Horse running through field

Having it both ways?

Unfinished business left over from my last blog post really needs to be addressed. The point of that post was to show that Alan Porter uses deceptive language in characterizing his nick rating system’s access to information relating to the measurement of opportunity. Such tactics only go so far before colliding head-on with reality, and, when used so carelessly and with such abandon, they are usually part of a larger pattern of deception. That is, they are habitual.

This is evident especially in the hypocritical nature of Alan’s stated commitment to using opportunity as a measure of the effectiveness of sire-line crosses. The pattern of duplicity is pervasive.

As I sat down to compose this post, I decided I would just go to his website and use his latest post as an example, whatever it might be. I knew it wouldn’t matter because they’re all the same. It happened to be an entry about the More Than Ready-Meadowlake cross (“Halo Effect”), and it’s very typical of the stuff he does all the time. Everybody knows that Alan’s big thing is to tie up the loose ends of ancestors that share a close genetic relationship–in this case Halo (More Than Ready’s paternal grandsire) and Prince John (Meadowlake’s tail-male great-grandsire).

As everybody also knows, Alan and his partner Byron Rogers are principals in a nick rating service whose main selling point is that it uses opportunity against which to measure the effectiveness of sire-line crosses–this, despite the fact that Jack Werk, Sid Fernando, Bill Oppenheim, and I (and probably others I don’t know about) have said for years in print and online that opportunity at that level is meaningless.

The reason is that, when dealing with descendents of sire lines and broodmare sire lines, there’s no way to control for the quality of breeding stock. In that case, when you reduce opportunity to “the number of times the cross has been tried” (let’s call it N for short), you are bound to end up with a wild discrepency between the two. Never mind Alan’s naive, but calculated, use of the term “true opportunity.”

Given a commitment like that, it’s surprising that, in making his point about the Halo-Prince John effect as it relates to More Than Ready, Alan never mentions how many of More Than Ready’s mates actually had Prince John in their ancestries. This is all the more surprising in view of the fact that the question of opportunity has its greatest relevance when it relates to the mates of a particular stallion because, in that case, the stallion himself controls to a great extent for the quality of mares. Thus, in that situation N is much more representative of actual opportunity. Why does Alan abandon his commitment to opportunity in such circumstances?

In my small consulting business that’s exactly the kind of information I use all of the time. For example, my database for More Than Ready shows that through his 2006 crop (I add the latest three-year-old crop in the middle of the year) he’d sired foals out of 87 individual mares with Prince John in their ancestries (North America only), and some of those mares had produced multiple foals by him. To date, ONLY three of those mares have produced a stakes winner by More Than Ready.

By the test of statistical significance I use, that’s an abysmal strike rate, relative to More Than Ready’s overall record. Alan is simply wrong about the More Than Ready-Prince John connection. Well, what about the greater Halo-Prince John effect that’s really at stake in his post?

I checked the performance with Prince John by other sires with Halo in their ancestries. Street Cry is the only one whose strike rate with mares in some descent of Prince John was significantly higher than his overall record. Fusaichi Pegasus, Giant’s Causeway, Pine Bluff, Rahy, Saint Ballado, and Victory Gallop all had SW strike rates that only just warranted their opportunity. The rest of them for which I”ve kept figures–Devil’s Bag, Harlan’s Holiday, Silver Ghost, and Van Nistelrooy–had SW frequencies with Prince John that fall significantly below opportunity, relative to their overall quality as sires. Conclusion: there is no broad, performance-enhancing affinity between Halo and Prince John.

A proper consideration of opportunity would have prevented Alan from misleading his readers. Unfortunately, while insisting upon the need for a measure of opportunity when its use is dubious at best, he completely ignores it when it would have the most relevance. He constantly reminds us that he has access to vast database resources, which leaves only one explanation. His commitment to the question of opportunity varies, not with the matter of its relevance, but with what it is he’s selling at the time.

NOTE: The above references to SW strke rates for individual stallions with mares in any descent of Prince John are partially derived from source material obtained from The Jockey Club Information Services, and I thank my lucky stars for policies on the part of that organization enabling small businesses like mine to participate in the thoroughbred industry in a way that’s meaningful and cost-effective.

Comments are closed.

« Previous post Next post »