Chronology and Serendipity

I recently made a discovery purely by chance (serendipity) of a group of foals with excellent results from very modest prices. Having been accused of rarely showing any good results, I am pleased to share the details on this group of foals.

I was working on another project (details later) when I noticed an unexpectedly strong chronological bias. I decided that I needed to minimize this chronological bias in order to obtain more meaningful results.

Both projects were based on the 45,562 sales foals of 2008-2111 of course. I decided to restrict the sample pool to those foals by sires foaled in 1998-2002 and out of mares foaled in 1998-2002.

So the average age of sires and dams of this smaller sample pool was 8.5 years, which is on the young side (the overall average age being between ten and 11). Listed below are the prices for that smaller sample group.

Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

10,653       $35,443             135.62                    0.88

A little over 23% (10,653 of 45,562 total foals) qualified. The overall average for all 45,562 foals was $46,418. The average for the 10,653 foals in the 98-02 group was decidedly lower at $35,443. Ditto for the maverage (135.62, compared to the overall maverage of 154.0), which works out to a Price Index of 0.88.

The main reason the prices were lower for the 98-02 group was sires. Most of the sires of these 10,653 foals were young and not yet established. A few good sires were included in this group (most notably Tapit, Medaglia d’Oro, and Empire Maker), but for the most part the sires in this group were not of the highest fashion.

Listed below are the racetrack results for the 98-02 group. APPPSW stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, the benchmark now being 696.

Foals          Stakes Winners          %          APPPSW          PPI (Result)

10,653                 406                   3.81             765                     1.23

Overall, there were 1,547 stakes winners from 45,562 foals (3.40%). The 98-02 group posted 406 stakes winners from 10,653 foals (3.81%), a nice improvement. Those 406 stakes winners were pretty good ones too, averaging 765 Performance Points (compared to an overall average of 696).

The resultant PPI for these 10,653 foals was 1.23, a whopping improvement over their Price Index of 0.88. These 10,653 foals sold for prices about 12% BELOW average and achieved results about 23% ABOVE average.

The best of these 406 stakes winners was Animal Kingdom (9,388 Performance Points). If Animal Kingdom were not in the equation, the APPPSW for the 406 stakes winners drops from 765 to 744 (still well above the overall average of 696), and the PPI drops from 1.23 to 1.20.

So removing Animal Kingdom from the equation really does not detract much from the results. These results are legitimate (not dependent upon one extremely good stakes winner).

WHY are these results so good relative to modest prices???? As has been well documented by myself and others, younger mares generally make better producers than older mares. Not many people dispute this fact, which is more a function of birth rank (number of pregnancies) than age itself.

The effect of chronology on sires’ performances has not been nearly as well documented. Perhaps it is a factor here as well. Maybe, maybe not.

I decided to examine the prices and results for the oldest sires of these sales foals of 2008-2111, sires aged 20 or older at the time of the birth of the foal in question. Listed below are the prices for that group.

Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

1,774          $80,875             186.90                    1.21

About 3.9% (1,774 of 45,562 foals), qualified as being by 20+ sires. Their prices were rather high, which is not surprising at all, since this group included some of the most fashionable sires such as Storm Cat and A.P. Indy.

Listed below are the racetrack results for this group.

Foals          Stakes Winners          %          APPPSW          PPI (Result)

1,774                   48                      2.71             663                    0.76

These results were obviously not very good. These 1,774 foals sold for prices about 21% ABOVE average and produced results about 24% BELOW average.

A few years ago I performed this same examination on mares ages 20 or older. Their results were even worse. They posted a price of 0.94 and a result of 0.28. So the best thing you can for older (20+) sires is that they were not nearly as bad as older (20+) mares.

I wondered how much Storm Cat and A.P. Indy affected these prices and results for 20+ sires and decided to investigate.

Storm Cat was a foal of 1983. All of his sales foals of 2008-2111 fall into the 20+ category. A.P. Indy is a foal of 1989. Only some of his sales foals of 2008-2111 fall into the 20+ category.

A total of 96 foals by either Storm Cat or A.P. Indy fell into the 20+ category. Those 96 foals sold for whopping prices, needless to say, an average of $523,177, a maverage of 621.42, and a Price Index of 4.04.

Only three stakes winners emerged from those 96 foals: Breathless Storm (by Storm Cat, 202 Performance Points), Raconteur (by A.P. Indy, 263), and Majestic River (by A.P. Indy, 658).

Those three stakes winners from 96 foals worked out to a PPI of 0.49. Price of 4.04, result of 0.49. Not good.

OK, now let us see what removing those 96 foals does to the 20+ sire group, beginning with prices.

Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

1,678          $55,570            162.04                    1.05

Removing those 96 foals did lower the prices considerably, though they are still above the benchmarks for all 45,562 foals. Now let us see about results.

Foals          Stakes Winners          %          APPPSW          PPI (Result)

1,678                   45                      2.68             683                   0.77

Removing those 96 foals had very little effect on the racetrack results. The PPI for the remaining 1,678 foals blipped up from 0.76 to 0.77.

So even without the high prices and relatively dismal results posted by Storm Cat and A.P. Indy as 20+ sires, the remaining 1,678 foals by 20+ sires were still not very good. With a price of 1.05 and a result of 0.77, they sold for prices about 5% ABOVE average and achieved results about 23% BELOW average.

So perhaps chronology does have something to do with sire performance. My next post will focus on the details of this matter.

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Horse of the Year

Arrogate thoroughly deserves to named 2016 Horse of the Year. He defeated California Chrome fair and square yesterday in the BC Classic. More than fair and square actually. California Chrome had an ideal tactical trip. He ran the best race of his life. He simply was not good enough. Arrogate was good enough.

Listed below are the dozen BC Classic winners (out of 33 runnings) who were named Horse of the Year that same year:

Ferdinand (1987), Alysheba (1988), Sunday Silence (1989), Black Tie Affair (1991), A.P. Indy (1992), Cigar (1995), Tiznow (2000), Ghostzapper (2004), Saint Liam (2005), Invasor (2006), Curlin (2007), American Pharoah (2015).

That is a pretty good list of champions, and Arrogate deserves to be in their company.

Zenyatta (2009) and Blame (2010) also should be on this list. But that is another can of worms into which I will not delve. At least not today.

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The Moral of This Story????

Frosted is by Tapit out of G2 winner Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister. The second dam is multiple G2 winner Fleet Lady, by Avenue of Flags, by Seattle Slew. That places Seattle Slew at P7 in Frosted’s fourth generation.

Listed below are the prices for the nine sires who showed up most often at P7 in the fourth generation among sales foals of 2008-2111.

Sire                                Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

Northern Dancer          3,991         $56,597             173.04                   1.12

Mr. Prospector             3,196         $48,314             160.23                   1.04

Raise a Native               1,635        $68,372              187.78                   1.22

Bold Ruler                      1,527        $46,722              151.83                   0.99

Nijinsky II                      1,093       $49,353              163.12                   1.06

In Reality                        1,078       $51,867              164.79                    1.07

Seattle Slew                        965      $50,144              162.13                   1.05

Damascus                            930      $48,703             158.00                   1.03

Hail to Reason                    820       $43,403             150.44                   0.98

Totals                               15,235      $52,678             165.69                   1.08

I stopped with Hail to Reason because the next three sires (Danzig, Vice Regent, and Alydar) were all below 600 foals.

The overall average for all 45,562 foals was $46,418. All nine sires were above that benchmark except Hail to Reason ($43,403). Raise a Native was by far the highest at $68,372.

The overall maverage for all 45,562 foals was 154.0. Seven of the nine sires were above that benchmark. Bold Ruler (151.83) and Hail to Reason (150.44) were below it. The Price Indexes by definition followed suit, with Raise a Native by far the highest at 1.22.

Listed below are the racetrack results for these nine sires. APPPSW stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, the benchmark now being 694.

Sire                                Foals          Stakes Winners     %      APPPSW          PPI (Result)

Northern Dancer          3,991                   160              4.01        758                     1.29

Mr. Prospector             3,196                    135              4.22        676                     1.21

Raise a Native               1,635                     65               3.98        695                     1.17

Bold Ruler                      1,527                     26               1.70        586                     0.42

Nijinsky II                      1,093                    38                3.48       709                     1.04

In Reality                        1,078                    34                3.15       531                      0.76

Seattle Slew                       965                    38                3.94       844                      1.41

Damascus                           930                    23                2.47       581                      0.61

Hail to Reason                   820                    24                2.93      1,123                     1.39

Totals                              15,235                  543              3.56         719                     1.08

Bold Ruler was by far the worst at 0.42, followed by Damascus (0.61) and In Reality (0.76). Seattle Slew was the best at 1.41, followed by Hail to Reason at 1.39.

That 1.39 for Hail to Reason should be taken with a grain of salt. Among his stakes winners was Beholder (second dam by Stop the Music, with 9,757 Performance Points). Without Beholder Hail to Reason has a PPI of 0.89, more in line with his Price Index of 0.98.

The best stakes winner for Seattle Slew was Drosselmeyer (second dam by Slew o’ Gold, with 4,628 Performance Points). Without Drosselmeyer Seattle Slew’s PPI slips to 1.20, still well above his Price Index of 1.05.

The chart below shows the relationship between prices and results for these nine sires.

Sire                                Foals          Price Index          PPI (Result)          Difference

Northern Dancer          3,991              1.12                       1.29                        +0.17

Mr. Prospector             3,196              1.04                       1.21                        +0.17

Raise a Native               1,635              1.22                       1.17                       –0.05

Bold Ruler                      1,527              0.99                      0.42                       –0.57

Nijinsky II                      1,093             1.06                      1.04                       –0.02

In Reality                        1,078             1.07                      0.76                       –0.31

Seattle Slew                        965            1.05                      1.41                        +0.36

Damascus                            930           1.03                       0.61                       –0.42

Hail to Reason                    820           0.98                       1.39                         +0.41

Totals                               15,235         1.08                        1.08                          0.00

Four of the nine were positive, led by Hail to Reason (+0.41) and Seattle Slew (+0.36). Five of the nine were negative, the worst being Bold Ruler (–0.57), Damascus (–0.42), and In Reality (–0.31).

The nine sires collectively accounted for just over a third of the entire population (15,235 of 45,562 foals). Those 15,235 foals had a Price Index of 1.08 and a PPI of 1.08. Collectively you got exactly what you paid for with these nine sires at P7 in the fourth generation.

Two of the nine sires were foaled in the 1970s (Mr. Prospector in 1970 and Seattle Slew in 1974). Two of the nine were foaled in the 1950s (Bold Ruler in 1954 and Hail to Reason in 1958). The other five were all foaled in the 1960s.

I decided to break down these numbers by the decades in which the sires were foaled. Listed below are the prices for the 1970s (Mr. Prospector and Seattle Slew), the 1950s (Bold Ruler and Hail to Reason), and the 1960s (the other five).

Sires’ YOB                        Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

1970s                                4,161           $48,738             160.67                   1.04

1960s                                8,727           $56,471              171.94                   1.12

1950s                                2,347           $45,562             151.34                   0.98

The five sires foaled in the 1960s had the highest average ($56,471), maverage (171.94), and Price Index (1.12). Bold Ruler and Hail to Reason were lowest at $45,562, 151.34, and 0.98, respectively. Mr. Prospector and Seattle Slew were in between at $48,738, 160.67, and 1.04, respectively.

Listed below are the racetrack results for these same three categories.

Sires’ YOB                        Foals          Stakes Winners     %      APPPSW          PPI (Result)

1970s                                4,161                    173              4.16          713                   1.25

1960s                                8,727                    320              3.67         703                   1.09

1950s                               2,347                      50               2.13         844                    0.76

The 1970s were by far the best at 1.25, the 1950s were by far the worst at 0.76, and the 1960s were in between at 1.09.

Listed below are the relationship between prices and results for the three categories.

Sires’ YOB                        Foals               Price Index           PPI (Result)          Difference

1970s                                4,161                     1.04                       1.25                       +0.21

1960s                                8,727                     1.12                       1.09                      –0.03

1950s                               2,347                      0.98                      0.76                      –0.22

The 1970s were by far the best at +0.21, the 1950s were by far the worst at –0.22, and the 1960s were in between and slightly negative (–0.03).

The moral of this story???? Do I have to draw you a picture???? Chronology matters in pedigrees.

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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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“Breed Shapers”????

La Troienne (LT) is a lot more pervasive in modern pedigrees than you probably think. I took a simple survey of sales foals of 2008-2111 and classified them by the total numbers of crosses (presences) of LT anywhere in their pedigrees. Here are the raw results.

LT Presences          Foals

0                                2,388

1                                5,808

2                                7,885

3                                8,527

4                                7,339

5                                5,789

6                                3,577

7                                2,368

8+                              1,881

The average is 3.02 presences of LT per foal. The median is three. The mode (number which appears most often) is also three.

Only 5.2% of the population (2,388 foals) has no LT at all. Which means that 94.8% of the population has at least one cross of LT in its pedigrees.

Of the 45,562 total foals, 37,366 (82%) have at least two LTs; 29,481 (64.7%) have at least three LTs; 20,954 (45.9%) have at least four LTs. And that is for sales foals of 2008-2111. For more current pedigrees, the numbers are even higher.

No wonder you see such babble that horse X is a good horse because it has four crosses of LT. Four crosses of LT is only slightly above the norm. Of the entire population, 45.9% has at least four crosses of LT.

How did we reach this level of saturation? Mainly through some of the most popular sires in modern pedigrees. The three main sources of this buildup of LT are Seattle Slew, Buckpasser, and Dr. Fager.

Seattle Slew is not inbred to LT. Neither is his dam, My Charmer. But My Charmer is inbred 4×4 to Baby League, a daughter of LT. So Seattle Slew carries two crosses of LT whenever and wherever he appears in pedigrees.

Buckpasser is the most closely related of the three. LT is his third dam.

The connection to Dr. Fager is a bit more convoluted. LT is the dam of Bimelech (her only sire son of any note). Bimelech sired Better Self, who in turn sired Aspidistra, the dam of Dr. Fager.

A.P. Indy is by Seattle Slew out of a second dam by Buckpasser. Hence A.P. Indy carries three crosses of LT wherever and whenever he appears in pedigrees (and he appears a lot).

Unbridled is inbred 4×4 to Aspidistra (on the bottom through Magic, a daughter of Buckpasser). Hence Unbridled carries three crosses of LT wherever and whenever he appears in pedigrees (and he appears a lot).

The two grandsires of Tapit are A.P. Indy and Unbridled. That is six crosses of LT right there. And there is a seventh cross elsewhere in his pedigree (which you can find for yourself if you are so inclined). So Tapit carries seven crosses of LT wherever and whenever he appears in pedigrees (and he is appearing more and more frequently as time goes by).

Bernardini is by A.P. Indy out of a mare by Quiet American (who is inbred 4×3 to Dr. Fager). That is five crosses of LT right there. And there are two other crosses elsewhere in his pedigree ((which you can find for yourself if you are so inclined). So Bernardini carries seven crosses of LT wherever and whenever he appears in pedigrees (and he is appearing more and more frequently as time goes by).

Empire Maker is by Unbridled out of mare by El Gran Senor. The latter has two crosses of LT through Buckpasser and Best in Show (a renowned and familiar name in female lines). So Empire Maker carries five crosses of LT wherever and whenever he appears in pedigrees.

You get the general idea. Deputy Minister has one cross of LT ((which you can find for yourself if you are so inclined). El Prado/Sadler’s Wells/Never Bend all have the same cross of LT. The list goes on and on.

Many of the most popular names in pedigrees have at least one cross of LT. Combine them in any fashion, and the number of LT crosses grows and grows over time. Since no limitations have been placed on how far back LT appears in a pedigree, the number of crosses just keeps growing and growing. It never gets smaller.

Listed below are the prices for sales foals of 2008-2111 by number of LT crosses (presences). I have classified them only three ways: 0, 1-7, and 8+.

LT Presences          Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

0                                2,388         $33,367             131.55                    0.86

1-7                           41,293         $48,609            153.30                    1.00

8+                              1,881          $64,835            198.03                    1.29

I will not belabor these numbers. They clearly show that the higher the number of crosses of LT, the higher the prices.

Listed below are the racetrack results for these same three categories. APPPSW stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, a measure of the quality of stakes winners involved, the benchmark now being 694.

LT Presences          Foals          Stakes Winners          %          APPPSW          PPI (Result)

0                                2,388                   76                     3.18             881                    1.19

1-7                            41,293                1,387                  3.36            678                    0.97

8+                               1,881                   80                    4.25             787                    1.42

The first thing you notice in the chart above is that the zero group actually performed quite well, especially relative to its low prices. Included among the stakes winners in the zero group was Animal Kingdom (9,388 Performance Points). Without Animal Kingdom that PPI falls to 1.03, still above average.

Also among the stakes winners in the zero group was Blind Luck (6,880). Without Animal Kingdom and Blind Luck that PPI falls to 0.90, but 0.90 is still higher than the Price Index for that group of 0.86. From which I conclude that a total lack of LT in a pedigree does NOT make it a BAD pedigree.

The relationship between prices and results is the most important thing and is summarized in the chart below.

LT Presences          Foals          Price Index          PPI (Result)          Difference

0                               2,388                0.86                      1.19                        +0.33

1-7                           41,293               1.00                      0.97                       –0.03

8+                              1,881                1.29                      1.42                        +0.13

Yes, the 8+ group did have a positive relationship (price of 1.29, result of 1.42, difference of +0.13). Those who claim that the more LT you have in a pedigree, the better that pedigree is are slightly vindicated.

I say “slightly” because the converse is NOT true. The zero group had a much more positive relationship (price of 0.86, result of 1.19, difference of +0.33) than the 8+ group.

What is most interesting, however, is the vast middle group (1-7), which is why I classified these groups the way I did. This group had a price of 1.00 (actually just over 0.995), a result of 0.97, and a difference of –0.03.

That difference of –0.03 might not seem like much, but is is based on 41,293 foals (more than 90% of the entire population). For the vast middle (90+%) of the population, the number of crosses of LT seems to have no effect at all (or perhaps a slightly negative effect). The zero and 8+ groups were both positive, with the former more positive than the latter.

Add it all up, and it is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the notion that the more LT you have in a pedigree, the better that pedigree is. That appears to be true only for the top 4% of all foals (the 1,881 foals in the 8+ group), while the lowest 5% of all foals (the 2,388 foals in the zero group) actually outperformed the top 4% in terms of prices versus results.

I thought that a comparison of Phalaris and LT would be pertinent at this time. Accordingly, I repeat below my final chart on Phalaris from my previous post.

Phalaris

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

Note that in the case of Phalaris the lowest three groups had negative differences (1-4 at –0.19, 5-8 at –0.14, and 9-10 at –0.07). In other words, a low number of Phalaris in pedigrees did correspond with poor racetrack results. Not so with LT. The lack of LT did not hinder the zero group at all.

The highest groups for both LT and Phalaris had positive differences. The 8+ group for LT had a price of 1,29, a result of 1.42, and a difference of +0.13. The 11-16 group for Phalaris had a price of 1.11, a result of 1.35, and a difference of +0.24.

So the highest group for Phalaris (11-16) was better than the highest group for LT (8+) by a margin of +0.24 to +0.13.

Furthermore, those results for LT applied only to the top 4% of the population (1,881 foals). The top group for Phalaris (11-16) consisted of 14,151 foals (the top 31% of the population). That makes Phalaris’s performance all the more impressive than LT’s. The larger the number of foals, the more difficult it is to achieve results better than average.

You probably have heard the term “breed shaper” bandied about, usually in an advertising (total BS) context. The number of actual “breed shapers” in the history of the breed is extremely low. Phalaris might just be one of them. La Troienne is NOT.

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Phalaris the Pervasive

After Conquistador Cielo won the 1982 Belmont Stakes, I remember reading a story on his pedigree. The author noted that the four sires in his third generation (Native Dancer, Nashua, Bold Ruler, and Turn-to) were all representatives of the Phalaris male line.

The author asserted that this was a first in the history of North American classic pedigrees. He was correct. I checked back to 1970 and did not find another North American classic winner fitting that description. Although interestingly all of those pedigrees (even the most obscure ones) had at least one of the four sires in their third generations tracing to Phalaris in the male line.

Thirty-plus years have passed since then, and nowadays it is commonplace to see pedigrees with all four sires in the third generation tracing to Phalaris in the male line. I performed a little survey on this a few years ago using sales foals of 2003-2007. A little over 35% (24,968) of those 70,714 foals had all four sires in the third generation tracing to Phalaris in the male line. It could easily be over 50% by now.

You sometimes see pedigrees with all eight sires in the fourth generation tracing to Phalaris in the male line. All 16 sires in the fifth generation????

These thoughts led me to devise the following survey of North American sales foals of 2008-2111, which I undertook strictly for grins. I decided to look at the 16 sires in the fifth generation of all such sales foals and classify them by how many of those 16 sires traced to Phalaris in the male line.

This survey does not purport to be all inclusive. Phalaris could also appear in the pedigrees of the 16 dams in the fifth generation. But Phalaris was almost exclusively a “sire of sires.” He was a leading broodmare sire three times in England, but over the long run his daughters were not nearly as influential as his sons.

I am pretty sure that by concentrating on the Phalaris male line in the 16 sires in the fifth generation I have captured a clear majority of his overall contribution. It is a bit of a shortcut but a justifiable one given the unique character of Phalaris.

There are 17 possibilities (zero through 16) in terms of this survey. I did not find a single foal with zero Phalarises among the 16 sires in the fifth generation. I found only one foal with only one Phalaris among the 16 sires in the fifth generation.

On the opposite end of the scale, I found only 18 foals with all 16 sires in the fifth generation tracing to Phalaris in the male line.

The average for all 45,562 sales foals of 2008-2111 was 9.42. The two most frequent results were ten (8,339 foals) and nine (8,126 foals). Hence the mode (number appearing most often) was ten. Slightly over half (23,072) of the 45,562 foals were nine or fewer. Hence the median was nine.

Of course the whole point of this survey was to determine if Phalaris (a foal of 1913) has any tangible effect on pedigrees today, either through prices or results. Let us begin with the former.

Presences           Foals          Average          Maverage          Price Index

1-4                         422           $32,407            127.50                   0.83

5-8                      14,524         $41,757            140.47                   0.91

9-10                    16,465         $45,472            152.53                   0.99

11-16                   14,151         $52,719            170.39                   1.11

In order to simplify matters, I decided not to list prices and results for all 17 groups but to consolidate them into the four groups above. This of course helps to “rationalize” the prices and results.

If you look at the prices above, you see that they are indeed pretty rational. The overall average for all 45,562 foals was $46,418. The lowest three groups were all below that figure, with 1-4 at $32,407, 5-8 at $41,757, and 9-10 at $45,472. The highest group (11-16) was only slightly above that figure at $52,719.

The maverages and Price Indexes followed suit. In terms of the latter, 1-4 was at 0.83, 5-8 at 0.91, 9-10 at 0.99, and 11-16 at 1.11.

So if prices are any indication, Phalaris should have had some impact on results as well. The actual results are listed below. APPPSW stands for average Performance Points per stakes winner, a measure of the quality of stakes winners involved, with the overall average now being 694.

Presences          Foals          Stakes Winners          %          APPPSW          PPI (Result)

1-4                        422                       8                      1.90           788                     0.64

5-8                     14,524                  402                    2.77           653                     0.77

9-10                   16,465                  530                    3.22          668                     0.92

11-16                  14,151                  603                    4.26          742                     1.35

As you can see above, Phalaris did have a significant impact on the racetrack results as well. The results followed the same pattern as the prices, with 1-4 at 0.64, 5-8 at 0.77, 9-10 at 0.92, and 11-16 at 1.35.

As always the most important question to be answered is the relationship between prices and results, which are listed below.

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

The pattern is pretty clear. The fewer the number of Phalarises, the more negative the difference between prices and results. To wit, 1-4 was –0.19, 5-8 was –0.14, 9-10 was –0.07, and only 11-16 was positive, at +0.24.

As I said at the beginning. this survey was undertaken strictly for grins. I would not want to make too much of it. I would not exactly recommend it as a theory for breeding better horses (or for picking better horses out of the marketplace).

Nevertheless, the results are pretty clear. The more Phalaris in a pedigree, the better the results, both in absolute and relative (to prices) terms.

The only other caveat I wish to offer is that pedigrees are constantly changing. They changed a lot since 1982, when Conquistador Cielo was considered an anomaly because all four of his sires in the third generation traced to Phalaris in the male line. Now such foals are a dime a dozen (which is not necessarily a good thing).

This survey was based on sales foals of 2008-2111. Right now it is 2016. If I repeated this survey with sales foals of 2016, the results would look a lot different. Phalaris would be even more pervasive now than he was less than ten years ago.

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“Labeling” Seattle Slew

About three months ago I presented some statistics on sires of the broodmare sire (P3 in the third generation). Today I do the same for sires of sires of broodmare sires (P5 in the fourth generation), basically the same position, only one generation farther back.

I am going to condense today’s results into an abbreviated form. A dozen sires are listed, the most popular ones (ones that showed up most often) first.

Leading Sires at P5 in the Fourth Generation

Sire                                      Foals          Price Index          PPI (Result)         Difference

Northern Dancer              5,800                1.07                      1.02                       –0.05

Raise a Native                   5,767                 1.05                      0.87                       –0.18

Mr. Prospector                  4,943                0.97                      1.04                        +0.07

Storm Bird                         2,452                1.07                       0.99                       –0.08

Nearctic                              2,197                 1.04                       1.18                        +0.14

Hail to Reason                  2,026                 1.07                       1.20                       +0.13

Vice Regent                       1,610                  1.04                        1.17                        +0.13

Bold Reasoning                1,596                  1.14                        1.42                       +0.28

Damascus                            825                   0.86                       0.64                      –0.22

Bold Ruler                           785                   0.82                       0.40                      –0.42

In Reality                             779                    0.85                      1.09                       +0.24

Seattle Slew                         715                    1.09                       0.81                      –0.28

The identities of the sires listed are no great surprises. The big three (Northern Dancer, Raise a Native, and Mr. Prospector) lead the way. Then there is a gap back to a group of three (Storm Bird, Nearctic, and Hail to Reason) all in the 2,000’s. They are followed by Vice Regent and Bold Reasoning (1,610 foals and 1,596 foals respectively). The trailing group (Damascus, Bold Ruler, In Reality, and Seattle Slew) range from 825 to 715 foals.

Seven of the first eight sires have prices above the norms, ranging from Bold Reasoning (1.14) to Mr. Prospector (0.97). Three of the last four have prices below the norms, ranging from Seattle Slew (1.09) to Bold Ruler (0.82).

The 12 sires are evenly split in terms of prices versus results. Six had better results than prices (the desired pattern). Six had higher prices than results (the undesired pattern). Bold Reasoning was best at +0.28. Bold Ruler was worst at –0.42.

That positive result for Bold Reasoning is very misleading. He had 1,596 foals at P5 in the fourth generation. Seattle Slew had the same 1,596 foals at P3 in the third generation. I did not find any Bold Reasonings that were not Seattle Slews. Hence Bold Reasoning’s +0.28 at P5 in the fourth generation is all attributable to Seattle Slew at P3 in the third generation.

Some other situations are similar. Storm Bird has 2,452 foals at P5 in the fourth generation; 2,380 of them were Storm Cat at P3 in the third generation; only 72 (and zero stakes winners) were NOT Storm Cat in the third generation.

Vice Regent has 1,610 foals at P5 in the fourth generation; 1,592 of them were Deputy Minister at P3 in the third generation; only 18 (and zero stakes winners) were NOT Deputy Minister in the third generation.

You might think that Northern Dancer and Nearctic would be similar, but they are not. Nearctic has 2,197 foals at P5 in the fourth generation; 1,643 of them are Northern Dancer at P3 in the third generation; 554 are Nearctic NOT though Northern Dancer.

Those 554 foals are pretty good too. They had a price of 0.97, a result of 1.49, and a difference of +0.52. That is much better than Northern Dancer’s numbers at P3 in the third generation (1.07, 1.07, 0).

You might think that Beholder had something to do with these numbers for Nearctic. Beholder is out of a mare by Tricky Creek, by Clever Trick, by Icecapade, by Nearctic. That puts Nearctic in the fifth generation and Icecapde at P5 in the fourth generation. So Beholder did not help this group at all.

The two best stakes winners for Nearctic in this group were Mizdirection (out of a Clever Trick mare, 3,820 Performance Points) and Joyful Victory (out of a Wild Again mare, 2,653).

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the case of Mr. Prospector and Raise a Native. The former has 4,900 foals at P3 in the third generation. The latter has 5,767 foals at P5 in the fourth generation. So only 867 of those 5,767 foals were NOT though Mr. Prospector in the third generation.

And those 867 foals were pretty pathetic, with a price of 0.88 and a result of 0.36, a difference of –0.52. Without Mr. Prospector, Raise a Native was pretty much a complete dud in the broodmare sire line, at least for this particular sample, sales foals of 2008-2111.

One generation can make a big difference. Seattle Slew is a good illustration of this point. He was very good at P3 in the third generation (price of 1.14, result of 1.42, difference of +0.28). He was almost equally bad one generation farther back, at P5 in the fourth generation, with a price of 1.09, a result of 0.81, and a difference of –0.28.

The explanation for this is pretty simple. Seattle Slew at P3 in the third generation includes A.P. Indy as a broodmare sire. Hence the high prices and good results. Seattle Slew at P5 in the fourth generation includes sons of A.P. Indy as broodmare sires. Prices still pretty high, results not nearly as good, at least through sales foals of 2008-2111.

Positions themselves can make a big difference. Seattle Slew is a good illustration. Consider his numbers at P5 and P6 in the fourth generation. I have just recited his numbers for the former (P5, a price of 1.09, a result of 0.81, and a difference of –0.28). At the latter (P6), his numbers are a price of 0.95, a result of 2.07, and a difference of +1.12.

So the market thought that Seattle Slew was a better influence at P5 in the fourth generation (price of 1.09) than at P6 in the fourth generation (price of 0.95). The results were quite the opposite. The two positions are right next to each other in the fourth generation. One (sire of females) had excellent results from below-average prices. The other (sire of males) had poor results from above-average prices.

The main point here is that attempting to define a sire’s “influence” (positive or negative) is a lot trickier than just pinning a convenient label on him. That “influence” can vary sharply from generation to generation and even from position to position within the same generation.

 

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