How important is breeding in the thoroughbred horseracing industry? Does breeding alone equate a champion? The selective breeding of thoroughbred horses for racing had begun centuries ago. Bloodlines have become one of the major indicators of a champion racehorse, or at least a horse that has the ability to become a champion. Through careful selection of sires and dams, breeders hope to combine the best qualities of both bloodlines. This gamble often pays off.
Triple Crown winner Citation had impressive breeding that contributed to his championship as a thoroughbred racehorse. A trace of his bloodline shows his sire to be Bull Lea. Although Bull Lea himself was not a Triple Crown winner he did break speed records at Keeneland Racetrack and went on to sire 58 stakes race winners, seven of which are in the thoroughbred's Hall of Fame. Breeding obviously played a role in Citation's natural ability as a racehorse.
On the flip side, John Henry; a racehorse Hall of Famer, five time champion, and two time Horse of the Year; came from no extraordinary bloodline to speak of. He won claimers and some minor stakes races, but was no champion. He was bounced around between various trainers and owners, until he was trained and conditioned by Ron McAnally. It was under this trainer that John Henry became a force to be reckoned with. In this case training played a major role in the development of a champion.
Though there is no question that superior bloodlines produce champions, there is much to be said about the other factors which contribute to winning racehorses. Training, Jockey, and Breeding are all considerations in the development of champion racehorses; this is why handicappers take all these under consideration when they make their winning picks.
Horse breeding is important for a championship thoroughbred; however, it is only one piece of the puzzle. A champion bloodline can give the horse the ability and desire to win, but it needs training to develop those abilities and a jockey to guide them to the finish line.