Battle of eggheads aside, War Admiral + La Troienne = Nick

39 thoughts on “Battle of eggheads aside, War Admiral + La Troienne = Nick”

  1. This is the kind of practical pedigree analysis I like–it cuts straight to the chase without the voodoo. Thanks.


  2. I’ll second that motion Glenn! Great article Sid, very much to the point, and reminds us why some people aren’t just lucky when they are breeding; they actually have a plan and they follow it.

  3. And don’t leave out Better Self, by La Troienne’s only son, Bimelech, out of a War Admiral mare.

    Had Col. Bradley not taken shares in War Admiral in lieu of cash won in an overnight poker game, it all may never of happened, although Olin Gentry, then Idle Hour Farm manager was lobbying to use War Admiral as a source of soundness to counteract the fast, but unsound, blood of North Star III, which had permeated the Idle Hour stock.

    The cross of War Admiral over Baby League (by North Star III’s son, Bubbling Over out of La Troienne) gave Bradley his last great runner, Busher. Emulating War Admiral over daughters of La Troienne resulted in Striking (sister to Busher), and their brother, Mr. Busher, Busanda (dam of Buckpasser) and Searching. In fact from only 16 live foals, and 15 starters by War Admiral out of daughters of La Troienne, there were 7 stakes winners.

    As great a mare as she was, it’s very unlikely that her influence would have been so extensive had it not been passed on and recombined through these close genetic relatives. In fact I suspect inbreeding and linebreed to La Troienne through genetic relatives may have been the greatest factor for upgrading in the modern North American thoroughbred. Wonder if it is just coincidence that she had an almost unique pedigree which featured St. Simon and Ormonde, the two greatest horses of the 19th century, along with a sister to each.

  4. Sid Fernando – Observations – La Troienne/War Admiral

    You were on the mark, on point, & easily understood.
    You are always good, sometimes very good, this time excellent. Thank You, Kevin

  5. Without a control group against which to measure this perceived nick it’s impossible to anoint it as one.

    Much like the ballyhoo over the successful *Nasrullah/*Princequillo combination at Claiborne, are these magical pairings statistically valid, or simply the result of matings of convenience and/or fashion?

    1. The control group for the War Admiral/La Troienne nick is La Troienne’s daughters. Please see Alan Porter’s comments above (“In fact from only 16 live foals, and 15 starters by War Admiral out of daughters of La Troienne, there were 7 stakes winners.”) about the success of La Troienne’s daughters with the stallion War Admiral. This is a stallion/mare nick. I also suggest that you read this post by clicking on it.

      Furthermore, re: the “ballyhoo” over Nasrullah/Princequillo: Even if this is not statistically significant after grandsons/great grandsons etc. have diluted its statistical effects, let me say this: Just the fact the Secretariat and Mill Reef were bred that way in a short timespan—not to mention many others—would have been enough alone for me. You must understand that successful nicks on the sire/broodmare sire line cross will eventually become victims of their own success as more and more lesser and further-removed relations to the two main players are combined through the ages.

  6. Sid,

    When I posed the question about the statistical viability of the War Admiral/*La Troienne and *Nasrullah/*Princequillo nicks I must admit I did so only in hope that one of you commercial “nickers” would make the point I actually wish to make: that they are “not statistically significant after grandsons/great grandsons etc. have diluted its statistical effects!”

    Amen. And that is precisely why “Werk Nicks,” “enicks,” “truenicks,” and all other “products” which ascribe great import to these distant relationships remain one of our industry’s greatest shams.

  7. That’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it? The idea of “opportunity” is both important and tricky. The sire and dam are obviously most important, and the broodmare sire of a good dam. If the stats are based on all horses and rely on grandsires and great grandsires, then they’re diluted by so many no chancers and sires who’ll have their own separate values that the true opportunity is misleading. A good argument for sticking with stakes winners in a population survey–and for at the least keeping the generation specific.

    Of course that’s difficult when making decisions about what to breed to a young stallion, or for breeders who don’t have access to the top stallions and must look at sons. They still need some way to begin making decisions (notice I say “begin”).

  8. Watcher,

    The world would be a far less interesting place if everyone thought the same way. Bravo to your beliefs and best of luck in your matings—and may they result in a Derby winner one day!

  9. Greg:

    You have a grasp of what’s needed without the axe to grind. You make very valid points that are used in the analysis of nicks; for instance, because Nasrullah/Princequillo is old and has reverted to a statistically insignificant nick, it’s important, for example, to use A.P. Indy, a Nasrullah-line sire, by himself, or his sire, instead of extending back to Bold Ruler (his greatgrandsire, etc.). These are the various methods that have to be incorporated to make an examination of affinity much more pertinent. And, of course, it takes someone with an understanding of these concepts to use the data.

  10. Sid, I certainly agree with you that the proprietors of the various commercial
    “nicking” have a common axe to grind on these, and other, discussion sites. After all, it’s their livelihoods we’re putting under the microscope here!

    As a lifelong owner and breeder I am appalled at the weight some neophytes in our industry place on these ‘nicking analyses.’ Rather than educate themselves with the help of actual achievers, they too often prefer the simpler, drive-through marketing of the ‘nicksters.’ And, of course, this cottage industry is well supported by big names in the industry who utilize their so-called ‘proof statements’ in their glossy marketing materials.

    Chief among the perpetrators of this pseudo-science are many high profile commercial stud farms.

    Take Gainesway and Taylor Made Farms, as examples. Ever read the blurbs in their stallion brochures about proper mare selection for each horse? Often times they are written by one of the self-appointed nicking gurus.

    Their broad, over-generalized recommendations are “not statistically significant after grandsons/great grandsons etc. have diluted its statistical effects, ” as you so accurately divulged.

  11. Watcher,

    It’s fairly simple to establish that not only did sons of Nasrullah sire the likes of Secretariat, Mill Reef, and Champions Bold Lad (USA) and Successor, out of Princequillo mares – 25 stakes winners from 112 starters, or better that 22% -but that there was a continuing affinity between the strains that extended back at least one generation.

    If you take all foals by Nasrullah and his sons sired out of mares by Princequillo and his sons, and compare the percentage of stakes winners to starters on the cross – 27 from 246 for about 11% – and compare it to what the sires and dams responsible for those horses produced when bred to all other stallions you’ll find the cross did around 4.5 times as well as it would have been expected, something one might tend to find “statistically significant.”

    There is tendency for for sons, and grandsons of sires and broodmare sires to continue to have similar affinities (not surprising in view of the small number of key genes/gene groupings that may have an impact on athletic performance performance), and this far outweighs the impact of those distant ancestors in strict percentage terms.

    I’ve analyzed many unproven stallions over the years, and while their strongest affinities will remain uncertain until they have runners, by and large, the most reliable path until that point is reached is to cross them with strains that worked under their sires, and to reinforce the best crosses in their pedigrees.

    This approach has yielded consistent success, for us, including for a number of horses that were leading sires of their crop year, or region.

    Such success has little to do with being a “guru” self-appointed or otherwise, and a lot more to do with the commonsense application of almost 40 years of studying pedigrees; and 35 years of working in the industry for a living; now combined with access to some the best data and research tools currently available.

  12. Watcher,

    There is a considerable difference in outlining strains that might work with an unproven sire, and selecting the six – eight stallions that are the most likely to work with a given mare.

    We tested the specific nicking software that I use on over 100,000 horse and found a statistical correlation between a the nick rating and the rate of success at stakes level.

    Now, if you’ve read what I write with regard to major stakes winners, you will know that I attribute success to a lot more than just a nick. In fact most good nicks are a result of inbreeding and linebreeding to genetic relatives, more often than not with a female ancestress involved.

    Obviously it’s not possible to go in to that sort of depth in a single page of broad recommendations for a stallion, nor I imagine would most breeders want to read them.

    However, when I’m planning matings, while the nick rating gives me much very useful information, there are many other considerations that come into play.

  13. Watcher,

    With all due respect, i think several people on here have tried to accomodate your queries as best as possible, including Alan, who has gone to great lengths to seriously discuss issues. It’s apparent, however, that you are opinionated and spirited — bravo! i say– but at the same time not very factually correct.

    Your comment above about Jack could not be more incorrect. For instance, Jack recommended the sire Smart Strike (at Lane’s End) to clients Gulf Coast Farms LLC for a mare that resulted in Eclipse 2yo champion Lookin at Lucky. Jack also recommended the sire Quiet American for a mare that resulted in Derby winner Real Quiet.Now, Jack never once did a “stallion analysis” of Smart Strike or Real Quiet, yet recommended both sires to great effect. So, right off the bat you speak of what you don’t know.

    Listen, it’s all nice and well that you get a chance for your 15 mins. of grandstanding on here with Alan and others, but if i could make a gentle suggestion to you: Please look elsewhere at other blogs to blow off steam there.

    And I wish you luck in your breeding enterprises, as I said before. Maybe your own theories will result in a Derby winner or a 2yo champ down the road.

    Now, Goodbye!

  14. Watcher,

    The trouble I have with your commentary is your unwillingness to read and digest what anyone else says. It’s only about you, what you think, what you believe, period. As such, you’ll appreciate my view that it’s difficult—and an increasing waste of time—to discuss anything with you that you disagree with.

    Shall I list for you to digest some of what I refer to so that all other readers can also see?

    1. I gave you an example of two stallions—Smart Strike and Quiet American–that have never had “stallion analysis” books done on them and yet were recommended by Werk to clients. Instead of commenting on my examples–which you obviously couldn’t refute—you decided to ignore, and list your own personal experience, obviously a disgruntled one, with Werk. Now, I have no reason to doubt your own account, but unfortunately the only person who could is dead and your account is apparently your main piece of evidence to make a statement that is not true as it relates to others aside from you. You, however, use your own account as the absolute truth, without even an attempt to make a statement on my comment above.

    2. On the War Admiral/La Troienne nick which you questioned, you wrote:”Without a control group against which to measure this perceived nick it’s impossible to anoint it as one.” When I told you the control group for the War Admiral/La Troienne nick is La Troienne’s daughters and that from 16 foals, there were 7 stakes winners, you failed to respond. Indeed, you had no answer, went silent, and picked another issue.

    3. When you wrote:”As a lifelong owner and breeder I am appalled at the weight some neophytes in our industry place on these ‘nicking analyses.’ Rather than educate themselves with the help of actual achievers, they too often prefer the simpler, drive-through marketing of the ‘nicksters,'” Alan gave you a well-written and detailed explanation of his approach to nicking, as well as a bio of his background and the success that he’s achieved. I also told you that Jack Werk and WTC had been responsible for a Derby winner and a 2yo champ; so, in other words, you were presented with “actual achievers,” but once again you failed to acknowledge and comment on this and instead ridiculed them (“‘enicks,’ ‘truenicks,’ and all other ‘products’ which ascribe great import to these distant relationships remain one of our industry’s greatest shams.”)

    I don’t want to bore anyone else with this, but the statements are here for anyone to see and weigh. It’s not that you disagree with them that bothers me, but, rather, your penchant for ignoring arguments made against you.

    At any rate, I must sign off, Watcher, because I have a baseball team to run tomorrow and must study lineups and opposing pitchers and design a game strategy. Please understand that I do not have time to comment on your further comments—If you wish to.

    I do get your point — you hate nicks, Jack Werk, Alan Porter’s hyperbole, yadda, yadda, yadda. Points taken!

    I’m sure you have much better things—your own stable and bloodstock—to look after as well.

    Again, best of luck, and I hope not to see you again, but If commenting on here turns you on, you are welcome to it.

  15. Sid, as a baseball coach, you can see that “watcher” is so far off base that even I can pick him off. As someone who worked with Jack for 18 years, for a good bit of that time in person on a daily basis, but for most of it on the phone every day, I got to know him well enough–and I know you did, too–to get a fair measure of the man. We talked about this many times. In a world of complex business relationships there’s always a temptation to favor one interest over another, one stallion over another, on the basis of those relationships. I’m sure Alan experiences the same feelings. But the conclusion that Jack always reached–and I’m sure Alan does, too–is that–and I quote Jack from many conversations–“you’ve got to pick the stallion that’s best for the mare.” I often wonder, when I hear distasteful and inappropriate accusations like those leveled by watcher–no, I strongly suspect–that watcher is projecting his own motives. Watcher is one of those people who assumes that Jack behaved a certain way because that’s the way watcher would behave. Watcher, you’re out; you just don’t know it.

  16. Watcher,

    I’d echo what Sid and Roger said above. I entered the thoroughbred industry at the age of 16, and the hard end of a pitchfork. My dream was that I would eventually find a way to turn a passion for pedigrees into a role helping breeders plan matings, and 36 years later, I’ve never found anything that has over-ridden that fascination. It has been a life’s work, and a large degree, who I am. Thus there is no way that I am going to make recommendations, on any basis other that they are what I believe are the best course for the mare or stallion involved.

    I didn’t know Jack Werk as well as Roger and Sid, but I don’t believe that his drive to succeed for his clients was any less than mine. That he continued to write his “Who’s Hot” column while terminally ill, speaks of someone who had a passion for his chosen task. I don’t doubt that he would have taken considerable pride – as did I – that seven of the last 30 potential starters in the Derby emerged from matings made by three pedigree advisors, Werk Thoroughbred Consultants and Pedigree Consultants, LLC, being responsible for six of those horses. The two companies have been responsible for matings that have resulted in at least six Eclipse Award winners, numerous classic winners and Champions, and quite literally hundreds of stakes winners. To label them as “hypesters” in contrast to the “achievers” is ample evidence that you’ve no interest in the weight of argument.

    As Sid said, we’ve present more than adequete rebuttal, hard evidence and reasoned argument, but I believe you’ve decided what you think long ago, and no amount of discourse is going to change that.

  17. OK, I’ll stand up for Jack Werk. I didn’t know him well, but I met him a number of times and found him to be a man of genuine integrity.

    The thing that always gets me about critics of nick rating systems is that people invariably complain that the nicks don’t do things or don’t take into account things that they never pretended to. That’s a straw man argument. They’re pretty straightforward about what they represent, even to letting one know what generation a particular rating is based on. I don’t think any nicking “guru” anywhere would claim that a rating was anything more than a simple point of departure and that many, many more factors should always go into a mating decision.

    No one should ever breed a mare based on a nick rating alone. If there are people who don’t understand that, or are too lazy to do more, that’s their problem. Or so it seems to me.

  18. That’s exactly right, Greg. And you’re not one of those “nicksters,” are you? In fact, judging from Watcher’s creative treatment of the facts, maybe he ought to get in touch with you because–you know, you’re a fiction publisher.


  19. Ouch. No, of course, that’s not what I meant, nor do I agree with you. I can only go by my own instincts and experience with him or anybody.

    Though I’m not sure what’s wrong with promoting a client’s horse.

    Still, my point was that I have respect for what I knew of Jack Werk. And that one shouldn’t complain something doesn’t do what it never claimed to do in the first place. Though I’m sure both enicks and true nicks and whoever else fits that bill don’t need me to step in. I’m a little bemused about where I find myself in this discussion.

  20. By default, I am the resident bloodstock/breeding (& racing) adviser for a small group of friends who are partners.

    I have never met Mr. Alan Porter. I have never had private contact with him, mail, phone, etc. I have on the occasion commented and poised a question to him on his True Nicks Column. Mr. Porter has never failed to respond, comment in return, and answer my questions. He has been generous in giving his opinions.

    I have read many of his writings on breeding, nicks, stallions, mares, etc. I do not ever remember him being the advocate of relying one breeding theory over another. (Thinking about it you don’t either). If I am correct he has always stressed the importance of a multiple approach in deciding a breeding choice with the physical match of the stallion and mare always kept upfront in the decision making process.

    I believe I have gained knowledge and direction from reading what you Mr. Fernando, and Mr. Porter have written. Also Mr. Werk’s writings still live for me. The group of opinions has given me additional insight and help in expanding the thought process.

    Don’t know what all this has to do with the seemingly intense back and forth comments but-since I’m a day late from the debate- and awake about an hour and half earlier then I need to be-I figure I’ll make the last comment to you, to Mr. Porter, and to Jack Werk-

    THANKS, Thank You All, Very Much

    (Keep sharing that knowledge it is appreciated).

  21. Kevin,

    Yours, Greg’s, and everyone else’s sincere comments are always appreciated here, whether they agree or disagree with what’s written here. As a baseball coach, father, and gentleman, I’ve always been a stickler for good manners, and I laud you for yours and thank you, on behalf of Alan and Jack, for your comments. Indeed, when experts and gentlemen such as Frank Mitchell, Alan Porter, and Roger Lyons can interact on here with breeders and owners and gentlemen such as yourself, the raison d’etre for this space is clear.

  22. The comments of “Watcher” will from here on be purged due to violations of WordPress Terms of Service. Please read these posts (links below) for the potential liability a blogger (me in this case) assumes when posting libelous comments from others.

    In the USA, you can be sued for “tortious interference” if your blog comments defame, encourage harassment or interfere with someone’s normal course of business.

    The North Carolina Supreme Court has held that tortious interference with prospective economic advantage occurs when a party interferes with the freedom of contract and “not in the legitimate exercise of defendant’s own right, but with design to injure the plaintiff . . .” (see Owens v. Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. of Hickory, N.C., Inc., 330 N.C. 666, 680, 412 S.E.2d 636, 644 (1992)).

    Source for quote above is here:

  23. SH –

    I thought I was the crime fighter here!! Bravo to those of you who posed your arguments with CLASS and with INTEGRITY. I have different words to describe the comments left by Mr. Power (is that the ultimate oxymoron?), but I shall keep them to myself.

  24. For those that do not know, Kris Werk is Jack’s daughter and heir and a police detective in N. California. She has read the comments by Mr. Power, which have been removed for violating the WordPress terms of use.

  25. The power of La Troienne is undeniable. Thank goodness for Les Brinsfiled and others for giving her and Domino the recognition they warrant.

    In Super Saver, another blue hen should also be acknowledged. Crossing the 3/4 brothers Secretariat and Sir Gaylord in AP Indy gives double Somethingroyal, she line-bred 4×4 to the half-sisters Brielle and Pietra, ex Briar Root. My Charmer carries an extra line of Pietra, valuable support. Note in Bernardini another Pietra via Spectacular Bid.

    Down the dam-line Mabille helps, as does her full-brother Cremorne, plenty of these two in Super Saver.

    Enter Caro, often unsung in top pedigrees. He carries triple Mabille and 7 Cremorne plus a line of Briar Root in Fortino/Oleander.

    I think Super Saver works because he has La T and SR working in tandem. After all, La T’s sire Teddy hails from the same family as Briar Root et al.

    Same thing happened in Bernardini. Classic success inexorable follows.

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