La Troienne (“Talking World War III Blues”)

Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) winner Majesticperfection is by Harlan’s Holiday out of Act So Noble, by Wavering Monarch. His part-owner “decided to breed Act So Noble to Harlan’s Holiday because the resulting foal would be inbred to the great broodmare La Troienne, ” noted one of the weekly rags.

In point of fact, Majesticperfection is NOT inbred to La Troienne. The only La Troienne in his entire pedigree is through one ancestor in his third generation. Uncommitted, the dam of Wavering Monarch, is 4×4 to La Troienne. So La Troienne does appear 7×7 in the pedigree of Majesticperfection, but he himself is not inbred to La Troienne (to be abbreviated henceforth as LT). Act So Noble is not inbred to LT. Wavering Monarch is not inbred to LT. Uncommitted IS inbred to LT.

I am not disputing that LT was a very great broodmare, but she was also a foal of 1926. The “influence” of any foal of 1926 on any foal of 2006 is vastly overstated, to put it as mildly as possible.

The name LT seems to be associated with such grandiose overstatements more than any other female name (the corresponding male name might be Phalaris). In order to inject a dose of reality into understanding the actual “influence” of LT on contemporary pedigrees, I decided to reach back into my files and post the following statistics on LT, which I compiled about five years ago.

The average Thoroughbred generation is approximately 11 years. Therefore, I examined all North American-bred foals of 1980-84. Since LT was a foal of 1926, those foals would be 54-58 years removed from LT, which is right in the mayor’s office in terms of being five generations removed from LT.

There were 213,726 North American-bred foals of 1980-1984. LT showed up 24,237 times (a little over 11%) among those 213,726 foals. Each presence is treated as one foal, although of course she could have showed up more than once in the same foal. And keep in mind that this is fifth generation only. LT would also have showed up in the fourth generation or closer (although not many times closer) or in the sixth generation or farther back.

If you want to talk about more contemporary foals, say those born since 2000, LT would be about seven generations back on average and would probably show up even more often, with the primary sources being Buckpasser and Seattle Slew. LT is the third dam of Buckpasser. My Charmer, dam of Seattle Slew, is 4×4 to Baby League, a daughter of LT (meaning that LT shows up 6×6 in the pedigree of Seattle Slew, although he himself is not inbred to LT).

Of those 213,726 North American-bred foals of 1980-1984, 6,136 (2.87%) were stakes winners. I was not using earnings back then in order to judge the quality of stakes winners. I was using the somewhat simpler 4-3-2-1 method (assigning them four points for each G1 win, three points for each G2 win, two points for each G3 win, and one point for each nongraded stakes win, all by black-type rules). The results over a large number of foals are virtually the same whether you use earnings or not. Those 6,136 stakes winners won a total of 17,989 stakes races on that 4-3-2-1 basis, an average of 2.93 per stakes winner.

Of the 24,237 foals with LT in the fifth generation, 732 were stakes winners. That is 3.02%, or slightly better than the norm for all five crops of 2.87%. Those 732 stakes winners won 2,243 stakes races on the 4-3-2-1 basis, an average of 3.06 per stakes winner, again slightly better than the expected 2.93. Taking both quantity and quality into account, that results in an overall impact value (or result) of 1.10, meaning that LT in the fifth generation was about 10% better than average overall for these foals of 1980-1984.

As stated before, LT is the third dam of Buckpasser. Therefore, any foal in this group with Buckpasser in the second generation also has LT in the fifth generation. As a matter of fact, 3,884 of these 24,237 foals (about 16%) had Buckpasser in the second generation. Of those 3,884 foals, 148 were stakes winners (3.81%, higher than the norm of 2.87%). Those 148 stakes winners won 586 stakes races on the 4-3-2-1 basis, an average of 3.96 per stakes winner (also well above the norm). Taking both quantity and quality into account, those 3,884 foals with Buckpasser in the second generation had an overall impact value (or result) of 1.79, meaning that they were 79% better than average overall.

So a great deal of the success of these 24,237 foals can be attributed to only one descendant of LT. How good was LT without Buckpasser???? Removing the latter’s 3,884 foals from the former’s total of 24,237 foals yields the following result: 20,353 foals and 584 stakes winners (2.87%, right on the norm for all five crops) who won a total of 1,657 stakes races on the 4-3-2-1 basis. That works out to an average of 2.84 stakes races won per stakes winner (below the norm of 2.93). So taking both quantity and quality into account, this group had an overall impact value (or result) of 0.97, meaning that without Buckpasser in the second generation, LT in the fifth generation was 3% BELOW AVERAGE overall. Without Buckpasser in the second generation, LT in the fifth generation was a NEGATIVE INFLUENCE overall.

These results can be understood even better if you break them down by positions. There are 32 ancestors in the fifth generation of a pedigree, half male and half female. I number them P1 through P16 top to bottom. Take Slew o’ Gold, a foal of 1980 and a two-time champion in this group, for example: I would designate the 16 female ancestors in his fifth generation thusly: Miss Disco (P1), Alablue (P2), Nothirdchance (P3), Marching Home (P4), Knight’s Daughter (P5), Striking (P6), Busher (P7), Crepe Myrtle (P8), Alcibiades (P9), Alpoise (P10), Brushup (P11), La Troienne (P12), Cosquilla (P13), Fancy Racket (P14), Hurakan (P15), and Affection (P16).

Note that LT is at P12. She also appears twice in the seventh generation in the pedigree of Slew o’ Gold through My Charmer, specifically once through Striking at P6 and once through Busher at P7. So LT appears 7x7x5 in the extended pedigree of Slew o’ Gold. If you want to designate that as “inbreeding,” “I got some oceanfront property in Arizona. . . . And if you buy that, I’ll throw the Golden Gate in free.”

The following are the results for LT in the fifth generation position by position.

P1           P2        P3         P4          P5          P6          P7          P8        Totals

233       816     1,359     5,127     1,321     1,010     1,243     1,787     12,896

0.05     0.64     0.72       1.28       0.47       0.47       0.50       0.43       0.82

P9        P10        P11        P12         P13        P14        P15       P16     Totals

583     1,243     1,592     3,030     1,359     1,010     1,670     854     11,341

0.84      1.54       1.12       1.60       0.70       1.36        1.14      3.32      1.42

The first line for each positional group is the number of foals. The second line is the overall impact value (result, taking both quantity and quality into account). Take P1, for example. It had 233 foals, one stakes winner (0.43%) who won one nongraded stakes race (1.00) for an overall impact value of 0.05. For purposes of concision, the one stakes winner, 0.43%, and 1.00 have been omitted. Only the number of foals (233) and the overall result (0.05) are shown.

If you look at the impact values (results) for the 16 possible positions, you observe a great deal of variation. P1 is the worst at 0.05 (as already mentioned). P16 is by far the best at 3.32. Nine of the 16 are negative (below 1.00). Seven of the 16 are positive (above 1.00).

LT shows up most often at P4 (5,127) and P12 (3,030). The former is as the third dam of the sire of the sire. The latter is as the third dam of the broodmare sire. P4 also happens to be the only positive position in the top half (among P1-P8).

P4 and P12 correspond with Buckpasser in the second generation. P4 is the best among P1-8 at 1.28. P12 is the second best among P9-P16 at 1.60. If you delete Buckpasser from P4 and P12, however, those results both decline to 1.04 (just barely above average).

These results can be better understood if they are grouped accordingly:

Male     Female     P1-3-5-7     P2-4-6-8     P9-11-13-15     P10-12-14-16

9,360     14,877        4,156            8,740              5,204                   6,137

0.79         1.30           0.53              0.95                0.99                     1.79

Not surprisingly, LT shows up more often as the dam of a female (14,877) than as the dam of a male (9,360) and with better results (1.30 for the latter, 0.79 for the former). Actually, LT had only two sons as sires, Bimelech and Broke Even. The latter had virtually disappeared from pedigrees by foals of 1980-1984. So 99+% of that 0.79 is Bimelech.

The numbers above also interpolate that LT was a lot better in the bottom half of pedigrees (11,341 foals for a result of 1.42, the totals for P9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16) than in the top half of pedigrees (12,896 foals for a result of 0.82, the totals for P1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8).

Putting both factors together, her results were 4,156 foals and 0.53 for P1-3-5-7 (males in the top half), 8,740 foals and 0.95 for P2-4-6-8 (females in the top half), 5,204 foals and 0.99 for P9-11-13-15 (males in the bottom half), and 6,137 foals and 1.79 for P10-12-14-16 (females in the bottom half). All of which merely quantifies common sense. LT was much better as a dam of females than as a dam of males. Therefore, she was also better in the bottom half of pedigrees than the top half. She was best as a dam of females in the bottom half (1.79 for P10-12-14-16) and worst as a dam of males in the top half (0.53 for P1-3-5-7).

That predictability makes LT atypical. Most other “superior females” (or sires, for that matter) are much more unpredictable in their behavior from position to position. Logically, if a sire or dam is good at P10, it also ought to be good at P14, but it does not always work out that way. The sire or dam in question could be tremendous at P10 and horrible at P14 or vice versa.

LT was also atypical in that she is so tremendously good at P16 (or in the direct female line in general). I think what happens is that people realize how good LT was in the direct female line and expect her to be that good anywhere else she shows up in pedigrees. Sorry, does not work out that way.

LT was also atypical in that she had only one sire son of any significance, and Bimelech was not particularly good at 0.79. Most of the other “superior females” are much more closely associated with successful sires, Almahmoud being the classic example. If you insisted on “balanced-sex” inbreeding (duplications through a male and female only), you were shit out of luck with LT because your only option was Bimelech, and he was 0.79 overall.

Actually, you were shit out of luck trying to duplicate LT in general because your options in the top half of the pedigree were so dismal (0.82 overall). I know you can quote me many examples of excellent nags being inbred to LT, Numbered Account (4×5) and Relaxing (4×4) being among my favorites. Note that both were closer than 5×5 and both were by Buckpasser. Both were duplicated through the direct female line top and bottom. Bimelech was not involved in either case. Nor were any of LT’s other less distinguished descendants. Both were chronologically earlier than foals of 1980-1984. Numbered Account was a foal of 1969. Relaxing was a foal of 1976.

But in a greater sense, LT is totally typical of “superior females” (or sires, for that matter). To review, she was 1.10 overall in the fifth generation. She was 0.97 without Buckpasser in the second generation. She was tremendous at P16. Everywhere else in pedigrees, she displayed a wide range of variability (albeit a more predictable variability than most others).

That variability is what makes her totally typical. As I mentioned, everyone seems to assume that because LT was tremendous at P16 (or in the direct female line in general), she must be tremendous wherever she shows up in pedigrees (no matter how many generations back or in what position, whether as the dam of a female or as the dam of a male). Sorry, does not work out that way.

Names in pedigrees are precisely that. Nothing less, nothing more. They are names on a piece of paper (or a computer screen). Most people seem to assume that the most revered names in pedigrees somehow exert “magical powers.” Sorry, does not work out that way. They all have feet of clay along with the occasional positive influence.

“Half of the people can be part right all of the time

Some of the people can be all right part of the time

But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time.”

The corollary to this is that all of the greatest names in pedigrees, both sires and dams, can NOT be ALL right ALL of the time. The three lines above are less ambiguous than usual for this particular author, who concluded:

“I think Abraham Lincoln said that (the three lines above).

I let you be in my dream if I can be in your dream

I said that.”

And I second that motion.

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6 Responses to La Troienne (“Talking World War III Blues”)

  1. Lakotasblaze says:

    I see you are using your pen to pop everyone’s bubbles.

  2. fmitchell07 says:

    For those gentle readers unaware of the blogmeister’s inclinations, the quotation at the bottom of this post is Bob Dylan from “Talkin’ World War III Blues,” a vision of the world after a WWIII apocalypse, and is off the “Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” album.

    And, Sir Boojum, I was surprised, even amazed, that LT in P1 was as good as .79. Bimelech himself was a pretty decent sire, but what sons? Did a spot of research and came up with two sons (Better Self and Brookfield) who were 8 percent sires (of stakes winners to foals) and a third (Hilarious) who got 6 percent. Those three were also very solid by AEI. So somehow, someone, somewhere got brave and gave sons and grandsons of those critters a chance to reproduce. Thought the results would have been MUCH worse, actually. Is there a decent-ish horse out there who is tail-male to Bimelech?

    Further researc: Hilarious’s son Fast Hilarious wasn’t a complete washout. Got 5 percent stakes winners, and his offspring would have LT in the 5th. He must be behind the .79. He sired Hail Hilarious (very good filly who won several stakes now G1) and Grecian Comedy, a quite useful stakes-winning filly who raced from 1982 to 1985.


    • ddink55 says:

      Thank you for the exegesis of the quote. The 0.79 figure includes ALL Bimelech, not just male line. Strictly male line (P1) was 0.05. So the 0.79 would include stuff like No Robbery (or other sires or dams out of Bimelech mares) in the second generation. I don’t think you have missed any significant sires in the Bimelech male line. Your original thought that the male line was much worse was the correct one. Bimelech as the fourth generation in the male line was 0.05 but was probably much better in the second or third generation. You mentioned Grecian Comedy, a foal of 1980 in this group. Fast Hilarious in the first generation equals Bimelech in the third generation and LT in the fourth generation (therefore, NOT included in these numbers). Sons of Fast Hilarious would be included in these numbers. Not very many of them and not very good. Does that clear up the matter for you????

  3. fmitchell07 says:

    Perfectly clear. Poor No Robbery. Poor Swaps. Ahhh!

  4. Pingback: La Troienne, Conclusions | Boojum's Bonanza

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