There has been discussion of pedigrees and how certain bloodlines appear over and over again. Blame is placed on these horses for somehow bringing weakness into the breed. Something I feel is unfair and grasped onto by many to explain away the “fragileness” of the modern racehorse, which has been created by bad training, lack of horsemanship, lack of breeder integrity, and a reliance on drugs.
Now here are two facts:
In 1956 – the first year Native Dancer could have had foals on the ground – there were 10,112 TB foals born. At that point in history it was unusual for a stud to cover over 100 mares. So that leaves roughly 10,000 foals that were NOT sired by Native Dancer. Which means they were sired by other stallions. Probably well over 100 other stallions, as not many would have full books. Only a handful of the most famous. (For example, in 1991, the earliest date for which I could get figures, 6,696 stallions were bred to 63,479 mares, resulting in 41,804 registered foals.)
The Jockey Club, wisely, still insists on live cover. They do this in order to specifically prevent over breeding to any one sire.
Since racehorses were judged and bred solely based on racing performance – back before breeding for sales became popular in the late 70s, and the 80′s – the breed was not affected by subjective factors. What that means, is that, unlike show dogs, no one was breeding for things like a longer nose, shorter ears, thicker hair, etc. They were breeding for function. Races are won by the horses who can get to the wire first. There is no one type that has a lock on championship performance. Tall horses, short horses, thin horses, beefy horses, ugly horses, pretty horses, perfectly built horses and horses with significant conformation flaws have all been champions at one time or another.
As we all know, Secretariat, while a phenomenal racehorse, has been a relative dud at stud. And his name is fading from the studbook as I write this. If the 10,000 foals not sired by Native Dancer, had been tougher and faster, Native Dancer too would have faded from the studbook. But he hasn’t. People may criticize the poor Dancer all they like, but horse racing has proven him and his offspring to be superior.
Below are the number of foals sired for the years Native Dancer was alive and standing at stud. He died at age 17.
|YEAR FOALS REGISTERED
|YEAR FOALS REGISTERED
So what that means is that against the 1400 or so foals sired by Native Dancer there were 227,094 sired by other horses.
NOTE: I just googled the number of foals sired by Native Dancer and it was 306. If you take those 306 foals away from the 227,094 total, that makes the percentage of foals sired by Native Dancer almost infinitesimal. Specifically, .0013. Far less than even one quarter of one percent. His grandson, Northern Dancer sired only 635 foals, during years when the foal crops totaled 718,706. Which means the percentage of foals sired by Northern Dancer was .000884, or less than 100th of 1 percent.