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A broodmare is coupled with a male horse to produce offspring. Once the female has produced children the term dam applies – it is the name given to the female parent of a horse. The male parent of a horse generally and in racehorse breeding is known as a stallion, so a colt and mare are known as stallion and dam when becoming parents.
The resulting foal from a coupling will have half the genetic make-up of each parent. The skill in breeding racehorses is identifying the combination of parents that will produce a horse that is suited to racing.
The most successful colts and mares are expensive when recruited for breeding as they are proven, but being a good race horse does not always translate to being successful at stud. Some horses that are suited to racing do not have the mentality or physical attributes to produce offspring that are good on the track.
Flat horses in particular can be more valuable commodities at stud than on the track.
The Classics and other Group races are significant for breeding, as the winner of these races can command a high stud fee. Fillies that have excelled on the course will also be in demand as mares. Their stud value is based on breeding and results on the track.
When betting on juvenile races in which there is very little form to assess the quality of the stallion and dam on the track is taken into account. However, breeding and racing is not an exact science. Some moderate dams have produced good horses while other dams who excelled on the track have not produced good horses. Assessing a horse’s parenthood is one of the aspects of betting especially in races for inexperienced horses.
A dam may also return to racing after giving birth and some mares have raced when in foal, which is the horse breeding term for pregnancy.