Big Stud Fees ≠ Great Racers

Genetics less important than environment, study finds
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2007 12:29 PM CST
A horse gallops through a shroud of fog at sunrise in this March 10, 2007, file photo at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Alexander Barkoff, file)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – In horse racing, nurture trumps nature, a study finds. Just 10% of a horse’s winnings can be chalked up to lineage, the BBC reports; offspring of high-priced stallions do perform better overall, but not because of genetics. “People who can afford to pay high stud fees can also afford to manage and train their horses well,” one researcher said.

Winning stallions have long fetched huge stud fees, but the money doesn’t ensure genetic superiority. “There are good genes out there,” the researcher said, “but they don’t necessarily come with the highest price tag.” The findings could have natural-world parallels, too—selecting horse by stud fee isn’t so different from a peacock selecting mates by tail-feather quality.