Racing Winnings a False Line: Mr. Vosburghs Dissection of Leading Sire Statistics-Modern Fashion Calls for Numbers Rather than Quality or Class-Leaders of List Considered, Daily Racing Form, 1922-03-01


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. J , , RACING WINNINGS A FALSE LINE] MR. VOSBURGHS DISSECTION OF LEADING SIRE STATIS- TICS—MODERN FASHION CALLS FOR NUMBERS RATHER THAN QUALITY OR CLASS — LEADERS OF LIST CONSIDERED By W, S. VOSBURGH The fact that Mr. Hancocks stallion Celt led the winning sires of 1921 is to me a source of some gratification. Some years ago the late Major Hancock wrote to me asking me to buy him a stallion. He said he wanted a stallion "that would sire four-mile horses." He further stated that he had Celt, having leased him. but expected Mr. Keene would "take him away before next season," and he must have another horse. It has never been my habit to deal in sales of horses, and I so informed Major Hancock. But. in my reply. I ventured to hope he would not try to breed four-milcrs for the reason that no one would buy j them. I further stated that "if you have Celt on the farm, buy him and build a stone wall around him, for you cannot get a much better untried horse." The statement may sound extravagant, but. as I added. "if you had seen him win the Brooklyn Handicap you would agree with me." And so he would, for Celts race that day when he shook olf first King James and then Fair Play was one of the best races I had seen for years. It takes a good horse to shake off two good contenders. Henry of Navarre did it when he beat Clifford and Domino at Morris Park, but it is a rare performance. It was Celts misfortune to be in the same year and the same stable as Colin, and the latter, being able to win all the stakes, the stable had no need to start Celt as a two-year-old until late in the year, when he won the Junior Champion. The stable always claimed he "wasnt as good as Colin," but certainly he defeated Fair Play in the Brooklyn Handicap far easier than Colin defeated Fair Play in the Belmont Stakes, in which race Fair Play had Colin out to the last ounce. In the Brooklyn. Celt made the pace from the start, doing the first quarter in 2£% and the half-mile in 46 f., the mile in 1:38% and the mile and a quarter in 2:05!i. He had IOC pounds up and conceded weight to every horse in the race, seven pounds to Fair Play and eight pounds to King James. Celt never sired a horse as good as himself. Touch Me Not and Dunboyne have shown brilliant form at times: Coquette was a fast mare, but much cannot be said for the other. Yet Celt leads the winning sires. It is due to numbers, he having fifty-two starters. His colts. Column and Lord Baltimore, also Sedge, showed considerable class, but they were two-year-olds, and we should prefer horses that trained on at least two seasons and ran over distances longer than those run by two-year-olds. Star Shoot has run Celt a very close second, and no horse has a better record the last ten years. A son of the Derby winner of 1893 Isinglass, anil a grandson of the Derby winner of 1867 Hermit, he has vindicated his blood as he had already as a race horse, winning the British Dominion and National Produce Stakes of 1900. John Huggius, the trainer, told me the story of Star Shoot one day while we sat chatting during the Belmont Park meeting. His wind became affected and Major Eustace Loder, his breeuer and owner, told Huggins, who trained him: "People in my country Ireland will not breed to a roarer. If you can sell him at a fair price, do so." At this time John H. inning was in England with an order to buy a stallion, and purchased Star Shoot for ,500, brought him to America, and Messrs. Clay and Woodford took him. At their Runnymede Stud, Paris, Ky.. Star Shoot began life. Nimbus, foaled in 1905, was one of the first of his get to attract attention, but in 1907 was foaled his first really high-class one in the filly Ocean Bound, winner of the Alabama Stakes, beating Cherryola Purchases dam, and was a really great race mure. Star Shoots success as a sire has been remarkable. Five seasons he has led the winning sires — 1911. 1912. 1910, 1917 and 1919. In sixteen seasons— 190G-1921 — he sired winners of 1,962 races of the value of 1,381,333. Star Shoots Wonderful Stnd Record. Position. Year. Starters. Races. Value. 10 1900 18 53 $ r.2.395 4 1907 28 941 85.837 12 1908 31 105 48,225 5 1909 38 139J 57,825 3 1910 40 97 54.402 1 1911 35 102 41 .723 1 1912 56 126 79,973 3 1913 64 126 68,497 2 1914 69 167 93.9S7 2 1915 72 151 87,983 1 1916 87 216 13S.162 1 1917 81 167 131.674 3 1918 63 97 S7.795 1 1919 55 108 197,233 5 1920 49 109 161,496 2 1921 44 103 192,144 Totals 16 , 830 1.9C2 ,581,333 I have a photograph of Star Shoot, taken as a two-year-old in England. He was more of the type of Hermit than Isinglass. He had a light neck, short back, but good depth of chest and back ribs, muscular quarters, tail set on rather low, great length of hind legs, but very straight fore legs and upright pasterns. He made a better looking old horse than he did a young one. judging by his pictures taken in America. I had heard the trainers claim tl.e early Star Shoot colts had bad feet, and one day at Saratoga Mr. J. E. Madden began extolling Star Shoot. "Its a pity that horse was ever brought to this country," I remarked. "Why?" asked Madden, with an amazed look. "Trainers all tell me his colts have bad feet." "They wont, now that I have him." replied Madden. "That I have him!" — it was the first time 1 had heard that Madden owned him, and my confuston may easily be imagined. Of course. I sought the first opportunity to assure Madden that had I known 1 he was the owner of the horse 1 should have been more reserved. But he only laughed. "I know how they talk," said he: "horses that are galloped are apt to get sore in their feet; but if the trainer knows j how lo treat them, it isnt serious. I think I can handle that. Watch the star Shoots after this. Youll hear less of that talk." And so it proved. | As the sire of Sir Barton. Grey Lag, Audacious, Star Charter and Ocean Bound, it is impossible to , deny Star Shoots claim to a place among the great sires; but. like Celt, his position in the list of winning sires has been due to the large numl er of his colts and fillies, rather than to their class. When a i horse lias so large a number of colts ami fillies in training as he has had in some seasons — notably eighty-seven in 14*10 and eighty -one in 1917— they need not possess a great racer among them to place their p sire in the front rank when so much money can be won as in the recent years. In the ease of McGec. which is third on the list, it is much the same. Aside from Exterminator and Firebrand, his list of winners is not marked by quality, but abundantly so in quantity. And of Ballot the fourth in the list of winning sires, it is even more conspicuous. Ballot was a superb race horse, but t he has never sired a horse within twenty pounds of the form he showed while racing. 1 weighted him ! with 127 pounds for the Suburban of 1908. and he brought it home a winner. Two years later, after he had been a year in England. I weighted him with 129 pounds, and even then he was third, conceding I fourteen pounds to the winner. Fatuity of Honey YYiiiiiinu Exhibit. Sweep, fifth in the list of winning sires, has done better. As a race horse he was the best horse of f a poor year, and his sons. Leonardo II. and Eternal, were probably better horses than he was himself, and the same might be said of The Porter. But, aside from The Porter, his childrens best efforts were e as two-year-olds, and few of them train on, the mare Penrose being a notable exception. Wrack, the sixth horse on Hie winning sire list, has done amazingly well, hut so far he has sired sprinters, the tilly Careful is a brilliant exception, a rare good filly. Broomstick, the seventh sire on the list, was hardly V as strong as in former years, nor have his stock shone over a fair distance of ground; but as the sire of f Whisk Broom II., Regret, Thunderer, Cudgel, etc., his place among the great sires of the generation is s secure. Continued on second page. kA CING WINNINGS A fALsYJlNE Continued from first page. I fear our list of winning sires, based upon the amount of money won. is gradually ceasing to reflect the classilicalion of merit. It has never been I couclitsive test, but it was the best we had, and in a majority of years it has run true to form. It has usually been determined by the winners of the most valuable sweepstakes, and properly so. as those races were contested by the very best class ot horses, as in 1920. when Man o War and Mad Hatter brought Fair Play to the front rank, or in 1919. when Sir Barton placed Star Shoot in the lead. But here we have a lot of sires in the lead by rocson alone of the amount of money won by their get with I marked absence of |Uality. They have a vast number of winners, but not winners of class. Here is Celt leading with fifty-two performers and 124 races. Star Shoot with forty-four. McGee with fifty. Ballot with sixty-eight. Sweep with forty-four. Uncle with sixty-six and 137 races. But what sort of races? Winter meeting races, selling races, sprinting races, where such a thing as a high-class horse is quite unknown. The reason for this unnatural state of affairs is due 1 to the fact that the value of the minor events is out of proportion to the value of the great sweepstakes races; 2 to the vast number of races of minor importance: 3 to the superiority in number of starters some sires have over others. Many of the racing associations cater to large tields of inferior horses they make better speculation than to the doubtful chance of great stakes producing good contests. The sire which has the greater number of starters, while he may not have a horse of high class, is enabled to show a greater amount of money won than others whoso get are greater in quality, but less in quantity. It is an invitation to breeders to produce as many colts and fillies by a given sire as they possibly can. without regard to quality or class. And it al-o impairs the list of winning sires of its value as a criterion of merit.

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