The Exception That Proves the Rule

Two posts ago I presented some statistics on the 16 sires of males in the fifth generation of sales foals of 2008-2111. I classified them by how many of those 16 sires traced to Phalaris in the male line. The more of them traced to Phalaris, the better were the results relative to the prices (which also increased with the number of Phalaris presences).

Needless to say, each foal also has 16 dams in the fifth generation. I decided to do the same with those 16 dams, classifying them by how many of them traced to Phalaris in the male line. My expectation was that Phalaris would show up less frequently among the dams than among the sires. I did not really know what to expect in terms of prices versus results.

Below is the distribution of the 45,562 sales foals of 2008-2011 according to how many of their 16 dams in the fifth generation traced to Phalaris in the male line.

Phalaris Presences      Foals

0                                       452

1                                     2,030

2                                     5,186

3                                     7,756

4                                     8,939

5                                     8,728

6                                     5,985

7                                     3,416

8                                     1,973

9                                        664

10                                      279

11                                       154

The theoretical possible results ranged from zero to 16. In fact I did not find any foal with more than 11 Phalarises in the male line among the 16 dams in the fifth generation.

The average was 4.41 (compared to 9.42 for the 16 sires in the fifth generation). That confirmed my expectation that Phalaris showed up less frequently among the 16 dams than among the 16 sires (less than half as frequently).

The median and mode (number appearing most frequently) for the 16 dams were both four. For the 16 sires the median was nine, and the mode was ten.

Listed below are the prices for the foals based on number of Phalarises among the 16 dams. I am going to simplify the data as much as possible by listing only three groups: a low group (0-2), a middle group (3-5), and a high group (six+).

Phalaris Presences     Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

0-2                                7,668         $44,410              152.67                    0.99

3-5                               25,423        $46,312              152.85                    0.99

6+                                 12,471         $47,818              157.18                    1.02

As you can see, the number of Phalarises had little or no effect on the prices. The overall average for all 45,562 foals was $46,418. All three groups were right around that number, low at $44,410, middle at $46,312, and high at $47,818.

Ditto for the maverages and Price Indexes. In terms of the latter, low was 0.99, middle was the same, and high was 1.02.

Listed below are the racetrack results for the three groups. APPPSW in the chart below stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, a measure of the quality of stakes winners involved, the benchhmark now being 694.

Phalaris Presences     Foals     Stakes Winners          %          APPPSW          PPI (Result)

0-2                                7,668              209                  2.73              690                   0.80

3-5                               25,423             836                  3.29              696                   0.97

6+                                 12,471             498                  3.99              692                    1.18

The number of Phalarises did make a difference in the racetrack results. Low was 0.80, middle was 0.97, and high was 1.18.

The chart below illustrates the relationship between prices and results for the three groups.

Phalaris Presences          Foals          Price Index          PPI (Result)          Difference

0-2                                     7,668                0.99                     0.80                      –0.19

3-5                                    25,423               0.99                     0.97                      –0.02

6+                                      12,471               1.02                     1.18                        +0.16

Low was well below expected at –0.19. Middle was slightly below expected at –0.02. High was much better than expected at +0.16.

For purposes of comparison I repeat my chart from two posts ago on the 16 sires in the fifth generation.

Presences          Foals            Price Index           PPI (Result)           Difference

1-4                        422                   0.83                       0.64                       –0.19

5-8                     14,524                 0.91                       0.77                       –0.14

9-10                   16,465                0.99                       0.92                       –0.07

11-16                  14,151                 1.11                       1.35                        +0.24

I would not have been surprised if dams had less of an effect on results than sires did. The worst dam group was –0.19. The worst sire group was also –0.19. The best dam group was +0.16. The best sire group was +0.24.

So dams had almost as much effect on racetrack results (both positively and negatively) as sires did. That did surprise me somewhat. The traditional portrait of Phalaris is that he was a great sire of males (sires specifically) and not-so-great sire of females. The latter part of that portrait appears to come into some question.

What surprises me the most is that Phalaris has had such a lasting influence on contemporary pedigrees. After all, he was a foal of 1913 (born more than 100 years ago).

The traditional (and I always thought common-sense) rule of thumb was that ancestors that far back in pedigrees should have zero influence (positive or negative) on contemporary pedigrees. Phalaris appears to disprove that dictum.

Perhaps some of you enjoyed (or not) the study of Latin in your younger years. Latin is a very confusing language. For every rule there are one (or more) exceptions to that rule.

I think the best way to view these results is that Phalaris is the exception that proves the rule. Phalaris does appear to have some positive influence on contemporary pedigrees, even more than a century after he was foaled.

One exception, however, does not disprove a rule. Phalaris (a true “breed shaper” if there ever was one) is the exception that proves the rule.

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4 Responses to The Exception That Proves the Rule

  1. Rob says:

    Very interesting result.

    I am pretty sure the conclusion though is NOT, “go forth and seek foals with more than 6 presences of Phalaris bred dams in the 5th.” It more likely, “at the time the 5th gen dams and sires were of breeding age, there was a large number of exceptional Phalaris offspring, and finding todays foals who trace consistently back to outstanding individuals throughout the pedigree greatly enhances ones chance to outperform price.” Put another way, I bet performance quality of the individuals in the 5th generation is co-linear with Phalaris breeding. Yes? And so, if that is right, its not REALLY that Phalaris proves an exception.

    Makes me wonder if one were able to compare the racing the class of the individuals in the 5th generation that trace to Phalaris to those that don’t if much of the PPI result isn’t explained by racing class of the individuals. (not sure that data exists to do, but nevertheless….)

    Just a thought

  2. vineyridge says:

    Now do the same analysis for Nearco. It’s my belief that Nearco and Lady Josephine spread speed through TBs.

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