Anne Peters



Anne Peters
P.O. Box 3926
Midway, KY 40347
(859) 846 - 9794



Pedigree Theories and Selection Techniques

Do Milers Make the Best Sires?

There's a breeding adage that says "Milers make the best sires." As far as I can tell, this adage doesn't go back as far as most people think. The first I ever heard of it was about 1982, when John Nerud was retiring his Met Mile winner Fappiano to stud at Tartan Farm in Florida. That might be old to some in this business, but I was alive way back then and remember seeing those first ads about milers making the best sires and even then scratched my head wondering where that wisdom was coming from.

I'm not saying John Nerud wasn't a great horseman and breeder, because he was, and John had a way of saying things to make a point. I know from personal experience. Years ago, I used to edit and write for "Highflyer International," a newsletter on breeding and pedigrees, and I took the assignment to interview Mr. Nerud. Because he had engineered the matings that produced In Reality (3x3 War Relic) and Quiet American (3x2 Dr. Fager and 4x3 Cequillo), two of the closest inbred horses of that era who were also top runners and sires, I asked him about his use of inbreeding. He quickly and sharply denounced it, saying he didn't use it, and that was the end of that line of questioning. Okie Dokie. Needless to say, I never got around to asking John where he got the idea that milers made great sires, either.

I suspect the concept dates back a few years earlier, when Nerud trained the great Dr. Fager who showed blinding, almost uncontrollable speed through three years of racing, from 1966 to 1968. When he was a four-year-old, Dr. Fager was voted Horse of the Year, along with titles that included Champion Older Male, Champion Sprinter and Champion Turf Horse. In the middle of that great year, Dr. Fager set a new world record for a mile on dirt when he won the Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park, covering the mile in 1:32 1/5 carrying 134 pounds. It was a devastating performance. Dr. Fager was a great horse and a very good sire, and I don't blame Mr. Nerud for making superlative claims about Dr. Fager or his grandson Fappiano (out of a mare by Dr. Fager), but in actual fact, do milers make the best sires?

Let's take a look at the recent histories of the most important dirt mile races in North America in the last several decades. I've listed the winners of these races from most recent and all the way back to 1988, for no particular reason other than that time span covers the "current era" of stallions and breeding (and the winners in 1988 were a cracking good lot of horses). Let's see if we can recognize a pattern of exceptional sires among them. The races I've chosen are all Grade 1 events at a mile on dirt open to male horses: the Metropolitan Handicap (a.k.a the Met Mile), the Cigar Mile, the Champagne Stakes and the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (first run in 2007).

The recent winners presented in italics are so designated because they don't have runners who are at least three years old, so can't be evaluated for their success as sires. Since I've seen stallion ads suggesting that the Met Mile is a "sire-making race," let's start there. Scanning down the list of Met Mile winners, I see a few top class stallions there, but only Ghostzapper and Quality Road since 1999, what we might refer to as "recent history." In my humble opinion, this is not an ad-worthy list of great runners turned sires.

The Cigar Mile has produced even fewer stellar stallions and we have to go all the way back to John Nerud's own Quiet American winning in 1990 to find one. These winners include more moderate level successes like El Corredor, Discreet Cat, Stay Thirsty and Connect.

The list of Champagne Stakes winners features stallions Scat Daddy and Uncle Mo and more recently, Union Rags, Daredevil and Practical Joke. This is definitely a better list than the previous two races.

Dating from only 2007, the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile has a shorter history and City of Light and Liam's Map stand out as recent winners turned high-class sires. Two-time Dirt Mile winner Goldencents has recently elevated his reputation from a moderate stallion success to a classic sire this year following Mystik Dan's win in the Kentucky Derby-G1.

In my opinion, these mile races aren't producing a remarkable number of top sires. Neither the Met Mile nor the Cigar Mile qualify as what some refer to as a sire-making race, although there sure is a lot of success stories in the column for the Champagne Stakes and some recent success for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

What I find interesting is that the Champagne Stakes is for juveniles, suggesting that two-year-old form might be a contributing factor in sire success. We don't see Into Mischief on this chart, although his biggest score was in the Cash Call Futurity-G1 going a mile and a sixteenth as a two-year-old. Does that qualify him as a sort of miler? For just an extra half furlong in distance, I'm going to say "yes".

It's also interesting that we don't see Tapit, Curlin, Medaglia d'Oro, War Front or Speightstown among these Grade 1 mile race winners. Tapit won out to nine furlongs; Curlin and Medaglia d'Oro were top class out to ten furlongs. On the other hand, War Front romped in the Princelet Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth at two (so the same qualification as Into Mischief) but was really more of a sprinter, as was Speightstown.

Can we really proclaim that milers make the best sires? I'm not so sure. There seem to be other factors at work in a high-class runner's success as a stallion beyond victory in a Grade 1 mile event.

Copyright by Anne Peters 2024.

YearMetropolitan H. Cigar Mile H.
Champagne S.BC Dirt Mile
(1st run 2007)
2023Cody's Wish Hoist the GoldTimberlakeCody's Wish
2022FlightlineMind Control Blazing SevensCody's Wish
2021Silver State AmericanrevolutionJack ChristopherLife Is Good
2020VekomaTrue Timber Jackie's WarriorKnicks Go
2019Mitole Maximum Security Tiz the LawSpun to Run
2018Bee Jersey Patternrecognition ComplexityCity of Light
2017Mor Spirit Sharp Azteca Firenze FireBattle of Midway
2016Frosted Connect Practical JokeTamarkuz
2015Honor Code TonalistGreenpointcrusaderLiam's Map
2014Palace Malice Private Zone DaredevilGoldencents
2013Sahara Sky Flat Out HavanaGoldencents
2012Shackleford Stay Thirsty Shanghai BobbyTapizar
2011Tizway To Honor and Serve Union RagsCaleb's Posse
2010Quality Road Jersey Town Uncle Mo Dakota Phone
2009Bribon (FR) Kodiak KowboyHomeboykrisFurthest Land
2008Divine Park Tale of Ekati Vineyard HavenAlbertus Maximus
2007Corinthian Daaher War PassCorinthian
2006 Silver Train Discreet Cat Scat Daddy -
2005Ghostzapper Purge First Samurai -
2004Pico Central (BRZ) Lion Tamer Proud Accolade-
2003Aldebaran Congaree Birdstone-
2002 Swept Overboard Congaree Toccet-
2001Exciting Story Left Bank Officer-
2000Yankee Victor El Corredor A P Valentine-
1999Sir Bear (g.)Affirmed Success (g.)Greenwood Lake-
1998Wild Rush Sir Bear (g.)The Groom Is Red-
1997Langfuhr Devious Course Grand Slam-
1996Honour and GloryGold Fever Ordway-
1995You and I Flying Chevron Maria's Mon -
1994Holy Bull Cigar Timber Country-
1993Ibero (ARG) - not run - Dehere-
1992Dixie Brass Ibero (ARG) Sea Hero-
I991In Excess (IRE) Rubiano Tri To Watch-
1990Criminal Type Quiet AmericanFly So Free-
1989Proper Reality Dispersal Adjudicating-
1988Gulch Forty Niner Easy Goer -