Too Much of a Good Thing (Nearco)

I received a comment on a post I did on Phalaris a couple months ago. That comment was to the effect of now do the same thing with Nearco (paternal grandson of Phalaris and a superb sire in his own right). Not a bad idea, I responded.

I started to do so with sales foals of 2008-2111, first with 2008, then with 2111. Along the way I noticed that the percentage of foals with a surfeit of Nearco increased dramatically from 2008 to 2111. That got me to thinking that a chronological bias was at work that might be affecting the results on both Phalaris and Nearco.

Not many people dispute the fact that younger mares make better producers. As my last two posts attest, the same holds true for younger sires, at least with the particular population of sales foals of 2008-2111.

Younger mares and younger sires both have higher numbers of both Phalaris and Nearco in their pedigrees due to the simple fact that both these sires are constantly expanding their number of presences in modern pedigrees. That is the chronological bias of which I speak. Even if both Phalaris and Nearco have little effect on racetrack results in modern pedigrees, it will appear as if they do because of this constant expansion.

The best racehorses in this population generally are by younger sires and out of younger mares. Younger sires and younger mares generally have more presences of Phalaris and Nearco than the general population. Therefore, if you analyze the population by the number of presences of Phalaris and/or Nearco, it will appear that those two sires have a positive influence on racetrack results. Which may or may not be true.

I started thinking about ways to compensate for this chronological bias. My first inclination was to restrict the sample pool to foals by sires born in 2000 and out of mares born in 2000. I quickly realized that would yield a very small sample (less than a thousand). So I decided to expand the sample group to foals by sires born in 1998-2002 and out of mares born in 1998-2002. That helps to minimize the variation in number of presences of Nearco and/or Phalaris by age of parents.

Along the way I noticed that this sample group was a pretty good one in its own right (price of 0.88, result of 1.23), which reinforced my perception that younger sires were also good (along with younger mares) and led to my last two posts.

Today I will examine that 1998-2002 sample group with respect to number of presences of Nearco. I did so similarly to the way I did Phalaris. There are 32 ancestors in the fifth generation of a foal’s pedigree. I categorized them by how many of those ancestors traced to Nearco in the male line. Since Nearco (like Phalaris) was much more a “sire of sires” than a broodmare sire, that effectively captures the vast majority of his overall presences.

The average number of presences of Nearco in these 10,670 foals of the 1998-2002 sample group was about 9.5. The median and mode (number that appears most often) were both nine. Though I list the categories below as 0-6, 7-9, and 10+, I did not find any foals with zero Nearco. I think two was the lowest I found. Listed below are the prices for these categories.

Presences          Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

0-6                     1,177          $40,691              137.59                    0.89

7-9                     4,661          $35,834              133.15                    0.86

10+                    4,832          $35,443              137.51                    0.89

Totals              10,670          $36,194              135.62                    0.88

The overall average for all 10,670 foals was $36,194. The 0-6 group was highest at $40,691, but truthfully the differences by average among the three groups was very small. Ditto for maverages and Price Indexes (0.89 for 0-6 and 10+, 0.86 for 7-9, 0.88 overall).

Listed below are the racetrack results for the three categories. APPPSW stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, the benchmark now being 696.

Presences          Foals          Stakes Winners          %          APPPSW          PPI (Result)

0-6                     1,177                     32                     2.72             766                    0.88

7-9                     4,661                   182                     3.91             857                    1.42

10+                    4,832                   192                     3.98             678                    1.14

Totals              10,670                  406                     3.81             765                    1.23

The 7-9 group was decidedly best at 1.42, followed by the 10+ group at 1.14 and the 0-6 group at 0.88. The relationship between prices and results is summarized in the chart below.

Presences          Foals          Price Index          PPI (Result)          Difference

0-6                      1,177               0.89                       0.88                     –0.01

7-9                       4,661              0.86                       1.42                      +0.56

10+                      4,832             0.89                        1.14                      +0.25

Totals                 10,670            0.88                        1.23                     +0.35

Remember, the 1998-2002 group was pretty awesome in its own right (difference of +0.35). The 7-9 group was even better at +0.56. The 10+ group was not quite as good as the overall group at +0.25. The 0-6 group was –0.01, not good at all.

If Nearco was truly still a positive influence on modern pedigrees, 10+ would be better than 7-9, and 7-9 would be better than 0-6 (the more Nearco, the better).

The 7-9 group was decidedly better than 0-6, but 7-9 was also better than 10+. So this is a mixed result. About all you can say is that a lack of Nearco (0-6) is not good. A surfeit of Nearco (10+) is better than a lack of Nearco. But a moderate amount of Nearco (7-9) is by far the best of all.

I will not go so far as to say this proves that Nearco is NOT a good influence on modern pedigrees, but evidently too much of a good thing does have its drawbacks.

Needless to say, now I will have to go back and do the same thing all over again with Phalaris (using the chronology-adjusted sample group of 10,670) to ascertain whether his results were really as good as they appeared to be in my previous two posts on that subject. As usual, I will keep you posted.

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