As some readers might remember, I did a post on “sires of sires” among sales foals of 1999-2002 back around when I first started this blog, in the summer of 2010. Basically I identified the 20 most popular “sires of sires” among that group (the ones who showed up most often) and detailed their prices and results. It is about the only study I have ever seen on “sires of sires” (second generation only).
Mr. Prospector topped that list, not the least bit surprisingly, showing up 4,697 times as a “sire of sires” (P1 in the second generation). Valid Appeal was 20th, showing up 549 times.
Northern Dancer was 18th on that list, showing up 592 times. And he was not very good. He had only 22 stakes winners from those 592 foals (3.72%). The base line for this group was 3.78% stakes winners (2,046) from foals (54,174).
And those 22 stakes winners were not very good either, averaging only 507 Performance Points apiece (compared to the overall average of 617). That gave ND a PPI (result) of 0.81, far below his Price Index of 1.52. ND deteriorated a lot as a sire of sires, from 6.5% stakes winners from foals among all North American-bred foals of 1983 to 3.72% among sales foals of 1999-2002.
If you do a composite (add up the individual numbers) of those 20 leading “sires of sires” among sales foals of 1999-2002, you get 1,126 stakes winners from 26,443 foals (4.26%). Not bad, higher than the base line for that group of 3.78%. I thought it might be amusing to see what those same 20 sires did as sires themselves (first generation).
Over the entire course of their careers, those same 20 sires had 2,050 stakes winners from 17,568 foals (11.67%) (statistics from Equineline).
So those same 20 sires went from 11.67% stakes winners from foals in the first generation to 4.26% in the second generation (with a base line of 3% for the former and 3.78% for the latter). 4.26% is an improvement of only 11% over a baseline of 3.78% (second generation). 11.67% is an improvement of 289% over a base line of 3% in the first generation. See how much “influence” is lost over the course of only one generation????? That is regression to the mean.
Of course those 20 sires included some real duds. Nags such as Private Account and Devil’s Bag who at that time were considered decent as “sires of sires” but who really were not very good in that role. So I decided to examine only the top eight sires among those 20, those who had 1,000+ foals among sales foals of 1999-2002.
First let us look at their own sire records (first generation).
Sire Foals Stakes Winners % Improvement %
Mr. Prospector 1,195 182 15.23 12.23
Storm Cat 1,452 176 12.12 9.12
Danzig 1,099 198 18.02 15.02
Forty Niner 948 56 5.91 2.91
Deputy Minister 1,162 90 7.75 4.75
Gone West 1,281 94 7.34 4.34
Seattle Slew 1,103 111 10.06 7.06
Fappiano 420 47 11.19 8.19
Totals 8,660 954 11.02 8.02
That last column (Improvement %) is merely the actual percent of stakes winners from foals minus 3% (the overall norm for the breed). Now let us look at these same eight sires as broodmare sires (second generation).
Sire Foals SWs/% Actual/Expected Improvement % Regression %
Mr. Prospector 4,629 368/7.95 4.95/6.12 81
Storm Cat 3,312 165/4.98 1.98/4.56 43
Danzig 3,876 188/4.85 1.85/7.51 25
Forty Niner 1,946 80/4.11 1.11/1.46 76
Deputy Minister 3,287 185/5.63 2.63/2.23 118
Gone West 2,621 97/3.70 0.70/2.17 32
Seattle Slew 3,528 210/5.95 2.95/3.53 84
Fappiano 1,706 102/5.98 2.98/4.10 73
Totals 24,905 1,395/5.60 2.60/4.01 65
I should probably explain the chart above using Mr. Prospector as an example. As a sire himself (first generation) Mr. Prospector had 15.23% stakes winners (182) from foals (1,195). Assuming an overall baseline of 3% stakes winners from foals, Mr. Prospector should have had 9.12% stakes winners from foals as a broodmare sire if “influence” declines by ONLY 50% per generation. I arrive at that figure of 9.12% by taking the average of 3% and 15.23%.
If Mr. Prospector had 9.12% stakes winners from foals as a broodmare sire (second generation), he achieved 100% of his expectation in that role based on his own record as a sire (first generation, 15.23%). He actually achieved 7.95% as a broodmare sire, which is 81% of his expectation (4.95%, his actual improvement over 3%, divided by 6.12%, his expected improvement over 3%).
The second-last column shows 4.95% actual improvement for Mr. Prospector and 6.12% expected improvement. The regression % is simply the former divided by the latter, or 81%, meaning that Mr. Prospector achieved 81% of his expectations as a broodmare sire based on his own record as a sire.
That 81% is actually pretty good compared to the other seven sires listed above. Their composite averaged 65%. Only Deputy Minister scored better, at 118%, and that was only because Deputy Minister achieved only 7.75% stakes winners from foals as a sire himself (first generation). Mr. Prospector was leading broodmare sire nine times (all in a ten-year period from 1997-2006). His actual 7.95% stakes winners from foals is by far the best of the eight broodmare sires listed above (Fappiano is next at 5.98%).
Some of these other seven sires were not nearly as good. Danzig scored only 25% of his expectation, Gone West only 32%, and Storm Cat only 43%.
Now let us do the same for these same eight sires as “sires of sires” among sales foals of 1999-2002 (second generation).
Sire Foals SWs/% Actual/Expected Improvement % Regression %
Mr. Prospector 4,697 224/4.77 1.77/6.12 29
Storm Cat 2,986 134/4.49 1.49/4.56 33
Danzig 2,285 94/4.11 1.11/7.51 15
Forty Niner 2,111 77/3.65 0.65/1.46 45
Deputy Minister 1,961 104/5.30 2.30/2.23 103
Gone West 1,591 73/4.59 1.59/2.17 73
Seattle Slew 1,480 65/4.39 1.39/3.53 39
Fappiano 1,411 43/3.05 0.05/4.10 1
Totals 26,443 1,126/4.26 1.26/4.01 31
The base line for sales foals of 1999-2002 was 3.78% stakes winners for foals. Just for the sake of consistency I have used 3% in the chart above (to make it similar to the other two). That in effect gives these eight sires a huge benefit of the doubt in this chart. Forty Niner (3.65%) and Fappiano (3.05%) were actually below the correct base line of 3.78%.
Without belaboring the point, it is obvious that the scores for these eight sires as “sires of sires” (second generation) are much lower than for the same eight sires as broodmare sires (also second generation). The composite above has a score of 31%, well below the comparable figure of 65% for these same eight sires as broodmare sires. And if I used 3.78% instead of 3%, it would be even lower (12%).
This should not be too surprising at all. The more of a “reputation” a “sire of sires” acquires, the worse his actual results are going to be. Storm Cat is a classic example. Zillions of lower-class sons of Storm Cat have gone to stud and polluted the breed.
That is another reason why “influence” regresses so quickly to the mean. Because breeders exercise little or no judgment at all in breeding to lower-class sons of Storm Cat (or whoever the “hot sire of sires” is at the time). That inexorably diminishes the actual observed “influence” of Storm Cat, et al., not only in the second generation but also carrying farther back into the third, fourth, fifth generations, etc.
It happens to all popular sires to a greater or lesser degree as they recede back and become more remote “names in pedigrees.” Their actual observed “influence” is greatly diminished by the indiscriminate use of all their sons, regardless of their actual worth (or lack thereof, I should say). That score of 31% for these eight sires as “sires of sires” reflects a reality in which too many of their lower-class sons are used and overused.
The important point I wish to make is that these eight sires are pretty much par for the course. Yes, you can find a Deputy Minister who exceeds his expectations from the first generation in the second generation. If he starts off low enough in the first generation, that is, as Deputy Minister did.
But much more often you will see that sires in the second generation fail to reach 100% of their expectations based on their own performances in the first generation. And those expectations are based on “influence” diminishing by ONLY 50% per generation.
So a score of 100% means that a sire diminished by ONLY 50% from the first generation to the second generation. The vast majority of sires diminish by MORE THAN 50% from the first generation to the second generation. They score below 100% (which is actually only 50%, accounting for the difference in generations) by this measure.