt badly to further his career.

Bred by Brittany Farms the pedigree of Hes Watching has the stamp of my fellow pedigree guru Myron Bell, the pedigree brain of Brittany Farms, all over it. Myron will tell anyone that he does not care what the sire line is, he is only interested in what the maternal lines are and he is particularly fond of sibling and maternal crosses to great mares. Much of the success of Brittany Farms has come from their initial purchase of the Bill Sheehan farm and its broodmares. Many of these mares featured such maternal powerhouses as K Nora and Golden Miss. The latter is a principal conduit of Helen Hanover and both of these mares trace back on the X-factor trail to By By, a grand daughter of Miss Russell through her son Nutwood. K Nora is actually the maternal family of both American Ideal and his sire Western Ideal. But that is not all that is in play in the pedigree of Hes Watching, or the pedigrees of American Ideal’s current top four.

American Jewel was almost unbeatable before running into atrial fibrillation problems, not uncommon in exceptional individuals. The striking feature of her pedigree was the X-factor maternal cross of the great Three Diamonds, a grand-daughter of K Nora. What is perhaps not so evident is that she also carries an x-factor double to Margaret Parrish through the maternal lines of Matts Scooter in her sire and Big Towner in her second dam.

Heston Blue Chip is a colt and his dam also carries a double to Helen Hanover through his Cams Card Shark dam and Cam Fella third dam. Big Towner is also present in the maternal line in X-factor position.

Idyllic has a maternal line that goes to Emily Guy, a grand daughter of Margaret Parrish through Arion Guy and is a double to the great x-factor mare Margaret Parrish accordingly.. She also has X-factor doubles to both Albatross and Bret Hanover as well as three x-Factor crosses to By By, the x-factor source inbred into Helen Hanover.

Romantic Moment doubles Margaret Parrish twice across her pedigree through her second dam by Nihilator and her third dam by Falcon Almahurst.

So how does Hes Watching’s pedigree compare to these other great horses by American Ideal ?  The first thing you see is a sibling cross of Lifetime Success to her half brother Life Sign. In addition there is another sibling cross with Western Ideal, the grand-sire of Hes Watching being a three quarter brother to Cheer Me Up, the third dam of Hes Watching. These sibling crosses are not an X-factor consideration but interesting features nevertheless especially the latter which is a pedigree pattern that has shown up recently in some top trotters such as Muscle Massive and features a brother and sister on the top sire line and the maternal line respectively.

What is most important though is the makeup of Hes Watching’s dam who is loaded for business with X-factor traces to Helen Hanover. The dam, Baberhood, is by Real Desire whose maternal line traces to the Sheehan mare Golden Miss and Helen Hanover accordingly and his dam is actually a Helen Hanover double with an additional trace through Trenton. Baberhood picks up another Helen Hanover double through her own dam by Jennas Beach Boy whose dam is by Cam Fella as well as tracing to Helen Hanover on his maternal line. Yet another Helen Hanover trace comes from Baberhood’s second dam by No Nukes and then her third dam is the great K Nora, grand dam of Three Diamonds.

This is a loaded X-factor pedigree that is ready to explode.  In my book Queen Among Queens I used both Real Desire and Jennas Beach Boy as examples of the power of Helen Hanover when doubled maternally in the maternal line. I also included the following in the chapter on X-factor:

“In his book Patterns of Greatness, Thoroughbred researcher Alan Porter noted the need to delve deeply into a pedigree to discover the underlying genetic strengths that are not apparent in the first six generations.

This can reveal that one particular background cross has been built up to a point where it dominates a pedigree and reaches a critical mass reinforcing vital genes to the point where they explode in the form of a dynamic performer”.

Perhaps Alan Porter is watching Hes Watching from above and telling his heavenly buddies “I told you so”

Monday, August 5, 2013

First Crop Sires - How are they doing

The major sires with first crops racing this year are as follows:

Trotting Sires

Explosive Matter
Federal Flex
Lear Jetta
Muscle Hill
Swan For All
Windsong Espoir

Pacing Sires

Art Official
Artistic Fella
If I Can Dream
Major In Art
Mister Big
Shadow Play
Well Said

It is always interesting to see if they really do what is expected of them as far as the type of mares they are successful with. It is early yet but as is usually the case first impressions will prove to be lasting ones. Here are the top performers to date:

Explosive Matter

This sire is loaded with Speedy Crown with a Valley Victory top line and a dam that is line bred to Speedy Crown. Past sires with similar pedigrees have been less than successful due to the concentration of Speedy Crown but so far the best by Explosive Matter,  Struck By Lindy, shows how to get around this problem. I discussed her pedigree in an earlier post. Her second dam has the same Valley Victory - Speedy Crown line combination that is present in the dam of Explosive Matter plus a couple of other plusses across the pedigree.

Federal Flex

In an earlier post I discussed this sire as well as a similar sire in Muscle Hill. Both have dams that are line bred to Stars Pride, an unusual circumstance, but there are three previous sires with foals racing that point the way. The mares to look for are either Super Bowl line inbred to Speedy Crown maternally or Noble Victory Line with second dams through Speedy Crown and with Super Bowl maternally. In this care the best by Federal Flex to date, Special Agent Man, is from a Conway Hall (Noble Victory line) mare with a second dam by a Speedy Crown line dam. The third dam is through Super Bowl.

Lear Jetta

This sire has a maternal line with no Speedy Crown. Similar sires breed best to mares with no Speedy Crown or with mares that are either line bred or inbred maternally to Speedy Crown. Abettajetta, his best to date, follows that first pattern with no Speedy Crown in the dam.

Muscle Hill

While Federal Flex has opted for mares with the Noble Victory - Speedy Crown combination in his sire's maternal lines (Muscles Yankee), Muscle Hill seems to prefer the other side of the profile since three of his top four, including his best Hill I Am, are from mares that are Super Bowl line and inbred to Speedy Crown maternally.

Swan For All

With a maternal line that is linebred to Baltic Speed you can expect his best to be from mares that offer Valley Victory - Speedy Crown combinations or mares that have no Speedy Crown at all. Nothing in between. His best to date is Andis Alana from a Yankee Glide (Valley Victory) mare with a second dam by a son of Speedy Crown.

Windsong Espoir

This son of Kadabra has a maternal line of Balanced Image (Noble Victory line) and Speedy Crown. His best to date is Hope For Justice from a mare by Justice Hall (Noble Victory line) and second dam by a son of Speedy Crown

Art Official

This son of Art Major is a bit of a freak with respect to pedigree, He is quite untypical with respect to the other top ones by Art Major. Such things happen. His maternal lines are Falcon Seelster (Bret Hanover line) and Safe Arrival (Volomite line). Bringing back Meadow Skipper into a maternal line such as his is a safe bet and indeed his best two are from mares that are linebred to Meadow Skipper and also have Bret Hanover maternally.

Artistic Fella

With a maternal line of Artsplace (Abercrombie line) and No Nukes (Most Happy Fella line) you could expect mares with Abercrombie - Most Happy Fella line combinations to be his favourite and so it seems so far as Regil Meg is from a mare by Straight Path (Abercrombie) with a second dam by Cam Fella (Most Happy Fella)


This son of Real Artist has a maternal line similar to several other sires being Matts Scooter - Tyler B (Most Happy Fella line). His best to date Weatherly with 29K makes no sense to me but his next best with 23K made, Blacktree, is right on target with a Most Happy Fella line dam and and a Direct Scooter second dam.

If I Can Dream

This full brother to Western Terror has produced something that so far has seldom existed, a colt with a 3x2 maternal cross. This is a pedigree pattern that shows up in exceptional fillies but seldom in colts. In the case of Forty Five Red, the maternal double is Artsplace 3x2 and it is supported with an additional return of Most Happy Fella maternally.

Major In Art

His maternal line is similar to that of his sire, Art Major, being a Meadow Skipper line - Big Towner combination. Art Major did well with Cam Fella line dams and also with mares that had Big Towner maternally so it is no real surprise that Major In Art's best to date, Major Hangover, is from a mare by No Pan Intended with a second dam by Big Towner.

Mister Big

With a maternal line of Jate Lobell - Cam Fella there are many mares that fit Mister Big including the dam of Crafty Master, his second best performer from a Camluck mare with a No Nukes second dam. His best, however, is a good example of breeding a sire to a mare that brings back the lines in the sire's sire, in this case those of Grinfromeartoear whose maternal lines are  Storm Damage (Bret Hanover) - Meadow Skipper. Such is the case with Falcon Justice, his best to date, from a Bret Hanover line dam by Falcon Seelster with a second dam by Most Happy Fella (Meadow Skipper)

Shadow Play

I have already discussed this sire's early confimation of the expected profile based on his similarity to Rocknroll Hanover. His best colt to date is Arthur Blue Chip, with an Artsplace dam inbred to Albatross just like many of the best by Rocknroll Hanover.

Well Said

My previous post highlighted the pedigree of Talkative, the best by Well Said to date and a great example of the high percentage way to produce top performers - outcross on sire line and inbreed maternally.

All in all a great group of well matched individuals. Most of them likely bred with little consideration of the sire lines involved but as you can see they truly reflect what Pedigree Matching is all about.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Well Said - Well Dead ?

In an earlier blog on Well Said yearlings I predicted that Well Said would have a difficult time as a sire based on the lack of success for similar sires. I was prepared to cut him some slack based on his exceptional racing career but it seems that early results of his first crop may be proving me right regardless.

To date he has a eleven winners from a first crop of 102 and the best has made just over $60,000. The top one was very predictable. Talkative is from an Artiscape mare with a second dam by Direct Scooter which is a perfect fit for Well Said's maternal lines of Artsplace and Matts Scooter.

The predicted profile for Well Said was for non Meadow Skipper line mares or mares that are line bred to Meadow Skipper with maternal connections to either Abercrombie or Direct Scooter. So far three of the top four are from Abercrombie line dams and the other is a line bred Meadow Skipper dam with an Abercrombie third dam. Just as predicted.

The other nick that was important was to find an Albatross line maternally and the top two have third dams through Albatross.

It is early yet and I hope to see his results improve but unfortunately, as is often the case, the breeders guessed wrong for the most part and the ones that fit the profile better step up soon or this well bred sire will truly be well dead.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What is my "Philosophy" on Breeding?

My philosophy on breeding standardbreds is simple as published recently in Hevos, the Finland Association news magazine. I do not have opinions on mares or stallions. I evaluate them on the basis of what I know to be true based on established fact.

Unfortunately the breeders of today base most of their decisions on opinions, mostly those of other people, and resulting from anecdotal information at best and from rumour at worst. As a result the success rate in producing top performers is far below what it should be and leads to an enormous waste of our time and resources.

Genetics tells us that if you choose a correct pedigree you have a 25% chance of creating the top individual you seek. The success rate for breeders worldwide is less than 5% in producing horses that will pay for themselves over their racing career. A pedigree is the foundation of the animal and once chosen and fulfilled in terms of a foal, it cannot be changed. The choice of the correct sire is therefore the most important decision a breeder can make and this decision cannot be made correctly without a knowledge of the facts. Guessing and rumour do not replace facts.

One fact that is evident is that a study of the top performers by any sire can produce a profile of the type of mares with which he has success. This sire profile is established in his first racing crop and does not vary. This fact alone is almost totally ignored by breeders who continue to breed mares that do not fit the profile of the sires they choose, with their decisions being based on “flavour of the day”, economic or location factors that doom their decisions from the start.

Based on the statistical evidence it is my recommendation that breeders, whenever possible, should outcross on sire line and line breed maternally for the best chance of success.  This approach is universally successfull as shown by my experience on a recent trip to Sweden for the Elitlop. One only needs to look at the pedigrees of Elitlop winner Nahar and three year old filly winner on the same program Massive Babe to see how this is so.

Elitlopp winner Nahar is outcrossed on sire line, with a sire line through Coktail Jet (Speedy Scot line) and a broodmare sire line through Stars Pride. He is linebred maternally to both Super Bowl and Speedy Crown. His sire, Love You, has a well established profile when bred to North American based pedigrees which shows a preference for mares with principal lines through Speedy Crown and Super Bowl. This is a fact – and breeding mares to him that do not fit this profile is a waste of time and money in addition to spoiling the reputation of the mare and the breeder.

Massive Babe is outcrossed on sire line being by a Valley Victory line sire and from a Noble Victory line dam by Andover Hall. She is linebred maternally to Arnie Almahurst and to Speedy Crown. Muscle Mass, her sire, has maternal lines through Pine Chip (Arnie Almahurst line) and Valley Victory (Speedy Crown line). While his first crop has been modestly successful there are just two of his first crop that were correctly bred for top performance being this filly and another called Muscle Magic who was the only Muscle Mass to compete successfully at the Gold level in Ontario last year. This was a mystery to me given the obvious and plentifull choice of mares by Andover, Conway and Angus Hall for this sire - yet such breedings were virtually non existent. His best two year old to date this year is Muscle Matters, dam by Conway Hall so he may fare better this year.

Based on the sire profile for a similar sire, Glidemaster, I was able to predict that these two fillies were bred correctly before they raced. Glidemaster, like Muscle Mass, is by a son of Valley Victory and from a dam that combines Arnie Almahurst and Speedy Crown lines. His best by far is the mare called Maven, and like Massive Babe is outcrossed on sire line and linebred maternally to both Arnie Almahurst and Speedy Crown. This fact alone based on the established profile of Glidemaster and other similar sires would have allowed you to choose Massive Babe as a yearling purchase with considerable confidence in her chances for success. Glidemaster has been a disappointing sire to date but dont blame the horse, blame the breeders who missed the opportunity presented to breed some of the many Andover and Conway Hall mares in PA and NY.

In Europe in particular there is a considerable emphasis on reducing the degree of linebreeding as a result of a fixation with low inbreeding co-efficients. Breeders of all types of animals have recognized for centuries that a degree of linebreeding is necessary to fix certain qualities in the breed. One of these qualities is consistency. It is an established fact that low inbreeding coefficients lead to increased randomness in results. There is still the opportunity for an exceptional performer because of the extreme outcross nature of many European breedings but the percentage of failure is much higher. But you can also find, even in French breeding, where close maternal line breeding is rare, such champions as Jag de Bellouet and Offshore Dream that have maternal line breeding similar to North American practice. In fact much of the recent success of French breeding is attributable to J P Dubois who is a strong advocate on maternal linebreeding with such sires as Super Bowl, Speedy Somolli and Florestan doubled in his best horses.
I would add one more example of what is shaping up to be an exceptional filly. Her name is Struck By Lindy. She is by first crop sire Explosive Matter and set a PA Sires record of 1.56.4f in her third start. Explosive Matter is line bred to Valley Victory and from a mare that is linebred to Speedy Crown. His sire, Cantab Hall, is out of a full sister in blood to Andover, Conway and Angus Hall. The dam of Struck By Lindy is by Angus Hall and the maternal sequence then goes to Valley Victory and Speedy Crown which is the same maternal sequence of sire lines in Explosive Matter. Add to this the sibling cross of Self Possessed on the sire line to that of his sister Dream On Victory on the maternal line and you have a complete package, outcrossed on sire line and extensively linebred maternally. Frank Antonacci of Lindy Farms obviously gets it.
Let me conclude by emphasising again that what I have said above is not opinion but is based on fact. Breeders should make sure they base their decisions on nothing less.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Muscle Hill Update

The NJSS Final was won by Hill I Am, a son of Muscle Hill making it 3 straight wins for the colt. His pedigree is just as advertised in my earlier blogs on what to expect from Muscle Hill. Based on his similarity to several other sires it was clear that he would do best with Super Bowl line dams that are inbred to Speedy Crown, The dam of Hill I Am is by Cumin, a son of Super Bowl. Cumin's dam is by Speedy Crown and the second dam of Hill I Am is by a son of Speedy Crown - Voila as they say in France- there it is.

Federal Flex is another similar sire with the same expected profile, again predicted when he went to stud, and so far so good. His best to date is Federal Strike from a Striking Sahbra mare. Striking Sahbra is a grandson of Super Bowl and his dam is by Speedy Somolli, son of Speedy Crown. The second dam of Federal Strike is also by a Speedy Somolli line sire. Voila again.

Predicting the performance of first crop sires is really quite easy to do and can save you from making bad choices as a breeder and as a buyer,

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Shadow Play Update

The two year old pacing fillies in Ontario produced two more Gold elim winners by Shadow Play with three others finishing second or third. The fastest was Book Babe in 1.52.3 and like the top colts she fit the profile perfectly being from a Life Sign mare that is inbred to Meadow Skipper maternally through Albatross and the No Nukes line (Oil Burner). The other winner was Alibi Seelster from a Cam Fella line dam inbred maternally to Meadow Skipper and with a second dam by Big Towner.

The three runners up included Performing Art - Artsplace dam inbred to Albatross, Yoselin Seelster (a $2000 buy at Forest City) - Artsplace dam inbred to Meadow Skipper, and Nefertiti Bluechip, a Cam Fella line dam inbred to Abercrombie maternally.

Three of the top four to date have Big Towner (Gene Abbe) 2nd or 3rd dams in addition to Albatross maternally which reflects the maternal side of The Panderosa, sire of Shadow Play who also combines Gene Abbe and Albatross lines maternally. This is a unique aspect to the profile that makes Shadow Play somewhat different from Rocknroll Hanover who is by Western Ideal (Abercrombie - Meadow Skipper maternally) In general though the pattern of success for Shadow Play, as predicted, is remarkably similar to that of Rocknroll Hanover. So far 12 of the top 16 by Shadow Play are from non Meadow Skipper line mares that are inbred to Meadow Skipper, usually through Albatross or in combination with the No Nukes line versus 11/16 for Rocknroll Hanover. There are four from Meadow Skipper line dams, three of these being Cam Fella line and all inbred to Meadow Skipper maternally, for Shadow Play, while all five of the Meadow Skipper line dams in Rocknroll's top 16 are Cam Fella line and inbred to Meadow Skipper.

A remarkable example of how you can use the profile of a proven stallion to predict the pattern of success for a new sire with similar maternal lines.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Shadow Play - Early results

When I looked at the yearlings by Shadow Play before the yearling sales I had difficulty finding many that fit the expected profile. There were 74 offspring selling, 36 of them colts. Unfortunately most of the breeders had guessed wrong and there were just 7 colts that I could recommend.

Shadow Play is similar to Rocknroll Hanover in pedigree makeup being by a son of Western Hanover and from a mare that combines Direct Scooter with an Adios line. The #1 profile factor for Rocknroll Hanover is for non Meadow Skipper line mares that are inbred maternally to Meadow Skipper, a son or Albatross line, of have Albatross - No Nukes combinations maternally. Cam Fella line mares with similar inbreeding through Meadow Skipper or that have Direct Scooter and Albatross maternally are secondary considerations as are mares that have the Direct Scooter - Adios combination..

Here are the colts I liked and recommended for purchase accordingly. Rating is next to the name.

Shadversary 101 - 1.50.4 Harrisburg .   Artsplace dam inbred to Albatross maternally, second dam by No Nukes. Qualified and will race in the Callbeck Stakes on Monday

Silverhill Shadow 100 - 1.50.0 Atlantic Classic.  Dam by a son of Matts Scooter, second dam by an Adios line sire through Abercrombie.. Qualified in 1.59.1h and will race in the Callbeck stakes on Monday

Arthur Blue Chip 98 - 1.51.1 Harrisburg. Artsplace dam inbred maternally to Albatross. Won Ontario Gold elim in 1.53.4 last night.

Shadowbriand 96 - 1.50.1 Harrisburg. Artsplace dam with second dam by No Nukes. Won Ontario Gold elim in 1.54.4 last night

Shadow Margeaux 95 - 1.50.2 Harrisburg. Artsplace dam with second dam by No Nukes. Raced in Ontario Grassroots Thursday night, double parked to the quarter by a rookie driver and faded.

Settlemoir Hanover 94 - 1.50.0 Harrisburg. Artsplace dam inbred maternally to Albatross. Finished fifth in Ontario Gold elim last night, race timed in 1.54.4, last quarter in 27 seconds.

Twin B Shadow 65 - 1.51.4 Harrisburg. Artsplace dam inbred maternally to Albatross. Finished third in Ontario Gold Grassroots on Thursday night race timed in 1.54.2  

There was  one other colt by Shadow Play that won a Grassroots on Thursday called Reasonable Force who won in 1.54.4. His dam is Cam Fella Line and is double inbred maternally to Meadow Skipper. I missed him in the Harrisburg entries but he did fit the secondary consideration of Cam Fella line dams inbred maternally to Meadow Skipper. He was the fourth foal from an unraced dam that had produced nothing to date.   There were no other Shadow Play colts in the money in the first Grassroots and Gold elims.  

It pays to check for the right pedigree before you write the cheque.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Globetrotter Database Update

The database for Globetrotter and Pedigreeguru is now updated for European performance as well as for the 2013 yearlings in North America

The number of yearlings in North America continues to drop with over 500 fewer this year than last year and a 35% drop overall since 2007. The total registered to date is just under 8,600.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Australia and New Zealand Update

The database has been updated for ANZ data and production.

You can download the database here

Stallion listings have not yet been added but are available on the Australian and New Zealand websites. Most of the stallions are shuttled from North America and Somebeachsomewhere is there for the first time and no doubt getting a very large book. The most popular shuttle stallions recently have been Bettors Delight and Mach Three while ANZ breds Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire are also in demand.

Some surprises on the trotting side where Pegasus Spur, who has done little in Canada, is one of the top sires downunder with several Grade 1 winners. Old standby Sundon is still standing and with 40 yearlings registered this year is now over 1800 foals in his twenty year career (he is now 26 years old)

The expanded availability of frozen semen is resulting in French stallions , like the popular Love You, getting some interest. Love You is probably the most patronized standardbred stallion in the world with over 1900 foals in six crops to date in twelve different countries and over 400 yearlings in 2011 alone. His profile is interesting in that he has a particular liking for mares that have daughters of both Speedy Crown and Super Bowl in their pedigree making him open to a wide range of mares.

In Australia anything can happen in trotters with many pacer/trotter breds including the best three year old this year, by pacing sire Metropolitan from a Balanced Image mare. The top three year old pacer is by Real Desire.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

North American Stallion Finder 2013

The 2013 stallion finder is now available here

There will still be changes to be made due to the fact that some jurisdictions have not finalized their stallion lists. Please let me know if there are any current errors or ommisions.

Friday, January 4, 2013

French Sire Profiles

I have updated the database for French performance and will be posting profiles for several sires of general interest. I have completed one for Goetmals Wood, the top sire in terms of stud fee currently in France.

Goetmals Wood is by And Arifant who traces back to Victory Song on sire line and his dam is a mixture of French and North American lines - 1st dam by Kimberland, a grandson of Stars Pride, second dam by Greyhound, a descendent of the popular sire line through Carioca II that is also responsible for Coktail Jet and his many sons at stud in France.

The pedigree has no Speedy Crown in it so it is not unexpected to see several of the top 20 out of Speedy Crown line dams. The Speedy Crown line actually goes back to the same origin as Carioca II, that being Peter Scott, son of Peter The Great. Carioca II is the sire line of 8 of the top 20 by Goetmals Wood. Add in one more by Sugarcane Hanover who also is Peter Scott line and you find that 15 of the top 20 are bred this way. There is just one with a Stars Pride line dam which I must admit is not expected but it does have a second dam by Speedy Crown as well as a third dam through Carioca II.

There are four dams by the traditional French sire lines, two through Fuschia, which is the sire line of the dam of And Arifant, while the other two dams are Phaeton line and inbred to the Fuschia line maternally. The top four all have a Fuschia line through Hernani III and in fact all of the Fuschia lines in the profile take that path. Also noteworthy is the presence of The Great McKinney line in the top four performers, while the fifth best is from a mare inbred to The Great McKinney line and the sixth best has a broodmare sire whose dam is through that same old North American line going back to George Wilkes.

Summing it up, if I wanted to breed one of the best by Goetmals Wood, I would want a mare by the Peter Scott line through either Speedy Crown or Carioca II, or that is inbred maternally to either, and the dam should also preferably have a Fuschia line and one through The Great MacKinney.

You can view the pedigrees at if you do not have the Globetrotter program.

You can also download other trotting stallion profiles from this link

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Breeding The Best

This is an article I wrote three years ago that I came across while cleaning up my files. It pretty much sums up my thoughts on pedigree.

Breeding or Buying The Best

It seems to make sense that breeding the best to the best should result in producing the best. Not everyone, however, probably 99.9% of us, is able to own the “best” mares or can either access or afford the “best” sires. Such a proposal then is not only impractical it is also not grounded in fact. Now everyone is entitled to their opinion but opinion alone is not sufficient. It is fact that counts.

The best two year old trotter last year in North America was Deweycheatemandhow, by Muscles Yankee (certainly one of the best NA trot sires), from a mare by Speedy Somolli that had 8 previous foals of little consequence (certainly not one of the best mares in the land) and has a maternal family with only two $100,000 plus performers in three generations. From a pedigree standpoint, however, he is a classic example of a good pedigree match. Muscles Yankee is Speedy Crown – Noble Victory maternally. Deweys dam is by a son of Speedy Crown and the second dam is by Noble Victory. A coincidence ? – I think not.

The best two year old filly in North America last year was A And Gsconfusion by Allamerican Native, a sire that has surprised many with his first crop. He did stand at Hanover so he certainly had some respect coming to him but he had one of the lowest fees of the studs at that farm. A And Gsconfusion’s dam is by the Ontario sire Dexter Nukes and maternally has Kawartha Skipper and Stephan Smith as sires of the 2nd and 3rd dams, not exactly world renowned stallions. From a pedigree standpoint, however, the filly is inbred maternally to Gene Abbe and Albatross, just the way you want to match them up. Another coincidence ? – Again I think not.

Perhaps the hottest stallion in North America last season was the trotting sire Kadabra. He is by the world famous ? Primrose Lane from a mare by equally famous ? Trotting Happy.

The best two year old colt in 2007 in North America, Somebeachsomewhere is by the Ontario sire Mach Three, a son of Matts Scooter, and therefore not deemed “commercial” enough by the big farms. Somebeach’s dam is by Beach Towel, a broodmare sire that up till now has been the butt of jokes and whose success percentage as a broodmare sire in producing $100,000 winners is less than 9% when the “best” broodmares sires are at 15% or better.

The results of breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best are reflected in the overall lack of success by the breeders in North America in producing fewer than 5% of their foals to make enough money to pay for themselves over their racing life. We can do better. We must do better if we want to still have people interested in buying and racing horses. 5% is not an attractive return on investment in todays world.

I am a great fan of Tesio and also of Marg Neal, a famous Canadian pedigree researcher, who was quoted in Hoofbeats as follows –

“There are a great many people out there today that will tell you there is no reason to look beyond the grandparents of any animal. I thoroughly disagree. It is, however, a handy position to take for those unwilling to do their homework”

“There is a model of breeding that is like a pattern, and the pattern persists over generations, although, of course, the names change. I like to see a mare that is inbred, and a sire that is not.”

If you look at the pedigrees of the best performers you will see just what Marg means and if you read up on Tesio you will find he shared the same approach, as do I.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus but it looks a lot like a lottery when it comes to producing a million dollar winner, even a $500,000 winner. Albatross was the first of 13 foals from Voodoo Hanover and was the best by far of the 9 foals by Meadow Skipper. He is not alone, however, in being the only million dollar winner from any particular mare. In all of North American standardbred history there have been only 6 mares that have two or more in that category.

The first million dollar winner was the trotter Fresh Yankee, bought for $900 as a yearling by Duncan Macdonald of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and who was driven to her record by Joe O'Brien of Prince Edward Island. The most recent millionaire and the youngest ever to reach that status is Snow White, the 2 year old filly trotter of 2007. In between these two there have been 388 other millionaires. The first mare to produce two such individuals was Spiked Byrdie with Division Street in 1980 and Silver Almahurst in 1988. She also has the record of being the first mare to produce two $500,000 winners. The others on the more than one million dollar list are Cathedra (2), Classic Wish (2), Lady Hathaway (2) and Rich N Elegant (3). Lady Hathaway is the only one in history to produce two full siblings that won $1 million. Three of these great mares are Canadian bred. Albatross was the fourth millionaire in history following Fresh Yankee, Rum Customer and Savoir.

There have been only 96 mares that have produced multiple $500,000 winners and Rich N Elegant, who was foaled at Armstrong Brothers in Ontario, leads this list also with 5. Others of note are Cathedra (4), Lismore (4), Flirtin Victory (4) and nine others with 3 credits.

Production of million dollar winners took a jump to 16 in the 1982 foal crop from the previous year's record of 6. It would be ten more years before the 1991 crop managed 18 and another 8 years till the current high for any one crop year was set in 1999 with 26.

What does all this mean? Clearly the odds of getting one of these superior performers appears lottery like although the odds at 1 in 1235 (390 millionaires from 482,000 horses of racing age since 1960) are much better than the one in 30 million chance of typical large lottery wins here in Canada.

Many have speculated on the reasons why we have horses like Albatross and the failure of full siblings. Clearly we are not dealing with absolutes when breeding horses. As correctly noted by others there is too much opportunity for "luck" to intervene in the long road from conception to racing success or failure. Tesio was convinced that if you had the perfect match you would get, at best, one in four such breedings to result in a champion. Albatross was one of nine. On the other hand Lady Hathaway was 2 for 7 with full siblings, Rich N Elegant was 1 in 5 with Western Hanover and 3 in 5 when you consider $500,000 winners.

My own pet theory on the failure of siblings is what I call "Murphys Law of Great Expectations" which seems to apply to situations where the first one of a series of full siblings is the best one. Then the trainers take over and train the subsequent ones with great expectations and run them into the ground trying to meet those expectations.

Whatever the reason, we are dealing with a percentage game as in all sports and whoever plays the percentages best wins the prize in the long run. Doing your homework on sire or yearling selection is one way to improve the percentages in your favour - 25% is much more attractive than the 4-5% that luck gives you and I'd happily take 1 in 9 if there was another Albatross among them.

A friend of mine has won several decent sized lottery prizes while I have seldom won more than a free ticket and the occasional $5. The difference? He researches the frequency and patterns of successful numbers and buys his tickets accordingly. Even in a lottery you can improve your odds if you want to take the time to do your homework. The same applies to handicapping the horse races. Then again you can sit back, play the guessing game and get what fate allows.