Case Study: Bernardini’s Brilliance As Broodmare Sire

broodmare sire

broodmare sire

Case Study: Bernardini’s Excellence As Broodmare Sire

Anyone who follows race results on a daily basis has likely taken notice of the rise of Bernardini as a must-have broodmare sire. I have always been a fan of the Darley stallion as a producer of good racehorses. But, in performing weanling and yearling sales analysis, I began to see his name appear more as a broodmare sire. I also saw a familiar female family pattern in his pedigree that I have consistently relied upon in identifying good broodmare sires. With that, I started to key in on his daughters hoping that my initial evaluation was correct.

Broodmare Sires and Female Families

If you are unfamiliar with focusing on female families and how they are the starting point in analyzing pedigrees for breeding and/or buying, please read the following to help make more sense of this post:

Are Female Families Really That Important?

Why Are Some Stallions More Consistent Than Others?

To recap:

  • Runner Female Family Numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5
  • Sire Female Family Numbers: 3, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13 & 14
  • Female Family Number 3 serves as a dual-qualifier
  • There are 8 female families represented in the 3rd generation of any given individual. Four female families from the sire and dam, each. Among those, OPTIMAL Matings have a minimum of 1 sire family and 4 runner families.
  • One pattern seen most in consistent racehorse sires is at least 3 runner families. One sire family is a bonus. This helps to create compatibility with a broad base of mares to achieve the above OPTIMAL Mating pattern.

The same pattern of consistent racehorse sires can be applied to selecting good broodmare sires by the female families they contribute. Let’s get back to Bernardini’s case.


broodmare sire

Bernardini’s contribution to the 3rd generation of any given individual is represented by female families 3L and 4M. Both are runner female families and the 3L also serves as a sire female family. This will obviously always be a constant for Bernardini mares. All of this goes towards completing the minimum overall OPTIMAL Mating requirements of 1 sire family and 4 runner families. In Bernardini’s case as a broodmare sire, only 2 more runner families are required. Those can be obtained from the 2 female families from the dam of the Bernardini mare or from the 4 families in the 2nd generation of the stallion being bred to.

Please note how the female families continue along the bottom of each individual until a male is produced.

Even if just one runner family is added from the dam of the Bernardini mare, the pattern is established for what is seen in consistent racehorse sires: 3 runner families and a bonus (3L) sire family. To understand this a bit better, let’s take a look at some top racehorses that have Bernardini as broodmare sire.

Catholic Boy

Won G1 Travers S., G1 Belmont Derby Invitational S., G2 Dixie S., G2 Remsen S., G3 Pennine Ridge S. & G3 With Anticipation S. Lifetime Earnings: $2,134,000

broodmare sire

  • One runner family (5C, Seeking the Gold) and 1 sire family (9G, Lucky Us) added from bottom side of Bernardini mare.
  • To satisfy the minimum overall requirements, just 1 runner female family is needed from the sire in his 2nd generation.
  • More Than Ready contributed 3 runner families (2D, Halo)(1S, Woodman) (1S, Becky Be Good).
  • Overall: 2 sire families and 6 runner families vs the minimum required of 1 sire family and 4 runner families.

Dunbar Road

Won G1 Alabama S., G2 Delaware H., G2 Mother Goose S., & Shawnee S. Lifetime Earnings: $998,040

broodmare sire

I’m going to speed up here! So, if you need more clarification, refer to the Catholic Boy explanation. See if you can identify these yourself.

Overall: 4 sire families and 4 runner families.


Won G3 Ohio Derby, G3 Oklahoma Derby, G3 Lexington S. & Blame S. Lifetime Earnings: $1,143,735

broodmare sire

Overall: 3 sire families and 5 runner families

Serengeti Empress

Won G1 Kentucky Oaks, G1 Ballerina S., G2 Azeri S., G2 Pocahontas S., G2 Rachel Alexandra S. & Ellis Park Debutante S. Lifetime Earnings: $1,907,653

broodmare sire

Overall: 3 sire families and 4 runner families

Wicked Whisper

Won G1 Frizette S. Lifetime Earnings: $334,500

Overall: 2 sire families and 6 runner families

These are just a few examples of how powerful certain female families can be in breeding and in analyzing sales pedigrees. In the case of Bernardini as broodmare sire, a great portion of the battle is won before even starting. I am obviously very biased by this and I have go-to or must-have broodmare sires that I prefer to work with. Here are 9 more broodmare sires that bring along two running families to the equation (alphabetically, not by rank):

  • Dixie Union
  • Harlan’s Holiday
  • Malibu Moon
  • Mineshaft
  • Pulpit
  • Street Cry (IRE)
  • Tapit
  • Unbridled’s Song
  • Yes It’s True

Good broodmare sires by anyone’s standards. Take a look for yourself and see what you find!

Whether you are new to the game, experiencing more losses than wins or just looking for a new approach, I am confident that I can help you breed or buy a better racehorse. To find out more about OPTIMAL Matings and how they can help your program, please subscribe to my Blog/News page HERE to receive future information on complimentary mating recommendations, sales short lists, stakes winner pedigree analysis, news on personal client success and any other random thoughts or ideas that I may have. Also, receive a complimentary copy of my report “Blind Luck or Designed Luck? – How A Kentucky Derby Winner Was Bred” sent directly to your inbox.

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I would love to hear any comments or questions that you may have. Please submit them below. Maybe we can address them in a future post!


I offer my expertise as a bloodstock agent, sales consultant, and pedigree analyst to assist in breeding or purchasing superior thoroughbred racehorses through sound pedigree principles, horsemanship, and consistent implementation of well-designed plans. To find out more about how my services can help your program, please contact me at 859-321-6618, or by email at

4 thoughts on “Case Study: Bernardini’s Brilliance As Broodmare Sire

  1. Why do you not use family numbers 10-6 and 20 in your analysis? Miesque, toussaud and deputy minister families. Just curious.

    1. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere. If those families are in a pedigree, then great! But, historically and consistently, families 1 through 5 continue to produce. There are outliers everywhere. Most every stallion has produced a stakes winner, but that doesn’t mean you should continually breed to that horse.

      1. If I understand the process correctly American Pharoah has 1 running family and 3 sire families. Justify 5 running families and 2 sire families. Tiz the law 3 running families and 5 sire families. Am I correct in assuming Justify is the only one of these 3 that made the minimum requirements as a yearling at the Sales?

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