Age of Mares

Let us begin by looking at the best stakes winners (those with 2,000+ Performance Points) among sales foals of 2008-2111. They are categorized by the age of their dams and listed in descending order (best ones first). Discussion resumes at the end of these lists.

5–Blind Luck (6,880 Performance Points), Musical Romance (3,582), Elusive Kate (3,284), Itsmyluckyday (2,963), Evening Jewel (2,821).

6–Verrazano (3,178), Shanghai Bobby (3,157), Trinniberg (2,653), Reynaldothewizard (2,248).

7–Animal Kingdom (9,388), Palace Malice (4,576), I’ll Have Another (4,194), My Miss Aurelia (4,147), To Honor and Serve (3,699), Turbulent Descent (3,212), Regally Ready (3,107), Secret Circle (3,019), Comma to the Top (2,949), Regal Ransom (2,495), Include Me Out (2,457), Blue Bunting (2,367), Fiftyshadesofhay (2,086), Clubhouse Ride (2,020).

8–Lookin At Lucky (6,207), Marketing Mix (4,216), Paddy O’Prado (3,221), Dullahan (2,936), Plum Pretty (2,889), Uncle Mo (2,806), Morning Line (2,251), Devil May Care (2,224), Summer Front (2,074).

9–Drosselmeyer (4,628), Havre de Grace (4,586), Mizdirection (3,820), Smiling Tiger (3,681), Palace (2,810), Sassy Image (2,428), Dayatthespa (2,249).

10–Goldencents (3,934), Dance to Bristol (2,281), Creative Cause (2,039).

11–Will Take Charge (5,725), Grace Hall (2,946), Pender Harbour (2,550).

12–Silver Max (4,124), Switch (2,980), Judy the Beauty (2,312), Executiveprivilege (2,099).

13–Dream Ahead (3,261), Prayer for Relief (3,108), The Factor (2,622), Overanalyze (2,046).

14–Beholder (5,388), Stay Thirsty (3,236), Joyful Victory (2,653), Justin Phillip (2,193).

15–Lady of Shamrock (2,450).

16–Revolutionary (2,053).

17–Union Rags (3,199).

19–Daisy Devine (2,596).

20–Ruler On Ice (2,110).

These best stakes winners are fairly well distributed. All ages except three, four, and 19 are represented. The clear leader with 14 such stakes winners was age seven. That is over 22% of the total of 62 such stakes winners, compared to only 10.5% of the foals belonging to age seven.

Here are the actual results by the age categories. APPPSW stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, a measure of the quality of stakes winners involved, with 647 being the average for this group. The overall percentage of stakes winners from foals for the entire group is 3.13% (1,426 stakes winners from 45,562 foals).

Age         Foals         Stakes Winners         %         APPPSW         Price Index         PPI (Result)

3                60                       2                    3.33            265                     0.82                   0.44

4            1,208                    34                   2.81            500                     0.87                   0.69

5            3,073                    86                   2.80            650                     0.98                  0.90

6             4,480                  135                  3.01            573                      1.03                  0.85

7             4,783                   174                  3.64            752                      1.03                   1.35

8             4,836                   171                  3.54            689                     1.03                   1.20

9              4,312                  170                  3.94            665                     1.03                   1.29

10            3,807                  138                  3.62           640                      1.01                   1.15

11             3,465                  104                  3.00          633                      1.01                   0.94

12             3,021                    85                  2.81           620                      0.94                  0.86

13              2,610                  105                 4.02          594                       0.97                  1.18

14              2,199                    54                  2.46          796                       1.01                  0.97

15              1,866                    49                  2.63          546                       1.00                 0.71

16              1,478                    49                  3.32           512                       1.01                 0.84

17              1,217                    20                  1.64            627                       0.98                0.51

18                 997                    23                  2.31            503                      0.94                0.57

19                 733                    16                  2.18             871                      0.98                0.94

20+            1,417                    11                  0.78            724                      0.94                0.28

The second-last column shows the price for which each group sold. The last column shows its racetrack results.

The youngest four groups (ages three through six) were all underperformers. Their prices were higher than their results.

The next four groups (ages seven through ten) were all overperformers. Their results were better than their prices. Age seven was best of all at 1.35 (compared to a price of 1.03). Previous studies have also shown that ages seven through ten are usually pretty good. So no surprises here.

All other groups (11 through 20+) were underperformers. Their prices were higher than their results.

The one exception to that statement is age 13. It was an overperformer, with a price of 0.97 and a result of 1.18. This result can not be attributed to one particularly good stakes winner either, or to an abundance of 2,000+ stakes winners. It appears to be a legitimate result, in other words.

It is a result for which I do not have a ready explanation. By the time a mare has produced her first stakes winner and that stakes winner has demonstrated its class on the track and the mare therefore has been bred to better stallions, she could easily be 13 years old before she starts producing foals by better stallions. It is not much of an explanation and I don’t know why it seems to apply to 13 (but not 12 or 14), but there it is for whatever it is worth.

One of the reasons why I listed the best stakes winners at the beginning of this post is to emphasize the point that a mare can produce a really good stakes winner at any age. Some people go too far and deny this truth. Even 20+ has one really good stakes winner: Belmont winner Ruler On Ice (2,110 Performance Points).

Granted, the Belmont was the only stakes Ruler On Ice ever won, and he will not go down in history as one of the best Belmont winners of all time. If I recall correctly, there were four 2,000+ stakes winners out of 20+ mares among sales foals of 2003-2007, headed by Flat Out (5,745 Performance Points).

So as evidenced by Flat Out, Ruler On Ice, and others, even 20+ mares can still produce really good stakes winners. Having said that, the problem remains that 20+ mares simply do not produce a large number of stakes winners from foals. Specifically, 11 stakes winners from 1,417 foals in this case is not a good result at all (0.78%, compared to the overall figure of 3.13%). And 20+ mares had a PPI of 0.28, the worst in the entire chart above.

So I hope I have made my position clear. Yes, 20+ mares can still produce really good stakes winners. Unfortunately, they do not produce really good stakes winners from foals nearly as often as younger mares.

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2 Responses to Age of Mares

  1. ned williams says:

    I read somewhere recently (Bloodhorse?) that age was not as great a factor as the number of foals that a mare produced. My memory is that production of stake horses dropped in a more direct relationship with the number of foals produced as opposed to age alone. I also seem to recall that there was some data pointing to higher production of stake horses following a year when the mare was empty.

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