The exceptions in breeding tend to be the rule, however. Otherwise, a breeder with vast wealth could come along, buy up the best mares and lock up the game. As an example, there was no way anybody could have figured a mare like Hildene, who retired a maiden on the track and then produced stakes winners such as Hill Prince, Third Brother and First Landing.
Generally it is the rule, though, that the best-producing mares were either capable at the track or appeared to have top potential until injured.
"I want a good pedigree and top conformation in my broodmares," says Trainer Johnny Nerud. "Good families tend to keep reproducing, but if you have to compromise, then I go for racing ability instead of pedigree. But basically what we're all looking for is a good individual."
Buyers at this week's Saratoga yearling sales are looking for good individuals—and paying plenty for them—both for future racing and breeding purposes. And no one really knows which way to turn. "Five of my stable's best fillies all beat colts, and none of the five ever produced anything noteworthy," says Owner-Breeder C. V. Whitney. "On the other hand, a lot of my other top mares never beat colts but have turned out to be good producers."
"As far as Shuvee is concerned," says her trainer, Mike Freeman, "she should be ideal from a breeding standpoint. She's got Nasrullah and Princequillo going back two generations, and you can't beat that." But you can't count on it, either. For instance, what about Protanto? His mother is a mare named Foolish One who is a half sister to the late champion Bold Ruler. Oh, and what was Foolish One's career on the racetrack? She never even raced.