By Joy D Cox
As mentioned in our previous article, the origins of all horses belonging to the Thoroughbred breed have been attributed to three Arabian Stallions. The Byerley Turk (the earliest of the three), The Darley Arabian, and The Godolphin Arabian.
The Thoroughbred Jockey Club has documented some 3 million Thoroughbreds in their “Stud Book” and approximately 40,000 registered each year. The extreme diversity of Thoroughbred Stallions is reflected by the industries’ demand for a “Live Cover” by the Stud being used. That is to say the Thoroughbred industry does not permit transported semen or artificial insemination of any kind. The Arabian Jockey Club does allow for transported and frozen semen which limits the diversity of Stallions.
The Thoroughbred Jockey Club owes its beginnings to James Weatherby who created the first “Stud Book” in 1791. He listed pedigrees of over 350 mares, each of which could be traced back to “Eclipse”, a descendant of The Darley Arabian, Matchem, a grandson of The Godolphin Arabian or Herod, A great grandson of The Byerley Turk.
The first TB to reach America was a Stallion named “Bulle Rock” in 1730. Some 186 Thoroughbred’s would be imported to the colonies forming the foundation of the Thoroughbred family tree. Colonel Sanders Bruce published the first American Stud Book in 1873 and was subsequently taken over by The Jockey Club.
Progeny of Stallions and mares relate primarily to earnings on the race track. “Storm Cat” commanded a stud fee of $500,000.00 and his sons and daughters have won over $100,000,000.00 and he is considered to be a “Sire of Sires.” Just as important as the Sire is the Mare, and one of the most important bloodlines of the 20th. Century is the Mare “La Troienne.”
A number of Champions trace back to her including Seattle Slew, A.P. Indy, Sea Hero, Go For Gin, Easy Goer, etc., etc. Smarty Jones also has two crosses to La Troienne and he has bloodlines that go back to a War Admiral and La Troienne cross.
So it must be obvious that with 40,000 registered Thoroughbreds it is impossible to give anything except a brief overview of Thoroughbred bloodlines. I would refer the reader to three excellent books: Designing Speed by Ken McLean; Racehorse Breeding Theories by Frank Mitchell; and finally The Byerley Turk by Jeramy James in which he characterized the first and greatest Arabian Stallion and his rise to prominence through Capt. Robert Byerley.
We’ll next take a look at the Standard bred Horse as well as the ever popular Quarter Horse.