Bottom Feeding

In my last post I presented some statistics to show that dams might be ever so slightly more important than sires. The following post is a variation on that same theme with a somewhat different emphasis.

Using sales foals of 2008-2111, I looked at all sires that had ten or more sales foals (weanlings, yearlings, and two-year-olds) sold in the same year. I then divided those sires into two groups: those that averaged $50,000 or more for all their sales foals in a given year and those that averaged less than $50,000 for all their sales foals in a given year. Call the latter group “average” sires and the former group “better” sires.

I then looked at the most expensive foal each year (ties included) for the average sires and the least expensive foal each year (ties included) for the better sires. Call the former group “top-average” and the latter group “bottom-better.”

Listed below are the prices for the two groups.

Group                                  Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

Top-Average                       983            $109,726          301.15                    1.96

Bottom-Better                    269              $6,761              47.32                     0.31

Not surprisingly, the discrepancies in prices between the two groups are wide. That just goes to show that even average sires have at least one foal per year that sells really well and that even the best sires have at least one foal every year that sells really poorly.

The reasons for this are fairly obvious, but I will state them anyway. The top-selling foals by average sires are either out of much better mares than the rest of their foals that year or are outstanding physical specimens (or both). The bottom-selling foals by better sires are either out of mares of much lower quality than the rest of their foals that year or are really poor physical specimens (or both).

Now let us examine the results for these two groups. APPPSW in the chart below stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, a measure of the quality of stakes winners involved, with the benchmark now being 687.

Group                               Foals          Stakes Winners          %          APPPSW          PPI (Result)

Top-Average                     983                     77                       7.83            647                    2.20

Bottom-Better                  269                       3                        1.12            214                    0.10

Top-average performs much better than bottom-better, not surprising given the discrepancies in their prices. The chart below shows how results stack up versus prices.

Group                               Foals          Price Index          PPI (Result)          Difference

Top-Average                     983                  1.96                      2.20                       +0.24

Bottom-Better                 269                   0.31                      0.10                       –0.21

So top-average outperformed its prices (difference of +0.24). That is particularly impressive given that the higher the price for a group, the more difficult it is for the result to keep pace. A price of 1.96 (as in top-average above) probably corresponds to a result of 1.80 or so. The actual result was 2.20. The obvious conclusion is that buying the best (most expensive) foals by average sires is a pretty good buying strategy.

Bottom-better seriously underperformed its prices (price of 0.31, result of 0.10, difference of –0.21). To put those numbers into perspective, I will compare them to similar numbers by locale in which the foals were bred from one of my posts last summer.

Locale Bred         Foals          Price Index          PPI (Result)        Difference

California            1,733                  0.48                    0.48                         0.00


Louisiana            2,461                  0.47                     0.42                       –0.05

New Mexico           523                 0.33                     0.71                        +0.38


Texas                        462                0.41                     0.37                        –0.04

Washington            399                0.37                     0.46                        +0.09

Listed below are the five locales that had Price Indexes less than 0.50. They range from California (0.48) to New Mexico (0.33). The results range from New Mexico (0.71) to Texas (0.37). Look at the numbers for bottom-better (price of 0.31 and result of 0.10). The price is a little bit lower than the prices for these five locales. The results are a LOT lower. These 269 foals (bottom-better) are worse than the sales foals bred in the five locales above.

I would not conclude from these numbers that dams are more important than sires. This particular study was not designed to address that question. The price discrepancies between the two groups are too great to allow any meaningful comparisons.

About all you can say is that some buyers put too much faith in sires. They think they are getting a bargain because they bought a foal by such a good sire for such a cheap price. Usually there is a good reason why that foal sold so cheaply.

This study was designed to evaluate buying strategies. Buying the most expensive foals from average sires was a pretty good strategy. Buying the least expensive foals from better sires (also known as bottom feeding) was a piss-poor strategy.

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