Just Another Name in Pedigrees

I am going to apologize in advance for returning to today’s topic, La Troienne (LT). I have visited this topic many times in the past (perhaps too many times). To no avail, as evidenced by the quote below.

“Maria’s Mon has done well with mares returning Buckpasser, getting eight of his 23 graded winners from this cross, including four of his seven North American grade I winners. He also has done well with mares sired by Seattle Slew and his sons; of 17 such foals, five are stakes winners, including champion Wait a While (also out of an A.P. Indy mare) and grade I winner Latent Heat. These results would seem to support one of . . .’s favorite axioms: ‘If a pedigree lacks La Troienne, get some in there. If it has La Troienne, get more in there.’ Super Saver certainly has no shortage of La Troienne blood, and no shortage of the quality that so often goes with it.”

This quote appeared in a national print magazine. I am not going to name the author nor the source of her quote. My intention is not to embarrass nor vilify anyone, but to examine the idea therein. Hence my decision to tilt at this particular windmill once again.

The “statistics” quoted above are utterly puerile, needless to say. They do not particularly interest me. What does interest me is the axiom quoted: “If a pedigree lacks La Troienne, get some in there. If it has La Troienne, get more in there.”

Take that axiom at face value, and it means the more crosses of La Troienne a pedigree has, the better that pedigree should be. I found it interesting that some people still actually seem to believe such a dubious theory despite all the evidence to the contrary.

The axiom above makes no distinction between sires and dams. So the more crosses of LT a sire has, the better that sire should be. Ditto for dams.

I decided to examine this proposition, using sires first. The first step was to identify sires of sales foals of 2008-2111 with lots of crosses of LT.

How many is “lots”? American Pharoah (AP), for example, has five crosses of LT. That might seem like a lot, until you add the detail that all five are through Empire Maker, his paternal grandsire. Empire Maker has three crosses of LT through Unbridled (his sire) and two more through El Gran Senor (his broodmare sire).

So AP’s five crosses of LT are not exactly unique. ANY pedigree with Empire Maker in it ANYWHERE has at least five crosses of LT. Fifty years from now a pedigree could have Empire Maker in its tenth generation, and that pedigree would still have at least five crosses of LT (and probably a whole lot more).

But five seems like a good number. So I examined the sires of sales foals of 2008-2111 and identified those with at least five crosses of LT. They are listed alphabetically below.

A. P. Warrior, Atlas Shrugs, Bachelor Blues, Banned in Boston, Bear’s Kid, Bernardini, Bluegrass Cat, Broken Vow, Bull Market, Corinthian, Cosmonaut, Daring Bid, Devil Hunter, Domestic Dispute, Dow Jones U S, Dunkirk, Ecclesiastic, Empire Maker, Essence of Dubai, First Defence, Friends Lake, Frisco Star, Going Commando, Grand Appointment, High Cotton, Indygo Shiner, Latent Heat, Leading the Parade, Majestic Warrior, Malabar Gold, Matt’s Broken Vow, Monba, Mutakddim, My Golden Song, Olmodavor, Onebadshark, Parading, Pavarotti, Petionville, Pike Place Gold, Pioneerof the Nile, Private Vow, Quiet Cash, Rabih, Rationalexuberance, Ready’s Image, Rockport Harbor, Rosberg, Seeking Diamonds, Sequoyah, Shaniko, Sightseeing, Sir Cherokee, Songandaprayer, Southern Africa, Southern States, Striking Song, Strong Hope, Tapit, Unbridled Jet, Whiff of Indy, Winter Glitter, Yesbyjimminy, Yonaguska, and Zanjero.

The 65 sires who qualified run a gamut in terms of quality. Three of the very best sires are included (Tapit, Bernardini, and Empire Maker himself). A lot of clunkers are also included. The prices for the 2008-2111 sales foals by these 65 sires are listed below.

Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

3,636         $65,745            194.54                     1.26

These 65 sires were represented by 3,636 sales foals of 2008-2111, almost 8% of the total of 45,562 foals. The overall average for all 45,562 foals was $46,418. These 3,636 foals were almost 42% higher at $65,745.

The overall maverage for all 45,562 foals was 154.0. These 3,636 foals were 26+% higher at 194.54. Hence their Price Index of 1.26.

With Tapit, Bernardini, and Empire Maker in the mix, it is not at all surprising that these 3,636 foals had such high prices. They should have had pretty good results as well.

Their actual results are listed below. 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 688.

Foals          Stakes Winners          %          APPPSW          PPI (Result)

3,636                   127                     3.49            690                     1.04

The overall percentage of stakes winners from foals was 3.36% (1,532 of 45,562 foals). These 3,636 foals were barely higher than that at 3.49% (127 of 3,636 foals). The APPPSW for these 3,636 foals was 690, barely higher than the overall figure of 688.

So taking both quantity and quality of stakes winners into account, these 3,636 foals had a PPI (result) of 1.04. That does NOT compare favorably with their Price Index of 1.26. They sold for prices about 26% above average and achieved results only about 4% above average.

So even with Tapit, Bernardini, and Empire Maker on their side, these 3,636 foals were overpriced and underachievers. And these 3,636 foals are all by sires with at least five crosses of LT (the highest in the population). Therefore, the notion that the more crosses of LT a sire has in his pedigree, the better that sire should be is firmly rejected.

Dams might be a different story. That might not be too surprising, considering that LT was famous for her daughters, not her sons, only one of which (Bimelech) was of any account whatsoever as a sire.

Speaking of dams, I have some preliminary numbers which show that about 73% of all 45,562 sales foals of 2008-2111 have dams with at least one cross of LT. Put another way, only about 27% of those 45,562 foals were out of dams with zero crosses of LT. The percentage of foals by sires with zero crosses of LT is probably even lower than 27% and the percentage of foals by sires with at least one cross of LT is probably even higher than 73%.

All that means is that LT has indeed become a pervasive name in pedigrees. ALL pedigrees, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the horrendous. “Pervasive” does NOT mean the same thing as “positive influence.”

The opposite, if anything. The more pervasive a name becomes in ALL pedigrees, the less that name actually means. The “good” names in pedigrees are those that appear disproportionately more often in the pedigrees of “good” horses than in ALL horses. Such “good” names are hard to find and do not last forever. They eventually retreat back to the norms from which they originally emerged.

Take Phalaris, for example. Phalaris is a lot more pervasive in ALL pedigrees than LT is. Does that mean Phalaris is a “positive influence” on pedigrees???? Absolutely not. Do people go around saying the more Phalaris you have in a pedigree, the better that pedigree should be???? Not that I am aware anyway.

Young children believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. But at some point those kids grow up and learn to face, accept, and adapt to reality (most of them anyway).

Grow up, people. Face reality. Accept reality. Adapt to reality.

La Troienne was a foal of 1926. Phalaris was a foal of 1913. At this point in time (more than a century later) Phalaris is just another pervasive name in pedigrees. At this point in time La Troienne is just another pervasive name in pedigrees. Neither name has any “values” (good, bad, or otherwise) associated with it anymore.

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