Every year around the start of the breeding season, I make a mental note to remind breeders who call in that the Werk nick rating — as important a tool as it is — is just one piece of information in breeding decisions. Now, with this blog going at full steam, I can actually get it off my chest in one shot. Here’s my annual advice about using nicks: Use common sense, folks!
One of my favorite examples to demonstrate this is the Storm Cat/Rahy nick, which is an A+ Werk nick rating. There have been 12 unrestricted SWs on this cross, including 7 Graded SWs. Storm Cat’s best son, the G1-winning Coolmore stallion Giant’s Causeway, is bred on this nick, as are G1 winners Sophisticat and After Market.
The success of this nick meant that a lot of Rahy mares started going to sons of Storm Cat, too. Now, here’s where the common sense comes into play. Everyone knows that Rahy is a small stallion and tends to get smallish horses, too.
Now, let’s take the Storm Cat stallion Storm Boot (now deceased), who was also a small horse, as an example. The Storm Boot/Rahy cross is an A Werk nick rating, but the physical match between the stallion and the mare would have to be a major consideration, certainly for the commercial market that demands big yearlings. I would not advocate breeding a small mare by Rahy to a smallish stallion like Storm Boot, even though our rating, based on the performances described above, is sound. A larger mare, sure!
The bottom line here is that we stand behind our nicks – we’ve been doing this for 20 years – but YOU stand next to your mare, and as a breeder you need to use our tools with your good sense. That’s the only way we can help you increase your probability of producing a better racehorse!
One more thing!
I’ve received several calls and emails from some of you asking me to explain discrepancies between the Werk nick rating and the Blood-Horse Publication’s new system. Folks, I can’t explain their system – don’t understand it! Please call them!
However, I did get a chuckle from someone who was comparing nick ratings from both systems and, using the Blood-Horse Publications’ system, mistakenly put in Distorted Humor with the mare Hystericalady, who’s by Distorted Humor. He got–I swear!–an A rating!
Let me explain this again: the mating would be 1×2 to Distorted Humor and would measure Distorted Humor SWs out of mares by Distorted Humor. Now, they didn’t find any, so they went back and checked Distorted Humor with other Mr. Prospector-line mares, and of course they found enough SWs to rate this an A. Where is the common sense here? We give this a rating of “0 SW,” which seems more than fair.
Unless you are the second coming of Marcel Boussac (whose Arc winner Coronation was inbred 2×2 to Tourbillon), I don’t believe anyone in his right mind would breed a daughter of Distorted Humor to Distorted Humor, who stands at WinStar for $150,000. And if you did, you’d deserve an A for humor, even if it’s distorted!
For more on nick ratings and the Blood-Horse Publication’s system, click here to read Roger Lyons latest articles on the subject.