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.