Breeding strategies

I noticed a tendency for thoroughbred breeders to send their mare to a different stallion every year. I guess one issue might be that you end up having to book for the next season before this season’s foal is even on the ground, even if you end up liking what you got. I assume it may also spread your risk by not putting all your chicks in one genetic combo basket.

It seems warmblood breeders in Europe will cross back repeatedly to the same stallion with lots of full brothers on the ground but they have a system in place to evaluate foals and I assume for dressage folks future movement potential might be easier to predict.
I am sure there are obvious reasons I am missing!
Any thoughts? Tia

There is an obvious reason, haha. It’s sales. Buyers have short term memories and only want two things: whoever the “it” stallion of the moment is who just had the most impressive runner(s) of the year… OR… they want to buy into the “next big thing” first year sire.

So that lends itself to breeders gravitating to one or the other, both of which change constantly.

However, after a mare has had success and established herself as a producer with a top runner, you will notice most breeders breed back to the sire of that top runner many times. You will also see people who are breeding for themselves (not to sell) using the same stallion more frequently. But racing is so expensive most people are reliant on market trends.

Everything in racing also happens so fast compared to sport horses. Many mares have already had a racing career, retired, and have had a foal or two by 5 or 6 years of age. Warmbloods are still considered babies at that point.


The method for evaluating Thoroughbreds is entirely different than that of warmbloods. A TB mare may produce the most gorgeous foal on the planet but looks don’t really matter from a racing standpoint. What matters to a breeder is, does the foal have the heart, the head, the speed, the stamina, and the soundness to run successfully? And he/she won’t know the answer to that question for at least 3 years and possibly more. At today’s rates, assuming no big setbacks or vet bills, the cost to get that foal to its first race will be at least 75K.

It wouldn’t make sense financially to repeat a breeding, perhaps more than once, only to find out years later that it doesn’t work. By then, you’ve not only lost a great deal of money but you’ve also limited your mare’s potential producing ability by not exposing her to other, different, bloodlines with which she might nick better.

If only racehorse breeders could evaluate their stock when it was six months old, life would be so much easier!


I also wonder how often full thoroughbred siblings excel equally in racing- or the breeding shed. I cannot really think of any/many (?) full siblings but I can think of many many maternal 1/2 siblings (mare power :slight_smile: that seemed to be competitive in both realms.

Of course I am clueless at evaluating warmblood or thoroughbred foals, but I always enjoy looking at the foal pictures of good race horses. Obviously pin hookers looking at weanlings have got something figured out!

What is a pinhooker…?

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Someone who buys young horses at a low price and tries to sell them at a profit as an older horse. Basically someone trying to find the diamonds in the rough. There are people who are very good at it.


Pinhookers look for size, balance, correctness (or something they can fix) and an athletic walk. Because when they’re selling, that’s what the next buyer will look for too. Don’t forget that if a pinhooker ever has to actually race a horse, he’s failed at his job.

Pinhooking is like playing musical chairs. You never want to be the person standing up–or holding the reins–when the music stops.


Generally what LaurieB said but breeding strategies also depend on the breeders in question and what their goals are. A friend of mine had two successive employers trying to make two different young Thoroughbred stallions. One of these was in Kentucky and the other was based in California. Even though he worked for a regional breeder in California, he would go to Kentucky, buy in foal mares at certain price points, foal them out in California to get what we call Calbred Kentucky breds and breed them back to the stallion in question to improve that stallion’s book and give him the best shot at success. Often these mares got bred to the stallion in successive years because, in that case, the goal was the stallion and not the mare.

Choice for regional breeders in general can be more limited because there are sometimes only a few good stallions in the state and Thoroughbreds are live cover.


To be fair, it’s not like warmblood breeders know if the cross was a success at 6 months, either. It takes even longer for them to reach their potential. Not unlike racehorses, it is all speculation as a young horse.

I’m not saying that to be argumentative. I’m just saying that you can’t imply a warmblood breeder knows a cross is a success any sooner than a thoroughbred breeder.


On the contrary, WBs are on a totally different planet then TB breeders as far as being able to evaluate potential.

By 30 months TBs have had opportunity to be showcased in sales as weanlings, yearlings, 2 yos and 2yos in training. Many are on the track already proving they have the chops to succeed and have already sold at least once, maybe running as claimers which is the challenge of the breeding business. Creating offspring people want to buy and compete.

WBs are in a different orbit. Challenge takes much longer to realize. Different pressures. Different sales opportunities. Different client base.


Why use the phrase “on the contrary?” We are literally saying the same thing.


I agree breeding warmbloods is a long painful long process.

I guess if it is going to take 10 years to see what you really have the WB registries are doing their best to come up with measures along the way!

Thoroughbred breeding does let you know early on- for real- if you have something. And I have also always admired the thoroughbred statistical record keeping. Nothing like it in warmblood breeding.

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Sorry tex, poorish choice of words and text communication can be clumsy. We are saying the same thing.

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Here’s a quick list of some noteworthy full siblings, doing about 30 minutes research. Ran across some while looking for others and this is barely scratching the surface.

Full siblings-

By Private Account - Grecian Banner, by Hoist the Flag
PERSONAL ENSIGN - $1.6 mil, champion older female, Breeders’ Cup Distaff-G1, etc.; broodmare of the year
PERSONAL FLAG - $1.2+ mil, multiple G1 winner, sire

By Mr. Prospector - Personal Ensign, by Private Account
MINER’S MARK - $967k Jockey Club Gold Cup-G1, etc., sire

By Cee’s Tizzy x Cee’s Song, by Seattle Song
TIZNOW - $6+ million, Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 twice, etc., major sire.
BUDROYALE - $2.8 million, multiple G2 SW and 2nd Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1, etc.

By A.P. Indy – Praise, by Mr. Prospector
CONGRATS – GSW $998k, major sire
Flatter – Graded spl, sire of WEST COAST (Champion 3yo colt, $5.8 mil), FLAT OUT ($3.6 mil, sire), UPSTART ($1.2 mil, hot young sire), etc.

By *Ribot – Flower Bowl, by *Alibhai
GRAUSTARK – SW, major sire
HIS MAJESTY – SW, major sire

By His Majesty x Premium Win, by Lyphard
TIGHT SPOT - $1.5+ million, champion turf male, sire

By Halo x Ballade, by *Herbager
GLORIOUS SONG – $1 mil+, Horse of the Year in Canada, Champion in US, dam of SINGSPIEL-G1 SW, champion, major sire; RAHY-G2 SW, major sire
DEVIL’S BAG – Champion 2yo, sire`
SAINT BALLADO – G2SW, major sire


oh wow-thanks! What a fun list of amazing horses!

And I apologize as it seems I have mashed several ideas together into one question but you all have been able to parse them out!

Don’t mean to hijack the thread, but would like thoughts on Mind Control-- just won the Cigar Mile to finish out his career.
6 years old, 29 starts/21 times in the money; grade 1 winner; earned over 2 million dollars; tough and seemingly sound boy.
Not fashionably bred–Stay Thirsty x Lightnin N Thunder (who?) mare
Apparently close to zero interest in him as a stallion.
Could he be marketed? How? Where?


He reminds me a bit of Say Florida Sandy, who was just so…so…tough.

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There’s probably not “zero interest” but rather no big money Kentucky deals coming his way.

There are a lot of G1 millionaires who don’t fit the mold of what the market wants. So they end up in regional markets where breeding goals are slightly different. He will probably end up in NY.

Mind Control is pretty well known and respected on the New York circuits where he won at least one stakes race every year he raced and is already booking mares where he will stand in New York.