Who is smarter, the breeders or the buyers? Using what we know about young,
unproven sires, can we guess which might be the best gambles among the freshman
sires in 2017? What factors are important in looking for stallion success? Maturity?
Speed? Class? Conformation? Pedigree? Did the market like their yearlings in 2016?
Will the market love their 2-year-olds in training? And most mysteriously, will
the top freshman sires continue on as top sires in the future or will they fade
into obscurity as quickly as they rose to the top?
The young stallions who entered
stud in 2014 were an interesting lot, although it lacked a little in sizzle and
I have to admit I'm not in love with any of them as future leading sire prospects,
although I'm looking forward to being proven wrong.
The top price stud fee,
$35,000, was for the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, who was
actually standing his second breeding season, having made the 2013 season in Australia
on Southern Hemisphere time. Animal Kingdom had real appeal, being a very versatile
runner, winning graded stakes on turf, all weather and dirt. Among his credits
were wins in the Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup, and a remarkable second in
the Breeders' Cup Mile. He's a big, lovely, elegant horse and has proven popular
every year at stud so far, covering 148 mares in 2014, 137 in 2015 and 153 in
2016. His 2016 yearlings have averaged $106,167 which is very good. He made 2
starts at 2 and won once, in October, going 9 furlongs, so it will be interesting
to see if his juveniles come out quickly or need more time and distance as he
did. His pedigree is all turf, with Leroidesanimaux (BRZ) on top of a German mare
by Acatenango. Will his progeny beat that turf bias or go with it in style? Let's
see how his 2-year-olds in training sell this spring.
Three young stallions
entered stud in the next fee bracket, $25,00, including the 2013 Kentucky Derby
winner Orb, the media darling Paynter and the turf star Point of Entry. Orb
made 4 starts at 2, with 1 win in late November, so a question arises if his juveniles
will be early or later, as he was. A well-supported later-maturing horse sometimes
gets loads of precocious, speed type mares that can give his progeny the boost
they need to get started earlier. Orb was the colt of the spring, however, sweeping
through the Florida preps including the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, and
then winning the Kentucky Derby. He followed up a fourth in the Preakness won
by Oxbow, third in the Belmont won by Palace Malice, and third again in the Travers
won by Will Take Charge, who wound up with division honors at the end of the year.
A big, strongly made horse, Orb has a top-of-the-line pedigree, by Malibu Moon
out of an Unbridled mare. Malibu Moon has more of a reputation as a classic filly
sire which raises a question mark, and this is his first top class son to go to
stud. Orb's first yearlings sold better than any other first crop sire ($147,123),
although his mare numbers dropped a little from 122 in 2014 to 108 in 2016. Most
everything looks "go" for him if his progeny mature early enough.
was unraced at 2, but came into high class form early at 3. Fourth in the Santa
Anita Derby and second in the Derby Trial, an allowance win set him up to nearly
stealing the Belmont Stakes on the front end, only to be run down by Union Rags.
He followed up with a win in a weak running of the Haskell. Then he was knocked
down by colitis, required surgery, contracted laminitis and nearly died. He returned
at 4 with a win, but could only place in stakes and was retired with a reputation
that exceeded his actual record. Paynter's pedigree is high class, by Awesome
Again out of a full sister to Tiznow, but like many Awesome Agains, he's on the
small side of average, although well made. He's consistently covered large books,
127 mares in 2014, 158 in 2015 and 153 in 2016. His yearling average of $87,756,
although pretty good, suggests that his yearlings may not be as robust as the
market would like to see.
Point of Entry is a horse that I loved on the
track, but looked like a very high risk stallion prospect, being a later maturing
turf stayer. The commercial market tends to treat this type with disdain because
they need more time to grow. Stayers are usually built on lighter, less muscular
lines than the more forwardly developed speed type that buyers prefer. Lack of
early representation with their first juvenile runners puts them at a disadvantage
with their second crop of yearlings that sell during this quiet period, often
prompting a downward spiral that leads to a van ride elsewhere. Point of Entry
was unraced at 2, a winner (9 furlongs turf) from 8 starts at 3 with no stakes
placings, but won several Grade 1s at 4 and 5, all on grass from 9 to 12 furlongs.
The fact that he was by Dynaformer worked for and against him. We all want to
see one of Dynaformer's sons succeed as a stallion but they tend to be the dreaded
late maturing turf types. Point of Entry is beautifully bred on the bottom, out
of a Phipps mare by Seeking the Gold, which adds some refinement that big, heavy-duty
Dynaformers could use, and the experiment was very successful here. Point of Entry
is very tall, but is loaded with quality, in fact one of the best best-looking
Dynaformers. He's proven reasonably popular, but has experienced the predictable
decline with each successive season: 112 mares in 2014, 107 in 2015 and 89 in
2016. His first yearlings averaged $74,220, which is good but not eye-popping.
I wouldn't expect him to be a presence on the juvenile sire list, but with the
right kind of mare, he could get some good ones later on, especially on turf,
if the commercial market has the patience to wait.
The next 2014 stud fee bracket,
$20,000, included Fort Larned, Oxbow, Shanghai Bobby and Take Charge Indy.
Larned was among the best of the older horses at 4 and 5, but his late maturity
also puts him "at risk" as a stallion prospect. He started once at 2,
but was unplaced when fourth in a maiden special, although the winner was a nice
colt named Shackleford. At 3, he won his season debut over a mile at Gulfstream,
and won allowances at 8 and 9 furlongs, but no stakes performances. At 4, he leaped
into the older male picture, won 5 stakes over the season at 5 different tracks,
set a new track record of 9.5 furlongs in the Skip Away Stakes at Gulfstream and
ended the year with victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic (10f. SA). In his debut
at 5, he dumped his rider and ran to win, although his riderless wire-to-wire
performance is listed as a "Did not finish". He won the Stephen Foster
Handicap and another stakes, both at 9 furlongs, and was fourth in the Classic,
won by Mucho Macho Man. Fort Larned won from 8 to 10 furlongs and looks the part,
being a tall, lanky drink of water. His dam is a daughter of Broad Brush and the
champion mare Bayakoa, but his sire, E Dubai, is the weak spot here, being sold
out of Kentucky a few years ago due to less-than-stellar sire results. Fort Larned
stood his first season in Kentucky to 78 mares, then was sent to Florida where
he got more mares at first, 88 in 2015, but 58 in 2016. His 2016 yearlings averaged
a disappointing $24,765, but some of that may be the psychological effect of being
"exiled" to Florida in his second year. He's back in Kentucky for 2017,
so his people are obviously hedging their bets. Either he makes it or he doesn't.
made 5 starts at 2, but took 4 starts to win, in November and was fourth in the
CashCall Futurity next time out. At 3, he won the Lecomte Stakes in his season
debut, but was second in the Rebel Stakes to Will Take Charge, and unplaced in
the Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby before winning the Preakness Stakes. He
was second in the Belmont Stakes to Palace Malice, then fourth in the Haskell,
fracturing his right front ankle which forced his retirement. Oxbow is bred very
similarly to Paynter, being a son of Awesome Again and out of another full sister
to Tiznow. He's on the small side of average like many by Awesome Again but was
a $250,000 yearling. He bred 110 mares in 2014, 134 in 2015 and 108 in 2016. His
first yearlings sold very well, averaging $101,962, so with a nice, big, stretchy
mare, he might be okay commercially.
Shanghai Bobby ripped through his
2-year-old season undefeated in 5 races, including the Track Barron, Hopeful,
Champagne and Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Voted Champion Juvenile Male, he lost for
the first time in his season debut at 3 when second to Itsmyluckyday in the Holy
Bull Stakes. He was then fifth in the Florida Derby, coming out of that race with
a pelvic fracture and was laid up for 90 days. When he made it back to the races
it was in September, in the Aljamin Stakes at Belmont. While he won the 6.5 furlongs
event, he had developed a suspensory problem that forced his retirement a few
weeks later. Shanghai Bobby is not a big horse in height, just 16 hands, but he
is a real tank, built very powerfully and there's a lot to like about him. He's
a typical Harlan's Holiday, who was a good 2-year-old and middle distance runner,
and a prolific sire of early maturing types who tend to run a little shorter than
he did. Shanghai Bobby's dam is by the top sprinter Orientate and the second dam
is by Carson City, so he's likely to be dominant for speed. As such, Bobby has
had no trouble getting and keeping mares. He bred 160 in 2014, 202 in 2015 and
150 in 2016. His yearling average was $112,973, making him second only to Orb
among this group of first-crop sires, and his fee was adjusted up to $25,000 before
his first babies have run. He would be the most obvious choice as the Leading
Freshman Sire of 2017.
Take Charge Indy is as well bred as any horse
alive, by A.P. Indy out of the outstanding racemare Take Charge Lady by Dehere,
but he was an $80,000 RNA as a yearling. Breaking his maiden at Arlington at 2,
he was second in the Arlington-Washington Futurity behind Shared Property. At
3 he won the Florida Derby but was up the track in the Kentucky Derby, coming
out of the race with a bone chip in his left front ankle. Out until the fall,
he was third in the Fayette Stakes and second in the Clark Handicap. At 4, he
placed in the Donn Handicap and Skip Away Stakes before a win in the Alysheba
Stakes (8.5f.) at Churchill. In the Monmouth Cup in July, he was on the lead but
pulled up with a condylar fracture in his left front. Proven stakes class at 2,
3 and 4, Take Charge Indy won from 6 to 9 furlongs. A very big, handsome, strongly
made horse, he didn't have the best underpinnings. His first book attracted 145
mares, the second 151 mares, and the third was down to 103 mares. Unfortunately,
his first yearlings sold poorly, averaging only $38,833, and he was sold to South
Korea before the bottom fell out. His juveniles may run, but it would be
hard to recover commercially.
In the $15,000 stud fee bracket, we were introduced
to Denman (AUS), Graydar, Raison d'Etat, and Violence.
Denman (AUS) is
a son of Lonhro (AUS), a leading sire in Australia who Darley experimented with
as a reverse-shuttler from 2012 to 2014, but the commercial market did not cooperate.
Denman was part of that experiment, entering stud in Australia in 2010 and standing
his first, and what would be his only Kentucky season in 2014. He attracted only
65 mares and did not return from Australia for a second Kentucky season. His first
North American-bred yearlings averaged just $29,994. Lonhro wound up with a few
stakes winners on his Kentucky adventure, but he covered vastly more mares than
Denman, so success with his son's North American juveniles is a long shot.
brilliantly fast Graydar is the one that Taylor Made has pinned hopes on
as the successor to his great sire Unbridled's Song. A very big, later maturing
horse, he was an $85,000 RNA as a yearling, but a $260,000 2-year-old. Unraced
at 2, he made just 3 starts at 3, breaking his maiden in April at Gulfstream,
then given time off until September, when he ran third, the nearly broke the track
record for a mile in an allowance at Gulfstream in 1:33.72. At 4, he won the Donn
and New Orleans handicaps, then was sidelined with ankle chips until another brilliant
return in the Kelso Handicap (8f.) at Aqueduct. Although very lightly raced, he
showed utter brilliance at a mile out to 9 furlongs. He covered 130 mares his
first year, 125 in the second, and 118 during the third season at stud. His first
yearlings averaged a good but not great $53,181. With a big horse like this, his
progeny may take time, like he did, or they might take after their grandsire Unbridled's
Song, who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and went on to much greater things.
d'Etat is another big, later maturing horse, 4th in his only start at 2, and
breaking his maiden in style at 3 at Belmont over 8 1/2 furlongs by 7 1/2 lengths.
That year he was also; second in the Curlin Stakes (9f.) and third in the Discovery
Handicap (9f.). At 4 he won an allowance (9f.) at Saratoga. By A.P. Indy out of
Juddmonte's classy multiple graded 1 winner Sightseek (by Distant View), he's
built on heroic proportions that took some time to grow into, but he flashed real
ability on the track. Flying under the commercial radar, he entered stud at Calumet,
covering just 25 mares his first season but 45 the second, and 48 the third year,
an unusual progression upwards. His 2016 yearlings averaged just $2,050, and his
fee is now $5,000. It's unlikely he'll get early types, but he's got the pedigree
to pull up cheap mares.
Violence is the first good son of Medaglia d'Oro
to go to stud. A $600,000 yearling, he came to hand early, breaking his maiden
first time out at Saratoga (7f.), then was off until November when he won the
Nashua Stakes (8f.). A trip West resulted in a late season victory in the CashCall
Futurity (8.5f.) at Hollywood. Turning 3, he ran a very strong second to Orb in
the Fountain of Youth Stakes, but came out with a fractured sesamoid in his right
front, ending his career early. Medaglia d'Oro, like Malibu Moon, has a better
reputation as a sire of great fillies, but he's starting to catch up with good
colts like Violence, Mshawish and Vanouver. His dam is by Gone West, second dam
by Storm Cat, so the speed and precocity is built in. A big, "wow" looking
horse, Violence attracted 181 mares his first year, and 177 his second, although
dropping to a mere 145 in his third season. His first yearlings sold for a very
healthy $77,186. If unsoundness doesn't become an issue, as a brilliant juvenile,
I'd expect him to sire a lot of the same, so look out!
(continued in left column
picks for 2017 Leading Freshman Sire|
Bobby (by Harlan's Holiday)|
|Violence (by Medaglia
|Overanalyze (by Dixie Union)|
(by Indian Charlie)|
|Flat Out (by Flatter)|
sires with first runners (2yos) in 2017|
|Animal Kingdom (16.1)|
of Entry (16.3.5)|
|Oxbow (16.0) |
Charge Indy (16.2)|
|Violence (16.2.5) |
|Justin Phillip (16.2)|
|New Year's Day (16.0)|
|Flat Out (16.1)|
|I Want Revenge (16.2)|
|Morning Line (16.2)|
|Snapy Halo (ARG) (16.1)|
(continued from right column)
The next stud
fee bracket, $12,500, had 3 horses, Jimmy Creed, Justin Phillip and New Year's
New Year's Day broke his maiden in his second start at 2, in
a maiden special at Del Mar (8f.), and in his next start, confused a weak 2-year-old
division with a win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (8.5f.). (Shared Belief came
along late to win the championship after winning the CashCall Futurity.) Working
toward his 3-year-old debut, New Year's Day kicked out in his stall the day after
Christmas and the resulting sesamoid fracture prompted his people to retire him
to stud with little advance notice at a fee of $12,500. By Street Cry out of the
graded winning Justwhistledixie by Dixie Union (later the dam of Mohaymen), he
covered 77 mares his first season, 98 in his second, and 92 in his third. A small,
but powerfully made horse, his first yearlings sold for a disappointing $26,464
average and his fee is now $5,000.
The very fast Jimmy Creed was
unraced at 2, but sprinted onto the scene at 3, winning 3 races including the
Malibu Stakes (7f.) and placing in the El Cajon (to Fed Biz) and Santa Anita Sprint
Championship (behind Coil and Capital Account). At 4, he won the Potrero Grande
(6.5f.) and was third in the Bing Crosby Stakes. A sesamoid injury in his right
front prompted retirement to stud at $12,500. This handsome, typey son of Distorted
Humor and the classy racemare Hookedonthefeelin by Citidancer got 141 mares his
first year, 147 in his second, but dropped to 72 in his third year. His yearling
average was a moderate $34,408 and his fee dropped to $5,000 for 2017 to make
up the difference.
Tough, consistent and durable, Justin Phillip
ran 4 seasons, made 32 starts and won 7. At 2 he broke his maiden at Belmont (6f.).
At 3, he won the prestigious Woody Stephens Stakes (7f.) on Belmont Day and placed
in 3 other stakes including the King's Bishop and Jerome Stakes. At 4, he won
an allowance (6f.), and placed in 3 stakes. He roared back to form at 5, winning
the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (6f.) and Count Fleet Sprint (6f.) and placed
in 4 other graded sprint stakes. A big, handsome, powerfully made horse, Justin
Phillip is by the precocious runner and consistent sire First Samurai. His mother
is the blue hen mare Ava Knowsthecode (by Cryptoclearance), dam of 6 stakes winners
(all graded) including the high ranking 2016 freshman sire Algorithms. His first
book had 106 mares, the second down to 86, but the third rose back up to 93. His
first yearlings averaged $33,005, which is just moderate, and prompted a fee drop
to $5,000. With a win at 2 and proven form in all the top East Coast sprint stakes,
Justin Phillip has a shot to do well with his first crop of foals and beyond.
When Flat Out was born, he wasn't considered particularly well
bred. He was from the second crop by by Flatter, a $5,000 stud at the time (who
now stands for $35,000). His dam, Cresta Lil, although a nice stakes winner, was
by the wholly forgettable sire Cresta Rider, and this was her ninth foal. She'd
also produced a stakes winner at Turf Paradise, but this was not royalty by any
stretch. An $11,000 weanling who grew into an $85,000 Fasig Tipton July yearling,
Flat Out was a winner at 2 (6f.), won the Smarty Jones Stakes (8f.) at 3, and
an allowance (8.32f.) at 4. He blossomed into one of the best older horses in
the country at 5, 6, and 7. With Grade 1 wins in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (10f.,
twice) and Cigar Mile (8f.), he was classy and versatile. Retired to stud at $10,000,
Flat Out's drop dead good looks earned 169 first season mares, 183 the next year
and 151 in his third year. His first yearlings averaged $32,470, which is just
moderate, and his fee is now just $7,000, but this is a horse that could surprise
a lot of people, which is something he's been doing all his life.
Revenge is a big, ruggedly handsome horse but his pedigree is the handicap.
He's by Stephen Got Even, who was totally capable of siring top class runners,
well, like I Want Revenge, but also Stevie Wonderboy, First Dude and others, but
he was a commercial disaster, which is why his fee stayed on the low end. I Want
Revenge is out of Meguial, who won the Argentine Oaks and 1,000 Guineas, so very
high class, and she's a daughter of Roy, a modest runner who became a tremendous
sire in South America. This is that pesky A.P. Indy/Fappiano nick at work again.
I Want Revenge broke his maiden at 2 at Hollywood going 1 1/16 miles and placed
second in the CashCall Futurity behind Pioneerof the Nile. At 3, he won the Gotham
and Wood Memorial and looked like he had a monstrous chance to win the Kentucky
Derby but was scratched the morning of the big race with an ankle injury. His
return to the track was staggered and although he placed in big stakes at 4, 5
and 6, he was never the same horse, and unfortunately, that delay to stud was
a strategic error. Starting at $10,000, he bred 60 mares in both his first and
second seasons, and 55 in his third. His first yearlings averaged just $14,167
and his fee is now $5,000. He may get runners but the market doesn't love them
and the number and quality of mares he's been covering make him a longshot.
was a very good 2-year-old in California, winning the Real Quiet Stakes and CashCall
Futurity, and being by Indian Charlie, we know precocious speed is hard-wired
in there, so he could have a lot of juvenile winners. He didn't win at 3, but
placed in some high class stakes, and came back at 4 to win the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap-G2
(1 1/16 miles) and Santana Mile, so miler speed seems to be his forte. His dam
has staying elements (Victory Gallop, A.P. Indy, Gleaming), but it seems like
speed is the dominating force here. Thanks to a strong "share the upside"
program, Liaison got 115 mares his first year, 141 the second and 118 the third.
His yearlings didn't amaze, though, averaging just $28,036, but that's almost
$30,000, so almost 3 times the stud fee, when you get right down to it. He's got
a great shot at getting a lot of quick and early runners like himself and his
grandsire, but don't see him as a classic sire for the future. His fee is down
to $5,000 for now.
A tall, elegant, late maturing son of Tiznow, Morning
Line was unplaced in 1 start at 2, so is probably not going to feature strongly
among the juvenile sires. Although he ran from 2 to 6, he was lightly raced, with
just 15 starts in 5 seasons of racing. He won the Pennsylvania Derby (9f.) and
was second in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile that year behind Dakota Phone by just
a head, so he had surprising speed. At 4, he won the Carter at 7 furlongs, and
at 5, won the Mervyn Leroy at 1 1/16 miles, so put him down as a miler. Morning
Line is by Tiznow out of an A.P. Indy mare, making him inbred 4x3 to Seattle Slew,
but he's not made like a typical Slew, being lighter and leggier. He got 109 mares
the first year, 88 the second year, showing a little apprehension on the part
of breeders, and just 56 in his third year, although his first yearlings averaged
$36,719. Being a later maturing horse, with that small third crop, he may have
a tough time of it if his babies don't come out running and put him in the top
tier of the freshman sires, making him a very high risk horse.
was one of the best 2-year-olds of 2012, winning the Futurity and Remsen Stakes,
so he's got a live shot at being among the top freshman sires with 2-year-olds
himself. He won the Arkansas Derby at 3, but nothing else that year, so his big
appeal lies in that juvenile season. He's by Dixie Union, a high class but underappreciated
horse who sired a lot of good juveniles besides Overanalyze. The dam here is the
good producer Unacloud, whose sire Unaccounted For is a weak spot, being a very
moderate stallion. The second dam is by Two Punch and she's also inbred to Mr.
Prospector's dam Gold Digger, which is interesting. His first season brought 151
mares, the second 123 and the third 93 mares, so there will be a lot of runners
out there to help him. His first yearlings averaged $27,061, although we'd have
expected more if he throws a precocious type. There may have been too many out
there that worked against him and brought his average down, but he looks like
a good bet as a sire of 2-year-olds this year.
Power Broker is a really
gorgeous, flashy son of Pulpit with buckets of pedigree to support him. His dam
is by Wild Again and the second dam is by Private Account from a very quick family
going back to Lady Be Good. He won the FrontRunner Stakes at 2, but was a second
tier runner at 3, winning the Indiana Derby and Easy Goer Stakes and all his wins
have been at 1 1/16 miles. Power Broker covered only 76 mares his first season
then jumped up to 128 mares the second, but dropped down to 41 in his third. His
2016 yearlings averaged $26,233, which is about what this stud fee has been generating.
That weak third season caused a big drop in fee to $3,500, which is a cry for
help. If that first small crop doesn't come out running, he could be off to out-of-state
pastures, which makes him a big commercial risk.
From Pin Oak's strongest family,
Alternation is by Distorted Humor out of Alternate by Seattle Slew, bred
on the nick that has produced so many good ones by Distorted Humor. Alternation
won at 2 going a mile and 70 yards, and was brought along slowly at 3, winning
the Peter Pan Stakes at 9 furlongs. Better at 4, he won 5 stakes including the
Oaklawn Handicap and Pimlico Special. A good dirt router, he attracted 103 mares
the first year, 94 the second, but dropped to 60 mares his third season. His first
yearlings averaged $22,294, which is disappointing, but they may be later maturing
types like their father. In that case, don't expect a lot of precocious juveniles,
but if he got enough fast and early mares, who knows? He's a son of Distorted
Humor, after all. Keep in mind that Distorted Humor's son Flower Alley sired a
Kentucky Derby winner, so next year might be more interesting for runners by Alternation.
His breeders are not likely to give up early on this one.
Data Link was
a later maturing turf horse, which puts him at a disadvantage, but he's by War
Front, which makes up for that possible shortcoming. His dam is by Known Fact,
who was a turf miler, and the second dam by Deputy Minister. A winner at 3 at
1 1/16 miles, he won 3 races, no stakes at 3, but bloomed at 4 winning 3 stakes
including the Maker's 46 Mile-G1. He got 121 mares his first season, and 122 the
second, although that dipped to 84 in his third year. His yearlings sold well
enough, averaging $35,565, even if some of that was the reflected glory of War
Front. A later maturing sire shouldn't sell that well, so the War Front physique
must be coming through loud and clear.
Copyright by Anne Peters 2017