A new study shows that genes associated with behavior may play a large role in a Thoroughbred's success at the track—possibly as large a role as his physical attributes.
Previous studies have shown that less than half of foals aimed at being racehorses actually race; the ability of the horse to withstand the rigors of training has been determined to be a critical reason why many horses don't make it to the track.
Scientists have discovered that one gene, dubbed the “motivator gene,” may influence whether a horse actually competes.
Dr. Emmeline Hill, a researcher at the University College of Dublin and the chief science officer of Plusvital, lead the 4,500-horse study, some of which raced and some of which did not. She was able to establish a measurable genetic link tied to neurological and behavioral traits that directly correlated to future racing potential.
Hill says that foals and yearlings that are naturally active in their pastures are more motivated to move; observance of this may help Thoroughbred owners and caretakers notice which horses are more likely to succeed at the track form an early age.
Additionally, the scientist developed a predictive genetic test to determine the chance a horse has of making a start in their 2- and 3-year-old racing seasons. The test categorized horses as “high,” “medium” or “low,” with the “high” horses more likely to have a start, to run in more races and to have higher earnings.
Though the researchers don't feel that this test will replace pedigree analysis or physical assessment, they do feel that it will complement these tools as there is no other way to determine a horse's motivation to exercise.
Read more at HorseTalk.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.