Zero Sum Game–Sidebar

I thought about some ways to substantiate the statement that all sires generally get better as you go farther back into pedigrees.

The first thing I did was look at the first 24 sires in The Blood-Horse Stallion Register for 2012 (the most recent one I have). Those 24 sires have names beginning with the letter A.

Then I compiled a composite sire record for their sires (first generation), the sires of their sires (second generation), and the sires of the sires of their sires (third generation). Here are the results (strictly male line).

Generation             Foals          Stakes Winners          %

First                         20,672                1,757                 8.50

Second                     23,283                2,448               10.51

Third                       11,168                  1,478               13.23

So the sires of the first 24 sires in the stallion registry collectively produced 1,757 stakes from 20,672 foals (8.50% in the first generation). The results for the second generation went up to 10.51%, and the results for the third generation went up to 13.23%.

This was not a strictly male-line phenomenon. I added the broodmare sires in the second generation and the other three sires in the third generation and got the following results for all sires.

Generation                 Foals          Stakes Winners          %

First                            20,672                1,757                  8.50

Second                        44,210                4,508                10.20

Third                           59,514                7,419                 12.47%

I expected the male-line results to be better than the non-male-line results, but they were not all that much better. The second-generation male-line was 10.51%. The broodmare sire was 9.84% (2,060 stakes winners from 20,927 foals). So the totals for the second generation were 10.20%, only slightly below the male-line result of 10.51%.

Similarly, the male-line result in the third generation was 13.23%, not all that much better than the overall results for the third generation (counting all four sires in that generation) of 12.47%.

The only problem with this sample is that nags listed in a stallion register are usually pretty good nags with pretty good pedigrees. Only six of the 24 stallion register nags were NOT stakes winners. The thought occurred to me that the differences between the generations would be even more pronounced if you examined average foals. So I decided to do so.

I decided on sales foals of 2005 (the middle year of the 2003-2007 sample). Those foals are listed in 300+ pages in the auction supplement of the B-H, from pages 38 to 339. So I took a random sample of 30 such foals. Specifically, I took the first foal on pages, 40, 50, 60, . . . up until page 330. Here are their results in the male line only.

Generation          Foals          Stakes Winners          %

First                     15,161                 616                     4.06

Second                 28,065               2,645                   9.42

Third                    21,141                2,616                  12.37

The same general pattern emerges. Sires improved from 4.06% in the first generation to 9.42% in the second generation to 12.37% in the third generation. The overall percentage of stakes winners from foals for all 70,000+ sales foals of 2003-2007 was 3.41%. So that 4.06% is actually a bit higher than expected and means that the sample of 30 random foals was probably a bit better than average.

What I find particularly interesting is that there is not much difference between the numbers for the stallion register nags and the random foals in the male-line numbers in the second and third generations. The former are slightly better than the latter in both cases, 10.51% to 9.42% in the second generation and 13.23% to 12.37% in the third generation. Not a great deal of difference, which means that both the stallion register nags and random foals have pretty much the same names in their males lines in the second and third generations.

Since sires generally get better with each succeeding generation, that means the competition gets stiffer with each succeeding generation. Remember that sires are competing against each other, and for every winner there is going to be a loser. Because the results all add up to 1.00 (average) by definition.

So no matter how “renowned” the name of a sire in pedigrees, by the time you get four generations back it is nearly impossible for that sire to exert a positive “influence” EVERY SINGLE TIME HE APPEARS. Sometimes he will be a winner, and sometimes he will be a loser in the competition with other sires of mostly similar “renown.”

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