September 9, 2011
CURRENCY SWAP - DRILL
- GRACE HALL
The weekend's races were significant preps moving toward this fall's Breeders' Cup and the prestige connected with them are significant to any breeder and the value of their broodmares and their reputations. Yet how is it that someone was able to come up with horses that could win these races, when their mating work was so poorly rated? One easy explanation is that these breeders just don't pay attention to these grades, for which I would personally applaud them. Another is that each breeder does serious work in planning their matings and with years of exploring classic pedigree patterns, chose the best physical stallion in consideration with the best sources of high quality pedigree patterns. This is possible, and again I would applaud the breeders that have accomplished this with their mares and these matings. A third plausible explanation is that these breeders were just really lucky. But how does this help the average breeder? It cannot, unless those looking for the answers to future planning of their matings have the time and patience to read the history and apply it to the future. More on that shortly.
First, one of the pitfalls of commercial mating grades is:
Young Sires are Mathematically and Statistically at a Disadvantage. When you consider the pattern of failing grades commonly seen (you can review a number from 2011 here), you will see that a significant number of them are sired by young unproven sires. The winners highlighted here were a prime example. DRILL, the winner of the G1 Del Mar Futurity, is the first stake winner from the first crop by LAWYER RON. His mating grade was a "C" by Werk Nick Ratings. CURRENCY SWAP, winner of the G1 Hopeful at Saratoga, is the first stake winner for freshman sire HIGH COTTON. His mating grade was an "F". Finally, GRACE HALL, winner of the G1 Spinaway S. at Saratoga, while being by a more established sire in EMPIRE MAKER, is still a sire with a smaller sampling of runners than most on the General Sire Lists. Her mating grade was a "C" by Werk Nick Ratings.
There are several reasons for these grades, but when considering young sires, the most obvious is that when a computer program uses historical data as its basis for its grading mechanism, a sire with no history will not yield the empirical information needed to spit out a top grade. Usually, these programs will score the grand sires and sometimes great-grandsires for a runner when the pedigree information is too fresh and does not yield historical data. When considering the data ignored when diminishing and eliminating key individuals close in a pedigree, it becomes quite obvious that accuracy of the resulting grades given in these circumstances is completely unreliable.
The Answer: Do Your Homework. Each of the Grade 1 juveniles the weekend of September 3rd, while displaying poor mating grades by the Werk system, were rated well when considering the pure patterns displayed by the mating of sire to dam. The best of the three discussed above was GRACE HALL. This agency graded her a 8.5 on a scale of 1 - 10. This mating system considers the ancestors of the resulting foal of any mating as four separate quadrants. (More about mating grades here).
GRACE HALL sports a mating that includes full brothers EL GRAN SENOR and TRY MY BEST positively placed within the mating. There are other significant patterns also tying into these full brothers. The use of full siblings to breed high class racehorses is a long proven tool in planning a mating. Chances are the poor rating of this mating was due to the lack of historical data available on the sire and broodmare sire. Additionally, the method of use of MR. PROSPECTOR in this mating, which is also a desirable feature of this mating, would be fully ignored by either eNicks or True Nicks.
For DRILL, the best utilization of the ancestry in this mating comes through the broodmare sire of LAWYER RON, that is, LORD AVIE. The chances that either commercial pedigree platform weights this in their grade is about zero. But if they did, the consideration of LORD AVIE in their statistics would have not yielded any higher grade, as the significance LORD AVIE provides in this mating is uniquely important to the female side of DRILL'S dam, which is always fully ignored. Similarly, the mating responsible for the recent graded winner CURRENCY SWAP has it's greatest offer to the mating in the dam line of both the sire and the dam.
This short view of young runners of young sires should give urgency to the need for breeders to better understand pedigree patterns and to utilize better tools for assessment of their mating plans. It should also make it ridiculously obvious that the mating grades the popular mating platforms give should never be given credibility when purchasing weanlings, yearlings or pregnant mares for that matter. The grades have become more and more significant to the point where clients of this agency have found it necessary to adjust their planning from very sharp, well constructed matings to less well planned matings simply to help "up" the grade of the foal for the commercial market. Education is the key for breeder, buyer and consignor. This blog will continue to try to point out the pathway to that end.