The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating and if the following stories don’t whet your appetite for trying Pedigree Matching then you can’t be very hungry for success in the business.
There have been many
success stories in the 20 year history of
Pedigree Matching clients and customers.
Many times the horse in question is the best that the customer has ever bred or bought. Hearing about these successes is always rewarding because it reinforces our belief that what we promote – the need to do your homework – is the path to success, in addition, of course, to using the tools and information that we can provide.
Here are just a few of the stories that we have heard from past customers.
Alan was a young trainer just starting out on his own in 2003 after working for different trainers in the United States. He was a classmate of one of my sons and they played hockey together. His father Bill and I were acquainted through work.
Bill called me in the fall of 2003 to see if I could help Alan pick out a yearling in Lexington and give him a list of affordable yearlings to look at. Now Lexington is not what I would call an affordable place to buy a yearling but Alan had a partner, Andy Willinger, another young man who lived in Kentucky. They set off on their great adventure with $10,000 and a short list of bargain possibilities. The colt they bought after checking out the list for conformation, was by Cambest. He cost $12,000 and they had to borrow the extra $2,000 from Andy’s mother to get the colt home. It was on the list because it had a great pedigree but was by a sire that had lost favour in the marketplace.
Alan broke and trained the colt and raced him through the early part of his four year old year. In the process the colt won several stakes and earned almost $400,000 for his young owners. They sold him for another $400,000 and he went on to race for one of the top trainers in North America and won over $2,270,600 lifetime with a record of 1:47.3.
SSG Stables, Ontario
In 1993 Ed James had twenty plus racehorses in Alberta and Ontario and was not having much success. I met him by chance on a golf course on PEI and he asked me to help him clear out the horses and find him some young horses with top calibre potential.
Seven years later he still has a dozen horses racing but among them are two that race in the Open class at Woodbine on a regular basis plus two others that are more than paying their way on that tough circuit.
Between them they have earned over $2,210,000 and counting since they were purchased. All four were bought as green two year olds at Harrisburg and have lived up to the potential in their pedigrees despite being given up on by their first owners.
Valvec 1:53.3 by Mr Lavec was bought in 2003. Unraced at two he is now an Open class trotter on the OJC with 40 wins and $665,181 made lifetime and $95,610 made in 2008.
Hyperion Hanover p.1:49.1 by Camluck was bought in 2005 and is an Open Class winner at Woodbine with 52 wins and $1,274,413 in earnings.
Indiana Hall 1:55.3 by Striking Sahbra was bought in 2005 and has 57 wins and $852,312 made lifetime and races at the Preferred level on the OJC.
Tuck was bought privately in 2005 for $15,000 and has 16 wins and $261,542 lifetime with $58,650 in 2008.
These and other young horses and future stars developing in Ed’s stable are under the care of Rob Fellows who, largely due to the success of the SSG horses, is now one of the top conditioners on the Ontario Jockey Club circuit.
Updated - March 10th - 2012
Hyperion Hanover is now over $1 million in earnings and Ed James is currently the number one owner in earnings on the OJC circuit for 2010.
Updated - November - 2018
Mcwicked bought as a 2YO at Harrisburg and was 3YO Pacing Colt Of The Year in North America, Obrien and Dan Patch Award winner. Still racing with $2,387,000 and 22 wins and a record of 1.47.3f as of 2018.
Irwin Stables, Ontario
I first met Gord Irwin in Harrisburg in 1999 where we had our Pedigree Matching booth to demonstrate the program. He was an old-timer in the business having trained and raced horses for over thirty years, mostly on the B-circuit in Ontario.
He had just got rid of all of his racing stock and invested the proceeds in one good racemare who was racing in the Preferred ranks in Toronto. As he put it he wanted to have at least one good horse in his lifetime as a trainer.
Just in case the mare did not work out he asked me which sire in Ontario to breed her to. I checked the possibilities and recommended Camluck. Gord’s first reaction was “Can’t do it – too expensive”. I told him that the stud fee of $10,000 may seem expensive but if it’s the right cross then it would be the best investment he could make. “You can’t afford not to breed to him” I told Gord.
Three and a half years later Gord called me out of the blue. “Guess what, Norm, I bred that mare to Camluck just like you said and I got a pretty nice two year old filly. She has made almost $100,000 already. You were right about the stud fee.” Not only did he accept my recommendation but he found a way to pay for the stud fee. He was one of the first to try embryo transfer in Canada and raced the mare to pay for it.
The filly was Invitro who made $2,283,947 in her career racing almost exclusively in Ontario. She is now bred to Somebeachsomewhere, again on my recommendation. Gord may just strike gold again.
Gord Irwin spent a lifetime racing cheap horses and going nowhere. On one fateful day he made two decisions that changed his life. Now he enjoys the winters in Florida and can truly say he had that one great horse that everyone dreams of.
Hollylaine Island Farms, Prince Edward Island
Bob Webster has owned Hollylaine for almost thirty years and has bred several hundred yearlings along the way. He used to be happy to get two or three racing out of his annual crop of 10-15 yearlings – but no longer.
I began doing Bob’s matches for him in 2002, showing him what to look for and how to do his homework on sire selection. Like many breeders he stood his own stallions and made the fatal mistake of breeding all of his mares to them. That was the biggest reason for his low success rate despite the fact that he gave them the best of care and turned out great looking yearlings for the annual sale.
Now he stands just one sire and the number of mares has dropped to a dozen or so with most having been at the farm for quite a while. He knows now that selecting the right sire for his mares, even if it means going off the farm, is the best breeding strategy for success.
He swaps breedings with the other sire owners whenever possible so there is no net cost but there definitely is a major net gain. How does he know this ?
For three consecutive crop years in 2004 through 2006, every single one of his yearlings made it to the races at two or three and his 2007 yearlings are well on their way to doing likewise with three two-year-old stakes winners and three others taking records in 2008 from just eight yearlings in 2007. The fact that he is doing this with a group of older mares and in many cases getting the best foals ever from these mares, makes his success even more remarkable.
It just goes to show its never too late to learn how to do your homework.
Joan owned one broodmare by the name of Davita Hanover. For convenience she had bred her to the sire down the road from her and had, not surprisingly, no success in four breedings.
She called me in 1997 after seeing an article on Pedigree Matching in Hoof Beats.
I recommended she breed to a Michigan sire called Super Star Ranger.
The result was a colt she named Winsum Ranger. At three he was the winner of the Michigan State Championship and went on to earn over $542,000 with 38 career wins and a record of 1:56.2 taken at Woodbine.
Winsum Ranger was the first really good horse that Joan ever bred or owned.
She did it again with a full brother now with over $120,000 and still racing.
She also has a filly called Keyanna Rose from a full sister to Winsum Ranger. That filly is also a winner of the Michigan Championships, and was the best of her three year old year in Michigan with over $243,000 made. Keyanna Rose is by Keystone Nordic, another Pedigree Matching sire choice.
Joan, like many others who have experienced Pedigree Matching in action, has shown that you don’t have to be a big farm to produce top horses.
Anyone can produce or buy a great horse if they do their homework or at least get someone to help them with it.
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
In 1999 we attended Harrisburg as usual and again as usual we had several trainers from PEI on hand looking for bargain yearlings. Earl Smith had a couple of owners he was shopping for and he used my list to shop from.
Near the top of the list was a filly by Cams Card Shark, whose first two crops were not that well thought of by the trainers, but she still figured to be expensive because of her pedigree. Earl decided to look at her anyway and came back with the report that the filly was not the greatest, conformation wise, being back on her knees. He thought she would sell cheap but was not sure if he would take a chance. My opinion was that for the quality of the pedigree she would be well worth the chance, just give her time to mature.
Earl bought the filly for $4,500 and took her back to PEI. The prospective new owner, Shaun MacIsaac, was not sure if the price for the filly, now $10,000 with transportation, exchange and finder’s fee included, was worth the risk. I gave him the same advice and he bought her. She was trained down by Earl, qualified and then turned out. Brought back at three she showed enough promise to be sent to Marcel Barrieau in Montreal. She won her first three starts then finished second in a stakes series beaten a head in a track record for three year old fillies.
She was promptly sold for six figures to a group from Toronto with Shaun keeping a share. She went on to make over $775,000 and set a World record for a four year old mare of 1:49.1 at the Meadowlands. Another horse high on my list in the previous 1998 sale in Harrisburg was turned down by a client of mine because he was by Cams Card Shark – the reason being the client’s trainer claimed that “all the Cams Card Sharks are lame” That horse was Bettors Delight p.3,1:49.4 ($2,581,461). He sold for $65,000.
So much for the advice of trainers.
St Lads Farm, Ontario
He started in the Pedigree Matching program in 2005 after several years breeding and raising yearlings with little success. His first fully matched crop were two year olds in 2008.
Bob came to Pedigree Camp in 2007 to find out if he was doing his homework the right way. It looks like he has from the following report by Standardbred Canada on their website on January 8th, 2009.
“In the fall of 2008, Bob Ladouceur of St Lads Farm was truly excited. He had good reason to be, given the overwhelming success of juvenile Twin B Champ filly St Lads Popcorn, although the filly's success wasn't the only reason why '08 will go down as a banner season for the 65-year-old Ontario breeder. In 2007, Ladouceur's St Lads Farm sold 10 yearlings. By the fall of 2008, eight of those 10 made it to the races in their freshman campaigns.
When St Lads Bling and St Lads Nano recorded charted miles in late November and early December, respectively, all 10 of St Lads Farms 2006 foals had made it to the races in their juvenile seasons, a rarity in the business to say the least.
St Lads Popcorn led the charge in '08, assembling a slate which read 12-1-0 from 15 starts, a mark of 1:52.2 over Mohawk Racetrack and purse earnings totaling $654,006. The standout campaign made St Lads Popcorn a finalist for an O'Brien Award as Canada's top two-year-old pacing filly of 2008.
The nine other St Lads Farm two-year-olds that made it to the races in '08 were St Lads Nano, St Lads Gracie, St Lads Boomer, St Lads Supersonic, St Lads Gabby (now named Paid In Silver), St Lads Rave, St Lads He Man, St Lads Adonis and St Lads Bling. Collectively the 10 foals earned $1,222,000 with five over $100,000, a 50% success rate when the average breeder that does not do their homework gets 5% at best.