I am often asked to help track down a Thoroughbred with specific pedigree or to give my opinion about whether I think a Thoroughbred has the right pedigree to make an easier transition to a new career as a sporthorse.
There are so many great resources online to help you learn more about how your Thoroughbred's breeding might impact a future as a sporthorse, so I thought I would share how I do it.
Know Which Thoroughbred Sires are Influencing Sporthorse Breeding
First of all, I think it is very important to keep track of the leading sires according to the United States Equestrian Federation. The USEF publishes discipline-specific lists and I like to keep tabs on which Thoroughbred stallions make the list.
For Dressage, there are 13 Thorughbred sires currently listed https://www.usef.org/_IFrames/pointsAwards/points/leadingSiresM.aspx?year=2011§ion=1500&viewCat=Dressage
For Jumpers, there are 70 Thoroughbred sires currently listed https://www.usef.org/_IFrames/pointsAwards/points/leadingSiresM.aspx?year=2009§ion=3000&viewCat=Jumper
For Eventing, there are 50 Thoroughbred sires currently listed https://www.usef.org/_IFrames/pointsAwards/points/leadingSiresM.aspx?year=2012§ion=5800&viewCat=Eventing
Research Your Horse's (or Potential Horse's) Pedigree
For this I prefer to start with www.pedigreequery.com. I will also search for more information about my horse's race and auction history as well as look for related horses to follow on www.horseracingnation.com and www.equibase.com, but I will share more information about that in a future post.
Let's use Lady MacJazz as an example for finding the sporthorse lines in your horse's pedigree:
After I review my horse's pedigree, I cross reference it to the Dressage, Jumper and Eventing lists. Lady MacJazz has the following relations:
#193 - Pipe Peddler - his damsire is Caro (IRE) who is 5 generations back on Lady MacJazz's dam side
#235 - Chenin Blanc - his damsire is also Caro (IRE) - and this is how you start to identify trends. Notice that a Dressage sire and a Jumper sire on the lists are both out of mare's by Caro (IRE)? Sometimes it's just as important to identify the grandsire which is why I search back 5 generations on my horse and 2 generations on the horse I'm comparing so that I can also research the dams in greater detail. Keep Caro (IRE) in mind as I will bring him up later to research his progeny and siblings.
#344 - Cool Northerner - his sire is Northern Dancer who is 5 generations back on Lady MacJazz's top side.
#85 - Raise a Man - his sire is Raise a Native who is 5 generations back on Lady MacJazz's top side.
#205 - North Prospect - his damsire is Northern Dancer who is also the sire of leading Jumper sire Cool Northerner and 5 generations back on Lady MacJazz's top side.
#215 - Ex Marks the Cop - his sire is In Excess (IRE) who is 3 generations back on Lady MacJazz's dam side.
Now for the really fun part...remember how I pointed out that Caro (IRE) was the damsire for a top sire on the Dressage list AND one on the Jumpers list? But guess what, In Excess (IRE) is ALSO by Caro (IRE) which means that Caro (IRE) has also been influential in Eventing bloodlines as well as Dressage and Jumpers. So I will share some research about Caro (IRE) in more detail later in this post to show how other horses that are related to him might be performing in sporthorse disciplines.
Using the Retired Racehorse Project's Bloodline Brag
Retired Racehorse Project has "the internet's only user-driven database dedicated to tracking second career talent and accomplishments of registered Thoroughbreds."
Thanks to thousands of entries, you can go to http://www.retiredracehorseproject.org/bb-search and search by Sire, Dam, Sire's Sire, Damsire, Post-Racing Disciplines, and Keywords to find horses with a pedigree similar to your horse to discover how they are performing in their post-racing careers.
Sadly, there is only one horse in the Bloodline Brag by Lady MacJazz's sire, Shakespeare, and that is actually my listing for Lady MacJazz. That is not surprising since Shakespeare is a younger stallion so there are not many of his offspring that have already transitioned to second careers.
But this is where understanding older generations in your horse's bloodlines is important. Since the Bloodline Brag allows you to search by Sire's Sire and Damsire, let's start there to see if any horses in the listings have the same Sire's Sire (Theatrical) or Damsire (Indian Charlie) as Lady MacJazz.
In a search for a horse with BOTH the same Theatrical as the Sire's Sire and Indian Charlie as the Damsire, Lady MacJazz is the only result, so next I search for each individually. There are no other horses with Indian Charlie as the Damsire, but there is another horse with Theatrical as the Sire's Sire. Rocky Ford Road is a 1998 gelding by Theatrical's son Dramatic Irony. According to his owner, Megan Russell, he is working in Hunters and Jumpers with a rating of "1 (excellent style & scope)" for his jumping talent and a "2" for his overall movement. So maybe Lady MacJazz could be a nice jumper as well
But let's go one step farther by utilizing the "Keyword" search function to look for Theatrical in all possible fields. This will search Sire, Dam, Damsire and Sire's Sire all at once instead of simply focusing on horses that have that horse in the same "position" as Lady MacJazz's pedigree.
Voila! That returns 6 horses other than Lady MacJazz, and for all the horses that have a rating for "Jumping Talent" it is a "1" or "2" so they all seem to have great jumping ability. Sadly, most of the horses only have a "2" or "3" for overall movement, but they also are all very big-bodied just like Lady MacJazz even though they are all out of variations of breeding with Theatrical in the mix.
Next, I do a general search for Lady MacJazz's dam sire "Indian Charlie." There are 3 other horses that have Indian Charlie in their first or second generation.
Now there is one final search I will share. Remember how I called out that Irish bred Caro has influenced top sires in Dressage, Jumpers and Eventing? He might be 5 generations back in Lady MacJazz's pedigree, but I am still curious to know how many horses in the Bloodline Brag might have been influenced by him. There are 8 results. First I will focus on the ones where Caro (IRE) is the damsire since he shows up on Lady MacJazz's dam side. And I first click on Zatopek because his body type looks the most like Lady MacJazz from the provided pictures.
Consistent with the results for Theatrical and Indian Charlie offspring, this gelding by Thunder Gulch out of a dam by Caro (IRE) has excellent ratings for Jumping Talent and only an average rating for Movement. He scores very similarly to how I would rate Lady MacJazz in the other areas - better than average for Trainability, excellent rating for Flight Instinct with Movement comments of "Efficient, powerful, straight."
By understanding more about Thoroughbreds on the USEF's Top Sires lists, you will have a good starting place to look for similarities in your horse's pedigree. And then once you identify those similarities, you can use that information to search for other horses that are already retired from racing to see how your horse might compare.
After my research about Lady MacJazz, I would expect her to be a fairly trainable big-bodied horse with average movement and excellent jumping talent. Knowing her injury history, even though she would probably be a talented jumper based on her pedigree and conformation, we will stick to Dressage and free-jumping. Perhaps she will be the dam to one of the next great Eventing horses someday though, or maybe I just need to keep looking for a horse on the track that is closely related to Lady MacJazz without the injuries.
Don't worry, I'll cover more in my next blog post about how to find related horses that are STILL racing so that you might be able to snatch them up when they're ready to retire. Or maybe you want to learn more about what your horse was like at the racetrack to better understand how that might impact your re-training. Expect my next post to cover:
- Finding horses related to your horse that are still racing
- Finding horses related to your horse that are being offered at auction
- Finding your horse's racing connections to learn more about your horse's history
And please consider adding your OTTB (past and present) to the Retired Racehorse Project's Bloodline Brag. More horses in the database means better information for everyone looking for their next OTTB. You can create your listing at https://www.retiredracehorseproject.org/component/content/article?id=960&Itemid=456
By Kyle Rothfus
This blog is dedicated to providing insight about OTTB re-training, Thoroughbred pedigrees and general equine care. You can also track the progress of horses I have for sale through posts here.