The X Factor (Large Heart) Theory–Part 2

I am going to begin today’s discussion by repeating the first six paragraphs of my last post:

“If I existed in the universe of social media (which I do NOT), I would *LIKE* the pedigree of Epsom Derby winner Ruler of the World. He is by Galileo out of Love Me True, by Kingmambo.

“Any nag by Galileo out of a Kingmambo mare obviously possesses a good pedigree. What interests me about his pedigree is that his third dam is Lassie Dear, by Buckpasser.

“Lassie Dear probably requires no introduction. Suffice it to say that she was the dam of Weekend Surprise and others of note.

“Lassie Dear is a reine-de-course of course. She also appears on lists of double-copy Thoroughbred mares (mares who allegedly pass on the “large heart,” or the X-Factor).

“If you do not know what I am talking about, read Chapter 13 of Racehorse Breeding Theories. I have referred to this book frequently in the past of course. It has many excellent chapters. It also has some chapters that are real stinkers. Chapter 13 is one of the latter. But for all its faults, this chapter does do an adequate job of explaining the X-Factor Theory and whats its proponents believe.

“That theory can be summarized as follows: ‘The large-heart gene, which became known as the X-Factor, was later determined to be passed along on the female X chromosome’ (page 251).”

In my last post I examined the notion that the large heart gene was passed along through the sires Princequillo, War Admiral, Mahmoud, and Blue Larkspur. If true, it made absolutely no difference to the racing results, which were not very good (perfectly normal for sires of their credentials and age).

Today I will examine the notion that this gene is passed along through certain females. A list of such alleged “double-copy” mares appears on page 261 of Racehorse Breeding Theories. That list is not complete, but it hardly matters.

It hardly matters because that list is a total embarrassment to proponents of the theory. It contains the names of many dams who are total mediocrities and unknown mediocrities at that. Even worse, it contains names of certain dams who were profound failures as broodmares (Lady’s Secret being a prime example).

I decided to whittle down that list by including only dams who appear on that list and who are also reines-de-course. The following mares qualified: Alcibiades, Alluvial, Almahmoud, Aspidistra, Baby League, Be Faithful, Belthazar, Bird Flower, Black Helen, Bloodroot, Blue Denim, Boat, Boudoir II, Bramalea, Broadway, Busanda, Con Game, Cosmah, Courtly Dee, Crimson Saint, Fall Aspen, Flaming Page, Flitabout, Flower Bowl, Glorious Song, Imperatrice, Kerala, Key Bridge, Lady Josephine, Lassie Dear, La Troienne, Mah Mahal, Miesque, Milan Mill, Miss Carmie, Misty Morn, Moccasin, Mumtaz Begum, Mumtaz Mahal, My Charmer, My Dear Girl, Myrtlewood, Natalma, Never Hula, Northern Sunset, Numbered Account, Passing Mood, Personal Ensign, Plucky Liege, Prayer Bell, Pure Profit, Relaxing, Rough Shod II, Selene, Shenanigans, Six Crowns, Somethingroyal, South Ocean, Special, Striking, Sweet Tooth, Tamerett, Terlingua, Toll Booth, Wavy Navy, Weekend Surprise, and Won’t Tell You.

These 67 mares constitute a very impressive and elite group. I don’t think anyone would argue too strenuously that some of these names do NOT belong. Some might argue (and I might agree) that a very few deserving names have been omitted. Nevertheless, I decided that this was a good group of names to study.

Specifically, I examined how these 67 mares fared as dams in the female line (through which the large heart gene allegedly passes). Not one of the 67 was young enough to be a dam of sales foals of 2003-2007. So I concentrated on these 67 mares as second, third, fourth, and fifth dams of sales foals of 2003-2007. Here is how their prices stacked up.

Position                    Foals          Gross          Average          Maverage          Price Index

Second Dam              75         $27,687,000  $369,160          436.32                    2.68

Third Dam               385        $56,459,573   $146,648          290.91                    1.78

Fourth Dam             746        $59,772,760    $80,124           201.54                    1.24

Fifth Dam              1,125       $76,714,838     $68,191            179.94                    1.10

Totals                    2,331      $220,634,171    $94,652            213.00                   1.31

About 3.3% (2,331 of 70,714) of all sales foals of 2003-2007 qualified. The prices lined up almost exactly as expected. The closer the elite dam, the higher the price. Note that even the fifth dams at $68,191 were higher than the overall average of $54,140. Ditto for maverages (179.94 to 163.11) and Price Indexes (1.10 to 1.00).

Some pretty good stakes winners were included among these 2,331 foals. Topping the list was Court Vision (Gulch–Weekend Storm, Storm Bird, 6,547 Performance Points, second dam Weekend Surprise). Also of note were Corinthian (Pulpit–Multiply, Easy Goer, 2,067, fourth dam Special) and Pollard’s Vision (Carson City–Etats Unis, Dixieland Band, 2,330, fifth dam Miss Carmie).

Here are the results by generation. APPPSW stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, a measure of the quality of stakes winners involved (616 being average). The overall figure for all 70,714 foals was 3.41% stakes winners from foals.

Position                 Foals          Stakes Winners          %          APPPSW          PPI (result)

Second Dam           75                         3                      4.00          2,789                  5.31

Third Dam            385                       16                     4.16              523                  1.03

Fourth Dam          746                       29                     3.89              507                  0.94

Fifth Dam            1,125                      30                     2.67              596                 0.76

Totals                   2,331                     78                      3.35              632                 1.01

Again, the results lined up almost perfectly. Second dams were by far the best (thanks mainly to Court Vision), and the results declined from there.

A better way to put this into perspective is to compare prices with results.

Position                                  Price Index                     PPI (result)

Second Dam                                 2.68                                 5.31

Third Dam                                    1.78                                 1.03

Fourth Dam                                  1.24                                0.94

Fifth Dam                                      1.10                                0.76

Totals                                             1.31                                1.01

Second dams far exceeded their prices (thanks mainly to Court Vision). The other three groups did the opposite and failed to come anywhere near their prices. Overall, all 2,331 foals failed to come anywhere near their prices. They sold for prices about 31% above average and achieved results about 1% above average. That is a DISMAL result.

So if these 67 mares did indeed pass along the large heart gene, it made no difference at all to the results of their progeny in the female line.

Perhaps a larger lesson can be learned as well. Even though their results were heavily influenced by one stakes winner, Court Vision, second dams did fare by far the best. The other three groups stunk.

So if you insist on worshiping names in pedigrees, the least you can do is make sure those names are CLOSE UP. Otherwise, you are going to pay a lot more and get a lot less (relative to those prices).

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4 Responses to The X Factor (Large Heart) Theory–Part 2

  1. Ned Williams says:

    …which leads us back to the point that has been made often here in Boojums Bonanza, beware of the simple answer and easy explanation, they simply do not exist in the difficult endeavour of breeding fast racehorses. Everyone wants to breed a horse with a big heart, both figuratively and literally. However, it is the combination of an almost infinite number of genetic combinations that must come together to breed an exceptional horse relative to the breed. The X factor theory has merit….as long as you remember that X always stands for the unknown and not a heart score.

    • ddink55 says:

      Thank you. I would modify that last sentence to read: “as long as you remember that X always stands for the unknown and not a particular ancestor.” Because I do not intend to say that heart size/efficiency is NOT important. It IS important. But trying to trace its passage through particular ancestors in pedigrees is an exercise in futility.

  2. Ned Williams says:

    Absolutely. Better said!

  3. jim culpepper says:

    A heartless analysis, but I’ve come to expect nothing less from a serious number cruncher.

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