Pedigree Rules in Breeding a Winner

Pedigree and conformation experts espoused various breeding theories and stated what is wrong with modern bloodstock practices during a panel discussion at the Thoroughbred International Exposition Conference on prioritizing between pedigree, conformation and performance.

In picking a broodmare, pedigree easily outdistances conformation or race record, agreed the panel of Peter Pegg, (Pegg Thoroughbred Consultants), Robert Clay (owner, Three Chimneys Farm), and freelance pedigree consultants John Prather and Anne Peters.

"When you have a good pedigree, generally you have a good race record and conformation built in," said Peters. "If you can't buy a Grade 1 –winning filly, be content with an unraced half sister. But if a [filly or mare] is a generation or two away from top class, that's almost too far."

Picking a stallion to send your mare to depends on if you are breeding to race or for the commercial market, agreed the panel. Pegg said if you are breeding to race, the only thing to do is ignore new stallions and use one that is proven.

"Go with something you know can produce the goods, even if you may have to spend more in a stud fee," Pegg said.

Prather said for the commercial market, a first-year stallion may be the way to go. However, the inflated prices that offspring of first-year stallions can bring boggled the minds of Pegg and Peters.
"[Buyers] pay too much attention to unproven horses, and I don't really know why," Peters said.

Pegg answered that question with what he called an old English saying: "Bull**** baffles brains," he said. "Sell the sizzle, not the steak. Progeny of first year stallions sell far in excess of what they should be."

Clay said one thing he sees as hurting the breed is the bloated size of a stallion's book. He said the large books that have become the norm in recent years eliminate the chance of a less-fashionable stallion to get mares to prove his worth.

"Book sizes of our stallions are working against us," Clay said. "We never would have known about Danzig, who was not a stakes winner...He would not have had a chance."

Nearly every panel member said if they had the power to increase one attribute of the modern Thoroughbred it would be soundness. Clay said he "wished racing secretaries would start writing longer races. But that's not likely to happen."

Pegg, who arrived in the United States in the early 1970's from Africa, agreed soundness needs to be bred back into the Thoroughbred but said it is unlikely with current medication laws. "Abolish all raceday medication on Jan. 1 and in the second year there would be no medication at all," Pegg said, prompting applause from the crowd. "It's done in most countries, why not here?"

Many in the crowd also applauded Prather's call for the Jockey Club to legalize artificial insemination.