Ever wonder which stallions sire the most durable runners? Well, the answer might lie in information compiled under the auspices of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and The Jockey Club.
It's no secret that today's Thoroughbreds tend to be less sound, rugged, and durable than in the past. A steady phenomenon has seen the average number of races for Thoroughbred starters slip from 11.31 in 1960 to 6.37 in 2006.
During last fall's Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit held by the two organizations, a committee was created to assess whether it could obtain and supply related information to breeders. The panel compiled and has now released sire lists identifying bloodlines that suggest durability and soundness.
The lists focus on two factors: the percentage of a stallion’s registered offspring that races at least once, and lifetime average number of starts per starter by a sire. (The breed average is 69- to 70-percent starters from foals, and recent crops old enough for most careers to have been completed show 16 or 17 lifetime starts per horse on average.) The goal of the lists is to identify horses whose records indicate a positive pattern.
In a release, the committee suggested the lists may be more useful for breeders operating somewhat below the top of the market. The release stated:
"We acknowledge, of course, that what happens on the racetrack is only one of many possibilities as to what might happen. That is, the number of starts a horse makes is not the maximum number he/she might have made under different circumstances, including the owner/trainer management agenda and strategies. Thus, percentage of starters and average starts per horse are not straight-line indications of soundness and durability, but are regarded as useful indications of those qualities relative to the breed average and in comparison with other stallions."