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  1. #1
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    Default Sport-bred versus track-bred TBs

    This is a spinoff from Sarah's Jersey Fresh thread. Some of you mentioned you have Thoroughbreds who were bred for sport, not for racing. That made me curious. How do these sport horses differ from racehorses? What are some of the attributes that might make a TB a good eventing prospect?



  2. #2
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    I think this is a good question, and I don't really have an answer other than I guess a good bit of them have blood that has been proven in sport. I'm not knowledgeable enough to be able to dissect my horse's lines, but he does have unbridled close up which I think causes most people to cringe (I did full x rays before purchase, and he looked great). However, the rest of his pedigree seems OK, I guess?? (he is out of a With Approval mare). He was bred for jumping though, through a joint initiative with an area BNR/T jumper guy and his friend. In terms of physical attributes that make him different from race horses, he's really tall (18.1) but compact in length, has huge feet, and really good bone - his cannons are just over 10". His conformation is certainly jumper oriented, and FWIW he has one heck of a jumper's bump. He's of a light build, not heavy at all. He is a champ to work with, EASY and WILLING as the day is long, and he's super athletic - but he's not very strong right now, as he has really only been in work after the initial few rides for about six months.

    I wish I knew if he was a happy accident, or if there was some genius in his design. He wasn't bred to race though, and he never could with his size. He also is the definition of a late-bloomer. He's still immature and growing and he's about to be six.

    I am sure there will be others who post who can answer your questions better, and I'm interested to see what they have to say as well. I think it's worth noting that there are TBs bred for sport, not racing, but that there seem to be trends within that loosely formed group. There are obviously some great eventing TBs standing at stud currently, but I still see a noticeable amount of TBs bred for jumping/eventing that are never meant to set foot on a track, without these horses in their lines.
    My boy, "Mr. Nice Guy"

    Ask me about Final Furlong, Inc. - promoting "Responsible retirement for thoroughbred racehorses through the racing industry".



  3. #3
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    Any TB can be a good eventer- regardless if they're sport or race bred, they're bred to run. Sport bred horses tend to be less "finely" built, less leggy, and can (not always) be less hot. Race bred horses, are (as a whole), leggy, very finely built, may have some screws loose, and LIVE to gallop.

    Either way, you want a horse with as Jimmy Wofford calls "the look of eagles," a diligent work ethic, a good personality, clean legs, good feet, SOUND, a good gallop, not too much distaste for the dressage, and a jump to die for.



  4. #4
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    At the end of the day, you ride the horse, not the pedigree. Bloodlines can be helpful as a predictor, but of course you've got to look at what's actually standing on the ground in front of you to make a decision.

    That being said, the general advantage of a sport-bred TB is you are hoping that the breeders have already identified lines of TB with a tendency to be good jumping, fairly sound horses. Often they will go back to horses with turf or steeplechase blood, evidencing both jumping ability and long-term soundness (as these horses often keep racing much longer than flat horses). That means they've done some of the weeding out process for you - at least in theory. In contrast, many of the track bred TBs, particularly in the past decade, have been bred for a high degree of speed as a 2 year old and not necessarily for long term soundness. Because there has been a premiums for super fast 2 year olds, breeders have tended to favor those athletic traits above ones which might be better for sport (soundness, jumping ability, uphill gaits, etc). Not all breeders have gone that direction, and there are certainly horses who didn't get the memo and turn out to be very sound and/or have great jumping ability, as well as those who end up being slow or not developed as 2 year olds for whatever reason. But in general, when you're looking at track-bred horses, you'll have to weed through more horses than you would when you're looking at sport-bred.

    For your average lower level horse, once you get past soundness issues and track jewelry, it may not make a huge difference: most reasonably athletic horses can handle Training or below without much of an issue. But if you're looking for something with serious upper level potential, you may find that horse at the track - and I certainly have seen some LOVELY ones come from that route - but you may also find that it's a faster route (albeit more expensive) to find that potential horse when it's been sport bred.

    In short, then, when you buy sportbred you are paying more often for that breeder's judgment that horse X has a higher potential to be a horse that will do what you want it to do. Whether that increase in price is worth it to you depends on what you're looking for, how much you value the breeder's judgment and forecasting ability, as well as your view on the value of your time to dig through track horses and search for that diamond in the rough. I've bought both ways and had great results, but in general have found the sportbred process less painful (and similar to buying from someone else who has already done the weeding out process from the track).



  5. #5
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    Really, the only difference will be mostly on paper. A TB that is specifically bred for sport will have lineage that is proven to produce good sport horses. Instead of being selectively bred for speed, etc, they are bred for movement, jumping ability, and temperament (sport horse breeders will probably look for trainability and a willing brain where race horse breeders are really more likely to only care if the horse will want to run). Sires and dams of sport bred TBs may have had successful careers AS sport horses (with or without a previous history of racing), but not all. Some times it just comes down to knowing your stuff and knowing what has worked in the past.

    All that being said, a good horse is a good horse, despite, sometimes, what it's paperwork says. While breeding can eliminate some of the guesswork, it isn't a guaranteeing factor that horse is going to be definitely successful in the sport it is bred for (the racing industry is a PRIME example of this!).



  6. #6
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    I find the biggest difference is how they are started. A young sportbred TB is much more like a young horse of any breed (yes, even WBs, gasp), with the same pros and cons that comes with.



  7. #7
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    A sport-bred TB isn't constrained by geography. Because the JC only recognizes live cover, a mare has to be in very close proximity to the stallion in order to produce a race-bred TB.

    Not so with sport-breds as AI is ok.

    My sport-bred mare Niina is by the Australian $1M-winning stallion Heroicity and out of my Michigan-bred OTTB mare. The major difference between Nina and your average racing TB is that Nina's pedigree is not at all fashionable for a modern racehorse.

    However, both parents were winners on the track -- and her sire Heroicity was especially good, as seen here winning a Gr 1 in Australia -- and Nina is very fast and athletic, so I suspect she would have shown some talent for the track.

    And both parents have also produced Advanced eventers (that's actually far more rare than winners on the track!) and Nina has just started her eventing career. This is Nina at her first Intro HT two weeks ago, and this weekend, she makes her BN debut at Flora Lea.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JER View Post
    A sport-bred TB isn't constrained by geography. Because the JC only recognizes live cover, a mare has to be in very close proximity to the stallion in order to produce a race-bred TB.

    Not so with sport-breds as AI is ok.

    My sport-bred mare Niina is by the Australian $1M-winning stallion Heroicity and out of my Michigan-bred OTTB mare. The major difference between Nina and your average racing TB is that Nina's pedigree is not at all fashionable for a modern racehorse.

    However, both parents were winners on the track -- and her sire Heroicity was especially good, as seen here winning a Gr 1 in Australia -- and Nina is very fast and athletic, so I suspect she would have shown some talent for the track.

    And both parents have also produced Advanced eventers (that's actually far more rare than winners on the track!) and Nina has just started her eventing career. This is Nina at her first Intro HT two weeks ago, and this weekend, she makes her BN debut at Flora Lea.
    Just as an aside, I have ALWAYS loved that stallion. Nice.



  9. #9
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    Thanks to all for your answers! This is super-interesting. I knew racing TBs had to be live cover but I never made the connection that sportbreds could be conceived via AI.

    JER: Nina is BEAUTIFUL. Unfashionable pedigree, my hat!



  10. #10
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    With commercially/racebred Thoroughbreds you are more likely to find the stallions represented that are lighting the boards on raceday and gaining momentum at the sales. So, you are more likely to find such lineages as Mr. P, Northern Dancer, Storm Cat, etc. in most of them. Those who breed for sport and are knowledgable about pedigrees as well as conformation and movement that is more biased towards sport, are more likely to use bloodlines that don't show up as commonly on the track, in OTTB's, etc. Example being Mr. P is known for crooked forelegs and passing them on as well as soundness issues -- not in all of course, but when you see more than 1 cross in a pedigree, even if for sport and not breeding, I would use caution. Northern Dancer I actually like to some degree, but he himself was not a prototype in conformation for sport, although his produce vary in shape and size. Storm Cat is definitely not what you want for sport in conformation or temperment. I've personally seen all 3 stallions and many of their produce.You can certainly find wonderful OTTB's of those bloodlines that work fine. I love to hear of OTTB's finding a new career. But I've been breeding for 30 years m/l, mostly Thoroughbreds for sport. I love the entire process and will burn the midnight oil researching pedigrees -- and yes, it does matter. It's not about 1 ancestor, it's about the entire pedigree, as a component in choosing breeding stock and sporthorses. The reason records are kept is because it's important and traits are reproduced. It goes hand in hand with conformation, temperment, movement as a means of choosing a prospect -- it's what produced those traits and is a good predictor of what to expect. So, you may or may not be interested in the pedigree, but it is a great asset to have some understanding of even if you are riding a gelding. Yes, you may pay more for a sport-bred Thoroughbred because you are paying a breeder for their time and trouble to produce a horse that is purpose bred. The OTTB you buy cheap did not work out for the purpose, thus it is being scuttled. That's the difference. Most sport breeders also have more time invested as we don't start them as yearlings and start their u/s careers at two.
    PennyG



  11. #11
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    My old TB was bred for sport, not racing. His pedigree was aimed for hunters -- dad was a successful hunter TB, mom was a steeplechaser. He was out in a field until 4, then broke to ride. He had a lot of bone, a fantastic canter and a great jump.

    He had Jockey Club papers so was bred live cover. It is certainly possible that one could get sport-bred TBs through AI but you could not register them. That wouldn't necessarily stop me but if this becomes common there needs to be some sort of alternative registry for such horses to confirm their parentage and age.

    It is no big deal when it is young and you buy from a breeder but when the thing gets older and you start to wonder whether it is 12, 14, 18 or 20 it becomes a real liability to the horse to not have papers or a tattoo. Lots of people will buy something that is 12 but not 18, and if there is a question they will not buy. Teeth are not a good replacement, too many vets are not good at reading teeth and it is not an exact science.
    Last edited by fordtraktor; May. 18, 2011 at 11:10 PM.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by fordtraktor View Post
    He had Jockey Club papers so was bred live cover. It is certainly possible that one could get sport-bred TBs through AI but you could not register them. That wouldn't necessarily stop me but if this becomes common there needs to be some sort of alternative registry for such horses to confirm their parentage and age.

    .
    USEF's PHR registry will do DNA testing to confirm pedigree and will issue papers.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mizchalmers View Post
    JER: Nina is BEAUTIFUL. Unfashionable pedigree, my hat!
    Thanks. She is a very sweet-natured mare who gives hugs to everyone she meets.

    Just for further reference, her dam is Bett's Jet: pedigree photo.

    No modern names (as TKR mentioned) in her pedigree. Same goes for Heroicity.

    The latest addition to my little mare band is a TB who stayed on the track till the unlikely age of 11. Kissy Kiss pedigree; Kissy Kiss photo (yes, she is gaining weight!). Again, no modern names but some good jumping lines. As she's a nice athletic type, we hope she'll produce good sport horses.




  14. #14
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    Having bred and trained TB's for over 30 years, I agree with most of the previous posters. As sporthorse breeders another thing we are dedicated to is producing a "user friendly" horse. It doesn't matter how brilliant and athletic they are...if you - pro or amateur - can't get along with them, they are worth squat. Conformation and soundness are important for any discipline or racing, but at the track, if a horse can win races, you put up with some of the quirks. Not so much for recreational riding. I want a horse that WANTS to give his all for me AND take care of me. So we breed for conformation, movement, athletic ability AND disposition. Sport horses are started more slowly and are not asked for speed and aggression at early ages. Non-OTTB's have not been asked to gallop on, breeze and show a competitive spirit. A TB is bred and born to run - if he will gear down to sports, that's fine, but running is what they are "genetically" supposed to do.
    www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
    Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by PineTreeFarm View Post
    USEF's PHR registry will do DNA testing to confirm pedigree and will issue papers.
    Good to know, I hope breeders using AI for TBs will choose to do that or something else, I think it is one more level of protection/safety net for horses to have a confirmable set of papers.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JER View Post
    A sport-bred TB isn't constrained by geography. Because the JC only recognizes live cover, a mare has to be in very close proximity to the stallion in order to produce a race-bred TB.
    To put it mildly!
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mizchalmers View Post
    How do these sport horses differ from racehorses? What are some of the attributes that might make a TB a good eventing prospect?
    Physically my sport bred TB has more size, substance and bone than you typically see from the ones off the track these days. I think he looks classically TB, but most people don't remember what a "classic TB" looks like and assume he has some WBx in him--even the dressage folks are surprised at the answer when one of them asks about him. (I never describe him as "looking like a WB" as I hate that--he looks like a good TB!)

    On paper his tail mail lines from the first page are not all to the Eclispe lines which is pretty much the majority of what you see now with the OTTBs. He has no Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector or Raise a Native. He has several appearances of the French stallion Tourbillion who is from the Herod line instead of the Eclispe line. These Herod lines are well respected in sport pedigrees. Most eventers know these lines through Tourbillion which is the same stallion line as My Babu who is generally well known and well thought of in Eventing pedigrees. My horse has My Babu on the first page, but he also has Ambiorix through full and half sisters who is also by Tourbillion.

    It's a pretty fun pedigree to dig through: http://www.pedigreequery.com/clarion+code Sex balanced full siblings top and bottom. Full sisters and a half sister, and some cool steeplechase/turf horses on the bottom. It becomes pretty obvious that his breeder (who owns both his dam and sire) spent a lot of time and effort in putting this pedigree together.

    Having said all that his breeder did race his older full brother. She breeds mostly for sport but likes to race one now and then. She also very much likes the idea that if racing doesn't work out they have the genetics to excel as sport horses. The full brother that raced is now a Master's horse in VA and convinced her that this was such a nice pairing further offspring would bechanneled to sporting homes from the start. So my horse has never stepped foot on the track and had none of the baggage or re-training/un-training that you have with OTTBs.



  18. #18
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    Well the short answer is the sportbreds were bred for sport and the racebreds were bred to race!

    The horses' breeders were sought to breed the appropriate traits for each purpose.

    My homebred sportbred tb's sire sired a winning grand prix tb jumper and her broodmare sire was broodmare sire of 2 winning grand prix tb jumpers. Her sire and dam had the minds and bodies that made them successful show and event horses. Also, since since a modern event horse really should be able to win the dressage phase, I bred two good movers together. And I love love love to ride, train, and compete this horse. She is everything I had hoped for.

    You can get all this with ottbs as well, but it was not their breeders' goal. I am a tb sporthorse breeder with the utmost admiration and respect for racing tbs and that is why they are the mother and grandparents of my sport tb Spirit of Romance.

    I have posted pics of us competing on A Fine Romance's Facebook. Alongside his sportbred tb offspring who have better riders than Spirit does and who win GPs and upper level events!



  19. #19
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    Renascence - your last line brings tears to my eyes. I have a picture of you on your beautiful filly on the wall by my desk - and I am as proud of you and her as I am of any of the others!!

    I started out breeding Thoroughbreds for racing (which is, of course 'sport').. but as the horses I bred came off the track, they seemed to all become either show hunters or eventers.
    I remember one day having an epiphany - out in the barn, I thought to myself (with some chagrin..."I am breeding eventers".

    At that point, I decided to change direction and go with what I believed to be my strength.

    All of my TBs are racebred - in that they ALL have racing pedigrees. I bred A Fine Romance when I was still breeding for the track - and that was intended to be his destination - actually the Yearling Sales.

    But my whole life I have/had been proclaiming the virtues of Thoroughbreds as the ultimate athletes, bred for generations to run AND jump and for speed and courage, as well as the temperament to withstand the stress of racing.
    One of the problems (as I saw it) with the OTTBs - was not a problem inherent in the horse itself - only in the fact that he/she had been started early (as a yearling) and had already possibly had his soundness compromised by his racing career...
    But what about a Thoroughbred with the pedigree, the conformation, the athleticism, the innate jumping ability - and all the other brilliant qualities of the Thoroughbred - who did NOT have the baggage from the track??

    SubK mentioned the 'classic TB' - this was the type I was always drawn to (I blame CW Anderson for this) - and that 'type' seemed to have a certain similarity of pedigree...the same names just kept showing up in the horses I liked.
    I bred A Fine Romance with racing in mind - but the individuals I bred to each other - his dam and sire - were both exemplary 'sport horse types'.
    His dam had 61 starts from 2-5 and her first win was before her 2nd birthday...
    www.pedigreequery.com/two+bitter.
    I first saw her when I went to pick up an OTTB horse - her son - and she quite simply was the most beautiful horse I had ever seen.

    His beautifully bred sire went on to sire a lot of hardknocking racehorses who frequently when on to outstanding second careers as jumpers, hunters and eventers.

    I remember the day I picked up the mail and Brave Shot (GB)'s info was in it - the confo pic on one side, the pedigree page on the other. As I looked at the picture I think I might have said out loud "this horse can JUMP!"
    www.pedigreequery.com/brave+shot

    Of course, I wasn't breeding jumpers, was I?

    However, when I was breeding racehorses, I was fully aware that their racing careers would be short - and that a beautiful, well-conformed, good tempered athlete had a better chance of a happy future life.
    So even though I was trying to breed successful racehorses, I was still mindful of that, and trying to breed sane, sound beautiful athletes.

    As I transitioned out of race breeding to sport horse breeding, I chose mares of the type that I liked - the classic TB - often hardknocking racehorses themselves, who might not have had a commercially popular pedigree.

    For example Macassa www.pedigreequery.com/macassa
    I first saw her at the track when I went to see one of my youngsters work. My trainer was walking me down his shedrow, showing me his other horses, and I saw this beautiful mare - and said, let me know when she comes off the track.
    That racebred mare's first foal was the full TB My Romance who won on the line as a 2 & 3 yr old, went on to compete at Advanced, and then changed careers and is a winning Grand Prix jumper.
    Race bred AND sport purpose bred! www.pedigreequery.com/my+romance

    GotSpots used to own one of my race pedigree but purpose bred youngsters.

    www.pedigreequery.com/tiamo+romance

    Another: www.pedigreequery.com/a+jack+of+hearts

    and www.pedigreequery.com/park+avenue+romance

    Another out there doing well right now is Selena O'Hanlon's young horse A First Romance www.pedigreequery.com/a+first+romance
    by A Fine Romance out of the OTTB mare Sotera Tu by Dom Alaric
    Selena (who was on the Cdn Olympic team and the WEG Silver Medal winning team, says A First Romance is the best jumping, most athletic horse she has ever sat on.

    All race pedigrees, but purpose bred to produce a type.

    (sorry this is so long)
    A FINE ROMANCE - JC Reg Thoroughbred - GOLD Premium CSHA - ISR/OLDNA Approved
    CSHA Brickenden Stallion Award Winner - for Performance offspring.
    Please visit A Fine Romance on FB!



  20. #20
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    Fred...that's the best summation of "Sport Horse" TB breeding I've read. Race and Sport horse TB's are not that different!!
    www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
    Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma



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