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Interesting article on TB breeding, highlighting the "wastage": i.e. quantity over quality

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  • Interesting article on TB breeding, highlighting the "wastage": i.e. quantity over quality

    https://www.rsn.net.au/horse-wastage...fZw5QfuyYR2y50

    Thoughts?
    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

  • #2
    I agree with it. Lots of good points and honest, well written commentary with facts.
    I am no Bob Baffert fan but I pray to the racing Gods that a horse like Hopportunity gets all the praise and good mares he deserves. After the years and years that horse put in at the track (5 yrs and 32 starts) at the upper echelon of the game and he still struggled to find a stud deal, landing in PA for a very modest price of $5000.

    The sales ring and all of its glitz is driving the industry, not what should be driving the industry: the track performances in which the horses are bred for. The cart is driving the horse and the issues associated with doing so are becoming ever more apparent as the years move on.

    Comment


    • #3
      It’s focused on Australia, but the points are valid. And have been for many years as many others have written and spoken about. Problem is none have offered any concrete solutions.

      One thing that does bother me a bit is the things were better in the old days. Nobody tracked breakdowns before about the 70s and that was only some tracks. Even today there is no central data base. A solution might be to create a central database, requiring necropsies and tracking breakdowns at every track and correlating the information. Disappointing it doesn’t exist.

      Back when, before any efforts to identify the cause of breakdowns or drug testing or modern timing devices, cameras and more eyes on the race, who knows what went on. Human nature and greed being what they are, no reason to think people acted any differently then they do today despite more attempts to police the sport. It’s a questionable comparison between today and the good old days.

      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by snaffle1987 View Post
        I am no Bob Baffert fan but I pray to the racing Gods that a horse like Hopportunity gets all the praise and good mares he deserves. After the years and years that horse put in at the track (5 yrs and 32 starts) at the upper echelon of the game and he still struggled to find a stud deal, landing in PA for a very modest price of $5000.
        BTW, it's Hoppertunity

        For all his track performance that you seem to feel should have yielded a better stud deal, he won two G1 race in that list of 34 starts (per Equibase) and hit the board 17 times (if I counted correctly) out of his 30 graded starts starts. Actually a reasonably decent performance on the track but certainly, at least for me, not a sparkling track performance. His best year was definitely 2016 with his on-track performance tapering off in 2017 and 2018.

        He has a decent pedigree but I'm not superstring on good pedigrees for racing

        Curious why you feel that because Hoppertunity raced for 5 years and 34 starts (Equibase), he should be deserving of a good stud deal? Often the horses that run over a number of years do that because the owners don't feel there is stud value for the horse.
        When you start to observe, you become more effective... your movements soften, you see more, you are more available to becoming a team member. Be an Observer first, a Handler second.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Where'sMyWhite View Post

          BTW, it's Hoppertunity

          For all his track performance that you seem to feel should have yielded a better stud deal, he won two G1 race in that list of 34 starts (per Equibase) and hit the board 17 times (if I counted correctly) out of his 30 graded starts starts. Actually a reasonably decent performance on the track but certainly, at least for me, not a sparkling track performance. His best year was definitely 2016 with his on-track performance tapering off in 2017 and 2018.

          He has a decent pedigree but I'm not superstring on good pedigrees for racing

          Curious why you feel that because Hoppertunity raced for 5 years and 34 starts (Equibase), he should be deserving of a good stud deal? Often the horses that run over a number of years do that because the owners don't feel there is stud value for the horse.
          Or the owners do not want to own a breeding stallion and nobody wants to buy him from them to do so. So if he’s sound, they keep racing him to support their racing stable.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

          Comment


          • #6
            On the flip side of the coin this isn't just a thoroughbred issue. look at all the garbage that the AQHA industry produces every year and how much of that has foot and leg problems and ends up on a one way trip to Mexico.

            I think Hopper had a great career. A long career that is virtually unheard of today for an intact horse. I think he is a well bred horse. But his sire ended up in South Korea after a stint at Darley and then PA. His dam has produced a number of foals. 2 exported ( 1 to Korea and one to Italy). Her other notable produce is a mare who won just shy of 1 million and was a Grade 1 winner herself. I think his dam has a very interesting pedigree: shes out of a mare by Danzig and sired by a Private Account stallion who Was a G1 winner who stood in America for a few years before moving to Turkey. I find his pedigree to be quite interesting, a bit old school. Blue blood Kentucky I don't think agrees; thinks he's more of an anomaly.

            But Hopper had a pretty big book of mares at Northview this year. Maybe breeders disagreed with those who passed him over on a stud deal and sent mares his way at a very affordable price. Northview kept him very affordable. I don't know what he was bred to but I hope he had some great mares in the mix.

            Comment


            • #7
              The author makes many good points, but he has a few silly ideas too.

              For one, he assumes that horses with the best conformation will automatically be the best racehorses--which has been proven time and time again not to be true. (at least here in the U.S. The author is in Australian.)

              He also mentions that their foal crop is 14,000 of which only around 9,000 make it to a race. Then he says "Let’s be more strategic. Instead of breeding 14,000 hotchpotch horses to feed the 9000 we need for our races, why not more astutely breed 10,000?"

              I suspect it's not the "hotchpotch breeding" that's keeping those 5,000 from racing (that number does seem high to me). More likely to be poor management or bad luck. And I wonder who would get to decide which horses and/or breeders are hotchpotch and which aren't?

              I also wonder where the author gets his numbers from. Is he taking into account that some horses race at 2, some at 3, some at 4 and up, and some for all those years? That does seem like a lot of excess TBs to produce--why would their breeders be doing that? Unless there's another market for those horses, they must be losing lots of money. I just don't get it.

              We are small, careful breeders (in the U.S.) and I kept stats on everything we do. 92% of the foals we have produced in the last 18 years have raced. Of those 72% are winners, 17% have won or placed in stakes race, and 21% have earned more than 100k. I don't think we're that unusual--and yet, our numbers are very different from those cited in the article.

              I would love to read an answering article from an Australian breeder addressing the points the author made.
              www.laurienberenson.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Mick Kent? The same Mick Kent who blamed the surface when his horse broke down?

                https://www.paulickreport.com/news/t...d-from-racing/

                And that's just what I found on him in 3 seconds. No citations or sources in his article.

                And the US equine injury database shows a decline in catastrophic injuries over the past decade. Guess he did not think those statistics are important.
                "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Palm Beach He’s writing on the Australian industry. If he wanted to bring in incident statistics, he would do better to bring in Australian statistics, not American statistics. Even the peer reviewed scholarship I’ve read on the Australian TB industry cautions against directly comparing their industry with the American industry without additional work.

                  More broadly, and not directed at anyone, I agree with that one commenter on the original article that in an ideal world there should be much more transparency about what horses are having surgical corrections, especially with our very good modern veterinary medicine. I’m a huge proponent of everyone having the full gamut of information to make an truly informed decision, and that extends to breeders who have an unequivocal right to clearly know if or how much work a horse has had done.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What I know about Australian breeding can fit in a thimble.

                    I agree with the sentiment; I think breeding could be more strategic in the United States just like the author believes it should be in Australia.

                    But I'm finding his reasoning flawed.

                    For starters, he lost me at this statement:

                    "Why have we become so poor at breeding the durable thoroughbred of yesteryear, the horse that raced on successfully for many seasons and didn’t rely on the vet to keep it on its feet? I’ve never seen as many soft boned horses as I do now. I was at a UK yearling sale a few weeks ago."

                    Durability/reliance on veterinary medicine is a complex issue. I've never been sure how people can ascertain that horses were more durable in the past. We have poor data on things like historical breakdowns and fatalities. Statistics such as average number of lifetime starts are influenced by more than just soundness alone; cultural factors including by not limited to the declining interest in horse racing, changes in race writing, increasing costs, and greater consideration for aftercare all affect the trend heavily. The reliance on pharmaceuticals is one of those "chicken or the egg" conundrums: are our horses truly reliant on these pharmaceuticals, or do they appear reliant because pharmaceutical use has become standard practice? There was a pretty large window of time when these pharmaceuticals existed yet we could not effectively test for them, which I have no doubt skews public perception of horses in the past running on "just" oats, hay, and water. And how exactly did he determine these yearlings at the sale were "soft boned?" While bone density can certainly be measured, it's not generally something a lay person can assess, even with radiographs.

                    Then he continues on with other ideas I'm having trouble subscribing to. I don't think there is a direct correlation between conformation and wastage as he implies. Years of laying up injured racehorses has me questioning if there is even a correlation between conformation and injuries, as I felt like I saw just as many or more "correct" horses pass through my barn with injuries as I did crooked ones. Then there's the fact that a large percentage of angular limb deformities have no genetic link: many are created by positioning in utero or poor farriery/uneven hoof wear while developing.

                    I have always been fascinated by Germany's system. I did not know Japan also employed strict breeding standards (which is particularly interesting to me considering some of the crooked prospects they have bought from the United States). I'm not so prideful or naive to believe American breeding is flawless in its execution; I definitely believe it could be improved in some areas. I agree that our heavy reliance on yearling sales ultimately creates some issues that would not exist if the market for racehorses operated differently. Like the author, I am not a fan of the market's obsession with new sires. Yet I also believe that much of the finger-pointing at the sales is misguided. Angular surgeries have not been the norm in my circles as the author claims them to be in Australia. Things like turnout have never been deprived for young horses anywhere I have ever worked, either, although it may be limited to small group/individual night turnout in the last few weeks before the sale. While lunging (and possibly, excessive equicising at speed) can cause developmental problems, I have only ever read data supporting the use of a low impact exercise, like walking, for bone development in very young horses. Then as they age, they need to be introduced to speed strategically for the bone to remodel appropriately, which is why almost every country in the world starts their racehorses in that same long yearling/short two year old time window.

                    So that's just my two cents, shared with probably more words than necessary.
                    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We are also in the midst of a horse shortage. Lots of money being bet on races, lots of races being written, and not enough horses to go around. Those economic forces are in play. And yes, the bottom of the market is awful, but who is more optimistic than the owner of a thoroughbred mare?
                      "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: "the bottom of the market." I have such mixed feelings on this topic. I imagine much of the "wastage" in Australia occurs at the bottom of the market, as it does here in the US. We just recently went through all the hullabaloo over the Louisiana sale and the low prices that can attract shady buyers. Let's face it, the bulk of those horses are truly waste, with nothing to indicate they will be fast enough to invest the tens of thousands of dollars necessary to get them to the starting gate.

                        Yet good horses do crop up out of the bottom of the market, which keeps the hope alive. State breeding programs, while heavily bolstered by outside gaming revenues, offer breeders a chance to earn a living without needing the large fortune necessary to play at the top of the sport. State breeding programs are bastions of genetic diversity, preserving less competitive yet still useful lines that have all but disappeared elsewhere. Without the bottom of the market, there would be few ways for a breeder to get their start in the sport without being a one percenter. Eliminating the bottom of the market entirely would be short-sighted for the sustainability of the sport.
                        Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The California "bottom of the market" is responsible for Tiznow, In Excess (and therefore Indian Charlie and Uncle Mo) and California Chrome.

                          It's easy enough to say "best to the best" but that would limit Thoroughbred breeding to a couple of thousand individuals who are not necessarily the best of their crop.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Pronzini View Post
                            The California "bottom of the market" is responsible for Tiznow, In Excess (and therefore Indian Charlie and Uncle Mo) and California Chrome.

                            It's easy enough to say "best to the best" but that would limit Thoroughbred breeding to a couple of thousand individuals who are not necessarily the best of their crop.
                            Exactly.
                            Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pronzini View Post
                              The California "bottom of the market" is responsible for Tiznow, In Excess (and therefore Indian Charlie and Uncle Mo) and California Chrome.

                              It's easy enough to say "best to the best" but that would limit Thoroughbred breeding to a couple of thousand individuals who are not necessarily the best of their crop.
                              That's more or less what I was trying to say above. Who decides what's considered "hotchpotch" breeding and what isn't? Good racehorses can come from anywhere. And they are not necessarily the best bred, the most expensive, or most correct individuals.
                              www.laurienberenson.com

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by LaurieB View Post

                                That's more or less what I was trying to say above. Who decides what's considered "hotchpotch" breeding and what isn't? Good racehorses can come from anywhere. And they are not necessarily the best bred, the most expensive, or most correct individuals.
                                And plenty of very well bred horses can't run a lick and end up on the bottom.
                                "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Imagine how easy breeding would be if all it took was “breeding the best to the best” to produce the best.

                                  I’ve always wanted to visit Germany’s thoroughbred farms for no reason but to satisfy my own curiosity. German thoroughbreds do not dominate the world (unlike their sport horses). Is that because their strict standards hinder their results, or just because their thoroughbred program is so small to begin with? I’d just love to gain a boots-on-the-ground perspective as to what happens when thoroughbred breeding is heavily regulated. One thing that the US, UK, and Australia have in common is that pundits love to throw our breeders under the bus despite us producing the most successful thoroughbreds in the world. So what exactly does it look like when you do what the pundits suggest?
                                  Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Texarkana View Post
                                    Imagine how easy breeding would be if all it took was “breeding the best to the best” to produce the best.

                                    I’ve always wanted to visit Germany’s thoroughbred farms for no reason but to satisfy my own curiosity. German thoroughbreds do not dominate the world (unlike their sport horses). Is that because their strict standards hinder their results, or just because their thoroughbred program is so small to begin with? I’d just love to gain a boots-on-the-ground perspective as to what happens when thoroughbred breeding is heavily regulated. One thing that the US, UK, and Australia have in common is that pundits love to throw our breeders under the bus despite us producing the most successful thoroughbreds in the world. So what exactly does it look like when you do what the pundits suggest?
                                    What you can't see or measure is heart. The willingness to dig down even deeper when a horse is running flat out, to get that nose in front. It's hands down the most important quality for a race horse.
                                    "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post

                                      What you can't see or measure is heart. The willingness to dig down even deeper when a horse is running flat out, to get that nose in front. It's hands down the most important quality for a race horse.
                                      Precisely.
                                      www.laurienberenson.com

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by LaurieB View Post

                                        That's more or less what I was trying to say above. Who decides what's considered "hotchpotch" breeding and what isn't? Good racehorses can come from anywhere. And they are not necessarily the best bred, the most expensive, or most correct individuals.
                                        Interesting and thought provoking article, but ill-informed.

                                        If it were that easy, we'd have seen the results of breeding the best from the best forever ago. It is about much more than breeding the best to the best - plenty of the best bred horses have been absolute duds. A good horse can come from any sort of pedigree, as we've seen, many times.
                                        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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