Selene–Dam of Hyperion, Pharamond, and Sickle

“Selene was 23 years old at the time of her death. She had produced fourteen foals, ten winners, six stakes winners, including the great champion Hyperion. She had seven male foals, six of which became successful sires, four of those being leading sires or among the leading sires where they stood, including England, the U.S., and Argentina. Of her seven daughters, three became stakes producers, and two were responsible for two more leading sires in Chile and New Zealand. That’s a heady influence, and makes Selene possibly the most influential broodmare of the Twentieth Century.”

“Just as prevalent is the buildup of Selene, the dam of brothers Sickle and Pharamond as well as Hyperion. . . . This buildup has snuck up on me and exposed my prognostication and ignorance as she has attained near equal status with La Troienne–both permeate the current gene pool. Selene is a force to be faced in the gene pool, here and elsewhere.”

The first quote above (gleaned off the internet) is actually a pretty fair assessment of Selene (1919 filly by Chaucer out of Serenissima, by Minoru). “Possibly the most influential broodmare of the Twentieth Century” might be stretching it a bit, but not much.

The second quote above is from a discussion of the pedigree of Take Charge Indy just a little over a year ago in The Blood-Horse. Both Selene and La Troienne have indeed permeated the current gene pool (albeit from great distances). I am not disagreeing with that statement, merely with the ramifications of that statement.

I have demonstrated with La Troienne that this does NOT mean she is a POSITIVE influence every time her name appears in a pedigree. The appearance of her name in pedigrees does NOT guarantee racing results that are better than average. Due to the forces of regression and her own popularity, La Troienne is now merely average or a little worse in terms of affecting racing results. I thought it might be fun to do the same with Selene.

The four best sons of Selene were Hyperion, Pharamond, Sickle, and Hunter’s Moon (among the leading sires in Argentina). The vast majority of Selene’s “influence” on modern pedigrees in terms of populations comes through Hyperion, Pharamond, and Sickle.

So let us start with Hyperion and see how he stacks up as an “influence” among sales foals of 2003-2007. Hyperion appears in the fifth generation in the pedigrees of the following seven stakes winners with 2,000+ Performance Points among sales foals of 2003-2007: Zenyatta (13,705), Informed Decision (5,014), Showing Up (3,161), Macho Again (2,926), Balance (2,648), Kinsale King (2,404), and Dream Rush (2,179).

Zenyatta’s second dam was by Forli, by Aristophanes, by Hyperion. So Hyperion appears once in the fifth generation of Zenyatta. Ditto for Balance, both being out of the same mare, Vertigineux.

Miss Alethia, the dam of Showing Up, was inbred 3×3 to Alibhai (by Hyperion). So Showing Up has Hyperion twice in the fifth generation. Just as a matter of bookkeeping, Showing Up is counted twice as a stakes winner for this reason. All foals with Hyperion twice in their pedigrees within five generations are counted twice (or more, if Hyperion shows up more than twice).

His Majesty, the broodmare sire of Informed Decision, was out of a mare by the aforementioned Alibhai. So Hyperion appears once in the fifth generation of Informed Decision.

Wild Again, the broodmare sire of Macho Again, was out of a mare by Khaled (by Hyperion). So Hyperion appears once in the fifth generation of Macho Again.

Distaff Decider, the third dam of Kinsale King, was by the aforementioned Khaled. So Hyperion appears once in the fifth generation of Kinsale King.

Dream Rush was by Wild Rush, by the aforementioned Wild Again. So Hyperion appears once in the fifth generation of Dream Rush.

That gives you a pretty fair idea of the avenues through which Hyperion still lingers in current pedigrees, mainly through Forli, His Majesty, and Wild Again.

Hyperion appears 4,858 times in the pedigrees of these 70,000+ sales foals of 2003-2007, 124 times in the fourth generation and 4,734 times in the fifth generation. Those 4,858 foals sold for a gross of $237,158,630, an average of $48,818 (below the overall average of $54,140), a maverage of 146.66 (below the overall maverage of 163.11), and a Price Index of 0.90 (1.00 being average). So in terms of prices, these 4,858 foals were below average.

Included among these 4,858 foals were 135 stakes winners (2.78%, well below the overall figure of 3.41%). These 135 stakes winners averaged 711 Performance Points apiece, well above the overall average of 616.

So taking both quantity and quality of stakes winners into account, these 4,858 foals had a PPI (result) of 0.94. That is also below average but slightly better than their Price Index of 0.90. They sold for prices about 10% below average and achieved results about 6% below average.

Not bad, except that Zenyatta accounts for more than 14% (13,705 of 95,939) of the group’s total Performance Points. Without Zenyatta that PPI (result) drops to 0.81, below the 0.90 Price Index. Any way you look at it, Hyperion was not a resounding success among sales foals of 2003-2007.

Now let us consider Pharamond. He had one stakes winner with 2,000+ Performance Points, Good Ba Ba (3,686). Good Ba Ba was by Lear Fan. Blinking Owl, the third dam of Lear Fan, was by Pharamond.

The most common places to find Pharamond within five generations nowadays are through Halo and Sir Ivor. Halo was out of a mare by Cosmic Bomb, by Pharamond. So Halo in the second generation gives you Pharamond in the fifth generation. Athenia, the second dam of Sir Ivor, was by Pharamond. So Sir Ivor in the second generation gives you Pharamond in the fifth generation.

Pharamond appears 1,066 times among sales foals of 2003-2007 (once in the fourth generation and the rest in the fifth generation). Those 1,066 foals sold for a gross of $61,210,652, an average of $57,421 (above the overall average of $54,140), a maverage of 174.48 (above the overall maverage of 163.11), and a Price Index of 1.07 (1.00 being average). So the Pharamonds sold for above-average prices, and one of the reasons for that was Saint Ballado (a son of Halo).

Included among those 1,066 foals were 36 stakes winners (3.38%, just below the overall figure of 3.41%). Those 36 stakes winners averaged 606 Performance Points apiece (just below the overall average of 616). Taking both factors into account, these 1,066 foals had a PPI (result) of 0.98, which does not compare favorably with their Price Index of 1.07. They sold for prices about 7% ABOVE average and achieved results about 2% BELOW average. Pharamond was even less of a success than Hyperion.

Now let us consider Sickle. His name is even harder to find within five generations of current pedigrees. Sickle sired the second dams of Damascus and Sham. Damascus or Sham in the second generation (almost always as a broodmare sire) gives you Sickle in the fifth generation.

Sickle shows up 232 times (all in the fifth generation) among sales foals of 2003-2007. Those 232 foals sold for a gross of $6,236,439, an average of $26,881 (way below the overall average of $54,140), a maverage of 118.57 (way below the overall maverage of 163.11), and  Price Index of 0.73 (1.00 being average).

Included among these 232 foals were six stakes winners (2.59%, well below the overall figure of 3.41%). Those six stakes winners averaged 671 Performance Points apiece (well above the overall average of 616). That works out to a PPI (result) of 0.83, which does compare favorably with his Price Index of 0.73. They sold for prices about 27% below average and achieved results about 17% below average. Not bad.

If you combine Hyperion, Pharamond, and Sickle, you get 6,156 foals that sold for a Price Index of 0.92 and posted a PPI (result) of 0.94. They sold for prices about 8% below average and achieved results about 6% below average. Not bad, except that PPI would be 0.84 (16% below average) without Zenyatta. Any way you look at it, the numbers are all pretty close to the averages, which is exactly what you SHOULD expect after four or five generations.

La Troienne was mentioned in the second quoted paragraph at the beginning of this post. Most people would vote for her as the most influential broodmare of the 20th century.

La Troienne was very different from Selene in one regard. The former’s “influence” comes almost exclusively though her daughters, the latter though her sons (mainly Hyperion, Pharamond, and Sickle).

La Troienne had only one sire son of any note, Bimelech. I thought it might be fun to see how Bimelech fared among these sales foals of 2003-2007.

Bimelech shows up 1,478 times among these sales foals of 2003-2007 (55 times in the fourth generation and 1,423 times in the fifth generation). Those 1,478 foals sold for a gross of $73,255,573, an average of $49,564 (below the overall average of $54,140), a maverage of 152.56 (below the overall maverage of 163.11), and a Price Index of 0.94 (1.00 being average).

Included among these 1,478 foals were 37 stakes winners (2.50%, well below the overall average of 3.41%). Those 37 stakes winners averaged 407 Performance Points apiece, well below the overall average of 616. Taking both factors into account, that works out to a PPI (result) for Bimelech of 0.49, way below his Price Index of 0.94. They sold for prices about 6% below average and achieved results about 51% below average. Not good at all.

Bimelech sired Jabneh, sire of the second dam of Deputy Minister. Considering that all foals by Deputy Minister therefore have Bimelech in their fifth generation, I would have expected both prices and results for Bimelech to have been higher. But they were not. The results in particular were pretty pathetic.

Perhaps I am beating a dead horse here, but there is a vast difference between “permeating the gene pool” and exercising a positive “influence” on racetrack results. Indeed, the more a particular name permeates the gene pool, the LESS likely it is that that name will exercise a positive “influence.”

La Troienne, Selene, et al. have certainly permeated the gene pool. Positive influence????? Pretty hard to find on any population basis, especially through Bimelech, La Troienne’s only sire son of any note.

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