DEVIL'S BAG/SAINT BALLADO
A STUDY OF GENOTYPE
By Roger E. Lyons
Originally appeared in Owner Breeder journal, December, 1997
All of the sons of Teddy who stood in America, including full brothers Bull Dog and Sir
Gallahad III, though they were aptitudinally quite different from one
another, were able to exploit a broodmare population heavily laden with
Domino influence. One son, Case Ace, was out of a mare by Ultimus, inbred
2x2 to Domino, and sired Raise You, the dam of Raise a Native. Teddyís most
important daughter, La Troienne, had but one significant offspring who was
not a tail-male descendant of Domino. That one, Baby League, was by
Bubbling Over, who was out of a mare inbred 3x4x4 to Domino. Regardless of
differences in phenotype, genotype tends to assert itself in sometimes
strikingly regular ways.
With this principle in mind, Taylor Made Farm, where Saint Ballado,
a full brother of Devilís Bag, stood beginning with the 1998 breeding season,
commissioned me to do an empirical study of the offspring of these two
stallions as part of its stallion development program. The study, began with a survey of the ancestries
of the dams of all progeny, aged three and up as of 1997, by both Devilís Bag
and Saint Ballado. The superior runners among these foals--SWs or
stakes-placed in at least a G2 race--were separated from the main group for
the purpose of comparing them with it as to the frequency of occurrence of
each ancestor within six generations of the dams.
No distinction was made between the Devilís Bag and Saint Ballado
groups. They were simply assumed to have the same genotype. The
high-performance group had 39 cases, the low-performance group 372. A
confidence interval was constructed around the proportion of each ancestor in
order to test for the statistical significance of comparisons at the .10 level.
If a 99 percent certainty is required for engineering and medical
research and a 95 percent certainty for social, economic, and educational
policy research, then a 90 percent certainty seems appropriate for
thoroughbred pedigree research. In my experience that is the extent to which
it can be an exact science. The claim that it is an inherently inexact science
presupposes the possibility of a science that is absolutely exact, but, in truth,
no such science exists. So, the study conducted for Taylor Made Farm did not
measure up to any idealized expectations, but it had just the right amount of
exactness--no more, no less.
Obviously, the factual yield is of interest to those who would consider
applying for a season to Saint Ballado, but the larger principles that emerged
from these facts are of even broader interest from the standpoint of pedigree
VIABILITY OR COMPATIBILITY?
Mares with Mr. Prospector in their pedigrees produced five SWs in this
group, and mares with Nijinsky produced seven. Note that both of these sires
stood at Claiborne Farm, as does Devilís Bag. No reference to the question of
compatibility is necessary in order to explain Devilís Bagís success with
mares by either of these great sires. Mr. Prospector and Nijinsky are both
highly viable broodmare sires, and there can be no doubt that the viability of
the mares played a large part. The factual detail of our study, however, is
sufficient for us to infer that Mr. Prospector has a level of compatibility with
our subject genotype that Nijinsky does not have.
The first clue emerges from the numbers of Mr. Prospector-line and
Nijinsky-line mares bred to the DB/SB genotype. Five SWs came from 16
mares with Mr. Prospector influence while seven came from 42 mares with
Nijinsky influence. Tests of statistical significance showed that Mr.
Prospector had a favorable effect while Nijinsky did not. Unless Mr.
Prospector is that much more highly viable than Nijinsky as a broodmare
sire, then the difference in their effects must be attributable to something
Note the large number of mares with Nijinsky influence that were bred
to the subject genotype and the relatively small number of mares with Mr.
Prospector influence. Nine of the former mares also had Round Table in their
pedigrees, three of them SWs, but the Nijinsky-Round Table combination had
no significant effect. Three other mares had Round Tableís full sister
Monarchy in their pedigrees, and two of them were SWs, but the
Princequillo-Knightís Daughter cross, which covers both siblings, showed no
statistically significant effect (although there may be something to the fact
that the average generational distance of Knightís Daughter in the
non-stakes-winners was 4.75 and only 3.86 in the SWs).
Devilís Bag was an undefeated Champion Two-Year-Old with lots of
speed. Based on his phenotype, it would have seemed perfectly appropriate to
return stamina to him through mares by Nijinsky and to reinforce this with
the soundness and heart conferred by Round Table. But it would appear that
Devilís Bag has sired more towards his genotype than to his phenotype,
which is not an unusual occurrence in the annals of breeding.
The next clue that Mr. Prospectorís effect is in some relatively large
measure attributable to compatibility with the subject genotype is that
certain ancestors in his pedigree also showed a favorable effect. The most
notable one was Nashua, who occurred in the pedigree of 41 mares, ten of
which produced SWs. Clearly, Nashua is not just a trailer of Mr. Prospectorís
effect. Marshuaís Dancer, a three-quarters relative of Mr. Prospector and out
of a Nashua mare, sired the dam of one SW by Devilís Bag; and Roberto, also
out of a Nashua mare, was the broodmare sire of another. Nashua was also
the broodmare sire of a SW and the only strain of Nasrullah who had a
favorable effect when combined with Princequillo.
Native Dancer, Polynesian, and Case Ace, who occur in many other
ways than through Mr. Prospector, also showed a significantly favorable
effect. This suggests that Mr. Prospectorís ancestry was pertinent in a way
independent of the viability of the dams.
Further confirmation that compatability is at play in the cross of Mr.
Prospector with our subject genotype has to do with the dominant make-up of
the pedigree of Devilís Bag and Saint Ballado. The most salient pattern in
this pedigree is evident in the two occurrences of the Blue Larkspur-Teddy
cross through Nothirdchance (Blue Swords-Galla Colors, by Sir Gallahad III)
and Belle of Troy (Blue Larkspur-La Troienne, by Teddy). The reverse of this
cross (Teddy-Domino) happens to be the most common element among the
dams of SWs sired by this genotype.
Our test of statistical significance was sufficiently rigorous that it
proved only 12 ancestors to have a favorable effect--Asterus, Betty Beall,
Case Ace, Helene de Troie, Mr. Prospector, Nashua, Native Dancer, Roman,
Sir Cosmo, Sardanapale, Teddy, and Stimulus. Among these, only
Sardanapale does not have obvious Teddy and/or Domino connections. In fact,
the Teddy-Ultimus cross actually proved to have a significantly favorable
Betty Beall, the third dam of Better Self, has close Teddy-Domino
associations in the following sense. Since we counted six generations of the
dams (seven of the foals), Betty Beall was counted only when Better Self, who
has the Teddy-Domino influence, was in the fourth generation of the foal or
closer. Better Self was present in 21 mares, five of whom produced SWs, with
no significant effect. But Betty Beall was counted in only 16 cases, which all
had Better Self within four generations of the foal. His average generational
distance in the non-stakes producers was 4.63 while in the stakes producers
it was 3.80.
The effect of Helene de Troie, La Troienneís dam, is likewise indicative
of La Troienneís optimal generational range. SWs resulted from 15 of the 118
mares in whose ancestries La Troienne was counted, but only 75 foals were
out of mares with La Troienne in their fifth generation or closer, from which
group came 12 of the 15 SWs. Helene de Troie is in this case a signifier, not the thing signified.
Sir Cosmoís effect might have similar meaning as regards Round Table
and Monarchy since he is the sire of their dam, Knightís Daughter, who has
connections to the ancestries of Teddy and Domino. When we tested Knightís Daughter with Sir Cosmoís
sire present, we still got no effect, but there was an effect in pedigrees which
included Orby, his grandsire, within seven generations of the foal.
The significantly favorable effect of Sardanapale tends to confirm that
a very distant influence can have value even when not reinforced by an
intense accumulation of strains. Skylarking II, the fourth dam of Saint
Ballado, is out of a mare by a son of Sardanapale. That seems a thin
connection, but Devilís Bag has crossed well with mares who have a strain or
two of this relatively rare ancestor. Sardanapale is the sire of Polynesianís
fourth dam, and he is the sire of Nashuaís second dam. To Marketís grandsire
is out of a Sardanapale mare, and Devilís Bag sired Abaginone out of a mare
by Spectacular Bid, who is inbred to To Market (like Nashua, out of a
Johnstown mare). Bold Bidder, with one strain of Sardanapale, figured in the
dams of two other SWs. One SW resulted from four mares with Roberto in
their pedigrees, and Bramalea, his dam, is inbred to Sardanapale. Interesting
that Skylarkingís strain of Sardanapale is male while all of these other
strains are female.
A number of ancestors proved to be significantly unfavorable to the
genotype surveyed, but most fell within the confidence interval established
for comparison, which means that they were neither favorable nor
unfavorable on their own. In the successful cases these ancestors were
redeemed, some by the viability of the mare and others by fortunate
combination with other influences. There is yet much to be gathered from the
data, but about one thing we can have somewhat more than a 90 percent
certainty: mares selected for Saint Ballado will meet a higher standard of
compatibility than has ever been established for a stallion.
Copyright © 1998 Roger E. Lyons
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