Outcrosses

Secretariat was a total outcross. He had no duplications whatsoever in the first five generations of his pedigree. Ditto for Curlin, one of the very best stakes winners among sales foals of 2003-2007. Is this (total outcrossing) a good pedigree strategy?????? Decided to investigate.

I identified 8,451 foals among these sales foal of 2003-2007 with no duplications whatsoever in the first five generations of their pedigrees. That is 11.95%.

Just for grins, I checked that percentage against an earlier population. Among all 45,643 North American-bred named foals of 1983, I found 7,429 total outcrosses. That works out to 16.28%.

There has been a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth in recent years over the “fact” that the breed (especially in North America) is becoming “too inbred.” I have not seen a lot of facts to support this asseveration. And the facts that I have seen have not been impressive.

The comparison above is somewhat apples and oranges. All North American-bred named foals of 1983 includes ALL foals. Sales foals of 2003-2007 include only SALES foals. The latter have generally been of higher pedigree quality than the former over the years.

Nevertheless, a drop from 16.28% to 11.95% strikes me as probably significant, even allowing for the “apples and oranges.” It is a drop of about 26.6%, more than a quarter. And if total outcrosses have dropped that much over the years, then I would not be surprised if the degree of total inbreeding has indeed increased over the years.

Not that I necessarily agree that that is a catastrophic event, but it is also true that the North American Thoroughbred of today is not nearly as good as the North American Thoroughbred foaled about 30 years ago. Whether one (more inbreeding) is the actual cause of the other (a decline in the overall results) is still a matter of debate, it seems to me.

At any rate, these 8,451 sales foals of 2003-2007 sold for a gross of $374,780,846, an average of $44,348 (well below the overall average of $54,140), and a maverage of 151.30 (also below the overall maverage of 163.11). Pretty much as expected. Outcrosses are generally of lower pedigree quality than inbreds.

Some pretty good stakes winners among these sales foals of 2003-2007 were total outcrosses. I have already mentioned Curlin (13,802 Performance Points). Also showing up in this category were Afleet Alex (4,666), Benny the Bull (3,953), Unbridled Belle (3,310), Macho Again (2,926), Henny Hughes (2,525), Thorn Song (2,433), Kinsale King (2,404), and River’s Prayer (2,222).

That might seem like a pretty impressive group of stakes winners at first glance. Nine such stakes winners from 8,451 foals is 0.106%. The average for all 70,714 foals is 0.133%. So the total outcrosses actually underperformed somewhat at producing stakes winners with 2,000+ Performance Points.

A total of 238 stakes winners were included among these 8,451 foals. That is 2.82% (well below the revised overall figure of 3.39%). Those 238 stakes winners averaged 637 Performance Points apiece (slightly above the overall revised average of 608).

So taking both quantity and quality of stakes winners into account, these 8,451 foals had a PPI (result) of 0.87, compared to their Price Index of 0.93. They were expected to have below-average results. They did have below-average results, even lower than warranted by their prices. Their prices were about 7% below average. Their results were about 13% below average.

Not surprising in the least. I expected this group to have both prices and results below average. I would have been happier if the numbers were reversed, if prices were 13% below average and results were only 7% below average. But I suppose there is a lot of truth to the Rolling Stones adage: “You can’t always get what you want.”

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Some groups are neither outcrosses nor inbreds. They have some duplications within five generations, but those duplications are not between sire and dam. They are contained within the sire and/or within the dam.

One of these groups is the hybrids. An example is G2 winner Medallist (now at stud). He is by Touch Gold out of Santaria, by Star de Naskra. Touch Gold is 3×3 to Northern Dancer. Santaria is 4×4 to Tudor Minstrel. Both of his parents are inbred, but he himself has no duplications between his sire and dam. That is the definition of a hybrid for these particular purposes.

A long time ago I was “instructed” that pedigrees with such “hybrid vigor” produced excellent results. Further examination told a different story, as it usually does.

There were 1,112 such hybrid foals among sales foals of 2003-2007. They sold for a gross of $60,803,072, an average of $54,679 (just above the overall average of $54,140), and a maverage of 166.15 (just above the overall maverage of 163.11).

Of these 1,112 foals, 43 were stakes winners (3.87%, well above the overall figure of 3.39%). Those 43 stakes winners averaged 551 Performance Points apiece, well below the overall average of 608. Not one of these 43 stakes winners earned 2,000+ Performance Points. The best was 1,623.

So taking both quality and quantity of stakes winners into account, these 1,112 foals had a PPI (result) of 1.032, compared to their Price Index of 1.019. Both numbers were slightly above average. Results were slightly better than prices, but only very slightly.

A large number of foals have duplications within five generations but only within the sire or dam (as opposed to the hybrids, which have duplications within BOTH the sire and dam). An example would be a foal by Touch Gold (3×3 to Northern Dancer) out of a mare with no duplications at all within four generations (and no duplications with Touch Gold).

There were 7,157 foals of this description among sales foals of 2003-2007. Those 7,157 foals sold for a gross of $352,999,619, an average of $49,322 (below the overall average of $54,310), and a maverage of 157.02 (below the overall maverage of 163.11).

There were some pretty good stakes winners among this group, including Forever Together (5,358), Midnight Lute (4,091), Pioneerof the Nile (3,034), Gotta Have Her (2,533), Zanjero (2,521), Swift Temper (2,397), Dancing in Silks (2,193), and Any Given Saturday (2,184). Eight stakes winners with 2,000+ Performance Points from 7,157 foals is 0.112%, below the overall average of 0.133%, however.

Taking both quantity and quality of stakes winners into account, these 7,157 foals had a PPI (result) of 1.006, compared to their Price Index of 0.963. So their prices were about 3.7% below average, but their results were about 0.6% above average. The difference is not huge, but at least it is in the right direction.

A final group consists of foals I will call false hybrids. These foals have parents who have duplications within four generations (like hybrids). Unlike hybrids, however, one or both of the parents is NOT inbred. Instead, a more distant ancestor is inbred.

Examples of this often include Broad Brush (who was 3×3 to Turn-to) or In Reality (who was 3×3 to War Relic). So if you had a foal by Touch Gold out of a Broad Brush mare, you might think at first that it is a hybrid. You have to examine it closer to realize that it is NOT a hybrid because the Broad Brush mare in question is not herself an inbred. Broad Brush is an inbred. And the same goes for In Reality and other ancestors who are inbred 3×3 or closer.

Perhaps too subtle a distinction, but if I classified such a foal as a hybrid, I would be hanged, drawn, and quartered in some regions of pedigreeland.

At any rate, these false hybrids are a smaller group of only 326 foals who sold for a gross of $14,126,352, an average of $43,332 (well below the overall average of $54,140), and a maverage of 149.45 (also well below the overall maverage of 163.11).

Their results reflected their prices. These 326 foals included ten stakes winners (3.07%, below the overall figure of 3.39%). Those ten stakes winners averaged only 461 Performance Points apiece (also well below the average of 608). Their best stakes winner was an 1,146.

So these 326 foals had a PPI (result) of 0.69, well below their Price Index of 0.92. They sold for prices about 8% below average and achieved results about 31% below average.

If you sum all these groups (total outcrosses, hybrids, sire only or dam only, and false hybrids), you get 17,046 foals (a little over 24% of the total 70,714 foals). Those 17,046 foals sold for a maverage of 154.64 (below the overall maverage of 163.11).

Among these 17,046 foal were 541 stakes winners (3.17%, slightly below the overall figure of 3.39%). Those 541 stakes winners averaged 607 Performance Points apiece (just below the overall average of 608). These 17,046 foals had a PPI (result) of 0.934, compared to their Price Index of 0.948. So they sold for prices about 5.2% below average and achieved results about 6.6% below average, just a tad below their price expectations.

What these 17,046 foals have in common is that they are NOT inbreds. They may have duplications within five generations (more than half of them do), but they do NOT have duplications between their sires and their dams.

By definition then, the remaining 53,668 foals are all inbreds within five generations. Those 53,668 foals sold for a maverage of 165.80, which translates into a Price Index of 1.0165.

Included among those 53,668 foals were 1,858 stakes winners (3.46%, just above the overall figure of 3.39%). Those 1,858 stakes winners averaged 608 Performance Points apiece (exactly the overall average). That works out to a PPI (result) of 1.021. So they sold for prices about 1.65% above average and achieved results about 2.1% above average.

So yes, the inbreds outperformed their prices ever so slightly. The foals who were not inbreds underperformed their prices ever so slightly. They key words here are “ever so slightly.” The truth of the matter, it appears to me, is that there is very little difference between the overall results of inbreeding (within five generations) and the overall results of NOT inbreeding (ditto).

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One Response to Outcrosses

  1. Pingback: A Blast From the Past | Boojum's Bonanza

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