Dams Are More Important Than Sires????–Part 2

My previous post speculated on the theory that dams might actually be more important than sires in determining the racetrack success of foals. The original scientific treatise which proposed this theory based it on the race records of sires and dams. It termed the sires with the best race records “elite” and all the rest “nonelite.” Ditto for dams.

It concluded that the correlation between racetrack performances of dams and their foals was much higher than the correlation between racetrack performances of sires and their foals. It additionally concluded from this that dams might be more important than sires in determining the racetrack success of foals.

I started thinking about ways in which I could do something along the same lines with my own population, sales foals of 2008-2011. A passage from Byron Rogers’s post gave me the idea for sires. Here is the pertinent paragraph:

“That is, with large books and better veterinary practice, the bar to become a stallion has probably moved up a little too high (you are just about required to be a GI winner now to have any chance) while because of the same quest for large stallion books, the bar for a mare to enter the breeding shed has slipped to the extraordinary low (basically two functional ovaries gets you in).”

The part of that paragraph that grabbed my attention was: “you are just about required to be a G1 winner now to have any chance” at becoming a successful stallion. There is a certain amount of truth to that statement, although numerous successful stallions were NOT G1 winners, and I will name some names later.

So I decided for purposes of my own study to specify that G1 winners would be classified as “elite” sires and all others as “nonelite” sires. Actually, I decided to call the former “A” sires and the latter “B” sires.

For mares I decided to examine only stakes winners and to classify graded stakes winners as “elite” or “A” mares and nongraded stakes winners as “nonelite” or “B” mares. Admittedly this is a “quick and dirty” method of achieving the goal, which is to classify sires and dams into two groups each, a “good” group (“B” sires and dams) and a better group (“A” sires and dams). Then compare the prices and results for the four possible combinations, AA (better-better), AB (better-good), BA (good-better), and BB (good-good).

Of the 45,562 sales foals of 2008-2011, 6,659 were out of stakes winners. For purposes of this study I considered only 5,567 of them (83.6% of the total). I should probably explain that.

In examining sales foals of 2008-2011 I use auction supplements from both Thoroughbred Times and The Bland-Horse. The former lists all foals. The latter lists only foals by the most “commercially viable” sires. The latter designates which mares were stakes winners. The former does not. So I used the latter exclusively for this particular study, which explains why it includes only 5,567 of the 6,659 foals out of stakes winners. Those 5,567 foals are generally by better sires and out of better mares than the missing 1,092 foals (confirmed by their prices).

Having explained the “quick and dirty” aspect of this particular study, let us examine the prices for the four main groups.

Group          Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

A Sires         3,971          $107,831            262.28                  1.70

B Sires         1,596           $80,091            225.97                   1.47

A Dams       1,500          $154,383           313.46                   2.04

B Dams       4,067           $79,775            229.16                    1.49

Totals          5,567           $99,878            251.87                    1.64

Not surprisingly, there were significant differences in prices between A sires and B sires and A dams and B dams. In terms of averages, A sires ($108,831) were higher than B sires ($80,091), and A dams ($154,383) were much higher than B dams ($79,775).

The maverages and Price Indexes followed suit. In terms of the latter, A sires (1.70) were higher than B sires (1.47), and A dams (2.04) were much higher than B dams (1.49).

What I find most interesting here is that the differences between A dams and B dams were much more dramatic than the differences between A sires and B sires. So a superior race record does not make an A sire much more expensive than a B sire. But a superior race record does make an A dam (graded stakes winner) much more expensive than a B dam (nongraded stakes winner).

Now let us examine the prices for the four possible combinations.

Group          Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

AA                1,140          $158,610            317.75                    2.06

AB                2,831           $87,383            239.95                    1.56

BA                   360          $140,999           299.88                   1.95

BB                1,236           $62,351             204.45                   1.33

Without belaboring the numbers, AA is much higher than BB (exactly as expected). AA is also much higher than AB (also exactly as expected). BA is much higher than BB (also exactly as expected).

Theoretically anyway, I would have expected AB and BA to have been roughly the same. Somewhat surprisingly, BA is much higher than AB. This is partially a function of A dams (Price Index of 2.04) being so much higher than A sires (Price Index of 1.70).

The implications of BA being so much higher than AB are pretty interesting. BA combines a good sire with a better dam. AB combines a better sire with a good dam. The former is much more expensive than the latter.

That the former is much more expensive than the latter shows that the market does value a superior race record in mares much more than a superior race record in sires. As Byron hinted, this is a simple function of supply and demand.

A sires outnumbered B sires 3,971 to 1,596 in this study. But B dams outnumbered A dams 4,067 to 1,500. There was a high supply of A sires and therefore lower demand for them. There was a much lower supply of A dams and therefore a higher demand for them.

This despite the fact that A sires (G1 winners) had to pass a higher bar than A dams (graded stakes winners, including G2 and G3). And if you extended this study to include all foals, not just foals out of stakes winners, the demand for dams who were graded stakes winners is even higher.

That original scientific treatise will be buttressed if BA produces better racetrack results than AB. In other words, if the combination of a good sire and better dam produces better results than the combination of a better sire and good dam.

“Better results” not just in absolute terms but in relation to their respective prices. In my next post I will examine those racetrack results.

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