Case Study: New Broodmare Purchase? Now What?




Some clients may be stallion owners looking for a broodmare to fit a particular stallion or, better yet, multiple stallions on their roster. Some clients may be stallion shareholders looking for a broodmare to fit exactly the stallion they own a part of. Some clients may be commercial breeders that are solely looking to breed to a certain first year stallion but don’t seem to have that one perfect mare to breed to him and are looking to purchase a new broodmare for the task.

Most clients don’t fit the mold of any of the above. They just want to buy a broodmare. So, without any specific target to aim for, I must be very methodical and diligent in the work that I do for those clients. Even then, with the best laid plans, we are always at the mercy of an animal. We must always position ourselves in the best position to succeed. I learned a long time ago that the “shotgun approach” doesn’t work so well in breeding and racing thoroughbreds. I prefer designed luck!

If you have not read the post, “Case Study: Buying Broodmares & Selecting Stallions“, I highly suggest that you do. It is an insight into how I determine the best broodmare candidates for purchase that have broad compatibility to a broad base of stallions. This helps everyone from having to “thread-the-needle” to find that perfect match to produce a quality racehorse. It also allows commercial breeders to have more stallion options while still protecting the viability of their broodmare through quality production in the ring and on the track. Breeding to race is commercial!

At the last second prior to the 2021 Keeneland January Sale, I was tapped on the shoulder by a client looking to buy a broodmare with no specific target stallions requested. I was also given an adequate but relatively modest budget to adhere to. All the more reason in being diligent and methodical. Even with financial constraints, I will never compromise on physicals or selection criteria. I would rather not spend someone’s money just for the sake of buying.

The following broodmare selection criteria must be adhered to:

  • Must be a winner of reasonable quality.
  • Must be a half- or full-sister to a stakes winner or graded stakes placed runner.
  • Must be in-foal.
    • I’m looking at 2-for-1 value here.
    • In most cases, I seek to resale the resulting foal for 80% of the total purchase price.
  • Must be eight years old or younger at the foaling of the in-utero foal.
    • Most broodmares tend to produce their best runners within the first two foals.
  • Must have an April or earlier last cover date.
    • I don’t enjoy holding an empty mare for an entire year due to late foaling.

Since I am looking for mares that are in-foal, the covering sire is another determining factor. Sales price is very much dictated by the covering sire. However, I prefer covering sires that have proven to produce racehorses and still have commercial value. I will take a gamble on unproven sires if they are commercial enough, especially if they produce an OPTIMAL Mating with the mare. At the end of the day, we want quality racehorse production out of our mares from the beginning.

The process took a lot of work and iterations, but we were able to secure this mare within budget:


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Good physical, good walk, good broodmare sire, good family, in-foal to a very useful, good stallion and under budget. It wasn’t easy to fit it all into one box, but mission accomplished!

Obtaining horses is the easy part. In fact, not a month goes by that someone doesn’t try to just give me a horse. Maintaining, managing, developing and having a cohesive plan for horses are the hard parts.

Given adequate time to research and plan, I typically have a very good idea of the stallion or group of stallions that I’m shopping for when buying mares for clients. For this particular client, the timing forced me to stay light on my feet. Thus the nature of this post – New Broodmare Purchase? Now What?

Before Socialize was loaded on the van to head to her new home, I began an OPTIMAL Mating Analysis to aid the client in determining the best stallion options for their new purchase.

Horses bred on OPTIMAL Matings have proven to possess more potential to become superior racehorses. In fact, most will break their maiden in the first two starts. Combined with a good physical, good vetting and a price that falls within a budget, OPTIMAL Matings help to focus on buying or breeding better racehorses. Here are the stallion options that evolved from the analysis:

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After consultation with the client, they decided on the two Ashford stallions. Both were perfect matches for the mare and they both fit her physically. I was given the final choice to decide. There was a waiting list for Practical Joke and Caravaggio was close to being full. Decision made. Caravaggio.

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OPTIMAL Mating Analysis of Caravaggio / Socialize, by Hard Spun

Key Linebreedings

  • 4×5 Mr. Prospector – gender-balanced linebreeding through daughter Love Style and son Fappiano
    • similar to G1 Stakes Winners
      • General Quarters (Sky Mesa o/o Unbridled’s Song mare)
      • Rolling Fog (Posse o/o Unbridled’s Song mare)
      • Unique Bella (Tapit o/o Unbridled’s Song mare)
      • Valiance (Tapit o/o Empire Maker mare)
    • similar to G2 Stakes Winners
      • Ami’s Mesa (Sky Mesa o/o Victory Gallop mare)
      • West Coast Belle (Tapit o/o Unbridled’s Song mare)
    • similar to G3 Stakes Winners
      • Classy Class (Discreetly Mine o/o Saarland mare)
      • Control Group (Posse o/o Victory Gallop mare)
      • Remembering Rita (Spring At Last o/o Unbridled’s Song mare)
  • 5×4 Raise A Native – gender-balanced linebreeding to son Mr. Prospector and daughter Social Registry
  • 5×4 Nijinsky II – through daughters Likeable Style and Wedding Vow
    • similar to stakes winner
      • Mae Never No (IRE) (No Nay Never o/o Broken Vow mare)

Strain Influences

  • Scat Daddy over Unbridled
    • similar to G1 Stakes Winner
      • Valid Point (Scat Daddy o/o Buddha mare)
    • similar to G2 Stakes Winners
      • El Kabeir (Scat Daddy o/o Unbridled’s Song mare)
      • Pretty N Cool (Scat Daddy o/o Rockport Harbor mare)
      • Anothertwistafate (Scat Daddy o/o First Defence mare)
    • similar to G3 Stakes Winners
      • Sergei Prokofiev (Scat Daddy o/o Tapit mare)
      • Qabala (Scat Daddy o/o Empire Maker mare)
      • So Perfect (Scat Daddy o/o Songandaprayer mare)
  • Holy Bull over Unbridled
    • similar to G2 Stakes Winners
      • Finite (Munnings o/o Tapit mare)
      • Bonny South (Munning o/o Tapit mare)
    • similar to G3 Stakes Winners
      • Sunny Ridge (Holy Bull o/o Songandaprayer mare)
      • Warrior’s Charge (Munnings 0/0 Broken Vow mare)
      • Chief Cicatriz (Munnings o/o Grand Slam mare)

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.

For inquiries or more information about Shepherd Equine Advisers, please contact Clark Shepherd at 859-321-6618, or by email at

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

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