Sunday, May 20, 2018

Seven Stallions Star On Wet And Wild Weekend at Pimlico

A wet and interesting weekend at Pimlico Race Course had more than a few talking points when everyone headed home on Saturday night. Justify (Scat Daddy) gave Bob Baffert his second Triple Crown chance in four years when he raced through the fog to win the Preakness Stakes as the biggest winner of the two-day festival but he wasn’t the only big story.

Seven different stallions had spectacular weekends that saw Pimlico playing a leading role with just a few weeks before breeding sheds close around the northern hemisphere. Here are the leading men who didn’t let a little mud or fog in Maryland stop them from making headlines.

Awesome Again/Deputy Minister – At 24 years old and still an active stallion, Awesome Again (Deputy Minister) is already impressive. But add in the fact that that he plays a major role in the pedigrees of the top two Preakness finishers, the Black Eye Susan second and the Chick Lang third and it was a great weekend for the Adena Spring stallion.

In the Preakness, it was a family affair with the stallion’s son Ghostzapper as the broodmare sire of Justify (Scat Daddy) while Awesome Again is the sire of Calumet bred and raced second-place finisher Bravazo. Bravazo was bred the year after Calumet won the Preakness Stakes with Awesome Again’s Oxbow, who also represented his sire well over the weekend when Coach Rocks finished second in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan after becoming her sire’s first graded stakes winner earlier this year. Not to be outdone by his little brother, Oxbow’s full brother Awesome Patriot added a third stakes placed horse to his resume when Clouded Judgement finished third in the Chick Lang Stakes. Awesome Again stood for a private fee at Adena Springs Kentucky division for the first time in 2017 and bred 69 mares.

Calumet played a big part in Awesome Again's weekend.
While Awesome Again provided his late sire with many of the accomplishments over the weekend, Deputy Minister’s other branches also helped out. Outside of the Awesome Again horses, seven runners from other branches of Deputy Minister’s line had horses hit the top three. Included in that was Silver Deputy giving his sire a pair of victories through Caleb’s Posse’s (Posse) Girls Know Best in The Very One Stakes and Spring at Last (Silver Deputy) with Song of Spring in the Allaire DuPont Distaff. Deputy Minister was Vice Regent’s (Northern Dancer) only son whose branch had runners hit the board in Pimlico stakes races this weekend.

Curlin – Curlin’s streak of having a Triple Crown race placer every year he’s had 3-year-olds was safe when Good Magic was second in the Kentucky Derby but that wasn’t where success ended for the sire on this year’s trail. At Pimlico, Curlin’s very promising Irish War Cry – who helped keep the aforementioned Triple Crown streak alive last year – won the Pimlico Special while Tenfold and Peach of a Gal both finished third in their respective races. Curlin also had a fourth place finisher in the Preakness when Good Magic finished one spot behind Tenfold.

Interestingly enough, both of Curlin’s Friday placers (Irish War Cry and Peach of a Gal) are out of Polish Numbers mares. That cross has proved to be a successful nick with all nine foals of racing age bred on it making at least one start with seven winners and two stakes winners.

Fappiano – Fappiano is making a strong case for being the most successful son of Mr. Prospector with his branch’s successes on the track and that continued this weekend. Four stakes runners at Pimlico with sires or broodmare sires from his line won a race there (two apiece for the sire side & broodmare sire side) with a farther three placing in the races. Three of those were thanks to his late grandson Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled), who was the sire of the Dixie Stakes runner-up, grandsire of the Chick Lang second, and broodmare sire of Miss Preakness third Buy Sell Hold (Violence).

Buy Sell Hold
Giant’s Causeway– The late Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat) put on a show at Pimlico through his sons and daughters over the weekend. The stallion’s sons sired two winners with Japan-based Eskendereya siring the freaky fast Mitole and the late Giant Oak starting the weekend off with Skipat winner Vertical Oak.

As a broodmare sire, the stallion showed why he is leading the Broodmare Sire standings this year (and would still be in the top three if Pegasus earnings were removed) when his daughter produced Grade 3 Pimlico Special third Untrapped. His son First Samurai is also proving to be more than useful himself as the broodmare sire of Skipat third Ms Locust Point to make sure Giant’s Causeway’s line is alive and well for years to come.

Great Notion – It’s only fitting for a Maryland-based stallion to star on one of Maryland’s biggest days and this year, Great Notion (Elusive Quality) was the headliner. A leading sire in the state, all three of the horses he had in Saturday’s stakes races (as a sire or broodmare sire) finished third with those three coming in consecutive races. Lewisfield and Anna’s Bandit were both sired by the stallion while Prince Lucky (Corinthian) is out of his daughter Lucky Notion.

Indian Charlie– If you’re an Indian Charlie (In Excess) fan, this weekend was the one for you. While his best son Uncle Mo led the charge with four winners – including Ultra Brat at Pimlico – on Saturday, Indian Charlie’s daughters also did their parts. Indian Charlie sired the dams of Chick Lang winner and third place finishers Mitole and Clouded Judgement, while Switzerland was another winner for the stallion in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint.

Indian Charlie was the big winner of the Caro line over the weekend but was far from the only representative. Three other sires descending from the line had stakes placed horses at Pimlico over the weekend with Mizzen Mast (Cozzene) siring the dam of Miss Preakness second Artistic Diva and being the sire of a placer himself in Gallorette third Brooks House.

Indian Charlie's best son, Uncle Mo
Scat Daddy – For any sire, a Preakness Stakes victory would be more than enough to seal up a stellar weekend. But for the late Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), it was just one race in a big weekend. He started Friday off with an allowance winner at Churchill Downs (Soglio) followed by Tap Daddy winning the James W. Murphy on the Preakness undercard on Saturday seven races before Justify’s victory. Giving Scat Daddy a third winner on the day and a cross-country accomplishment was Daddysprize winning his second race in three starts with a victory at Golden Gate.

To really top of the weekend, the stallion hit the major milestone of 100 career stakes winners when Sergei Prokofiev started a three-race win sequence for the sire when winning the listed Rochestown Stakes at Naas.  That was followed by his First Crop Sire son No Nay Never getting that stallion’s first stakes winner in the Irish EBF Fillies’ Sprint Stakes followed up by Scat Daddy getting another stakes winner on the weekend when Group 1 winner Sioux Nation won his first race of the season in the Group 3 Lacken Stakes. Overall, since last Saturday, Scat Daddy has sired eight winners (four stakes winners) and two stakes placed horses.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Common Threads Link Derby & Guineas Weekend Winners


Last weekend was a big one for racing on both sides of the Atlantic as the first major classic races of the year took place in England and the United States. As is usually the case, the classics weren’t the only stakes races on their respective cards with 20 blacktype events taking place over the three days of racing between Churchill Downs and Newmarket.

As is often the case in these weekends, some pedigrees looked familiar no matter where you were so sit back and enjoy the show as we take you through some of the bigger points of the weekend.

Sire Lines – First, let’s get the overall numbers out on the table. Sixty horses sired by 48 different stallions placed finished in the top three in the stakes over the weekend with those 48 stallions hailing from seven different sire lines. Not surprisingly, Northern Dancer led everyone with 28 placers, including six winners (21.4%), followed by Mr. Prospector with 14 (six winners – 42.8%), and A.P. Indy with seven – including two winners (28.5%). The Hail To Reason line had the best results with three winners from five on-the-board placers (60%) – including two Group 1 winners (Saxon Warrior and Yoshida.)

On the broodmare sire side, daughters of 52 different stallions produced placers with Forest Wildcat and Singspiel leading all stallions with three apiece. Fourteen different sire lines were represented on this side of the pedigree with Northern Dancer again leading with 26 placers – including nine winners (35%) – followed by Mr. Prospector with 11 placers (five winners – 45%), Seattle Slew/A.P. Indy with five (one winner - 20%) and Hail to Reason with five - again having three winners (60%).

Horses walk in front of the Rowdy Mile at Newmarket
Branches – It’s no surprise that some influential stallions are also siring influential sons and that was on display this weekend. For Hail to Reason, Halo and Roberto held their weight fairly equally with three stallions from Halo’s branch siring placers and two from Roberto’s – both by Arch sons with the same number being represented on the broodmare sire side as well.

Considering the success Fappiano has had in recent years on this weekend, his representation was small. Only two horses were sired by his branch of the family with both finishing third (Midnight Bisou and Givemeaminit), though he did have a winner and two placers (Maraud, Beach Patrol, Farrell) thanks to his granddaughters. Gone West was probably the biggest winner from the Mr. Prospector line in the weekend’s stakes with three winners through his broodmare sires (Yoshida, Backyard Heaven, Mia Mischief) and two winners and a third through his male line. Thanks in large part to Dubawi, Seeking the Gold also had a huge weekend with two winners and two seconds from his place on the top side of pedigrees and a winner and a third on the bottom side.

As such an international sire, it’s no surprise that Northern Dancer had placers from six different branches on the sire side and nine different from the broodmare sire category over the weekend. Sadler’s Wells and Storm Bird led his sons with Storm Bird having 10 and Sadler’s Wells nine through their sons, grandsons and great-grandsons. Perhaps more surprising than that information is that Sadler’s Wells’ influence wasn’t just based in England this weekend with three of his seconds coming in the U.S. (thanks to Medaglia d’Oro and his sons). Storm Bird was all alone when it came to broodmare sire representation with seven horses compared to Sadler’s Wells five and Vice Regent/Danzig’s four each.

Dubawi and Scat Daddy – The two stallions to make the biggest rises over the past few years were also the two sires to have the most success on the track this weekend in terms of numbers with two winners apiece.

Dubawi owes a lot to Singspiel for his success over the weekend with all three of the horses he had hit the board out of Singspiel mares. Four-year-old Wuheida was making her first start back since a Breeders’ Cup win last year while the regally bred Lah Ti Dar stayed undefeated and made her Group 1 potential known when winning a listed stakes. Old Persian rounded out Dubawi’s weekend as a sire when finishing second behind Key Victory in a listed race on Saturday – ironically Key Victory is out of the Dubawi mare Patroness, giving him three wins overall this weekend.

The late Scat Daddy’s weekend was obviously led by Justify winning the Kentucky Derby but showing he was a stallion who could sire horses who run on anything, on Friday at Churchill Downs the stallion had Toinette and Daddy is a Legend finish first and third in the Edgewood on turf. While Scat Daddy didn’t have much luck in the 1,000 Guineas, he did have an entry to be the only horse to have runners in classics on both sides of the Atlantic last weekend.

Scat Daddy

Stud Fees – From $5,000 to $200,000, last weekend’s winners were bred on a big range of fees with an average fee of $46,709 when their winners were conceived (Dubawi factors into that average twice as his winners were conceived two different years). Country Day, the sire of Twin Turf Sprint winner Will Call, had the least expensive of all stallions when his winner was conceived in 2013 at a $5,000 fee while Deep Impact was the most expensive at approximately $200,000 when 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior was conceived in 2014.

Four stallions have had fee drops from when their winner was conceived to today though the nine others with advertised stud fees have all had increases. The biggest increase is that of Into Mischief, whose fee rose 400% to $100,000 from the $20,000 it was at when Mia Mischief was conceived while another notable fee change is that of Quality Road, who went up 180%. Four stallions had over a 100% increase in stud fee from the year of conception of their winner to this year with an average stud fee for all stallions who had fees in 2018 at $90,872. The smallest increase of all those stallions was Champs Elysees who has switched from being a flat racing sire to a national hunt stallion but saw a 13.67% increase to $7,701 this year from $6,775 in 2014.

Storm Cat – Storm Cat may have died five years ago but that didn’t stop him from playing a big part in the results at Churchill Downs on Friday and Saturday. No fewer than nine horses by stallions from his sire line placed in races at the track while a farther six were out of mares by stallions from the line.

Storm Cat’s sons Hennessy and Harlan played a big role in this success with their grandsons Scat Daddy and Into Mischief combining for six of those nine runners by Storm Cat stallions with Into Mischief’s sire Harlan’s Holiday combining for one more and Hennessy’s son Henny Hughes siring the dam of Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl.

Auction Prices – If you had been in the right place at the right time at the sales over the years, you could have purchased one of the weekend’s stakes winners for as little as $16,260 or as much as $765,160. The Kentucky Derby winner would have cost you $500,000 while the Oaks winner cost $100,000. Both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas winners never went through the ring at public auction, joining nine other winners who either race for their breeders or were privately sold with five of those coming from the U.S. races and six from England’s. Those who did go through the ring averaged $270,713 with Yoshida being the most expensive and Mabs Cross the least expensive.

According to the Kentucky Derby Media Guide, Justify is the co-third most expensive Kentucky Derby winner since 1960, sharing the honor with Alysheba and costing less than Fusaichi Pegasus and Winning Colors.

Fusaichi Pegasus is the most expensive Kentucky Derby winner as a $4-million auction purchase
Sires and Broodmare Sires – In this edition of ‘that’s his daddy but also your granddaddy’ five stallions were both sires and broodmare sires of placers while a further six are both the sire of a mare and a stallion who had at least one horse finish in the top three in stakes. The only horse to fit in both categories is Galileo, who not only sired 1000 Guineas third place finisher Happily, but is also the grandsire of the winning Key Victory (among multiple second place finishers) and is the damsire of 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior.

Indy’s Line – While A.P. Indy spent the weekend enjoying retirement in his paddock at Lane’s End Farm, at the races his influence was still heavily felt when seven horses sired by his sons, grandsons and great grandsons hit the board at Churchill Downs. Those included Monomoy Girl in the Oaks, who is sired by his great-grandson Tapizar, and American Gal in the Humana Distaff who is sired by another great-grandson.

Pulpit can take a lot of credit for A.P. Indy’s success over the weekend. He was the only A.P. Indy son to make it on the damsires list and four of A.P. Indy’s seven placers are by sons and grandsons of the stallion (all through Pulpit’s son Tapit). Two other A.P. Indy sons were also able to make their presence known with Malibu Moon having two horses make the list for this piece and Bernardini siring third place finisher Lewis Bay. Interestingly, Lewis Bay’s damsire is A.P. Indy’s half-brother Summer Squall to give her a 3x3 cross to their bluehen dam Weekend Surprise.

Lewis Bay's pedigree
Billesdon Brook – Billesdon Brook pulled off the biggest shock in 1000 Guineas history when winning the race at 66-1 but looking at her pedigree, it’s obvious she had the class behind her to win the race. She had already won three starts and placed in four others before the Guineas, including winning a Group 3 so she had the talent needed to at least be competitive in one of these races but she also had the pedigree. Her sire Champs Elysees is one of the best-bred horses in the stud book as one of five Group 1 winners out of Hasili and a sire of nine group stakes winners.

On the filly’s dam side, each of her first three dams has produced at least one stakes winner (excluding her) and include some familiar names. The pedigree starts off with four flat racing champions in the form of German champion Smooth Operator, dual country champion Anna Monda, French champion National Defense and her third dam, champion Anna Paola in addition to jumps superstar Annie Power then continues its form past that. This is also the family of U.S. Grade 1 winner Ave, another winner at Newmarket last weekend in Indian Blessing, Italian Grade 1 winner Anna Monda and Australian Group 1 winners Helmet and Epaulette. While she was overlooked in the betting among the other strong horses in the field, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to see exactly how she pulled off the upset with the combination of form and a strong pedigree behind her.

Ghostzapper -  Ghostzapper has had some major highs in his career and Saturday was definitely one of them. The stallion was on fire all over the country as both a sire and broodmare sire in multiple races. He started off the weekend with Bugle Notes earning accolades with a debut 2 ¼ length victory on Friday at Churchill Downs before the real fun started. On Saturday, his 2017 Kentucky Derby runner McCraken returned to the races after a six month break to win an allowance on the Derby undercard two races before Ghostzapper’s Proctor’s Ledge won the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile and a few hours before his 2017 Queen’s Plate winner Holy Helena won her third straight race in the Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Churchill Downs. To top off the day, Ghostzapper’s was the damsire of Humana Distaff winner American Gal, hours before his other daughter Stage Magic became a Kentucky Derby winner producing dam with Justify.

While none of his weekend stakes horses had a cross in common, Bugle Notes and McCracken both do with Seeking the Gold as their broodmare sire. Seeking the Gold was also the damsire of Churchill Downs Stakes third place finisher Awesome Slew, who is by Ghostzapper’s sire Awesome Again to continue a newer play on the Northern Dancer over Mr. Prospector cross that was successful decades ago.


McCraken

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Keeping It In the Family: Bargains Abound in 2018 Kentucky Derby

With the first Saturday in May quickly approaching, the field has been drawn with 20 horses in the main body and one also eligible who will get into the field if a runner scratches early Friday.

This year, three stallions have two or more entries led by Scat Daddy with four with 15 stallions overall having entries in the race. However, showing how hard it is to get one Derby entry - let alone four – only one of the stallions this century to sire a Kentucky Derby winner also has a runner this year (Malibu Moon with Magnum Moon).

From homebreds to $3 million purchases and well-seasoned horses to those who just started running a few months ago, this year’s Derby has something for everyone. To get you ready for Saturday’s race (running at 6:50p.m. ET), here are 18 facts as we head to one of the biggest races of the year.

Bargain Mares – While it’s undoubtedly hard to breed a Derby runner, it would have been relatively inexpensive to buy many of the dams of this year’s Derby runners. Eight of the mares brought less than $100,000 when going through the ring with the least expensive being My Boy Jack’s dam Gold N Shaft (Mineshaft) selling for $8,000 less than two years ago at Keeneland’s November Sale in 2016. One other mare you could have bought for four figures was Noble Indy’s dam Noble Maz (Storm Boot) for $9,000 as a yearling in 2017 at Fasig-Tipton’s Mid-Atlantic sale.

But perhaps the biggest bargain was Broodmare of the Year Leslie’s Lady (Tricky Creek). Bought for $100,000 in 2006 only months after future leading sire Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday) sold for $80,000 as a yearling, she has produced three Grade 1 winners and is the dam or granddam of two Kentucky Derby runners. She also easily made that $100,000 back for her owners with her foals born post-sale bringing a combined $4.7 million in the sales ring. The filly she was carrying in 2006 when sold is also the dam of one-time Kentucky Derby hopeful Harry’s Holiday (Harlan’s Holiday), who is standing in Indiana.

Leslie's Lady's most accomplished runner, Beholder

Overall, 18 of the 20 mares with Derby runners have been through the sales ring at least once. Twelve of those sold the last time they went through the ring at an average of $152,833 with a farther six of them leaving the ring unsold. Keeneland has the most representation with 16 going through their pavilion while Fasig-Tipton had two go through their ring. In seven cases, the last time you could have purchased the mares at public auction was when they went through the ring as a yearling.

Sire Lines – Once again, Northern Dancer (Nearctic) runs the show in a big race with seven of the 15 Derby sires and nine of the 19 Derby broodmare sires descending from the Derby winner. Of those, Danzig and Storm Bird are the two more popular lines the sires come from with a combined 11 sires and broodmare sires from those two sons.

Of course, Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native) is also a popular name in pedigrees here as well with three of the sires and five of the broodmare sires finding his name in their sire line.  But it’s a relatively young stallion who may be stealing the show shortly. Nineteen years younger than Mr. Prospector and 28 years younger than Northern Dancer A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) has a lot of influence over this field. Four of his sons or grandsons are sires of Derby runners while he and son Mineshaft are broodmare sires of runners in the field as well.

In all, four different sire lines (Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector, A.P. Indy and Hail to Reason) have runners in the Derby descending through the tail male line while six sire lines (Northern Dancer, Seattle Slew/A.P. Indy, In Reality, Mr. Prospector, Sword Dancer, Nearctic) are represented by mares with runners.

SIRE LINES OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY
Stallion
Sire
Sire Line
Poseidon’s Warrior
Speightstown
Mr. Prospector
Union Rags
Dixie Union
Northern Dancer
Shackleford
Forestry
Northern Dancer
Scat Daddy
Johannesburg
 Northern Dancer
Into Mischief
Harlan’s Holiday
Northern Dancer
Curlin
Smart Strike
Mr. Prospector
Majestic Warrior
A.P. Indy
A.P. Indy
Tapit
Pulpit
A.P. Indy
Creative Cause
Giant’s Causeway
Northern Dancer
Medaglia d'Oro
El Prado
Northern Dancer
Awesome Again
Deputy Minister
Northern Dancer
Arch
Kris S
Hail to Reason
Malibu Moon
A.P. Indy
A.P. Indy
Take Charge Indy
A.P. Indy
A.P. Indy
Proud Citizen
Gone West
Mr. Prospector


Stud Fees – Many of the sires with runners here are standing for a higher fee in 2018 than they commanded in 2014 when this crop was conceived. The horse with the biggest fee increase from 2014 to 2018 at 400% is unsurprisingly Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday). You could have bred to that stallion for an advertised fee of $20,000 in 2014 while today you’ll struggle to get into his in-demand book at $100,000. Two other big increases are Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado) having a 150% increase from $100,000 to $250,000 and Tapit’s (Pulpit) fee doubling from $150,000 to $300,000 in 2015, a fee he still stands at.

Only two stallions have taken advertised stud fee dips with Majestic Warrior (A.P. Indy) dropping 27% to stand at approximately $16,411 when moving to Japan from the $22,500 he stood at in 2014 in Kentucky and Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy) capitalizing on Orb’s win in the Derby the previous year when standing at $95,000 in 2014 and now at $75,000 for a 21% decrease. Young stallions Poseidon’s Warrior (Speightstown) and Shackleford (Forestry) stand at the same fee they did in 2014 while Take Charge Indy (A.P. Indy) moved to South Korea and doesn’t have an advertised fee that I could find and three of the stallions on this list died between 2014 and 2018 while Awesome Again (Deputy Minister) stands for a private fee.

The average stud fee for the Kentucky Derby sires in 2014 (taking out those with private or unknown fees and those who are now dead) was $49,900 in 2014 and has seen nearly a 100% increase to $99,791 in 2018.

KENTUCKY DERBY SIRE ADVERTISED STUD FEES
Stallion
2014 Fee
2018 Fee
Poseidon's Warrior
$6,500
$6,500
Union Rags
$35,000
$60,000
Shackleford
$20,000
$20,000
Scat Daddy
$30,000
Dead
Into Mischief
$20,000
$100,000
Curlin
$35,000
$150,000
Majestic Warrior
$22,500
$16,411
Tapit
$150,000
$300,000
Creative Cause
$15,000
$20,000
Medagalia d'Oro
$100,000
$250,000
Awesome Again
$75,000
Private
Arch
$40,000
Dead
Malibu Moon
$95,000
$75,000
Take Charge Indy
$20,000
Unknown
Proud Citizen
$15,000
Dead


Father/Sons – Racing is all about family connections and the horses are no different.  There are four different father/son or grandsire/grandson combinations in the Derby. In every case, one of them is a broodmare sire and the other is the sire of the runner with the already mentioned A.P. Indy having four sons or grandsons with runners in the race while also being the sire of a dam as well. In one case, the son is the broodmare sire while the sire is the sire of a runner with 24-year-old Awesome Again siring Bravazo in addition to his 18-year-old son Ghostzapper siring the dam of Justify (Scat Daddy).

Broodmare Credentials – If you’re looking for a way to figure out how to pick a broodmare who will turn into a superstar, the Derby is another example of there being no magic formula. The only thing the mares have in common on the track is that all 17 to have raced at least hit the board in one start but those starts range from maiden claiming races to Grade 1 races. Four of the dams never raced while only one dam was a Grade 1 winner (It’s Tricky). You can find the breakdown of how the mares did on the track (with stakes wins counting for more than graded stakes placings, ect) in the chart below.

Finish
# of Mares
G1W
1
SW
4
SP
3
Winner
6
Placed
3
Unraced
4

Fappiano Line – Fappiano’s (Mr. Prospector) sire line has been a very successful one with Derby winners in recent years as the sire or broodmare sire line of four of the last 10 Kentucky Derby winners. This year the line has one representative in Magnum Moon (Malibu Moon), whose dam is an Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled) daughter. The Unbridled branch of Fappiano’s line has been the most successful in recent years with two of the last three winners by sons of Unbridled’s Empire Maker.

Ages – While the ages of the Kentucky Derby sires range more toward mid-range this year with the average being 14.9 years, five of its sires are in the 10 and under club. Union Rags, Creative Cause and Take Charge Indy – three horses among the top of their 3-year-old crop in 2012 – are the youngest at nine years of age with two having Derby runners in their second crop and one in his first while the 24-year-old active stallion Awesome Again is the oldest. The stallions with the highest stud fees are in the 13 to 19 range with four of the six stallions still living in that age range standing for six figures. No stallion in any other range stands for more than $75,000.

Union Rags
The dams of runners this year average a bit lower age at 12.2 years old with eight aged 10 or under. Mr. Greeley’s Ambitious, the dam of Lone Sailor, is the youngest at eight years of age.  Leslie’s Lady, who is the most accomplished in the field in terms of what she’s produced is also the oldest at 22 years of age, five years older than the next oldest Surf Song (Storm Cat). Seventeen of the broodmares with runners in the field are under 15 years of age.

Expensive Runners – Three of the runners in the field give those who are willing to spend seven figures on yearlings or 2-year-olds hope. Good Magic (Curlin), Instilled Regard (Arch), and Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy) all hit at least $1-million in the sales ring with two of those bought as yearlings. Three others brought at least $500,000 while the average price you’d pay for a runner in this year’s Kentucky Derby at public auction was $557,625 (that drops to $394,800 when removing the $3-million Mendelssohn) with only three of those runners selling for under $120,000. My Boy Jack (Creative Cause) was the least expensive at $20,000 while Noble Indy (Take Charge Indy) left the ring unsold at $45,000 and four horses never went through the ring.

If you want a Derby runner, it looks like yearling auctions are where you’ll have the most success with 14 of the 17 runners who went through the ring last selling at yearling auctions with 13 of those coming from Keeneland September (including the unsold Noble Indy).

Storm Cat – Nearly exactly five years after his death (April 24, 2013), it seems fitting Storm Cat (Storm Bird) will be so well represented in the Kentucky Derby. Storm Cat never sired a Kentucky Derby winner or sired a son who did but this year he has four grand or great-grand sons with a combined seven (35%) runners in the field. Three of his sons also have daughters with runners in the race while Storm Cat himself is the broodmare sire of Solomini (Curlin).

Storm Cat is grouped in with the rest of the Northern Dancers above but is responsible for four of that stallion’s representatives on the sire side and four on the broodmare sire side to make the argument he has established his own sire line within the family.

Horse
Sire
Type
Shackleford
Forestry
Sire
Scat Daddy
Johannesburg
Sire
Into Mischief
Harlan’s Holiday
Sire
Creative Cause
Giant’s Causeway
Sire
Giant’s Causeway
Storm Cat
Broodmare Sire
Forestry
Storm Cat
Broodmare Sire
Storm Boot
Storm Cat
Broodmare Sire
Storm Cat
Storm Bird
Broodmare Sire


Homebreds – In an industry that lives and dies on bloodstock sales, the Kentucky Derby also shows that there are still breeders who race their homebreds with six of the 21 Kentucky Derby entrants having their breeders named as owners or co-owners. Two of those went through the ring with Stonestreet keeping a piece of Good Magic after he brought $1 million as a yearling and WinStar Farm keeping Noble Indy to race after he left the ring unsold at $45,000, though Repole Stable has joined in the partnership.  Four horses have never seen the sales ring with Firenze Fire, Hofburg, Enticed, and Bravazo all kept to race by their breeders.

Scat Daddy – Scat Daddy’s second-to-last crop is showing how big of a loss the stallion was to the industry when he died at 11 with four of the horses in the Kentucky Derby by the 2007 Kentucky Derby runner. Bred on an advertised fee of $30,000, they included Kentucky Derby first and second choice Justify and Mendelssohn who right now look like they’ll join their sire in going off at single digit odds (he was at 7.20-to-1 in the 2007 Derby) 11 years after his run. Scat Daddy has one more crop of runners in the wings with 160 current 2-year-olds, including three winners from six runners thus far according to Equineline.

Scat Daddy

Race Accomplishments – Touted as one of the most competitive Kentucky Derbys in recent years, looking at the field it’s easy to see why. From the 21 horses currently entered, 11 of them have either won or placed in Grade 1 races and a farther six have won or placed in Grade 2 races. However, even with the big accomplishments of the horses it is taking 1 less point to get in the race (29 v. 30) compared to last year but is taking more points to get in than any other year the points system has been used (first implemented in 2013).

Curlin – The 2007 Preakness winner and Horse of the Year has sired a classic placed horse every year of his stallion career. He’s sired  the winners of the Preakness and Belmont and looks to try and get that elusive Kentucky Derby victory in his fifth year of having 3-year-olds on the track. Curlin will have three runners in the race on Saturday with champion 2-year-old Good Magic, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner up Solomini, and Wood Memorial winner Vino Rosso all lining up for him.

Derby Runners Siring Derby Runners – If you were to look at this year’s Kentucky Derby field, you’d probably conclude that to get a Kentucky Derby runner, you need to pick a sire who ran in the Derby. Of the 15 sires with Derby entries, eight ran in the Kentucky Derby (53 percent) with two of them hitting the board. Three of the sires also won U.S. classic races with Curlin (Smart Strike) and Shackleford (Forestry) winning the Preakness and Union Rags (Dixie Union) winning the Belmont Stakes.

Langfuhr  & Mineshaft – Lane’s End Farm’s evergreen stallions always seem to pop up in big races and the Derby is no exception. At 26 and 19 years of age, both Langfuhr and Mineshaft are still active in the shed while also seeing top horses produced by their daughters, as is the case in this Kentucky Derby with the stallions having two runners apiece as broodmare sires. Between them, Langfuhr and Mineshaft have combined for over 860 winners and 76 stakes winners as broodmare sires including seven graded/group stakes winners. Lane’s End is also the home of Derby sire Union Rags and stood Curlin when his three Derby winners were conceived in 2014 in addition to having the pensioned A.P. Indy.

Langfuhr
Late Birthdays – With Thoroughbreds officially turning a year older on January 1, it’s no surprise that breeders try to get mares to foal as close to the date as possible but this year is a win for the later foaling mares. Only two runners (My Boy Jack and Bravazo) were foaled in January, with both coming near the end of the month and three were foaled in February. The majority of the Derby runners were foaled in March (eight) with the dreaded May having the second most birthdays at six. Second choice Mendelssohn the youngest horse in the field with a May 17 birthday while My Boy Jack is the oldest with a January 26 birthday. It should also be noted that three of those May foals are Grade 1 winners.

Mendelssohn

Apollo Curse – A favorite topic of discussion this year is the Apollo Curse with morning line favorite Justify and third choice Magnum Moon both not racing at two. Since 1936, 41 Kentucky Derby fields have had at least one runner that didn’t race at two for 62 total horses from 681 to race in those 41 fields (making up only 9 percent of the 41 Kentucky Derby fields). The best finish of those 62 runners is three seconds (Bodemeister, Strodes Creek, and Coaltown) with five others finishing 3rd.  The biggest field with Apollo Curse entries was 1974’s with 23 runners (in which one of the two Apollo entries finished third and the other 12th) while the smallest was 1976 with nine (those horses finished 4th and 5th).  In all, 12.9% of the Apollo Curse horses have hit the board with 25.8% finishing in the top five.

It should be noted that only four of the horses went off as the favorite in the Derby, begging the question if the non-favored horses’ talent kept them from winning the Kentucky Derby more so than them not running at two.

Breeders' Cup Winners - Seeing multiple current/past Breeders' Cup winners in many races isn't an uncommon occurrence but this will be the first year it happens in the Kentucky Derby. Mendelssohn is the first Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner to run in the race while no Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies or Fillies Turf winner has run in the race and the two Juvenile Sprint winners also never made it to the race (Secret Circle was on the Derby trail and finished second in the Arkansas Derby but was hurt before the Kentucky Derby). Only two Breeders' Cup Juvenile winners have also won the Kentucky Derby - Nyquist and Street Sense - though Good Magic will be trying to be number three.