Thursday, December 31, 2009

Making a New Year's list

With the end of 2009 (thankfully) upon us, year-end sire lists have been on my mind for a variety of reasons. The entertaining contest between Roman Ruler and Offlee Wild for leading freshman sire has come down to the last day of the year with Roman Ruler a few hundred dollars ahead--or is he? Both the Thoroughbred Times and Blood-Horse lists credit Roman Ruler with $1,939,951 and Offlee Wild with $1,939,243 before racing in the U.S. begins today.

Both the Times and the Blood-Horse acquire those figures from the Jockey Club's database but they do it in rather different ways. The Times counts earnings from all 18 countries for which the Jockey Club receives complete racing in digitized form. The Blood-Horse counts earnings from some countries but not others, according to a logic that is frankly outdated and outmoded. The two ways of counting happen to agree on these two horses, but not on other sire lists, not by a long shot.

For example, both organizations list Giant's Causeway as leading general sire, but TT credits him with earnings of $15,895,171 and BH with $11,027,789. As we've mentioned before (read it here) the Blood-Horse counts earnings from Dubai and Europe, but not Japan or Southern Hemisphere countries, and Giant's Causeway's offspring have earned substantial amounts--about $4.8 million--in those countries. Seems to me one should either count all foreign earnings or none at all. There's a logical argument to support doing it either way, there's even a logical argument for counting Northern Hemisphere earnings but not Southern Hemisphere--the shuttle sire problem, you know. But I've yet to hear anything approaching a valid argument for counting some foreign earnings from the Northern Hemisphere but not others.

But regardless, Giant's Causeway will be leading sire, right? Not so fast. Leading sire by North American earnings only (the "none at all" option mentioned above) is....wait for it.....Smart Strike.....for the third consecutive year. Giant's Causeway had a great year in North America, but ranks fourth according to earnings on the continent where he primarily stands, about $800,000 behind Smart Strike, with A.P. Indy and Distorted Humor in second and third. Smart Strike ranks third on the Times list (behind second-placed Street Cry, another who does well abroad) and third on the BH list (behind second-placed Distorted Humor).

The difference in countries being counted also shows up if you run the freshman sire list by North American earnings only. All of Offlee Wild's freshman earnings are in NA, but Roman Ruler's NA total is only $1,895,313, apparently because he has a winner in Mexico and a winner in Puerto Rico......which apparently are not part of North America....Got that?

All this probably is not going to matter this particular year because Offlee Wild has a runner today--and a good one, stakes winner Heavenliness--and Roman Ruler does not. The smart money has to be on Offlee Wild, no matter how you count it.

This is all very confusing, but not any more confusing than the situation in Argentina. Recently I noticed that the lists of annual leaders in Argentina according to earnings by racing season and the official lists on maintained by the Stud Book Argentino differ markedly. Then my friend Ned Moore, an Argentine bloodstock agent, adviser, and all around raconteur who lives in Virginia most of the year, reminded me that the official sire list in Argentina has always been based on calendar year rather than the Argentine racing season, which runs from July 1 of one year to June 30 of the next. I knew that!

This makes even less sense than counting some foreign earnings but not all. The Argentines have been doing it that way since 1883, however, so I somehow doubt that they're going to change their minds now just because I don't like it.

Those Argentines! They need to learn to count like us good, straightforward Americans! Or is that North Americans?

1 comment:

  1. John,

    This is a scream. The ill logic of sire lists based on earnings in country X but not Y is amazing.

    The exciting thing about sire lists is that they sometimes point a really good young sire on the horizon, and this year, that horse is Pollard's Vision. He may be the real deal.