2-year-olds: who are the most effective trainers, and the top sires?

Top performer: Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Classic Empire (Julien Leparoux) is led in after the race by Mark Casse, who leads the field in North America when it comes to training juveniles. Photo: breederscup.com

Juvenile racing is an important department of the global sport, and the TRC Global Rankings algorithm applied to 2-year-old races in isolation reveals some interesting angles.

To recap, the algorithm was designed to cope with different sample sizes in each category, so that we can compare, say, Bob Baffert’s results with 24 different juveniles to Todd Pletcher’s with twice that number. As sample size grows, a kind of statistical gravity, known as regression towards the mean, drags down stellar results to Earth.

Of course, Aidan O’Brien is a supernova. It doesn’t matter whether he is training youngsters or veterans, we are very confident he deserves to be regarded as the #1 trainer on the planet.

Table 1: Leading European-based trainers with juveniles

(since 13/11/2013 by TRC algorithm)

2YO rankMain rankNameModal countryRnrsRunsIVtRPRG1 winsG2 winsG3 winsPts
11A P O'BrienIreland841771.60 93.38   1713141038
330Richard HannonGB641411.17 86.17   1147951
785Mark JohnstonGB41980.84 85.90   216931
711Charlie ApplebyGB21370.98 85.11   231931
94John GosdenGB18291.11 84.02   241928
1033William HaggasGB22410.97 84.67   132927
1211Saeed bin SuroorGB17350.97 83.86   114919
1350Richard FaheyGB26370.96 83.72   041918
139A FabreFrance25371.01 83.46   206918
1540Hugo PalmerGB18311.06 82.90   025915

The first column on the left combines Europe and the U.S. The second column is the overall world ranking.


Like his father before him, Wiltshire trainer Richard Hannon has a strong record with juveniles and ranks #2 in Europe currently by our figures. His 22 group winners in the current rankings window is 13 more than anyone else (other than O’Brien, who has 44).

Apart from O’Brien, three other trainers highly ranked in our main rankings also figure prominently here too: the Godolphin trainers Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor, along with French legend Andre Fabre.

Noteworthy is the presence of Yorkshire rivals Mark Johnston and Richard Fahey, who are the two top trainers in Britain across all ages of horse by number of winners in 2016. Neither man can be described as a 2-year-old specialist, however, and this is the theme of Table 1: most of the top names in the main rankings also figure.

Table 2 uses the same strictures to summarise juvenile results for U.S. trainers. Here we can see a similar concentration of names who do well across the entire spectrum of age-groups. Wesley Ward is the only trainer particularly renowned for a juvenile specialty.

Table 2: Leading North American trainers with juveniles

(since 13/11/2013 by TRC algorithm)

2YO rankMain rankNameModal countryRnrsRunsIVtRPRG1 winsG2 winsG3 winsPts
217Mark CasseUSA47711.66 85.86   5511973
45Bob BaffertUSA24381.23 84.91   731942
57Todd PletcherUSA48801.17 85.14   664941
62Chad C BrownUSA40541.11 85.26   432939
1177Wesley A WardUSA26381.06 83.52   330921
1820Kiaran McLaughlinUSA10171.06 81.82   041906
1973Doug O'NeillUSA24370.95 82.42   510905
1977J Keith DesormeauxUSA14310.81 83.13   111905
2158Dale RomansUSA20310.86 82.77   111904
2428William MottUSA14180.92 82.05   021900
2437Steven AsmussenUSA28440.84 82.42   122900

The first column on the left combines Europe and the U.S. The second column is the overall world ranking.


It is notable that Mark Casse has a sizeable lead at the top of the U.S. rankings with 973 points. This only goes to show how dominant O’Brien is in Europe, for he has 65 points more than this. Casse is building an impressive portfolio of horses and is likely to climb even higher than #17 in the overall rankings (and #4 in the U.S.) by the end of 2017.

We have included the top 20 sires of juveniles over the last three years in Table 3, including sires whose modal country (where they have the most number of runners) is either U.S.A. or in Europe. Because data for juveniles allows younger sires to make faster progress than in the main rankings, a significant name makes his first appearance in a TRC top 10 – perhaps the best horse to race in Europe, Frankel.

Table 3: Top 20 sires of juveniles over the last three years

(since 13/11/2013 by TRC algorithm)

2YO rankMain rankNameModal countryRnrsRunsIVtRPRG1 winsG2 winsG3 winsPts
11GalileoIreland54971.41 87.06   11791026
213War FrontGB31681.02 86.11   623992
365Scat DaddyUSA26471.32 83.80   391990
45TapitUSA31441.12 82.75   253968
533KodiacGB48930.95 83.72   145966
67Dark AngelGB35710.93 83.69   063964
712Invincible SpiritGB29541.02 82.80   334962
83Deep ImpactJapan28371.21 81.41   223961
94ShamardalGB18370.91 83.20   132959
9141FrankelGB8151.02 82.53   014959
1128Pioneerof The NileUSA8131.13 81.61   402958
1216Fastnet RockIreland23410.86 83.28   221956
136Medaglia D'oroUSA13191.03 81.79   402953
1394Giant's CausewayUSA15261.07 81.42   403953
1520Uncle MoUSA13221.03 81.46   411950
1514Lope De VegaGB18291.03 81.41   115950
17107Quality RoadUSA10171.00 81.49   230949
1816BernardiniUSA18290.96 81.67   330948
19154Colonel JohnUSA8170.98 81.49   013947
2050Exceed And ExcelGB36560.88 81.96   015945
2054ChoisirGB7140.86 82.01   101945

Frankel is already #9 in our rankings isolating juvenile racing and has moved up steadily in the main classification to his current #141. He is easily the best first-season sire here, using the combination of IV (Impact Value, which is basically win-rate) and tRPR (time-decaying Racing Post Rating, which is a proxy for strength-of-schedule).

Frankel’s sire Galileo again rules supreme, but perhaps the most interesting feature of this table is the absence of Dubawi, who ranks only #37, mainly because his progeny has won just four group races in the last three years, compared with the Coolmore great’s 27. This is well known in the bloodstock community, but nonetheless anomalous in the light of the Godolphin stalwart producing plenty of stock effective at a mile when fully mature.

Perhaps this contrast reminds us of the potency of Galileo, though having O’Brien train most of his progeny is undoubtedly an advantage.

Table 3 also features Pioneerof The Nile, who was featured last week in the rankings review of the Breeders’ Cup. His own stallion career is highly promising, but that of his son, American Pharoah, will be even more closely followed when his first progeny reach the track in 2019.

View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus

More Racing Articles

By the same author