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Introducing FirstCross 2.0


By Roger Lyons

       The problem with the old version of FirstCross was that it provided the CompuSire version of nick ratings for only 38 major sire lines. For this reason, it offered a very general sire-line analysis that assumed a continuity of influence from one branch to another. One branch of Mr. Prospector, for example, might cross very well with Northern Dancer-line mares while another might not. The main limitation of the old version was that it didn't distinguish between the two branches.
       FirstCross 2.0 is another story. First of all, it contains a database of more than 17,000 stakes winners born in 1982 or later worldwide. This database contains pedigree information sufficient to trace the sire- and broodmare-sire lines of all these stakes winners, and, in most cases, complete five-generation pedigrees are included. Secondly, this database is indexed in such a way as to allow high-speed selection of groups of stakes winners based on sire or sire line, broodmare sire or broodmare sire line, or the cross of any two sires or sire lines. Third, not only does it provide a comprehensive sireline analysis of these groups, but it is integrated with the CompuSire main module in such a way as to enable the user to browse the pedigrees of the individual stakes winners in the group or print them all in a batch.
       These functions constitute a very powerful medium for the study of pedigree patterns in stakes winners. They also provide the most unrestricted access to sireline nick ratings that has ever been available publicly.

       CompuSire's Sire line Affinity Index (SAI) is the nick rating used in the FirstCross 2.0 module. It assesses the frequency with which two sires or sire lines occur in the first cross of stakes winners' pedigrees (tail-male of the sire and tail-male of the dam) against the total representation of those two sire lines in the stakes-winner population as a whole. An SAI of 1.00 means that the two sires or sire lines have yielded stakes winners with precisely the expected frequency. An index of 2.00 means that they have yielded twice as many stakes winners as expected, given the total representation of each independently.
       The nick ratings provided by FirstCross 2.0 differ from those of other information sources. The Werk Nick Rating has become a standard in the Thoroughbred industry, and that was made possible by the definitive nature of that rating. Implicit in the process that underlies the Werk Nick Rating are expert judgments about what constitutes a sire line and about the continuities and discontinuities of influence that apply to specific sire lines. FirstCross 2.0 provides the pertinent data, but leaves these judgments to the user. In other words, it is a do-it-yourself research tool whose main virtue is that it maximizes information access.

Figure One
Figure 1 - Stakes winners out of Miswaki mares

       The FirstCross 2.0 module contains no information about the frequency of crosses in the general population of foals. If a cross has never been tried, then it has never had the opportunity to work. But even the Blood-Horse Nicks annual does not contain sufficient information to allow the conclusion that such-and-such a cross has never been tried (since it only includes references to sires with at least one stakes winner or at least five foals out of daughters of the broodmare sire in question). Therefore, many unsuccessful matings are excluded. Still, it provides a perspective and is well worth its price, especially if used as a companion to FirstCross 2.0

       Suppose you have an unraced daughter of Miswaki, and you don't want to spend a lot of money on a stud fee, at least until she shows you something encouraging. The first thing you would ask of FirstCross 2.0 is to list the stakes winners out of Miswaki mares.
See Figure One. You immediately notice that 10 of the 15 stakes winners listed are by Northern Dancer-line stallions and that four of those trace to Nijinsky. This points you in a definite direction.

Figure Two
Figure 2 - Sire-line selection feature

       You then ask the program to display the pedigree of the first stakes winner in the list. That would be Azzilfi, by Ardross, a son of Run the Gauntlet. But you're interested in the Northern Dancer line, so you press a button and move on to Librada's Brigade, by Sportin' Life, a son of Nijinsky. You decide to check the nick by selecting the menu item that assesses the current pedigree. This opens the window shown in Figure 2. You know that there is only one stakes winner bred after the Bet Twice-Nijinsky cross, so you click the button next to Nijinsky's name and then click on the "Analysis" button. You find that the SAI for the Nijinsky-Miswaki cross is a very encouraging 2.83. See Figure 3. A son of Nijinsky is a distinct possibility, but can you find one at the right price?

       Suppose you have an opportunity to purchase a yearling by Dixie Brass and out of a Miswaki mare, either privately or at auction. Assessing an individual is a lot simpler since the cross you are assessing is already determined. Enter the pedigree of the mare and then display her pedigree with that of Dixie Brass. Then select the menu item that assesses the currently displayed pedigree.

Figure Three
Figure 3 - Sire-line analysis with SAI for the Nijinsky-Miswaki cross

       FirstCross 2.0 allows you to view a pedigree from a variety of perspectives relating to sire-line analysis, but it also enables you to compare a pedigree at hand with successful pedigrees from the same cross to find out if this one has similar characteristics.

       In the course of your analysis, especially if you print six-generation pedigrees, you might notice that Dixieland Band has four strains of Hyperion and that the dam of Dixie Brass returns an additional strain through Imitation, the dam of Pretense. You might also notice that the dam of Dixie Brass has three strains of Teddy to add to the two of Dixieland Band.
       As you turn to the Miswaki side, you will notice that he has six strains of Teddy, but no Hyperion whatever. As a matter of fact, Mr. Prospector line in general tends to accumulate Teddy. Therefore, the dam of your mare by Miswaki probably contributes additional Teddy influence. It also happens that, while Northern Dancer line has frequently combined with certain distinct Teddy strains, his descendants tend to accumulate Hyperion strains much more systematically than they accumulate strains of Teddy, perhaps because of Northern Dancer's key Lady Angela strain of Hyperion.
       In general, therefore, crosses of Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector lines will tend to balance Hyperion and Teddy influence, and this might be an important pattern underlying the Northern Dancer-Mr. Prospector nick. A good researcher assumes that certain ingredients distinguish which of those crosses tend to work and which of them don't. FirstCross 2.0 provides you with the opportunity to find out what those ingredients might be.

       Use the CompuSire
family tables function to make a list of stallions out of Secretariat mares. Then use the FirstCross 2.0 functions to browse the stakes winners by each stallion, attempting to identify patterns in the dams of these stakes winners. One thing you're going to find is lots of inbreeding to Bold Ruler, but many other questions arise. Do the dams represent a certain aptitudinal profile? Are there recurrent returns of ancestors such as Princequillo or Somethingroyal? Under what conditions does Sir Gaylord, Secretariat's half-brother, appear in the pedigree of the mare? Are certain broodmare sires represented more frequently than others?
       The CompuSire stallion search features also support the use of the FirstCross 2.0 module. Once you've identified a sire line as a particularly favorable cross with your mare, you can do a sire-line search for stallions representing that sire line or that represent a sire-line/broodmare sire-line cross. Then browse the prospective matings of these stallions with your mare, checking the nicks as you go.

       This new module opens up new dimensions in pedigree research. But be forewarned. No computer program can adequately prescribe a course of action. Those that claim to should be viewed with a fair amount of skepticism. FirstCross 2.0 is designed for those who want to spend time delving into the complexities of Thoroughbred pedigrees, deducing possible interpretations of the information at hand, and following the logic of pedigree analysis from one hypothesis to the next. In short, the value of FirstCross 2.0 is defined largely by the dedication that one brings to it.
       FirstCross 2.0 is delivered on 3.5" high-density diskettes. Like all of our products, it is technically easy to use. Orders are accompanied by a manual that is designed largely to identify issues and considerations that are pertinent to sire-line analysis and pedigree interpretation.
       Subscription options are offered at two levels of service. Level I includes the initial installation and two updates during the first year. Level II includes the initial installation and one update. Subsequent-year updates are available at both levels. Please see our on-line order form or price list for details.

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