How important is the Broodmare Sire?
— Sarah Whitelaw

When first looking at a pedigree, particularly in a catalogue, I first look at the sire, then I look at the dam, and then I look at the female line, or at least the first two dams.

But how important is the broodmare sire? When looking at such modern day champions as Horse Chestnut and Dynasty (out of mares by Col Pickering and Commodore Blake respectively), it is easy to believe that the broodmare sire pays little part in the pedigree, as both the aforementioned horses are out of mares by failed stallions.

There were 25 winners of 32 G1 races run last year in South Africa. Of these 25 horses, eight were produced by daughters of champion sires. Genetically speaking, the broodmare sire will contribute 25% to the DNA makeup of the individual horse.

It is hard to see this when looking at a horse like the mighty Smarty Jones - by a good sire in Elusive Quality out of a 12 times stakes winner. Smarty Jones’s broodmare sire Smile was a disaster at stud - and it is hard to see quite what part he plays in the pedigree of one of the finest racehorses of the 21st century.

It is also surely more than a coincidence that often a champion racehorse, but poor sire, who covers good books of mares when first retiring to stud, can produce at least one G1 producing daughter. One such example is the mighty Dancing Brave, a stallion who was largely a disappointment, but whose daughters have done very well at stud.

Ironically enough, a horse to fall in the same category as Dancing Brave, is his old rival Shahrastani (who beat Dancing Brave somewhat fortuitously in the 1986 Epsom Derby). Shahrastani, who has spent his stud career in all of the USA, Japan and Ireland, was a very poor sire, but his daughters have produced such G1 winners as Alamshar (Irish Derby) and Caradak (Prix de la Foret).

It is also worth noting that sometimes ordinary stallions can leave their mark on the breed through their daughters. One of history’s greatest ever stallions, Danzig, is out of a mare by Admirals Voyage (himself a son of champion handicap male, Crafty Admiral). The latter sired just a handful of minor stakes winners during his time at stud - none of which won at the highest level. But through the deeds of Danzig and his legions of successful sons and daughters, Admirals Voyage’s name will survive in the modern day pedigree - outlasting sires who enjoyed more stud success!

Another ordinary sire whose name lingers in the modern day thoroughbred through a daughter is the Promised Land stallion, Understanding. Winner of the G3 Stuyvesant Handicap, Understanding sired just two stakes winners in a brief stud career - but one of those stakes winners was Wishing Well. She not only won the Gamely Handicap (today a G1 race), but at stud she produced US Horse of the Year and legendary Japanese sire, Sunday Silence.

Poker was a son of the top-class sire and broodmare sire Round Table. While he himself was an ordinary sire (his only champions coming in Norway and Puerto Rico), Poker’s daughters produced numerous champions including champion sire Seattle Slew. The latter twice topped the US broodmare sires list, and his daughters have produced a host of champions. Poker is also the maternal grandsire of US champion, Silver Charm, as well as the useful sire, Lomond (himself a champion sire in Italy). Through Seattle Slew alone, Poker is guaranteed to be around in pedigrees for decades.

In contrast, history has produced a number of truly exceptional broodmare sires. In North America, arguably the greatest broodmare sire of all was Sir Gallahad III. Sir Gallahad III led the US broodmare sires list on 12 occasions - and his daughters produced over 130 stakes winners (in an era where stallions covered 30 mares a season). Sir Gallahad III’s daughters produced champions Challedon and Gallorette as well as high-class stakes winners such as Mars Shield (Kentucky Oaks), Boswell (St Leger), Galatea (Epsom Oaks), Black Tarquin (St Leger), Aurelius (St Leger) and Nothirdchance (Acorn Stakes, dam of Hail To Reason).

Another truly phenomenal broodmare sire was Princequillo. A stout stayer, he dominated the US Broodmare Sires list in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He not only headed the list on eight occasions, but remarkably enough, his son Prince John and grandson Speak John (by Prince John) also became champion broodmare sires. Princequillo is best known as the broodmare sire of the US Triple Crown winner Secretariat (also a great broodmare sire), with his daughters also producing such luminaries as champion Mill Reef, leading sire and broodmare sire Kris S, G1 winners Squander and Sham, champion half brothers Fort Marcy and Key To The Mint, as well as champions Bold Lad and Successor.

In South Africa, the trend in recent times has been for champion sires to become champion broodmare sires. The broodmare sires list has recently been dominated by Northern Guest, who has been champion broodmare sire in this country nine times. He is certainly bred to be a champion broodmare sire with both his sire, Northern Dancer, and broodmare sire, Buckpasser, having topped the broodmare sires list on more than one occasion.

So how relevant is the broodmare sire? Clearly it helps to have a successful sire/broodmare sire as a maternal grandsire of a horse, but it is also clear that it is not the sole defining success factor.

Extract from Sporting Post

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