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Review: Racehorse Breeding Theories

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Racehorse Breeding Theories

Racehorse Breeding Theories by Frank Mitchell

Russell Meerdink Company

The Bottom Line

Like many things in racing, breeding is also a gamble, with many uncertainties. Many theories have been written as to how to breed a champion. Frank Mitchell and five other experts explain in detail the major theories in use today, demonstrating how contemporary and past champions were bred to be greats. This is an advanced work which might not appeal to new fans of racing, but those who have followed the sport for awhile will gain a better understanding through this volume.
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  • All of the major breeding theories in use today are detailed in full
  • Chapters written by experts in that particular theory
  • Federico Tesio's success is examined in detail


  • May be too advanced for some fans of racing, not recommended for novices


  • The BLUP Trotting Index: a statistical analysis used to predict the breeding value of herd animals
  • How Joe Estes Transformed Breeding and Pedigrees: he invented stats such as Average Earnings Index
  • Federico Tesio's work as a breeder and trainer: A tribute to the greatest breeder in history
  • Biomechanics and Mating: using body measurements to match sires and dams to produce optimal foals
  • Inbreeding and Nicking: the optimal matching of certain bloodlines to concentrate certain traits
  • Pedigrees and Statistics: the use of statistics to analyze pedigrees, as perfected by David L. Dink
  • Dosage: Steve Roman details how this method was developed and demonstrates its usefulness
  • Female Family Inbreeding: inbreeding to great broodmares within five generations.
  • The X Factor Theory: the large-heart gene is passed on the X chromosome, traced back to Pocahontas
  • Bruce Lowe and the Numerology of Pedigrees: tracing the tail-female lines back to the taproot mares

Guide Review - Review: Racehorse Breeding Theories

The old axiom says, "Breed the best to the best", and hopefully the result is a champion. But how do you define what "the best" is, specifically, which matings will be most successful? Does it necessarily mean two Grade 1 stakes winners, or two horses bred for speed? Most racing fans have a rudimentary understanding of breeding theory, especially around the Kentucky Derby when suddenly, theories such as Dosage are brought to the forefront, but most cannot explain accurately what the basis is of these theories. In "Racehorse Breeding Theories", six experts set out to explain which theories have worked and why. Fans will be amazed by some of them, and may suddenly change their opinion of a theory after reading some statistics to back it up. For example, Steve Roman addresses critics of his Dosage system using detailed analyses comparing Dosage Index and Center of Distribution to winning distance, which show that in fact there is a statistically significant relationship. Another interesting detail learned is that all Thoroughbreds trace back to a single broodmare who appears in the pedigree of each of the three foundation stallions. As well, most breeding theories focus on sires, however, traits such as heart size and DNA in mitochondria (the energy sources in cells) are actually carried by the females, explaining why large-heart horses like Secretariat were most successful as broodmare sires.
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