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Female lines influence in top sires

The best sires come from the best female lines - fact or fiction?

Medaglia D'oroMedaglia D’oro (El Prado – Cappucino Bay) (photo: Darley)

While many of history’s top stallions hail from blue blooded female lines, there are just as many that buck the trend.

Darley Stud’s Medaglia D’Oro is one of the finest stallions currently at stud in the world. The magnificent looking son of El Prado, whose son Vancouver landed the world’s richest race for 2yos (Gr1 Golden Slipper) on Saturday, has made a huge impact on the breed, with Medaglia D’Oro’s influence being felt in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

To date, Medaglia D’Oro (whose NH stud fee this season was $125 000 – over R1 million), has been represented by more than 60 stakes winners (a very respectable 8% of his foal crop) and his offspring have already earnings of over $62 million to their credit. Not only is he the sire of unbeaten 2yo Vancouver, but Medaglia D’Oro (a top class performer but not champion himself) has 12 other top flight winners to his credit. His ever growing list of high class performers includes Horse Of The Year Rachel Alexandra, one of the finest fillies ever to race in the US, fellow Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty and Gr1 winner and young sire Warrior’s Reward.

While he had plenty going for him when retiring to stud, Medaglia D’Oro did not sport a particularly fashionable catalogue page at first glance. His dam Cappucino Bay was a minor stakes winner, prior to Medaglia D’Oro, but there were no graded stakes winners in his first two dams (his half sister Naples Bay won her graded races after her famous sibling). Added to this, his broodmare sire was the average sire Bailjumper, whose only other progeny of major significance was Gr1 winner Skip Trial. The latter would go on to sire US Horse Of The Year, Skip Away. It is also worth remembering that Medaglia’s half sister, Naples Bay, was sired by one of the world’s finest stallions (Giant’s Causeway) and the pair are the only graded winners in their first two dams.

El Prado

It is easy to attribute Medaglia’s success to the influence of his sire, El Prado, one of the very best sire sons of Sadler’s Wells and the only son of his legendary father ever to head North America’s general sires list (El Prado was top in 2002). An outstanding stallion, El Prado is also the sire of US Champion Sire, Kitten’s Joy, while his Breeders Cup winner, Artie Schiller, while no star at stud, has left behind Gr1 winners in Australia and North America. The strength of Sadler’s Wells male grows annually, and appears to have found success in Australia, while Galileo dominates European racing and Sadler’s Wells grandson Dynasty currently heads the local sires’ log.

Jet Master

Jet MasterJet Master

Jet Master (Rakeen) in South Africa is another fine example of a stallion with a less than notable female line making it big. Arguably the greatest sire bred in South Africa, Jet Master proved that lacking a flashy female page was no problem as he has dominated South Africa’s stallion logs over the past decade, having headed the general sires list on seven occasions. Jet Master is the sole Gr1 winner found in the first four dams and remains by far and away the best horse produced in his family.



Jet Master was preceded in this country by outstanding stallion, Foveros, (Averof), who headed the general sires list on eight occasions and also became an outstanding broodmare sire. He too hailed from a somewhat plebeian female line at the time he retired to stud, although subsequent champion sprinter Hinterland (Badger Land) did emerge from this family after Foveros’ death.

Sunday Silence

Legendary US Horse Of The Year and dominant Japanese sire, Sunday Silence, is another whose immediate family lacked another standout. The son of Halo, whose dam Wishing Well was a decent racemare whose wins included the now Gr1 Gamely Hcp, was by a long way the best produce in his first four dams – a fact which failed to prevent the fiery stallion from stamping his mark on the breed in no uncertain terms. Champion Sire in Japan for 13 consecutive years, Sunday Silence (whose numerous high class performers include champion sire Deep Impact, sire of Saturday’s Gr1 George Ryder Stakes hero Real Impact), sired over 170 stakes winners including a string of champions.



One of history’s greatest stallions is Danzig, a triple US Champion and sire of such outstanding sires as Danehill, Green Desert, Hard Spun and War Front, to name but a few. While his dam, Pas De Nom, was a decent racemare whose nine wins included a number in stakes races, her sire Admiral’s Voyage (whose wins included the now Gr1 Wood Memorial and Carter Hcp) is but rarely found in top pedigrees exclusive of Danzig. Admiral’s Voyage, who ended his days in Louisiana, was mated to a one time winner to produce Pas De Nom – one of the best of her sire’s runners.

While, Danzig’s third dam, Steady Aim, did win the Epsom Oaks, this is a far from powerful female line and Danzig is by far and away the most important horse to have emerged from it. It is hard to imagine a Danzig free pedigree nowadays, with his influence stretching across the globe and his male line descendants including some of the very best stallions of the modern day era.


So how valid is the theory that the best sires come from the best female lines? It’s hard to place too much belief in the sire producing family theory – Mr Prospector and Northern Dancer, to name but two of history’s greatest sires, both had a number of full brothers best described as ordinary! Certainly some of this theory should surely be ascribed to promotional hype?

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4 comments on “Female lines influence in top sires”

  1. Rasmussen agrees wholeheartedly.

    Linebreeding to superior mares is the answer, not inbreeding to stallions.

    Rakeen a great example locally of Northern Dancer x Halo BUT linebreeding to Almahmoud through her daughters Cosmah and Natalma.

    I need not say more about the immortal Danehill and the legacy he left behind with this train of thinking.

    If you believe in the power of superior mares in a pedigree, you’re on the way to buying or breeding horses with better chances.

  2. Medaglia d’Oro’s grandam Dubbed In is by Silent Screen out of Society Singer.
    Silent Screen’s grandam Sunday Evening is also the third dam of Society Singer, giving Dubbed In bottom female line inbreeding through descendants of two different daughters of Sunday Evening.
    Through another daughter Sunday Evening leads to sires Henrythenavigator, Bluebird, Java Gold, champion filly Indian Skimmer (dam of sire Manshood), and sires (half brothers) Dolphin Street (by Bluebird!) and Saffron Walden (as well as SA top-sprinter All Will Be Well, a gelding).
    As female lines go, plenty of sire material down the line, and Medaglia d’Oro doubles up on it.

  3. Rasmussen was a salesman first and a breeding pundit second.

    He personally failed as a breeder.

    When he advised the controlling owner of Round Table on matings, the majority owner’s results paled in comparison to Claiborne Farm and many other breeders.

    He came up with a gimmick that some people fell for.

    His biggest mistake was not going into evangelism, because he would have made more money and impact than Bill Graham!

  4. Sunday Silence’s dam was the product of an idiosyncratic California breeder named George Pope, Jr., who was opposed to paying high stud fees for his mares and avoided Nasrullah blood whenever possible. With a small broodmare band and using his own stallions, he produced stars like Hill Rise, Hill Circus, etc. His greatest achievement was his home-bred stallion Hillary, who was highly inbred to both Gondolette and Black Ray (Rasmussen didn’t invent inbreeding to superior broodmares, after all). He tried several South American sires (all sired by Hyperion’s son Gulf Stream) before he found one that meshed well with Hillary mares, Montparnasse II. Then, because Edelweis, Wishing Well’s second dam had multiple crosses of the La Flambee family, he sent her daughter to a sire from a sireline that had done well with that family, the least expensive one available, to get Wishing Well. It was all part of a long-term, well-thought out breeding plan. (Pope died in 1979 and his stock dispersed; without him to guide the matings, most of his carefully constructed female lines have declined to mediocrity today.)

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