banner ad

Myth or reality of wet track breeding in thoroughbreds

February 22, 2019 | By More

Wet track breeding is a pointer to a horse’s ability to handle heavy ground.

Horses with wet track parentage are more likely to enjoy the wet ground.

A wet track sires list tabulates the propensity of a stallion to sire winners on wet tracks.

Comparison to the overall frequency of siring winners on all weather tracks gives an overall measure of wet track breeding dosage.

Zabeel, for example, imparts wet track ability in his offspring.

Despite all the recurrent claims, there appear to be no scientific studies that examine any of these factors in detail.

Some opinion leaders in the industry faithfully name sires that they believe impart wet track ability in their progeny.

These pontifications are rarely supported by hard evidence.

Indeed, what is the scientific basis to their argument?

A scientific analysis will help to validate, or otherwise, this important question.

Analysis with appropriate controls and adequate sample size.

One can sound knowledgeable to claim a genetic basis to wet track performance, but is it justified?

Physical manifestations of wet track breeding?

Advocates of wet track breeding must assume that some stallions impart a certain quality or subset of qualities that allow their progeny to handle heavy going.

What is this unique quality? is it a particular genetic phenotype?

And how is wet track ability manifested? Do the horses have wider hooves, like ducks to prevent them from cutting into the ground?

Or is it their gate? Perhaps they have a smoother action that distributes the weight more evenly and hence can float over mud with ease.

What physical characteristics account for wet track ability?

Identification of the genetic basis of wet track ability would help the punter enormously.

It would be important to know the genetic profile of a mudder.

The punter can use this profile to determine whether an unproven horse is likely to act on heavy ground.

Future form guides may feature wet track gene expression as a normal part of the form line, right next to “last 5 starts”.

Such horses may handle track bias or changes in ground conditions better than others.

This would also come into play when track conditions change with warmer weather.

Lack of real scientific evidence

In my personal study of wet track sires, I concluded that there are unlikely to be any significant genetic factors at play.

In fact, there isn’t any evidence to indicate that it has any role at all.

The most notable wet track sires show little if any improvement on heavy ground, compared to overall performance on all track surfaces.

A comprehensive analysis of wet track sires showed very little difference between dry and wet track winning strike rates.

Lonhro’s progeny, for example, win 12.4% of the time on dry ground but increase to 13.6% on wet.

Not a result that would cause you to alter your bets!

Street Sense’s strike rate goes from 11.3% to 14.6% when the ground is wet.

Street Cry goes from 13.1-13.6%, respectively.

Thus, any improvements are marginal at best.

Influence of female ancestors

What about the influence of female families?

Pedigree analysts laud the duplication of influential ancestral mares, the so-called ‘blue hens’, in transmitting elite performance.

Similar to elite performance, do particular dam lines selectively carry wet track ability in their genes?

Such ancestors, when duplicated, or better line-bred, may result in an absolute swimmer!

I am sure there are studmasters somewhere in the world who would point to a particular family of theirs that has good wet track ability.

The impending proliferation of genetic profiling may uncover entirely new ways in which the punter can forecast wet track ability.

It’s an interesting topic that requires more detailed analysis.

However, for the average punter, wet track breeding is not a big deal.

Share this article:

Tags: , ,

Category: Punting Advice