Breeders Follow Fashion: Shallow Search Given for Biological Truth About Matings.; Intelligent Theorists Classed as "Bugs" With "Fixed Idea"--Reflections About Patriarchs., Daily Racing Form, 1922-05-17


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BREEDERS FOLLOW FASHION Shallow Search Given for Biologi ¬ cal Truth About Matings Intelligent Theorists Classed as asBugs Bugs With Fixed Idea Beflections About Patriarchs BY SALVATOR SALVATORMr Mr Vosburghs essay Decline of the Male Twines in a recent issue of Daily Racing Form was an illuminating and timely exposi ¬ tion of a theme which however cannot be expected to cease being a bone of contention among students and critics of breeding to the end of time so far as horseracing ex ¬ tends through it I pay critics and students of breeding rather than breeders themselves because I have found as a rule the former class more deeply interested in these debates than the latter It is seldom that the breeder is either a student or a critic criticIt It is a sad fact that is if you will be so weak as to feel sad over it that the breed ¬ er taken by and large sacrifices everything to fashion and the success of the moment What he desires is not only winners but fashionablybred ones for that way lies the greatest material success Whatever happens to be the rage is about all he cares about his Interest in other things being decidedly luke ¬ warm He realizes in a dim sort of way that theory must accompany practice and at times point out the road it should travel But in so far as theorizing is concerned he is always cheerfully willing to let George do it and after George has done it take any appreciable advantage of what George did didFew Few socalled practical breeders exercise their wits in striving to plumb the bottom ¬ less well of biology and locating the nymph Truth which according to Pythagoras or some other ancient Greek philosopher abides there The practical breeder simply looks about him among the stallions in service much as the lady shopper scrutinizes the ads of the bargainsales in the Sunday papers And in the end both of them do the same thing to wit go where the crowd goes goesMISTS MISTS OF BREEDING THEORY THEORYThe The exceptions are those occasional rare souls to whom commercialism is not the be all and endall of turf sport and to whom fashion and folly are often synonymous There are not enough of them however to have any great influence upon what is known as the trend of affairs They are few and far between rather lonely one inclines to feel and perhaps at intervals as they stand somewhat aside and watch the procession pass with the bass drum pounding the trumpets blaring and the hurrahs filling the air given to wondering if after all the way of the hour is not the wiser way and the time spent in intensive study and experiment just so much waste Which truth to tell it is apt to be For alack and alas the theorist in breed ¬ ing the man who attacks its problems philo ¬ sophically is apt in about eight if not eleven cases out of ten to acquire what in profane phraseology is known as a bug but in politer language borrowed from the French we call a fixed idea And when once this bug has burrowed into the system this fixed idea has taken possession of the brain cells there is no help for the victim was aimed he is a goner gonerNothing Nothing is so fascinating nevertheless as a fixed idea Once one has abandoned one ¬ self to it the rest is indeed easy Nothing else you see really matters Suppose for instance that you are a breeding theorist and your fixed idea happens to be the Fig ¬ ure System Like the vasty deep which when the world comes to an end will arise and overwhelm all terra firma and blot it out forever just so the Figure System when expertly manipulateed can gather everything else into its bosom and there sink them without a bubble left to tell where they went down Or suppose your bug happens to be that of Herod Matchem and Eclipse With only a limited amount of experience and long before you have become really proficient as a juggler of this trinity of turf patriarchs they can be made to explain everything in ¬ cluding things that never happened and by the same token that never will willTHE THE COMMON SENSE OF COMMENT COMMENTHappily Happily for the readers of Daily Racing Form however Mr Vosburgh is not a vic ¬ tim of either of those incurable maladies above referred to An enormously experi ¬ enced profoundly studious and philosophical ¬ ly natured critic he is yet apparently im ¬ mune from such infections And that is what makes his essays such admirable reading He sees things always in the round and so de ¬ picts them with delightful literary finish and an appreciation equally alive to the humors and the serious sides of his subject subjectHis His disquisition upon the Decline of the Male Lines is a peculiarly typical case in point He takes this question surely a large one and turning one facet and then another to the light flashes upon each the glint of his wit and wisdom until what in other hands would be a piece of priggish pragmatism be ¬ comes something interesting without losing for a moment its specific as differentiated from its nonspecific gravity gravityIt It is particularly refreshing to find Mr Vosburgh affirming that It seems to me too much to expect a horse to maintain his own class in his male line through his sons gen ¬ eration after generation To expect the son grandson greatgrandson etc to repro ¬ duce his quality is to ignore the influence of the mares to which he and his sons Avere bred bredMore More just and reasonable words were never written about this timeworn topic As I have previously written in Daily Racing Form the survival of the fittest by no means infallibly indicates the survival of the best Survival depends in the final audit upon manifold factors and some of them have nothing to do with bestness Luck for one thing is an immense factor or chance if you prefer so to call it Chance is a blind goddess and no more given to dis ¬ tributing her favors to the best among speed progenitors than to the best among the dovtees who gather in her temples One was taken the other left and the one that Is taken is just as often of superlative ex ¬ cellence the one left relatively inferior This is true of families as of individuals individualsSOME SOME SUPPOSITITIOUS REFLECTIONS REFLECTIONSTake Take for instance those three puissant patriarchs of the thoroughbred breed Herod Watchem and Eclipse descended respectively from the Byerly Turk the Godolphin Ara ¬ bian and the Darely Arabian Suppose the Byerly Turk the charger of Captain Byerly had happened to have been killed at the Bat ¬ tle of the Boyne instead of getting safely off from it Suppose the amiable Mr Coke had not happened to have his compassion stirred by a horse that was receiving un ¬ merited abuse in the streets of Paris a few years later rescued him and taken him home to England EnglandAgain Again suppose the brother of Mr Barley full brothers you see may be of some use in this world after all who belonged to a shooting club in Asia Minor had not fallen in with a wandering Bedouin who coveted his fowlingpiece and traded the horse lie was mounted on for it Suppose all these things which were the purest incidents of chance had never happened How many a learned disquisition upon the mysteries of breeding we had missed I cannot for my own part be ¬ lieve that they were faroff divine events toward which as the poet sings the whole creation moved They just happened that was all allWere Were the Byerly Turk the Godolphin Ara ¬ bian and the Darely Arabian the three best Oriental stallions that ever lived and the most highly qualified to found great families of race horses Intelligence forbids the thought The blind welter of chance brought them to the surface in the beginning and in the end the dominance of the lines which to ¬ day terminate in them has been largely due to similar chances I do not mean to deny what merit they may have possessed But neither can I shut my eyes to other facts factsWe We know coming down to periods within the memories of many horsemen now living that the survivals of certain families have been due to freaks of fortune rather than aught else We know also that others have failed to survive from the same cause That altogether too much stress is laid upon sire lines nowadays and conversely upon tap roots has long been my conviction But wo live in an age of exaggeration and over ¬ emphasis Everything not lit up by the cal ¬ ciums glare is lost in darkness In breed ¬ ing as in everything else only the headlines are noticed and few of them are remem ¬ bered

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