“So how come you haven’t written anything about nicks????”
That question was posed to me back in January of this year. I was treating a friend to lunch for her birthday. I answered her question extensively, perhaps too extensively. I will try to boil it all down to its essence here.
I told her that it was not because I actually believe in nicks. Nicks are just as much BS as any other pedigree theory. The problem is how to go about proving that nicks are just as much BS as any other pedigree theory.
Specifically, the problem is getting hold of the original data, the original nick ratings. If I could do that, I said, I would love to take one entire Keeneland September yearling sale, for example, divide the nags that sold into categories by their nick ratings (A, B, C, D, et al), and let the chips fall where they may.
The only problem was that I could not finger out how to get hold of those original ratings. Even if I wanted to pay the exorbitant price demanded for the current nick ratings of these nags, the current nick ratings are irrelevant. What is important is knowing the nick ratings AT THE TIME THESE NAGS WERE SOLD as weanlings, yearlings, or two-year-olds (my preferred mining grounds). That was the true test of reality for nick ratings, seeing if they had any predictive value whatsoever.
In the back of my mind I thought I had seen nick ratings published in some of the sales “cheat books” (buyers’ supplements) over the years. I talked to some people about it. None of the leads panned out.
Then early one Sunday afternoon I was merrily plugging along mining data (now into sales foals of 2008-2011). I saw an ad in the Bland-Horse for their cheat books. “EXCLUSIVE: Auction Edge now includes TrueNicks ratings!” this ad proudly proclaimed. This was the issue of January 2, 2010 (the auction review issue naturally).
EUREKA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Looks like they started including nick ratings in their cheat books for auctions of 2010. So I called up the Bland-Horse the next day. I fully expected them to say that they no longer had any cheat books to sell me from the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale. And that’s exactly what they did say, explaining that all such books were recycled after each sale.
But they also mentioned that they could sell me a link to those old books. So for a measly $10 I procured a link to the cheat books with nick ratings for the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale. HOT DAWG!!!!!! I was in business.
The 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale begins in less than a week, on Monday, September 8. So I have to say that the timing of this post is pretty good. Whether you are a buyer or a consignor, these nick ratings have some effect on the amount of money you pay (in the case of the former) or receive (in the case of the latter) for Keeneland September yearlings.
So without further ado, here are the price breakdowns by nick ratings for the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Nick Rating Sold Average Maverage Price Index
A 1,230 $78,281 218.67 1.12
B 628 $62,506 192.53 0.98
C 529 $58,054 183.08 0.94
D 539 $49,385 168.99 0.86
Not rated 133 $40,518 155.12 0.79
Totals 3,059 $64,811 195.63 1.00
For the sake of clarity, it should be pointed out that A ratings include A+ and A++, B ratings include B+ and B++, etc.
If you like your numbers to make sense, you should love the chart above. A is higher than B in all three categories, B is higher than C, C is higher than D, and D is higher than not rated.
The overall average for all 3,059 yearlings sold was $64,811. The overall maverage was 195.63. I am treating this is an independent population. So that overall maverage of 195.63 corresponds to a Price Index of 1.00.
Only the A group ($78,281) was higher than the overall average. Only the A group (218.67) was higher than the overall maverage. The other four groups were all below the overall average and maverage.
If you need a translation for this, it means that if you were the consignor of a yearling with a A nick rating, you love this stuff. If you were the consignor of a yearling with a nick rating below A, you hate this stuff. If your yearling had a nick rating below A, you were probably penalized in terms of price received.
These results are probably not at all surprising to anyone. As long as the racetrack results followed the same pattern, everything is hunky-dory. If the racetrack results deviated from this pattern, that is a whole different can of worms. If, for example, A is NOT the best of the five groups in terms of racetrack results, that is an ENTIRELY different can of worms.
Racetrack results (the reality test) are in my next post. Stay tuned.