Bad taste aside, Dan Liebman, editor of The Blood-Horse, didn’t do the best job of explaining the Blood-Horse Publications product he was advertising in his editorial — the TrueNicks nicking system, developed by Alan Porter.
I’ve spoken to Alan, and I know enough about the system to know that the actual nicking calculation is based on stakes winners to runners, not stakes winners to foals.
Dan, however, wrote the following in his explanation of TrueNicks: “Think of it this way. If a stallion has 100 foals, 20 starters, and five stakes winners, what is his percentage of stakes winners? Is it 25% (five stakes winners from 20 starters) or is it 5% (five stakes winners from 100 foals)? Of course, it is 5%. So, why would you look at all foals in this instance, but in terms of nicking look at only the successful foals? You wouldn’t, and TrueNicks doesn’t.”
TrueNicks actually does, as it should. TrueNicks, according to its own website, states: “A TrueNicks rating is derived from two statistical elements: a Sire Improvement Index (SII) and a Broodmare Sire Improvement Index (BSII). Both of them compare the percentage of progeny stakes winners to starters.”
However, in Dan’s defense, the language is somewhat confusing on the TrueNicks site, because it also states: “Unlike other ratings that are calculated on the basis of hypothetical opportunity among a limited group of horses, the TrueNicks rating utilizes the database of The Jockey Club – the world’s most complete records of Thoroughbreds and their performance — to produce a sophisticated rating based on all foals for a given cross.”
According to Alan, the “all foals” here is a qualifier, but the actual rating is based on stakes winners to starters.