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Since the Thor­ough­bred Own­ers and Breed­ers As­so­ci­a­tion’s Amer­i­can Graded Stakes Com­mit­tee re­quires cer­tain purse lev­els for races to qual­ify for graded stakes des­ig­na­tion, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing graded stakes vic­tors goes hand in hand with high rank on the gen­eral sire list. Thus no one will be sur­prised that Tapit ranks as the lead­ing sire of North Amer­i­can graded stakes win­ners for 2015 with 16, well ahead of the 11 in­di­vid­ual graded stakes win­ners sired by Medaglia d’Oro, who also fin­ished se­cond on the sire list, $4.6 mil­lion be­hind Tapit’s record $17.6 mil­lion.

The ta­bles here sum­ma­rize the ba­sic pedi­gree pa­ram­e­ters of 357 North Amer­i­can graded stakes win­ners of 2015 from Aca­demic to Yahilwa. Th­ese 357 horses ac­counted for all 495 graded stakes races run in the United States and Canada in 2015. The 357 graded stakes win­ners were sired by 172 dif­fer­ent sires who stand or stood in all parts of the globe.

That amounts to slightly more than two graded stakes win­ners among sires with graded stakes win­ners, and there were only 11 stal­lions, as shown in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing ta­ble, who sired six or more in 2015. For­mer lead­ing sires Gi­ant’s Cause­way (9) and Kit­ten’s Joy (7) con­tinue to rank highly

by num­ber of graded stakes win­ners. The most no­table new ap­pear­ance on this list is dual Horse of the Year Curlin, who en­joyed a break­out year in 2015 with seven graded stakes win­ners.

Oc­ca­sion­ally one pro­lific money win­ner can push a sire with only a few graded stakes win­ners to the top of the sire list, as Cigar did for his sire, Palace Mu­sic, on some lists in 1996, but the record $8,288,800 earned by 2015’s lead­ing earner, Amer­i­can Pharoah, left his sire, Pioneerof the Nile, in third place on the Amer­i­can sire list, $6.1 mil­lion be­hind lead­ing sire Tapit. Pioneerof the Nile sired only one other graded stakes win­ner in 2015, Grade 2 Se­abis­cuit Hand­i­cap win­ner Mid­night Storm.

Tapit is a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the fastest grow­ing male line in North Amer­ica, de­scend­ing from his grand­sire, A.P. Indy. As shown in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing ta­ble of 2015 graded stakes win­ners by sire line and branch, male-line de­scen­dants of A.P. Indy ac­count for 46 in­di­vid­ual 2015 graded stakes win­ners, 24 of them from the branch founded by Tapit’s sire, Pul­pit.

That amounts to 12.9 per­cent of the to­tal num­ber of 2015 graded stakes win­ners, well short of the 40.3 per­cent (144 graded stakes win­ners) from the North­ern Dancer male line and the 30 per­cent (107) ac­counted for by male-line de­scen­dants of Mr. Prospector. For most of the first decade of the 21st cen­tury, Mr. Prospector had been gain­ing on North­ern Dancer, but in the last few years, that trend has stalled or even re­versed. That is pri­mar­ily due to the Amer­i­can ex­pan­sion of the Sadler’s Wells branch of North­ern Dancer through the ex­ploits of El Prado’s sons Kit­ten’s Joy and Medaglia d’Oro.

Both the Sadler’s Wells (29) and Danzig (29) branches of North­ern Dancer, how­ever, pale in sig­nif­i­cance com­pared with the branch founded by dual lead­ing sire Storm Cat, whose de­scen­dants ac­counted for 67 graded stakes win­ners in 2015. Three of Storm Cat’s de­scen­dants, Gi­ant’s Cause-

way (9), Scat Daddy (8), and Har­lan’s Hol­i­day (7), rank among the top 11 sires of 2015 graded stakes win­ners.

The Fap­pi­ano branch of Mr. Prospector (which in­cludes Amer­i­can Pharoah) con­tin­ues to be the most pro­lific branch with 29 graded stakes win­ners. The most in­ter­est­ing new de­vel­op­ment is the emer­gence of the Machi­avel­lian branch, en­tirely through Machi­avel­lian’s son Street Cry, who sired three graded stakes win­ners, while his sons Street Boss, Street Hero, and Street Sense (5) all sired graded stakes win­ners as well.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween graded stakes wins and earn­ings is also ev­i­dent on brood­mare sire lists, al­though hon­ors are al­ways more wide­spread among brood­mare sires of graded stakes win­ners. A.P. Indy led the Amer­i­can brood­mare sire list for the first time in 2015, and also stands at the top of the list of brood­mare sires of graded stakes win­ners with six, but that num­ber was matched by three other stal­lions. One of those is fel­low Lane’s End stal­lion Lemon Drop Kid, who en­joyed a re­mark­able year, rank­ing in a tie for fourth on the list of sires of graded stakes win­ners as well as in a tie for first on the list of brood­mare sires of graded stakes win­ners.

Some­what sur­pris­ingly, the Mr. Prospector male line fin­ished in a vir­tual dead heat with the North­ern Dancer male line on the list of graded stakes win­ners by brood­mare sire line with 114 and 115, re­spec­tively. Al­though the Da­m­as­cus male line is ef­fec­tively dead as a pro­ducer of graded stakes win­ners by male line, his de­scen­dants still were brood­mare sires of nine 2015 graded stakes win­ners, led by Gilded Time’s four.

Stal­lions, of course, sire 100 or more foals per year, while brood­mares pro­duce only one. There­fore, the 357 2015 graded stakes win­ners were pro­duced by 353 dif­fer­ent brood­mares. Only four brood­mares pro­duced two GSWs of 2015. Grade 3 Win­ning Col­ors Stakes win­ner Graeme Six, by Graeme Hall, is the dam of Cali Star, by Street Cry, and De­light­ful Joy, by Tapit; Grade 1 Ken­tucky Oaks win­ner Lemons For­ever, by Lemon Drop Kid, is the dam of Un­bri­dled For­ever and For­ever Un­bri­dled, both by Un­bri­dled’s Song; stakes-placed Noble Fire, by Hook and Lad­der, is the dam of cham­pion fe­male sprinter La Ver­dad, by Yes It’s True, and Grade 3 win­ner Hot City Girl, by City Zip; and Grade 3 Tempted Stakes win­ner Sum­mer Raven, by Sum­mer Squall, is the dam of 2015 graded win­ners Mis­con­nect, by Un­bri­dled’s Song, and Lewis Bay, by Bernar­dini.

Bruce Lowe fam­ily No. 1 has long been the most nu­mer­ous in the brood­mare pop­u­la­tion, and that nu­mer­i­cal su­pe­ri­or­ity is re­flected in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing ta­ble of graded stakes win­ners by fe­male line. The La Troi­enne branch of the No. 1 fam­ily pro­duced 12 2015 graded stakes win­ners, the most trac­ing to a sin­gle 20th-cen­tury brood­mare.

Of the 357 North Amer­i­can graded stakes win­ners of 2015, only four do not carry at least one cross of North­ern Dancer in their pedi­grees. In other words, al­most 99 per­cent of North Amer­i­can graded stakes win­ners of 2015 carry North­ern Dancer some­where in their pedi­grees. Since North­ern Dancer was born in 1961 and went to stud in 1965, he has achieved this re­mark­able feat of vir­tu­ally com­plete sat­u­ra­tion of the genome of the Amer­i­can Thor­ough­bred in only 50 years. It is an ab­so­lute cer­tainty that within the next five years or so, all North Amer­i­can graded stakes win­ners will carry at least one cross of North­ern Dancer, and the Amer­i­can Thor­ough­bred as a whole is likely to fol­low within a decade.

Even that does not ad­e­quately de­scribe North­ern Dancer’s in­flu­ence. Al­though his sire line ac­counts for about 40 per­cent of 2015 graded stakes win­ners, 292 of the 357 (81.8 per­cent) carry at least two crosses of North­ern Dancer in their pedi­grees.

His­tor­i­cally the Amer­i­can Thor­ough- bred has car­ried an av­er­age in­breed­ing co­ef­fi­cient of around 1 per­cent, but in­breed­ing co­ef­fi­cient of the av­er­age graded stakes win­ner of 2015 was 1.52 per­cent.

Be­cause of their pres­tige and value, and the abil­ity re­quired to win them, the pedi­grees of graded stakes win­ners nor­mally serve as a win­dow into the fu­ture of the pedi­grees of the breed as a whole. With the cur­rent dom­i­nance of North­ern Dancer and Mr. Prospector, the rise of A.P. Indy, the con­tin­u­ing shrink­age of the num­ber of stal­lions at stud, and the rise in the av­er­age num­ber of mares cov­ered per stal­lion, the in­breed­ing co­ef­fi­cient of the Amer­i­can Thor­ough­bred is cer­tain to con­tinue to rise over the next decade.


Gainesway Farm’s Tapit was a run­away leader by 2015 graded stakes win­ners.


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