With the end of the 2011 Racing season (and the birthday of every Northern Hemisphere-born thoroughbred [HAPPY BIRTHDAY!]), we start to more seriously look at the 2012 calendar of events. But before we completely move on to Derby Preps and the foaling/breeding season, I wanted to take a quick look at the 2011 final stallion rankings.
Top three (all information is from the Thoroughbred Times): Giant's Causeway ($12,308,291); Distorted Humor ($10,784,110); Tapit ($10,579,412).
Not a lot of surprises, but one thing I wanted to take a closer look at was to look at efficiency (measured by earnings/starter) and to try to measure how consistent sires are (by tossing out the extreme outliers, which is easily accomplished by tossing the leading earner for any stallion, if they've won over a million dollars and redoing adjusted earnings/ starter). That is not perfect, as ANY runner with over a million in earnings in a year is clearly an outlier industry-wide, but by throwing out the extreme performer (and that one happens to be the most readily accessible; I do have a job) I think you can gain a clearer picture of many stallions' returns on investment, since runners with the lion's share of earnings for their stallion (i.e. Animal Kingdom and Havre de Grace) are tossed from the Adjusted Earnings.
Most efficient stallions of the top 25: Tapit, Distorted Humor, Speightstown, Smart Strike, Indian Charlie
Most consistent stallions of the top 25: Tapit, Ghostzapper, Speightstown, Medaglia d'Oro, Indian Charlie
Distorted Humor drops with consistency due to Drosselmeyer's victory in the Classic. 2.7 million of his 2.9 million in earnings is from one race. Granted, it's the most important race in the country, but the average breeder isn't shooting for classic champions, just good quality winners.
Smart Strike drops due to the exclusion of My Miss Aurelia. Again, 1.08 of her 1.3 million are from one race. Not penalizing, just trying to adjust for freaks of nature.
In my opinion, so many of the raw numbers thrown out there for stallions (and breeding in general) come with zero context and absolutely no benchmark to which you can compare them. Currencies are different the world over, the demand is different, the conditions are different. There are so many variables that trying to distill dollars and starters, and GSWs, and champions, etc, into something useful for the common person, like myself, is nearly impossible. I think a lot of this goes back to Matt's article about stats and data. I think a lot of the data is kept purposely from the general public in order to enhance different sectors of the industry. Perfect information (or close to it) would do irreparable harm to the parimutuel system in just about the same way as perfect information about stallions would lead to many a stallion barn going out of business. Both ends of the industry are a gambling man's game.
But seriously, why can't I even find a chart with the Stallion,% winners, earnings/starter, GSWs, Distance progeny are most successful at, best family crosses, surfaces best suited for progeny (if applicable), and average and median sale prices for weanlings/yearling/2yos in training? All of this data is available, but scattered throughout the Stallion Register, the Sire Rankings, Equibase, Pedigree Query, and amongst the myriad of charts for each starter (I'm only concerned with the free resources here). I know that bloodstock agents have all of that stuff memorized (or in their own chart/resource somewhere). I know that these are just data points and you have to rationalize all of that with what the horse looks like, bone structure, size, and the basic physical attributes that best fit any mare. And I know that it is all just a crap shoot in the end. But can't the data mining be made a little simpler without having to shell out quite a bit of money just to get some statistics?
For what it's worth, a year's subscription to the simplest of these sites, Pedigree Query, costs $100/year. That's not a ton of cash, but I'd prefer to save up my money for stud fees.