We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our web site.
If you continue, without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive cookies on our web site.
Bill's Columns
Date: January 29th, 2018
This article originally appeared in BloodHorse Daily.
By Bill Oppenheim
The average-earnings index is a simple concept: dividing a sire's total earnings by his number of runners that year, and comparing that figure to the average earnings that year for all sires. It can be done for any jurisdiction (i.e. North America), and consecutive years can be added together to create a 'cumulative' average-earnings index. The trouble with the average-earnings index is this: one horse by the sire earns let's say $8-million, and 99 other runners by the same sire earn $10,000 each. The sire's average earnings per runner would be $89,900 (let's say that would be about a 2.25 AEI), whereas, really, only one out of 100 runners by that sire was actually any good.
For this reason a group of us at Racing Update in the late 1980's devised what we called APEX ratings - Annual Progeny Earnings IndeX. It is a variation, or we would say, an enhancement of the average earnings index, because APEX ratings measure the frequency with which sires get runners which achieve certain earnings thresholds. So, like the average earnings index, we start with the population of all runners in a year in a racing jurisdiction, for example North America. We then calculate (well, The Jockey Club Information Services does the calculations for us) three earnings thresholds which represent class gradations: the top 2% earners from runners are designated as 'A Runners'; the next 2% are 'B Runners'; the next 4% are 'C Runners'; and the top 8% are then designated 'ABC Runners'. You'll find the specific thresholds in a table accompanying this article: in North America, in 2017, A Runners earned a little over $135,000; B Runners $94,000; and C Runners $64,000. So one sobering fact is that only the top 8% of runners in North America in 2017 earned $64,025 or more.
APEX ratings are then created by adding together the calculations each year for a seven-year period in five racing jurisdictions including seven countries, and divided into three regions: North America, including the U.S. and Canada (earnings calculated together); 'Europe', which for these purposes includes the U.K. and Ireland (earnings calculated together), France, and Germany; and Japan. If it didn't happen there we don't count it, with the exception of the Group One races run on Dubai World Cup night. Also, though, we restrict the time period to seven years; the ratings always cover the previous seven years, so the current ratings cover 2011-2017. This does tell us when once-great sires are not the forces they once were, and there have been some notably demonstrable historical cases where this has happened. So restricting it to seven years keeps it more current.
Just a couple of other points: we only rate sires once they have 3-year-olds, meaning the youngest group now rated had their first foals in 2014: Frankel and Union Rags' sire crop, which in 2018 have their first 4-year-olds racing. And we only rate sires who had 10 or more 3-year-olds in the last year rated; so they had to have 10+ foals of 2014. So older sires who have died off go off the list, and also it eliminates any super small-crop freaks. The average-earnings index, for example, uses all runners by all sires, which is mathematically 'pure'. APEX ratings are not mathematically pure in that sense; we restrict the sires, but our argument (by 'we' and 'our' I mean myself and our APEX team) is that we are trying to create statistics which are of practical use to participants in the $1.5-billion auction marketplace. It's our observation that a sire with a 1.00 average-earnings index is actually below average 'commercially'; by knocking out sires with fewer than 10 foals, we believe a sire with a 1.00 APEX A Runner Index really is an average sire.
Finally we should say there are actually 17 different APEX ratings: A, B, and C Indexes for North America, Europe, Japan, and Total (12), plus Total ABC Index; and ABC Age Ratings (these are really interesting) for 2-year-olds; 3-year-olds; 4-year-olds; and 5-year-olds and up. Current APEX ratings for 735 sires and further explanation of APEX, as well as other articles detailing leading APEX sires, can be found in the APEX section of my website, www.billoppenheim.com.
There were, as noted, 735 sires assigned 2018 APEX ratings; 102 of these were in Japan, which we don't mix in with the North American and European sires as their market is overwhelmingly domestic. For the purposes of devising leaders' lists we use only sires with 200+ "year-starters" (in annualized figures, a horse is counted as one 'year-starter' - and potentially one A Runner - each year it starts). There were 407 North American and European sires with 200+ year-starters 2011-2017. Here are the top ten in four key categories:
A Runner Index: The world's top sire, Galileo, is the number one sire by 2018 A Runner Index, with a 4.60 Index. This is quite remarkable in that he had 2,119 year-starters 2011-2017 - over 300 a year; he really is a class-producing machine. Uncle Mo (4.49) ranks second, which is also very impressive as the trend for most young sires is diagonally down, so this rating means his second and third crops of 2-year-olds have not materially knocked his success rate down. War Front (4.20), Dubawi (3.54), and Medaglia D'Oro (3.50) complete the top five, followed by Sea The Stars (3.28), Ghostzapper (3.26), Dansili (3.03), Into Mischief (2.91), and Tapit (2.86), who rounds out the top ten North American and European sires by A Runner Index. Frankel had 161 year-starters at the end of 2017, so doesn't qualify for these 'top ten' lists; but he has a 5.59 A Runner Index, and will definitely qualify this year.
Number of A Runners: With more year-starters than any other sire and the highest A Runner Index, Galileo (195) was a certainty to lead this list, and does he ever. Tapit (112) is a distant second, ahead of Medaglia D'Oro (105), Kitten's Joy (100), and Dubawi (94). Golden oldie Giant's Causeway (93) leads the second five, ahead of War Front (85), Dansili and Speightstown (83), and the late, great Smart Strike (79). These are the stallions which have sired the highest quantity of the highest quality.
ABC Runner Index: This metric describes the most consistent stallions for siring what we call 'break-even or better' runners; in North America in 2017, for instance, as we've noted, that figure is $64,025 or higher. War Front (2.53) tops Galileo (2.43) in this category, with Dubawi (2.42) third. Since 8.00% equals a 1.00 ABC Runner Index, this tells us that 20.24% of War Front's year-starters become ABC Runners. You could say it's a little scary that even the very best sires only get one out of five runners which pay their way, but that just shows what a tough game this racing horses is. An interesting aspect of the APEX ratings is they do sometimes reval horses that are doing better than maybe the market gives them credit for, and one such case could be F2013 Twirling Candy, who is number four by ABC Runner Index (2.36), just ahead of his F2013 contemporary, Uncle Mo (2.33). Twirling Candy is a $25,000 sire who is proving to be a very consistent sire of 'break-even or better' runners; he's mixing it with some sires who cost a lot more money to breed to. The second five in this category are: Curlin (2.29), Ghostzapper (2.21), Speightstown (2.17), and, tied for ninth. Medaglia D'Oro and the long-time leading California sire Unusual Heat (2.09), just ahead of Tapit (2.08).
Number of ABC Runners: Galileo (412) had an average of 303 runners, 28 A Runners, and 59 ABC Runners a year; he's not as far ahead as second-placed Tapit (326) as he was by number of A Runners, but he's still a fair way clear. Giant's Causeway (281) is third in this category, ahead of Speightstown (275) and Dubawi (257). The second five is headed by Medaglia D'Oro (251), followed by Kitten's Joy (246), Smart Strike (238), Malibu Moon (237), and Candy Ride (235).
For the complete list of 735 sires with 2018 APEX ratings, and more information about APEX, please visit www.billoppenheim.com.
2017 135,185 84,416 79,693 58,610 315,974
2016 133,000 88,103 75,614 61,743 330,784
2015 134,280 97,770 79,466 54,014 289,558
2014 134,655 98,055 91,375 65,259 325,293
2013 131,410 85,511 92,160 61,617 348,782
2012 121,200 76,204 88,961 58,096 425,698
2011 113,114 74,070 91,784 61,095 424,320
2017 94,440 50,450 57,002 39,484 205,964
2016 93,200 49,596 55,601 36,477 205,862
2015 93,610 56,191 58,942 34,336 187,633
2014 92,290 57,337 68,833 39,845 210,376
2013 90,760 50,997 65,405 41,680 224,614
2012 87,750 43,663 64,593 33,775 264,781
2011 78,578 40,998 65,450 35,712 274,450
2017 64,025 27,672 40,786 21,001 122,094
2016 63,590 27,259 40,185 18,726 122,275
2015 63,420 30,380 41,167 20,957 111,357
2014 63,525 31,916 47,385 23,307 124,053
2013 62,256 27,684 46,386 21,246 129,200
2012 59,420 23,459 44,582 19,104 159,750
2011 53,400 22,250 44,914 19,986 161,191
Follow Us: