In my last post I posed a pedigree quiz. The answer was that those fifteen stakes winners shared a common pedigree characteristic. Their broodmare sires were all chefs-de-race.
I wanted to give you some idea of the actual value (prices versus results) of chefs in pedigrees. My first thought was to do so by examining chefs as sires of the sires of the foals in question (sales foals of 2003-2007).
I had to reject that idea almost immediately because some of the most popular sires of sires (most notably Storm Cat and Deputy Minister) are not even chefs. Not that Storm Cat and Deputy Minister are particularly good as the sire of the sire, but they sure are popular, particularly the former.
Then I thought about broodmare sires and came to like that idea. I estimated that maybe 10% of the population (sales foals of 2003-2007) would have chefs as their broodmare sires. That would yield about 7,000 foals, which is a good size for a population to study, not too small, not too large.
It turns out that the number of qualifiers was closer to 9% (9.36%, to be precise) than to 10%. There were 6,622 such foals. They sold for a gross of $680,159,337, an average of $102,712 (well above the overall average of $54,140), a maverage of 228.36 (well above the overall maverage of 163.11), and a Price Index of 1.40 (1.00 being average).
No surprises there. Chefs are better than average as sires and broodmare sires. It was not surprising to see the market pay a premium for them as broodmare sires. The only question was whether that premium was justified. Did the results of those 6,622 foals justify their prices????
Included among those 6,622 foals were 248 stakes winners (3.75%, above the overall figure of 3.42%). Those 248 stakes winners averaged 685 Performance Points apiece, above the overall average of 620.
Taking both quantity and quality of stakes winners into account, that works out to a PPI (result) of 1.22. So those 6,622 foals sold for prices 40% above average and produced results only 22% above average. Not a particularly good result. So those 6,622 foals were somewhat overpriced and underperformers.
Two posts back I examined these sales foals of 2003-2007 by their price ranges. I thought it might be constructive to compare these 6,622 foals with foals from the $20,000-49,999 price range. So here goes.
Foals Average Maverage Price Index PPI (result)
Chefs as Broodmare Sires
6,622 $102,712 228.36 1.40 1.22
Sold for $20,000-49,999
7,181 $37,067 191.91 1.18 1.29
As you can see from the above, those 6,622 foals sold for higher prices than the 7,181 foals sold for $30,000-49,999 (average of $102,712 to $37,067, maverage of 228.36 to 191.91, and Price Index of 1.40 to 1.18), yet achieved inferior results (1.22 to 1.29).
Part of the reason for this is that broodmare sires themselves are somewhat overrated. The really great broodmare sires (Buckpasser, Dr. Fager, and Hoist the Flag, for example) really did achieve better results than their opportunities. The current leading broodmare sires not so much.
Take a look at the list of 2013 leading broodmare sires. Compare their AEIs to their Comparable Indexes (the former measures their results, the latter their opportunities). The former should be higher than the latter if you are really a good broodmare sire. Most of them are, but many of them are not.
My eye came across numbers 12 through 14 on that list: Unbridled, Royal Academy, and Gone West (all three chefs). Here are their numbers:
Broodmare Sire AEI Comparable Index
Unbridled 1.50 1.47
Royal Academy 1.16 1.32
Gone West 1.33 1.47
Unbridled barely improved upon his opportunities as broodmare sire (1.50 to 1.47). Royal Academy and Gone West are definite underperformers as broodmare sires (1.16 to 1.32 and 1.33 to 1.47).
Most people see the AEI only and if it is higher than 1.00 assume it means good results. It does mean good results, but not necessarily better than they SHOULD have been. For the latter you have to compare the two numbers (much like the way I compare prices and results in my own examinations).
Another part of the problem is that some of the chefs named are not particularly great sires and/or broodmare sires. I have named names before and will decline to do so again. Suffice it to say that certain chefs are not particularly good broodmare sires and were a drag on the results above (although not necessarily a drag on the prices).
But the biggest problem of all is one of public perception. Once some “expert” has named a sire a “chef-de-race,” the public expects better things from that sire than he sometimes can deliver. (The same can be said for mares being named “reines-de-course” or “double-copy mares” or whatever)
People see those names in pedigrees (male or female), especially close up in pedigrees, and pay more money for them than are warranted by the results. It all boils down to names in pedigrees. People put much more faith in names in pedigrees than they actually deserve.
And the “experts” naming chefs, reines-de-course, etc., are not helping matters. They are directing more attention toward names in pedigrees. More attention should be paid to performance in pedigrees, regardless of names.