The best is yet to come! – Or not?

Older sires losing quality?

The (first) headline of this article is a citation of an article published in the US Harness Magazine Hoof Beats a long time ago. It was about the trotting sire of the sires, Speedy Crown, and his production in his later years. One might say, the man who said that had to say it because he was one of the owners of the stallion. In fact, there are many people in the breeding business who still think that the quality of a stallion will get worse by getting older. Is that true? Let’s get into it...

The first and easiest way to check that is to have a look at the most winning trotting horses of all times and how old was their sire when they were born.

Top of the line with earnings of around 6 Millions of Euros is italian bred Varenne, who’s sire Waikiki Beach was 11 years old when the horse was born (1995). In our times, we might say, this is average if you picture the US-Business to push good racing colts to be used as a stallion lately after their (2&) 3-year old campaign.

The second and maybe most impressive example for the falsity of the getting older – getting worse-topic is the american bred Moni Maker and her sire Speedy Crown. The most winning trotting mare (rd. 5,6 Mio. US$) of all times was born in 1993, her sire Speedy Crown in the year 1968 – so he was 25 years old. That’s quite a high age in a horses life...

Nearly the same lifetime earnings (you cannot make a perfectly correct list because of currency changes, but this doesn’t matter to this topic) of Moni Maker can be registered with the horses Jag de Bellouet (France) and Victory Tilly (Sweden). The former was born in 1997, his sire Viking’s Way in 1987. Quite young for the french business. On the other hand, Victory Tilly was born in 1995, his Papa Quick Pay 1973. It may also important to say that Victory Tilly, still clearly the most winning swedish trotter of all times, was from the last crop of the then 22 year old Quick Pay (who himself was a very late product of the legendary stallion Star’s Pride, born in 1947 – which would lead to another topic, that a pedigree of a top class horse has to be extremly modern, which is also simply not true...).

The continuing list of the world’s most winning trotters shows the french giants Ourasi (his father Greyhound was 8 when he was born) and General du Pommeau (his sire Sebrazac was 10).

The first horse in the list who’s sire was really young when his absolute best racehorse, Peace Corps, was born in 1986 was Baltic Speed, born in 1981 and one of the examples of the raging US breeding industry. The same goes with Mack Lobell (1984), who’s sire Mystic Park was also 5 years old when his star was born.

Swedish breeders – if they like to forget the example Victory Tilly – might be convinced of the young-blood-theory by taking a look at the age of the next swedish „Payroll-Stars“ like Commander Crowe (his father Juliano Star was 6 when he was born) or Gidde Palema (his father Alf Palema the same age). Alf Palema was 12 when Torvald Palema was born.

Let’s linger a short time with swedish „Elite-Stallions“. If you take a look at the multiple champion Zoot Suit (born in 1973), you will notice that his best racehorse, Zoogin, was born in 1990 – so Zoot Suit was 17 years old. But nowhere near enough: Zoot Suit was 25 years old when his Elitlopp-winner and breeding-follower From Above was born!

We have another choice to prove the quality of „old semen“ with Lindy’s Crown. He was 21 years old when his clearly best offspring, Digger Crown (18 Mio. SEK), was born.

And another example: Supergill, who’s second home country after his american career was Italy, sired also two exeptional horses outside his country. The swedish bred Giant Diablo, still filly world record holder in 1:08,5, then Supergill was 15 years old. And the german bred and mostly swedish raced Classic Grand Cru, which is the absolute fastest german trotter of all times with a record of 1:09,6. Supergill then was 17.

And let’s stay at the Star’s-Pride-line, from which Zoot Suit, Lindy’s Crown and Supergill are out of. Star’s Pride (*1947) sired legendary World Record Holders and Hambletonian winners like Nevele Pride (born in 1965) and Super Bowl (1969). His only Dollar-Millionaire, Hambo-Winner Savoir, was born in 1968. So what will tell us that? Not compareable times of breeding? No way – we take another example. The breeding monster Balanced Image, born in 1978, of course sired excellent after they discovered his genetic power. But fact is, his absolute best racehorse, Arch Madness (bt. 3,5 Mio. US$), was born from the last crop of his now 26 year old sire! And Balanced Image was 19 resp. 22 years old when his offsprings Yankee Paco and Amigo Hall won the Hambletonian.

You may say, these times are over now and the first crops of sires like Donato Hanover or Deweycheatumnhowe must be dominant like hell. Well, if one takes a look at this year’s Hambletonian and Hambo-Oaks (note: 2012), it wasn’t like this. The Hambo Winner Market Share (born 2009) was from the then 13-year old Revenue, the Filly winner Personal Style by the then 15-year old Yankee Glide.

It’s beyond dispute, that youth is and should be an important fact of modern breeding. Time is running fast and the modern breeder – especially breeding farms – is/are called upon to offer young stallions with modern blood and excellent racing results. But especially for a breeder with maybe just one or two broodmares, it might be important to breed with a proven stallion and not loose time and money with maybe a forthcoming breeding failure.

The article was written in August 2012

© Nikolaus Matzka 2014–2022