The California Chrome Criterion (PPPP)

What proportion of modern Thoroughbred pedigrees does NOT trace to Phalaris in the male line???? I estimated an answer to that question awhile back at about 5,000 of the 70,714 sales foals of 2003-2007, or about 7%.

That estimate could have been a lot better. By actual count I came up with 6,616 foals NOT tracing to Phalaris in the male line. That is a little over 9% of all 70,714 sales foals of 2003-2007. The main sources of NON Phalaris in the male line these days are In Reality, Damascus, and Ribot.

The pedigree of California Chrome is an example of another phenomenon. The four sires in his third generation are A.P. Indy, Cozzene, Mr. Prospector, and Polish Numbers. All four are Phalaris-line sires.

This is not exactly a rare phenomenon. In fact, it is becoming more of the norm than any other combination of Phalaris among the four sires in the third generation. Of the 13,099 sales foals of 2003, 3,862 (29.5%) met this (California Chrome) criterion. Of the 14,796 sales foals of 2007, 6,409 (43.3%) met this criterion. That increase from 29.5% to 43.3% in only four years suggests to me that having all four sires in the third generation trace to Phalaris in the male line is becoming the norm, if not the absolute majority, in modern Thoroughbreds.

It was suggested to me that I should study this phenomenon more closely. I decided to do so. There are 16 possible combinations, ranging from PPPP (all four sires in the third generation tracing to Phalaris in the male line) to OOOO (none of the four sires in the third generation tracing to Phalaris in the male line).

I examined all 16 combinations by their prices and results, but I have decided not to bore you with all 16 results. Instead I combined them into five groups: PPPP (all four Phalaris), three of four Phalaris, two of four Phalaris, one of four Phalaris, and zero of four Phalaris (OOOO). The prices are summarized below.

Combination               Foals          Average         Maverage       Price Index

Phalaris 4X                 24,968       $67,984             183.29                1.12

Phalaris 3X                 30,063       $50,699            161.01                0.99

Phalaris 2X                 13,259        $40,981            139.40               0.85

Phalaris 1X                   2,321         $26,656            116.19               0.71

No Phalaris                      103         $15,835              81.99              0.50

The prices are all pretty much as expected. The more male-line Phalaris in the pedigree, the higher the prices. Only 103 foals had no Phalaris-line sires in their third generations, and they were the cheapest of all. Phalaris 3X actually had more foals than Phalaris 4X, but I suspect that those results will have reversed in more recent crops.

The racetrack results are summarized below. APPPSW stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, a measure of the quality of stakes winners involved, with 620 being average.

Combination               Foals          SWs          %           APPPSW          PPI (Result)

Phalaris 4X                 24,968       977          3.91              613                   1.13

Phalaris 3X                 30,063    1,023         3.40             648                   1.04

Phalaris 2X                 13,259       356          2.68             587                   0.74

Phalaris 1X                   2,321         57           2.46             437                   0.51

No Phalaris                      103          2            1.94             386                   0.35

The results pretty much mirror the prices. The more male-line Phalaris in the pedigree, the better the results. The only glitch is that Phalaris 3X was better by APPPSW (648) than Phalaris 4X (613). That result was reversed by overall PPI, 1.13 to 1.04 in favor of Phalaris 4X over Phalaris 3X.

The table below compares prices with results.

Combination               Foals          Price Index          PPI (Result)

Phalaris 4X                 24,968             1.12                       1.13

Phalaris 3X                 30,063            0.99                      1.04

Phalaris 2X                 13,259             0.85                      0.74

Phalaris 1X                   2,321             0.71                       0.51

No Phalaris                      103            0.50                       0.35

Phalaris 4X was slightly positive (price of 1.12 and result of 1.13). Phalaris 3X was a little more positive (price of 0.99 and result of 1.04). The other three groups were increasingly negative. Not too many surprises overall.

One group that had pretty good results was PPPO (Phalaris-Phalaris-Phalaris, with the sire of the second dam NON Phalaris). There were 12,779 such foals, with an average of $54,657, a maverage of 166.80, and a Price Index of 1.02. Included among those 12,779 foals were 440 stakes winners with average Performance Points of 692 for a PPI (result) of 1.13. A price of 1.02 and a PPI of 1.13 is a pretty good result.

Those 6,616 foals without Phalaris in the male line also had pretty good results. They were pretty cheap, selling for an average of $36,264, a maverage of 133.01, and a Price Index of 0.82. Included among those 6,616 foals were 214 stakes winners with average Performance Points of 642 for a PPI (result) of 0.98. A price of 0.82 and a PPI of 0.98 is a pretty good result.

Since the 6,616 foals without Phalaris in the male line were overperformers, it follows that the other 64,098 foals with Phalaris in the male line were underperformers. Those 64,098 foals sold for an average of $55,985, a maverage of 166.22, and a Price Index of 1.02. Included among those 64,098 foals were 2,201 stakes winners with average Perfomance Points of 618 for a PPI (result) of 1.00 (1.002 if you want to get technical). A price of 1.02 and a PPI of 1.002 is a slightly negative result.

To recapitulate, the PPPP combination was not exactly magical, with a price of 1.12 and a result of 1.13 (very slightly positive). The totality of the Phalaris male line (all combinations starting with P) was a bit of an underperformer (see paragraph above).

But these things have a momentum of their own. It seems almost inevitable that the Phalaris male line will go to 100% one of these days, perhaps sooner than you think, wiping out all other male lines.

Some of you will bemoan the passing of all other male lines except Phalaris. I do not particularly do so. Male lines are a human construct. It is you who are attaching so much importance to male lines, more importance than they really deserve. The male line is only a tiny portion of a pedigree, especially if you trace it back a century to 1913, when Phalaris was foaled. Pedigrees are infinitely larger than just their male lines.

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