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Do the Fastest Racehorses Make the Best Sires?

Looking back at the long history of the Thoroughbred breed, a very curious pattern emerges. Many of the greatest racehorses who ever lived had little success at stud, while far more modest racehorses became very successful sires and broodmares. Even among those successful sires, only a fraction of them become sires-of-sires. Evidently there is some genetic magic at work here that creates such black-and-white success at stud, and racing ability is not the only important factor at work. Taking this a step further, the most successful sires-of-sires (paternal grandsires) have rarely been the most successful broodmare sires (maternal grandsires), although both are, in the position of grandsires in the pedigree. Likewise, the most successful broodmare-sires have rarely been successful sires-of-sires. Traditional genetics would suggest that both these grandsires should transmit the same amount of genetic material to their descendants, but historical breeding records suggest some deeper forces at work. In…

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