Competition Is What It Is All About

One thing that American Pharoah (AP) and Secretariat do have in common (other than being Triple Crown winners) was that they both underwent a change of ownership between their two- and three-year-old campaigns. I think it is interesting to see how these ownership changes affected their respective careers.

Secretariat was syndicated for $6,080,000 (then a record), with the stipulation that he not race beyond the age of three. The breeding rights to AP were sold, with Ahmed Zayat retaining ownership through the end of AP’s three-year-old season.

The buyer of the breeding rights to AP was Coolmore Stud, and that is where the trouble begins. As one wag put it, if Coolmore had its druthers, AP would have been on a plane to the Southern Hemisphere the day after the Belmont to commence his breeding career.

In other words, Coolmore does not GIVE ONE SHIT about the SPORT of Thoroughbred racing. ALL they care about is making $$$$$$$$$$$$$ out of it.

So while Zayat theoretically retained control of the racing career of AP through the end of his three-year-old season, the reality is that he had Coolmore looking over his shoulder the whole time. And after the Triple Crown Coolmore was whispering to Zayat, “If you MUST race him some more, do so VERY CAREFULLY. Pick the softest spots possible. Don’t venture out of the three-year-old division, at least not until the BC Classic. Everyone already thinks he is the GREATEST HORSE THAT EVER LOOKED THROUGH A BRIDLE. That is pure idiocy of course, but let the fools believe it, and don’t do anything to jeopardize it.”

The fact of the matter is that once you have sold the breeding rights to a stallion prospect such as AP, especially to a group as pernicious as Coolmore, they (Coolmore) are going to be looking over your shoulder for the rest of that horse’s career, trying to influence your decisions, trying to minimize their own risks.

I am not saying that Zayat is totally without blame in this matter. Maybe he would have raced AP a little more adventurously after the Belmont if not for the Coolmore influence. Maybe, maybe not. Having Coolmore looking over your shoulder is not a good position to be in. It is the price you pay for taking their $$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

The Secretariat situation was vastly different. The people who bought into the Secretariat syndicate were businessman of course, but they were also SPORTSMEN (which Coolmore is NOT). They stipulated that Secretariat had to be retired at the end of his three year-old season, but they allowed him to continue to race in the Chenery colors. They were not calling the shots. They were not ATTEMPTING to call the shots or to INLFLUENCE the shots being called. The Chenery family was calling the shots (along with trainer Lucien Laurin).

So Secretariat raced six times after his Belmont romp, the last five against older horses (and twice on turf). He lost two of those races, to Onion in the Whitney and to Prove Out in the Woodward. Those losses did little (if anything) to tarnish his overall reputation. The reality is that even the greatest horses get beat occasionally. But you don’t become a great horse by staying in the barn or by running only against inferior competition.

People understood these realities back then, in the 1970s. I am afraid that people do not understand them anymore. They prefer to live in a FANTASY WORLD.

One of the best races Secretariat ever ran was the 1973 Marlboro Cup Handicap, which he won in 1:45 2/5 for nine furlongs (a world record). It was certainly the BEST field he ever ran against, including his stablemate Riva Ridge (second), Cougar II (third), and Key to the Mint (last of the seven).

On his best day, Riva Ridge was at least as good a racehorse as AP on his best day. On his best day, Cougar II was at least as good a racehorse as AP on his best day. On his best day, Key to the Mint was at least as good a racehorse as AP on his best day.

Perhaps it might seem to you that I am burying my head in the sand and trying to live in the past. Alas, I know full well that “The times, they are a changin’.” The world is much different now than it was 40 years ago.

Just do not try to pretend to me that the world is “a better place now.” I mean that with regard to both racing in particular and life in general.

Forty or 50 years ago racehorses were still racehorses. They put their reputations on the line. If they got beat, they came back and ran a better race the next time. They took risks. They sought out the best competition. They ventured out of their own divisions. Which is one reason I like Beholder. More power to her!!!!! I hope she runs in the BC Classic, though the competition there should be much tougher than it was in the Pacific Classic.

Competition is what it is all about. Or what it SHOULD be all about. In the case of AP after the Triple Crown, it was all about protecting his reputation and avoiding the sternest competition. His connections should not be congratulated for their “sportsmanship.” They should be excoriated precisely for their lack thereof.

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This Travers Was the BEST Thing That Could Have Happened to Racing

“I’ve read all your statements and I’ve not said a word

But now, Lord God, let my poor voice be heard

Let me die in my footsteps before I go down under the ground.”

Ever since American Pharoah (AP) won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown 12 weeks ago, I have pretty much refrained from commenting. Yes, I could see that it was a GOOD thing for racing. I heard that national handle was up 11% from June of 2014 to 2015. Good thing. Can’t argue with that.

The thing that totally turned me off though was the BLIND IDOLATRY of AP that followed in the media (both general and within the industry itself). AP was the GREATEST HORSE THAT EVER LOOKED THROUGH A BRIDLE, etc. I tried to temper that with a few observations about OTHER good horses (older horses) AP would have to beat later on this year in order to confirm that claim to GREATNESS. My observations mainly fell upon DEAF ears.

If I owned AP, here is what I would have done. If I had a horse that was supposed to be the GREATEST HORSE THAT EVER LOOKED THROUGH A BRIDLE, I would have been EAGER to demonstrate that to the general public.

Specifically, I would have run him in the Whitney against Honor Code, Liam’s Map, Tonalist, et al. Or I would have run him two weeks later in the Pacific Classic against BEHOLDER, et al. IF he had won either of those two races, then you could have started to compare him with Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, et al.

Of course this is an exercise in PURE FANTASY. AP would have been hard pressed to win the Whitney, much less the Pacific Classic two weeks later. BEHOLDER in particular would have KICKED HIS ASS (though there was not much else behind her in that race).

But I would have done the SPORTING thing, which is seeking to run AP against the best available competition in order to find out just how good he really is. He needed to defeat the likes of Honor Code, Beholder, Liam’s Map, Tonalist, et al. somewhere along the line in order to be considered as anywhere remotely in the same class as Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, et al. It now appears crystal clear that AP is NOT remotely in the same class as Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, et al.

One of the many things that I got SICK of hearing about AP after the Belmont was how SPORTING his connections were to keep him in training and allowing him to run a couple times again this year. SPORTING!!!! That is the MINIMUM they could have done!!!!! At least if they wanted him to be compared to the likes of Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, et al.

Secretariat ran six times after the Belmont as a three-year-old before he retired. The first of those six was the Arlington Invitational against fellow three-year-olds, which he won by nine lengths. His last five races WERE ALL AGAINST OLDER HORSES.

AP and his connections should have taken notice. After you win the TC, it is assumed that you are the best three-year-old. No reason to run against them again. Unless you (like the connections of AP) are seeking to PROTECT your reputation by AVOIDING the best horses in the country and remaining within your own division.

So now AP is probably done racing. His connections are indicating that they are leaning toward retiring him. Probably a wise decision, avoiding further defeats down the line, especially if he were to run in the BC Classic.

So why do I think this is the BEST thing that could have happened to racing? Because the IDOLATRY of AP was based on PURE FANTASY. Fantasy met reality yesterday in the Travers Stakes, and reality was a decisive winner. The triumph of reality over fantasy is always a good thing, both in racing and in life in general.

The only good thing about the IDOLATRY of AP was that it fostered a FANTASY about horse ownership (thus promoting it) and made new fans for the sport. But since it was based on a FANTASY, it was bound to to be exploded sooner or later. Yesterday was sooner. Horse owners and fans are better served by recognizing reality for what it is than by buying into some FANTASY.

Assuming that AP does not race again, let us make some attempt to place him into historical perspective. I think the best way to do so is by comparing him with the other 11 Triple Crown winners.

AP was a better racehorse than Sir Barton. That is not saying much. Sir Barton had an overall record of 31-13-6-5. Very nice, but nowhere near “great.”

AP is about as good a racehorse as Gallant Fox and his son Omaha. Perhaps Assault as well.

AP was nowhere near as good as War Admiral, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, or Affirmed.

Particularly Citation or Secretariat. The general consensus is that the best North American racehorses of the 20th century were Man o’ War, Secretariat, and Citation. These three are listed in no particular order. Indeed, there has been much discussion as to which one of those three was the best, but not many people would argue that those three were the best of the 20th century in this country.

AP was nowhere even remotely in the same class as Man o’ War, Secretariat, or Citation. To pretend otherwise was PURE FANTASY, as we found out yesterday in the Travers.

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Age in Pedigrees

OK, the topic today is age in pedigrees. Specifically, the chronological distance between foals and second dams and between foals and third dams. The chart below summarizes prices for the former.

Second Generation

Age to Second Dam        Foals        Average        Maverage       Price Index

5-14                                    5,949        $45,657           149.46                0.97

15-19                                 13,514        $49,493          159.92                 1.04

20-24                               12,878        $45,674           154.41                 1.00

25-29                                 8,601         $45,947           151.62                 0.98

30+                                    4,620         $41,350           145.80                0.95

The average Thoroughbred generation is 10-11 years. You can verify that by examining the chart above. Of the 45,562 total foals in this study, 19,463 (42.70%) are out of second dams ages 19 or younger. And 32,341 (70.98%) are out of second dams aged 24 or younger. So with a bit of extrapolation, the median is probably 21.

Just to review, the overall average of all 45,562 foals is $46,418. As you can see, there is not much variance in the five groups listed above. The lowest is 30+ ($41,350). The highest is 15-19 ($49,493).

The overall maverage for all 45,562 foals is 154.0. There is not much variance in the five groups listed above. The lowest is 30+ (145.80). The highest is 15-19 (159.92). The Price Indexes mirror the maverages. The lowest is 30+ (0.95). The highest is 15-19 (1.04).

The lack of variance in the five groups listed above means that buyers did not believe age in pedigrees to be much of a factor at all (or did not pay much attention to it at all, if any).

The chart below shows the prices for the distances between foals and their third dams.

Third Generation

Age to Third Dam          Foals        Average        Maverage       Price Index

10-19                                 1,151         $43,023           144.93                 0.94

20-24                                5,825       $47,293            155.31                  1.01

25-29                                10,715       $49,029           158.82                 1.03

30-34                                12,182       $46,706           154.69                 1.00

35-39                                  8,711        $46,590           153.30                 1.00

40-49                                  6,336       $41,508           147.28                 0.96

50+                                         642        $41,610           140.75                 0.91

Of the 45,562 total foals, 17,691 (38.83%) had third dams 29 or younger. And 29,873 (65.57%) had third dams 34 or younger. So using a bit of extrapolation, the median is probably 31 or 32.

Again, there is not much variance among the averages for the seven groups listed above. The lowest is 50+ ($41,610). The highest is 25-29 ($49,029). The maverages and Price Indexes follow suit. The lowest of the latter is 50+ (0.91). The highest is 25-29 (1.03).

Once again, the lack of variance in the seven groups listed above means that buyers did not believe age in pedigrees to be much of a factor at all (or did not pay much attention to it at all, if any).

Now let us examine the results for the second generation. APPPSW in the chart below stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, a measure of the quality of the stakes winners involved (the overall average being 677).

Second Generation

Age to Second Dam   Foals  Stakes Winners   %   APPPSW    PPI (Result)

5-14                               5,949            235            3.95       636             1.13

15-19                             13,514           480            3.55       720             1.15

20-24                           12,878           447             3.47       688            1.07

25-29                             8,601           237              2.76       584            0.72

30+                                4,620           103              2.23       734            0.73

The PPIs (results) for the five groups listed above showed a much higher variance than their prices did. The lowest was 25-29 (0.72). The highest was 15-19 (1.15). This means that buyers were not paying enough attention to this factor of age in pedigrees. It was more important in determining racetrack results than they thought it was (if they thought about it all).

Now let us examine the racetrack results for the third generation.

Third Generation

Age to Third Dam      Foals  Stakes Winners   %   APPPSW    PPI (Result)

10-19                             1,151              38              3.30      594               0.88

20-24                           5,825             228            3.91       753                1.32

25-29                          10,715             421             3.93       657                1.16

30-34                          12,182             399            3.28       702               1.00

35-39                            8,711              237            2.72        632               0.77

40-49                            6,336             167            2.64        649               0.77

50+                                   642               12            1.87         623               0.52

The PPIs (results) for the seven groups listed above showed a much higher variance than their prices did. The lowest was 50+ (0.52). The highest was 20-24 (1.32). This means that buyers were not paying enough attention to this factor of age in pedigrees. It was more important in determining racetrack results than they thought it was (if they thought about it all).

Now let us compare prices versus results for the second generation.

Second Generation

Age to Second Dam        Foals     Price Index     PPI (Result)      Difference

5-14                                   5,949             0.97                1.13                     +0.16

15-19                                13,514             1.04                 1.15                     +0.11

20-24                               12,878            1.00                 1.07                    +0.07

25-29                                 8,601            0.98                 0.72                   –0.26

30+                                    4,620            0.95                 0.73                   –0.22

As you can see, the three lowest categories had positive differences: 5-14 (+0.16), 15-19 (+0.11), 20-24 (+0.07). These three groups were overperformers. The two highest groups had negative differences: 25-29 (–0.26) and 30+ (–0.22). Those two groups were underperformers.

Now let us do the same for the third generation.

Third Generation

Age to Third Dam           Foals     Price Index     PPI (Result)      Difference

10-19                                  1,151              0.94                0.88                 –0.06

20-24                                 5,825             1.01                 1.32                   +0.31

25-29                                10,715             1.03                 1.16                   +0.13

30-34                                12,182            1.00                 1.03                   +0.03

35-39                                  8,711             1.00                 0.77                  –0.23

40-49                                  6,336           0.96                 0.77                  –0.19

50+                                         642           0.91                  0.52                 –0.39

The three highest groups had negative differences: 35-39 (–0.23), 40-49 (–0.19), and 50+ (–0.39). So did the lowest group (10-19 at –0.06). These four groups were underperformers.

The other three groups had positive differences: 20-24 (+0.31). 25-29 (+0.13), and 30-34 (+0.03). These three groups were overperformers.

So in terms of age to the second dam, anything 24 or less was a good value for the price. Anything 25 or higher was a bad value for the price.

In terms of age to the third dam, 20-34 was a good value for the price. Anything 35 or higher was a bad value for the price. So was 11-19.

Allow me to summarize these results in anthropromorphic terms. Many men like younger women, the younger the better. Age to the second dam was a perfect example of that. The youngest group (5-14) had the best results relative to prices, followed by the next-youngest group (15-19), followed by the next-youngest group (20-24).

Age to the third dam was a bit trickier. Reverting to anthropromorphic terms, many men like younger women. Many men like them the younger the better. Some men like them TOO young. There are certain laws on the books. The term “jailbait” comes to mind.

Think of the youngest group in the third generation (10-19) as potential “jailbait.” Best to avoid, just to be on the safe side. The “sweet spot” in the third generation was 20-24. The next two groups (25-29 and 30-34) were also positive. Negative territory started at 35 and older.

(And apologies to anyone offended by my anthropromorphic analogies. You know I respect PC just about as much as I respect most breeding theories.)

The youngest group in the second generation (5-14) was very good, but the youngest group in the third generation (10-19) was slightly negative.  I think this boils down to racing class.

If your second dam is 14 years or younger relative to your foal, the racing class of your first two dams might still be good. If your third dam is 19 years or younger relative to your foal, chances are that some of your first three dams are lacking in racing class.

So this factor of age in pedigrees appears to more important than most buyers think (if they think about it at all). But it is not anywhere near as important as racing class in the dam, a topic to which I will return in my next post (which might be a while in coming forth).

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More Mundane Matters????

My last post was purely personal. I promise that this one eventually will get back to more mundane matters–pedigrees and statistics. But allow me to introduce the next topic with a few more personal reflections first.

If you ask my family what is the most important thing I ever accomplished, their unanimous reply would be: “Davey invented option cribbage. And DAMN him for doing it (especially if staring at a hand that is painfully in between high and low).”

My family looks at me and thinks something like: “He’s retired. He has plenty of $$$$. He seems to keep busy with that blog thing of his. If he is trying to drink and smoke himself to death, he is not doing a very good job of it YET. I guess he’s doing all right for age 60.”

My older brother Mike is the only one who ever asks me about my “blog thing.” It seems to me like the conversation goes the same way every time. I try to explain to him what exactly I do on this blog. I probably provide too much (or too technical) information.

This time around Mike asked who was the typical reader of this blog. I had to think about that one. Breeders?, he suggested. Some, I replied. Also people who work for and advise breeders. Also people who just love the mystery of what makes Thoroughbred pedigrees tick (or FAIL to tick, as the case may be). I probably overestimate that last group.

Since that latest conversation it has occurred to me that the one group who should benefit the most from reading this blog is potential buyers of unraced Thoroughbreds at public auction. Because that is pretty much what I do.

I examine populations of sales foals from a historical perspective. I tell you what angles (theories) have NOT worked in the past (the vast majority of them). I tell you what angles (theories) HAVE worked in the past (a tiny minority). I tell you what to avoid as a buyer. I tell you what to ignore as  a buyer. I tell you what to look for as a buyer. How many buyers actually read this blog I do not know.

This time around I am going to give buyers something positive for a change. Something which might help them improve their chances of buying a better racehorse (without hocking the family jewels to do so).

That something might be described as age in pedigrees. I have written about all this before. It is something of a personal obsession of mine. Nevertheless, you buyers (especially at the upcoming Keeneland September yearling sale) need to be reminded of it once again.

But alas, I see that I have scribbled enough for one post already. So I lied at the top (though not deliberately). In my NEXT post I will get back to more mundane matters–pedigrees and statistics.

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Close Encounters of the Matrimonial Kind

Warning, warning!!!! The following post is of a personal nature. It has nothing to do with Thoroughbreds, pedigrees, or statistics. Read at your own peril.

From time to time I have written about my family, including dear ole dad (DOD), most notably in “Our Father (Who Art Not Yet in Heaven.”

DOD passed away last week at the age of 92. Just got back from the funeral about 90 minutes ago.

So we told a lot of family stories over the past weekend, most of them revolving around DOD. He loved to tell stories. He loved to embellish them.

I actually wrote the following story last Sunday morning, before I learned that he had died (though he was already dead at that point). I did not hear the news until Monday afternoon.

So this story is sort of a send-off to him. It was one of his favorite stories to tell and to embellish. May he rest in peace and be winning lots of cribbage games up in heaven.


Louis Long Dink was my dad’s youngest brother and hence my uncle. I was named David Louis Dink, the middle name in honor of my Uncle Louie. Uncle Louie and I got along well for some strange reason or another. We bonded despite the age difference of 20 years between us. He was more like an older brother than an uncle to me.

Hank Williams (Sr. of course) has a song called “I’ll Be a Bachelor ‘Til I Die.” It is a very amusing song, but alas, Hank did not exactly live up to it. He married twice before he died at the age of 29.

In contrast to Hank, Uncle Louie was indeed a bachelor until he died. He was born in 1935 and died in 2000 at the age of 65. He escaped matrimony his entire life (unlike Hank). However, He did have one close encounter with matrimony. And thereby hangs a tale . . . or two or three.

DOD (my dear ole dad) likes to tell his story about Louie’s close encounter with matrimony. According to DOD, this happened in the early 1960s. Louie was working in St. Louis at the time. He had a girlfriend by the name of Evelyn at UK (the University of Kentucky, in Lexington).

One Saturday in the early 1960s Louie and Evelyn drove up to Cincinnati to pay us a visit at the family mansion. By “us” I mean Mom and Dad and their four rug rats (born in 52, 55 [moi], 57, and 60). Not exactly an advertisement for matrimonial bliss, as DOD has noted.

Anyway, Louie and Evelyn showed up about noon on a Saturday. Dad and Louie went out and procured a gallon of “cribbage juice” (beer) from the local watering hole, Cooney’s. A gallon of draft beer was 90 cents back then. Dad and Louie proceeded to play cribbage all day long. That entailed a second trip back up to Cooney’s for a second gallon of beer about three that afternoon.

Meanwhile Mom was slaving over a hot stove, preparing the usual feast for the entire group. Louie was fond of fried chicken (drumsticks specifically). So the supper, served about five that afternoon, consisted of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, and perhaps another delicacy or two. Louie praised and thanked the cook effusively and retired for a nap after supper.

Louie resurrected from his nap about seven that evening. He and DOD drove back up to Cooney’s for a third gallon of beer. That third gallon of beer lasted until about ten that evening. At which point it was decided that a fourth gallon of beer was necessary. Evelyn insisted on accompanying DOD and Louie back up to Cooney’s for said fourth gallon.

Not that Evelyn was enamored with the idea of a fourth gallon of beer (of which she had NOT been partaking). More likely she was worried. Evidently no one back then worried too much about DUIs. Except maybe Evelyn.

Anyway, as DOD relates the story, it was while the three of them were in transit to Cooney’s and back for that fourth gallon of beer that it occurred to him that Louie’s matrimonial prospects with Evelyn were rapidly diminishing.

I spoke to DOD about this story a week or so ago and asked him the most important question: “Who came out ahead that day at cribbage, you or Louie????” He replied that he did not have the faintest idea. Understandable perhaps, after two gallons of beer apiece.

DOD likes to tell this story a lot. One Sunday morning many years later as Louie and I were traveling back from Cincinnati to Lexington and Frankfart (where Louie resided) I asked Louie about the veracity of this story. Louie admitted that it happened pretty much the way DOD described it.

He added, however, that the fourth gallon of beer was not the REAL reason he and Evelyn never tied the knot. Then he proceeded to tell me his story about the real reason.

According to Louie, this story begins several months after the fourth gallon of beer. He was still seeing Evelyn and driving from St. Louis to Lexington many weekends to do so.

On the weekends that Louie saw Evelyn in Lexington they frequently went to the drive-in movies. As you might imagine, this was not particularly because they were both movie buffs. You can probably remember from your own youth how boys and girls sometimes amuse themselves at the drive-in movies.

One particular weekend they did not make it to the drive-in movies though. Evelyn wanted to attend the wedding of a friend instead. So that is what they did, and Louie drove back to St. Louis that Sunday more than a little frustrated.

Louie arrived back in St. Louis, filled his refrigerator with a 12-pack, then emptied said refrigerator. (Louie was asked one time, do you keep beer in your refrigerator? His laconic reply was: “Not overnight”.)

So after consuming those 12 beers, it occurred to Louie that he just had a telephone installed in his apartment. He could call Evelyn long distance. Without thinking about it too much he proceeded to do so.

So Louie discovered that calling your girlfriend late on a Sunday night was not a very good idea. And that calling her to complain about his frustrations was an even worse idea. And that doing both these things DRUNK was the worst idea of all.

That particular incident, Louie concluded, had more to do with his failure to tie the knot with Evelyn than the four gallons of beer.

We were approaching Lexington by that point in the drive. Louie was in a reflective mood. Even that was not the real reason, Louie confessed. And he proceeded to tell me the real reason.

The real reason, Louie revealed, was that Evelyn had ambitions. And like most young women back then, she calculated that the best way to achieve those ambitions was to marry an ambitious man. “She wanted me to be president of the XXXXXXX United States,” Louie ruefully concluded.

Not that Louie would have been a BAD president (and better than some I could name no doubt). But Louie was about the most ambitionless person in the universe.

As he settled into lifelong bachelorhood in the wake of Evelyn, Louie had extremely limited ambitions. He worked his whole life because you need money to buy beer, pay the rent, etc. After work every day he filled up his refrigerator with beer . . . then proceeded to empty said refrigerator.

Louie liked to root for the UK Pussycats (basketball particularly). He also liked to come over and see me once a month or so to go out for breakfast and then play some cribbage.

Those were mainly sober cribbage sessions. We also had numerous not-so-sober cribbage sessions over the course of the years.

When Louie died in 2000, I was well on my way to emulating him in lifelong bachelorhood. That process became even more conscious after his death. I don’t think I ever played the Tom Waits song “Better Off Without a Wife” for Louie, but he would have appreciated and concurred with its sentiments.

You might inquire about my own close encounters with matrimony. I had two way back in my youth. The first one is summarized in the Dylan song “Red River Shore.” Of that one I will say no more.

The second one occurred when I was 33 and pretty much cured me of any delusions I might have had about aspiring to matrimony. I never did finger out why exactly it ended. She pretty much declined to explain. The only explanation she offered was, “You are a 110-percenter, and I am not.”

OK, I understood that somewhat. Except that I was more like a 200-percenter with her. I don’t think I could have tried any harder to make it come out right with her. Perhaps that was the problem. I tried too hard and wanted it (her) too much and too desperately.

So anyway, that one went kablooie when I was 33, and I more or less vowed at that time to resist all inclinations to make a fool out of myself over women ever again. I would not say that I have been 100% successful at keeping that vow, but I would give myself about a 95 (which is a pretty good grade).

Matrimony has its pros and cons. Parenthood has its pros and cons. I do not think that I would have been any good at either, particularly the latter.

Bachelorhood has its pros and cons, more of the former than the latter if you turn out to be a remarkably solitary person such as myself. All you can really do is play the hand that life has dealt you.

“So cut the deck right in half

I’ll play from either side.”

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Edward P. Evans and Virginia

In my last post I demonstrated that Virginia-breds were more expensive and posted better results than Kentucky-breds (both from a sample of sales foals of 2008-2111).

One reaction I had to that was, “Yeah, but now that Evans is dead, Virginia has probably gone straight down the tubes.”

The late Edward P. Evans was indeed a powerful force, easily the leading breeder of Thoroughbreds in Virginia. Evans died in 2010, and his Thoroughbred holdings were dispersed in 2011.

The question was posed to me: How did Virginia-breds fare without the sales foals bred by Evans? I decided to tackle this question.

The Evans dispersal in 2011 sold 106 weanlings, yearlings, and two-year-olds (all included among my sales foals of 2008-2111). Evans did not sell many weanlings, yearlings, or two-year-olds in 2008-2010. I was able to verify another 25 that he had bred and sold in those three years.

That makes 131 Evans-breds in the study. The total for all Virginia-breds in the study was 529. So the idea is to compare the prices and results of the 131 Evans-breds with the remaining 398 foals bred by others in Virginia. Their prices are listed below.

Bred in Virginia by          Foals     Average     Maverage      Price Index

Evans                                    131       $155,008       311.86               2.03

All Others                            398        $65,834       203.30              1.32

Totals                                    527        $87,917        230.18              1.49

The Evans-breds were indeed expensive, with an average of $155,008, a maverage of 311.86, and a Price Index of 2.03. The 398 foals bred in Virginia by all others were less expensive, with an average of $65,834, a maverage of 203.30, and a Price Index of 1.32.

Among these 529 foals bred in Virginia were 28 stakes winners. Eight of them were bred by Evans. Twenty were bred by all others. All 28 are listed below in the usual format. I listed the breeders of the 20 “others” just to give you an idea of what other Virginia breeders were involved.

Bred in Virginia by Edward P. Evans

Blueskiesnrainbows (English Channel–Cho Cho San, Deputy Minister), 10Y33,000, 1,573 Performance Points.

Valid (Medaglia d’Oro–Grand Prayer, Grand Slam), 11Y500,000, 1,169.

Swagger Jack (Smart Strike–Lyrical Prayer, The Minstrel), 09Y280,000, 861.

Code West (Lemon Drop Kid–Charitabledonation, Saint Ballado), 11Y340,000, 782.

Noble Moon (Malibu Moon–Mambo Bell, Kingmambo), 11Y200,000, 658.

Mail (Medaglia d’Oro–Tap Dance, Pleasant Tap), 11Y470,000, 322.

Maleeh (Indian Charlie–Gold Mover, Gold Fever), 11Y350,000, 244.

Samysilver (Indian Charlie–Hidden Ransom, Silver Ghost), 10T70,000, 239.

Bred in Virginia by All Others

Redeemed (Include–Early Mass, Pleasant Tap), 09Y50,000, 1,732. Bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm.

Bodemeister (Empire Maker–Untouched Talent, Storm Cat), 10Y260,000, 1,705. Bred by Audley Farm Inc.

Camp Victory (Forest Camp–Victory Trick, Clever Trick), 09T90,000, 1,188. Bred by Atkins Homes, Inc.

Go Blue or Go Home (Bluegrass Cat–Go Baby Go, Lion Cavern), 09W90,000, 1,080. Bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm and Winstar Farm LLC.

Thank You Marylou (Birdstone–Menifeeque, Menifee), 11W47,000, 840. Bred by Mr. and Mrs. C. W. McNeely III.

Hot Summer (Malibu Moon–Summer Delight, Quiet American), 09Y180,000, 699. Bred by Lazy Lane Farms, Inc.

Dannhauser (Johannesburg–Hatpin, Smart Strike), 10T350,000, 573. Bred by Audley Farm.

In the Rough (Stormy Atlantic–Old Fashion Girl, Arch), 08Y40,000, 541. Bred by Lazy Lane Farms, Inc.

Tizahit (Tiznow–Never a No Hitter, Kris S.), 08Y185,000, 495. Bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm.

Shaishee (Indian Charlie–Hatpin, Smart Strike), 11Y325,000, 455. Bred by Audley Farm.

Position Limit (Bellamy Road–Payable On Demand, Out of Place), 09Y55,000, 420. Bred by Lazy Lane Farms, Inc.

Two Notch Road (Partner’s Hero–Capiana, Capote), 08Y2,500, 406. Bred by James M. Hackman.

Private Tale (Tale of the Cat–Taint, Private Account), 09Y50,000, 389. Bred by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Zureick, Mr. and Mrs. George Rayborn, and William M. Russell.

North Freeway (Jump Start–Shawnee Country, Chief’s Crown), 08W15,000, 374. Bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm.

Toccet’s Charm (Toccet–Ruler’s Charm, Cape Town), 08Y16,000, 323. Bred by Audley Farm Inc.

Argent Affair (Black Tie Affair–Caty’s Quest, Norquestor), 08Y20,000, 255. Bred by James M. Hackman.

Lunar Mist (Malibu Moon–Misty Rain, Rubiano), 08Y92,000, 255. Bred by Chance Farm.

Simmstown (Limehouse–Ruler’s Charm, Cape Town), 10T155,000, 250. Bred by Audley Farm Inc.

Ilikecandy (Malibu Moon–Real Candy, Real Quiet), 11Y170,000, 237. Bred by Hickory Tree Equine, LLC.

Firenze Feeling (Macho Uno–Elusive, Elmaamul), 11Y110,000, 225. Bred by Audley Farm.

Listed below are the racetrack results for these 131 and 398 foals. APPPSW stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, a measure of the quality of stakes winners involved, with 677 being average.

Bred by     Foals     Stakes Winners     %     APPPSW          PPI (Result)

Evans          131                   8                 6.01         731                    2.00

All Others   398                20                5.03         622                   1.40

Totals           529                28                5.29         653                   1.55

The 131 foals bred by Evans (PPI of 2.00) were better than the 398 foals bred by all others (PPI of 1.40). But they should have been better, based on their prices. The important point is the relationship between prices and results, listed below.

Bred By          Foals          Price Index          PPI (Result)          Difference

Evans               131                  2.03                       2.00                      –0.03

All Others        398                 1.32                        1.40                       +0.08

Totals               529                  1.49                        1.55                       +0.06

Though the 131 foals bred by Evans show a difference of –0.03 (prices higher than results), that is a little bit misleading. The higher the price, the more difficult it is for the results to keep pace. So the 131 foals bred by Evans were not overvalued. Neither were the 398 foals bred by all others (difference of +0.08).

The important comparison to be made here is between the 398 foals bred in Virginia by all others and the 23,564 foals bred in Kentucky. That comparison is listed below.

Locale Bred                 Foals       Price Index       PPI (Result)       Difference

Virginia (not Evans)    398              1.32                    1.40                    +0.08

Kentucky                      23,564           1.27                    1.25                    –0.02

So even without the 131 foals bred by Evans, Virginia-breds were still more expensive (1.32 to 1.27) and better performers (1.40 to 1.25) than Kentucky-breds.

Edward P. Evans is missed in Virginia and elsewhere. As Ned Williams gas pointed out to me, Evans or his estate has been named Breeder of the Year in Virginia ten time: in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Nevertheless, Virginia appears to be very capable of carrying on without him. Maybe I will repeat this whole study again in a few years (say sales foals of 2012-2015). Maybe Virginia will have gone “straight down the tubes” by then, but I would not wager the family jewels on it.

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Bragging Rights–Results

Listed below are the results for the various locales. APPPSW stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, a measure of the quality of stakes winners involved (the average being 677). Discussion resumes after the chart below.

Locale Bred     Foals     Stakes Winners     %     APPPSW       PPI (Result)

California         1,733               32                 1.85        579                 0.48

Canada             2,735               117                4.28       638                 1.22

Florida             6,545               181                2.77        577                 0.71

Louisiana        2,461                 51                2.07        455                0.42

Maryland            774                26                3.36        455                0.68

New Mexico       523                18                 3.44        462               0.71

New York         2,390               67                2.80         663              0.83

Pennsylvania   1,402               45                3.21          546              0.79

Texas                    462               10                2.16          386              0.37

Virginia                529               28                5.29         653               1.55

Washington        399                12                3.01         343               0.46

All Others         2,045               65               3.18          396               0.56

Totals               21,998             652              2.96          555               0.74

Kentucky          23,564            850              3.61          770               1.25

Grand Totals   45,562           1,502             3.30         677               1.00

To answer the question posed in my last post, yes, Virginia did justify its high prices with racetrack results. They posted 5.29% stakes winners from foals, the highest of any group listed above. Their 28 stakes winners had APPPSW of 653, second only to Kentucky (770). That works out to a PPI (result) for Virginia of 1.55, which compares favorably with its Price Index of 1.49.

Only two other locales listed above had positive (above 1.00) PPIS: Kentucky at 1.25 and Canada at 1.22. They were followed by New York (0.83), Pennsylvania (0.79), Florida (0.71), New Mexico (0.71) Maryland (0.68), California (0.48), Washington (0.46), Louisiana (0.42), and Texas (0.37).

The chart below compares prices with results. A positive difference (meaning that results exceeded prices) is good. A negative difference (meaning that prices exceeded results) is bad. Discussion continues after the chart below.

Locale Bred         Foals          Price Index          PPI (Result)        Difference

California            1,733                  0.48                    0.48                         0.00

Canada                2,735                  0.76                     1.22                        +0.46

Florida                 6,545                 0.80                     0.71                       –0.09

Louisiana            2,461                  0.47                     0.42                       –0.05

Maryland                774                 0.83                     0.68                       –0.15

New Mexico           523                 0.33                     0.71                        +0.38

New York             2,390                0.92                     0.83                       –0.09

Pennsylvania       1,402                0.75                     0.79                         +0.04

Texas                        462                0.41                     0.37                        –0.04

Virginia                    529                1.49                     1.55                          +0.06

Washington            399                0.37                     0.46                         +0.09

All Others             2,045               0.54                     0.56                          +0.02

Totals                    21,998              0.71                     0.74                          +0.03

Kentucky              23,564              1.27                     1.25                          –0.02

Virginia had a very slightly positive difference (+0.06). Kentucky had a very slightly negative difference (–0.02). This confirms that Virginia did indeed have better results than Kentucky, even taking prices into account.

Virginia achieved that PPI (result) of 1.55 without the benefit of any one particularly noteworthy stakes winner, which makes it even more impressive. The best of its 28 stakes winners was Redeemed (Include–Early Mass, Pleasant Tap, sold for $50,000 as a yearling in 2009), winner of the Brooklyn Handicap (G2) and an earner of $832,140.

The other results were a mixed bag, ranging from +0.46 for Canada to –0.15 for Maryland.

My original inclination was to take that +0.46 for Canada (a price of 0.76 and a result of 1.22) with a grain of salt. Canada ranked behind only Virginia in terms of percentage of stakes winners from foals (5.29% to 4.28%). My original inclination was to chalk that up to the plethora of stakes races restricted to Canadian-breds. The more restricted stakes races available to a particular locale, the better its percentage of stakes winners from foals will be.

Upon further reflection, however, I realized that almost all these locales (except for Kentucky) have a number of restricted stakes races available to them (though perhaps not as many as Canada). New York, for example, has a plethora of restricted stakes races as well, probably near the same ratio as Canada. New York had a price of 0.92 and a result for 0.83 for a difference of –0.09. Their plethora of restricted stakes races did not seem to help New York nearly as much as it did Canada.

Furthermore, it occurred to me that the strength of a local breeding program should be reflected in the prices for its foals. If a Canadian-bred has many more opportunities to win restricted stakes races than foals from other locales, the prices for Canadian-breds should reflect that (be higher). Many locales make that their blatant advertising pitch. Breed in our locale because we have a fantastic program that pays more money to our foals (not necessarily just in stakes races either). Therefore, foals bred in our locale are more valuable than foals bred in other locales.

It makes economic sense. Yet I do not perceive much of a premium in prices being paid for Canadian-breds or New York-breds, for example. Considering the results achieved, that was a mistake in the case of the former but not in the latter.

I do not really follow this stuff, but it seems to me that the New York program was just starting to ramp up for sales foals of 2008-2111. Perhaps it will have much better results (and higher prices) for my next group, say sales foals of 2012-2015. State-bred programs are in a constant state of flux.

In retrospect, I must confess that perhaps using stakes winners only to quantify racetrack results is not the best method to do so for this particular study because of this problem of restricted stakes races and how they affect the results. So take these results with as many grains of salt as you desire.

For that same reason do not make too much of Kentucky’s numbers (a price of 1.27, a result of 1.25, and a difference of –0.02). Kentucky does NOT have stakes races restricted to foals bred within its borders. Almost all the other locales do have such stakes races. Considering that factor, Kentucky’s numbers are not that bad at all.

You got what you paid for with Kentucky-breds. Actually, I think the same is pretty much true for all of these locales, with two exceptions. Virginia-breds were a lot better (and more expensive) than most people realize. Canadian-breds appear to be the best bargains of all, although that is at least partially a function of its plethora of restricted stakes races.

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