Friday, January 6, 2017

Digging Into the Data: Eclipse Finalists

With 12 categories and 31 horses, it's to be expected that there's some overlap in the bloodlines found when the Eclipse Award finalists are named in early January. This year was no different with some stallions making their marks in more than one category. From Mr. Prospector to A.P. Indy, here are some of the more interesting things you’ll find when digging into Eclipse award pedigrees this winter.

Mr. Prospector (WikiMedia Commons/Pawneese photo)
Mr. Prospector – It’s never a big surprise to find Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native) in pedigrees but it may be a surprise to see how dominate he is when it comes to this year's Eclipse awards. Of the 31 finalists, Mr. Prospector is found in the sire or damsire line of 18 (58 percent) of the horses, including all three of the Horse of the Year candidates. Horse of the Year and 3-year-old Male finalist Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) and female sprinter finalist Finest City (City Zip) both have Mr. Prospector in their sire and damsire lines.

Pulpit – Pulpit (A.P. Indy) may be best known as the sire of Tapit but this year he can also be known as the king of the Older Dirt Male division. All three finalists in that category are either sons or grandsons of the stallion with Tapit only siring one of them. All three of those finalists will be carrying on Pulpit’s successful line this year as new stallions in Kentucky.

Distorted Humor
Multiple Finalists – A few sires and broodmare sires have multiple finalists going for Eclipse awards, not surprising when they also had a lot of Breeders’ Cup success. Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado) is the sire of Horse of the Year and 3-Year-Old Filly finalist Songbird and 2-Year-Old Filly finalist New Money Honey. If New Money Honey wins the category, it will be back-to-back wins for Medaglia d’Oro daughters after Songbird won the award last year. Curlin’s (Smart Strike) hot streak continued this year on the track and he’s also been rewarded with multiple finalists. Last year’s champion 3-Year-Old Filly Stellar Wind is back again, this time as an Old Dirt Female finalist while Preakness winner Exaggerator gives his sire another finalist in the 3-Year-Old Male category after Palace Malice in 2013. England-based Dansili (Danehill) is the only European with multiple finalists after his daughter Queen’s Trust won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf to be named a finalist for 3-Year-Old Filly and Flintshire ended his career by being named a finalist in the Male Turf Horse Category.

Distorted Humor was a hit at the Breeders’ Cup as a broodmare sire and that continued here as well. He is the damsire of Arrogate, who is a Horse of the Year and 3-Year-Old Male finalist, 2-Year-Old Male finalist Practical Joke, and 2-Year-Old Filly finalist New Money Honey. The 24-year-old active sire went a long way toward helping Mr. Prospector’s dominance here, as he is a grandson of the stallion.

A.P. Indy – Pulpit’s sire A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) has been one of the top U.S. sires for decades and it shows here. A.P. Indy is found in the sireline of five finalists, ranging from Female Sprinter (Haveyougoneaway) to Horse of the Year (California Chrome). He is also in the damsire lines of 3-Year-Old Filly finalist Cathryn Sophia (Street Boss), Older Dirt Female finalist Stellar Wind (Curlin), and Male Sprinter Finalist A.P. Indian (a division where he’s also the grandsire of another finalist.)

A.P. Indy
Storm Cat – Perhaps A.P. Indy’s biggest rival at stud was Storm Cat (Storm Bird), who is carving out his own line in the Northern Dancer (Nearctic) dynasty. Storm Cat is nearly as popular as Mr. Prospector here with 11 horses coming from his sire line through their sire or dam. All three of the 2-Year-Old Male finalists have Storm Cat in their pedigree with Not This Time (Giant’s Causeway) and Practical Joke (Into Mischief) having him on their sire’s side and Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile) produced by one of his granddaughters2.
  
Age of Sires – The sires of the Eclipse finalists trends to more middle aged with the average sitting at 16.45 years of age. Not surprisingly the youngest sire with a finalist is Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie), with the stallion turning nine this year, followed by 11-year-old Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker). The oldest is the late Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled), who would have been 24 in 2017. The median age of all sires with a finalist is 16 with sires born in 2004 having more finalists than any other age at five. They are followed by the 20-year-olds, who have four finalists.

Pioneerof the Nile's Classic Empire
Sadler’s Wells – A son of Northern Dancer, Sadler’s Wells was based in Ireland during his stud career but that doesn’t mean his influence didn’t touch the U.S. He is the grandsire of Medaglia d’Oro, who has two finalists, in addition to being found in the sire or damsire line of two Male Turf Horse finalists and in both the sire and damsire line of Steeplechase Horse finalist Scorpiancer (Scorpion).

Champions Siring Champions - It’s always a breeder’s hope that the foals born in their foaling barn become champions, but it’s even better when those champions produce champions. That’s the case for the breeders who produced the sires of 11 of the finalists, with those stallions being named champions before they retired to stud duty. Of those finalists, three have champions on both sides of their pedigrees with their damsires also being named champion during their racing careers. Overall, 18 finalists have U.S., Canadian or European champions as their sire or damsire.
Highland Reel is by a champion and out of the daughter of a champion

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