Sunday, June 25, 2017

Observations from the 2017 Royal Ascot Meet

One of the biggest weeks on the racing calendar has come and gone with the five day Royal Ascot meeting concluding on Saturday after 30 entertaining – and interesting – races. From stallions dominating throughout the week to broodmares making their mark on the meet and racehorses running more than five miles, Royal Ascot had a little bit of everything for both racing and pedigree fans.

By The Numbers – Over the five day, 30 race Royal Ascot meeting, 157 stallions had at least runner entered in a race during the final entry stages over the week. Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) led all sires with 26 runners, while Scat Daddy (Johannesburg) led all sires by winners with four. Forty-eight stallions had at least one horse finish in the top three with 21 having at least one winner. The average age of those winning sires is 16 years of age with an average stud fee of £50,741. Breeders can still breed to all but three of the winning sires with the most expensive advertised fee being Dubawi (Dubai Millennium) at £250,000 and least expensive being Nayef (Gulch) at £5,000. Dabirsim (Hat Trick) takes the award for youngest stallion at eight while the late Lomitas (Niniski) was born 29 years ago.

A truly international event, stallions currently standing in no less than 16 different countries had entries at the meet. The winning sires stand in eight different countries (Note: for shuttle stallions, they are counted in the country count of where they stand in the northern hemisphere. If they didn’t shuttle in 2017 [Choisir and Duke of Marmalade] they are counted in their southern hemisphere country’s count) and stand at 12 different farms. Ireland and England tied as the countries with the most winners at seven each while France was the only other country to have more than one winning stallion.

Scat Daddy – The farther we get from Scat Daddy’s death in late 2015, the more evident is it that his loss was arguably the biggest of a young sire in a number of years. Despite standing on another continent, Scat Daddy has taken Europe by storm and that domination was clear during the five days of Royal Ascot. Of his eight runners, four won and two others finished third with at least one Scat Daddy runner hitting the board in every race he had an entry in. Coolmore already has his son No Nay Never standing in Ireland and owns two of this week’s Scat Daddy winners who look like they may be good heir apparents to the stallion. While the super speedy Group 1 winner Caravaggio already has a spot in the stallion barn, the huge 2-year-old Sioux Nation may need to prove himself a bit more before Coolmore puts his nameplate on a stallion stall.

Scat Daddy also sired trainer Wesley Ward’s two winners in 3-year-olds Lady Aurelia, who beat older horses of both sexes, and Con Te Partiro.

Royal Ascot winner Lady Aurelia in her Royal Ascot prep race.
Urban Sea – Super mare Urban Sea’s influence is felt nearly every week around the world and this was no different. Six different sons and grandsons combined to sire 24 runners who were in the top three, including seven winners. Of the 30 races run at Royal Ascot this week, those runners by Urban Sea’s sons and grandsons took at least two of the top three spots in eight (27 percent) of the races with Galileo responsible for a sweep in the Grade 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes and a 1-3 finish in the Grade 1 Coronation Stakes. The versatility of the Urban Sea line was also on display with top three placings in the seven furlong Chesham Stakes, the approx. 2.69 mile Queen Alexandra Stakes and many distances in between. Urban Sea’s Galileo and Sea the Stars accounted for 17 of the 24 placers.

While only counted in that 24 runners count were those sired by sons and grandsons, one great-grandson of Urban Sea also had a horse finish second to help add to the line for another generation.

Thomas Hobson –  Showing a hardy constitution, Thomas Hobson (Halling) won the second-to-last race of the day on Tuesday going 2 ¼ miles, had a little more than 96 hours to rest then returned to finish second in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at approx. 2.69 miles on the last race of the card on Saturday. To put it in perspective Thomas Hobson raced 5.19 miles (41 ½ furlongs) in four days. The U.S. Triple Crown is run over 3.9 miles (31 ½ furlongs) during a five week period and the English Triple Crown is 4.3 miles (34 ½ furlongs) run over a little over a four month period (though many horses skip a leg or two and run elsewhere.) For those who like horses who switch between jumps and flat racing, Thomas Hobson is your man with 12 runs over hurdles in addition to his 10 flat runs.

Sunday Silence – Sunday Silence (Halo) is a familiar sight in Japan but is a bit rarer outside that country, except for last week. Dabirsim (Hat Trick) gave his grandsire a first win of the week on Friday when Different League upset the Grade 3 Albany Stakes for her First-Crop sire over a field of 20. Almost exactly 24 hours later, Deep Impact (Sunday Silence) gave his sire another victory when the freaky filly September beat the boys by 2 1/4 lengths in the Chesham Stakes. Dabirsim stands in France while September is a product of the Coolmore partners shipping multiple Group 1 winner Peeping Fawn to Japan to visit Deep Impact a few times. September’s full brother Wisconsin raced at Royal Ascot on Friday but finished 12th of 13 after a bizarre blowing of the first turn.


Father/Sons – Three sets of father/son pairs (or triples in one case) sired winners. The late Danehill Dancer (Danehill) joined his son Choisir on this year’s winner list when Qemah won the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge a day after Rajasinghe won the Group 2 Coventry for Choisir. Tuesday was a huge day for Exceed and Excel (Danehill) who not only had a 1-3 finish in the Windsor Castle Stakes but also saw his son’s Barney Roy (Excelebration) upset Churchill (Galileo) in the Group 1 St. James’s Palace.

Like usual, Galileo was an overachiever here. He not only had three winners through the week, he also had two sons with winners. Frankel got his first winner on Thursday in the King George V Stakes while Teofilo sired the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes winner the following day.

Hveger – Hveger may not be a name many were familiar with before the Royal Ascot but they should be now. This 16-year-old Australian-bred Danehill daughter has proven to be a major asset to the Coolmore operation, especially when moved to Ireland and bred to Galileo. The second foal from that cross is six-time Group 1 winner Highland Reel, who won Wednesday’s Group 1 Prince of Wale’s Stakes. Three days later, his year younger brother Idaho won a race Highland Reel couldn’t manage to win last year when beating the Queen’s Dartmouth (Dubawi) and 10 others in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes. The pair have a 3-year-old full sister named Cercle de La Vive, who sold for 460,000 guineas as a yearling but is so far unplaced, an unraced 2-year-old sister named Via Condotti (sold for 625,000 gns), and an unnamed yearling full brother.

Highland Reel
Sun Shower – It’s not often you see a broodmare have an exacta in a Group 1 but that’s what Sun Shower did on Tuesday. Her sire son Excelebration sired Group 1 St. James’s Palace winner Barney Roy and only a length behind him in second was Excelebration’s younger half-brother Lancaster Bomber (War Front). I talked a bit more about Sun Shower before the Qipco 2,000 Guineas so you can learn more about her in that blog but she has a really interesting story that shouldn’t be overlooked. She was sold to India after foaling Excelebration, bought by Coolmore and sent to the United States. She’s visited War Front every year since being imported with 2-year-old and 6 month old full brothers to Lancaster Bomber currently on the ground.

Farms – Godolphin and Coolmore fought out the owner’s championship throughout the week with the championship coming down to second place finishes to select the winner (Coolmore) and their stallion rosters also fought it out as well. Both farms had six stallions apiece with winners during the week but thanks to Scat Daddy having four winners and Galileo with three, Coolmore squeaked out ahead with 10 winners to Darley stallions’ eight. The Aga Khan’s roster was the only other one to have more than one stallion with winners as his Irish-based Sea the Star (Cape Cross) and French-based Siyouni (Pivotal) both had at least one winner apiece.

Acclamation – Acclamation didn’t have any winners at Royal Ascot this year but he made a good case for being a sire-of-sires. In addition to his two third place finishers, three of his sons had four first or second place finishers. That included the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee winner The Tin Man (Equiano) on the final day of the meet. The four sires (Acclamation and his son) struck nearly every day with at least one horse hitting the board during races on four of the five race days, including in three different Group 1 events. Showing how speedy the line is, every single one of the six placings came at five or six furlongs.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Looking Back at the 2017 U.S. Triple Crown

When Tapwrit crossed the line first in Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, he put the 2017 Triple Crown season firmly in the rearview mirror. With the 30 races run in the series (in this blog, the series being the 27 official Kentucky Derby points races run this year and the three Triple Crown races) now behind us, I decided to look back at the 2017 Triple Crown season to see if any common themes appear. As always, it looks like the answer is yes.

WinStar Farm – Over the past three years, WinStar Farm has been a powerful part of the Triple Crown. They stand American Pharoah’s sire Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker), they raced last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Creator (Tapit), and they stand Always Dreaming’s sire Bodemeister. Of the 27 Kentucky Derby prep races run this year, three of the winners were sired by WinStar stallions, one other was owned by WinStar Farm, and another two winners were by sons of WinStar stallion Tiznow (Cee’s Tizzy).

Pioneerof the Nile
A.P. Indy – A.P Indy (Seattle Slew) hasn’t had 3-year-olds since 2014 but that didn’t stop him from having a hand in this season’s Triple Crown trail. The 28-year-old stallion was the damsire of two of horses who won a combined three Kentucky Derby prep races (El Areeb and Hence) and his son Malibu Moon was the damsire of two-prep race winner Girvin (Tale of Ekati).

On the sire side, A.P. Indy was the grandsire of two colt who won a combined three preps (Gormley and J Boys Echo), and was the great-grandsire of two others (Gunnevera and Tapwrit). In his crowning achievement of the season, he was the damsire of Grade 1 Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing (Maclean’s Music) and is the great-grandsire of Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit (Tapit). Overall, A.P. Indy could be found in the damsire line or sire line of the winners of 12 of the 30 (40 percent) Triple Crown series races.

Wide Open Division – Right now the 3-year-old male division looks wide open after the Triple Crown series. Twenty-three different horses won the 30 Triple Crown series races with six horses winning more than one but no one horse dominating one of the regions. Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing never won a Kentucky Derby prep, though he did hit the board in a few of them before skipping the Kentucky Derby. On the same vein, no sire had more than one runner win race in the series.

Tapwrit won a prep race and the Belmont Stakes.
Breeders - While there were a variety of breeders with winners in this year’s Triple Crown series, Dixiana and Brandywine have the distinction of breeding two different horses who made it to the winner’s circle. Dixiana was the sole breeder of both El Areeb (Exchange Rate) and Senior Investment (Discreetly Mine), who won a combined three races, and Brandywine bred Royal Mo (Uncle Mo) on their own and Gunnevera (Dialed In) in partnership.

Sire Ages and Locations – The average ages of the 24 sires with winners was 13 years of age and a median of 12. Four different sires take the award as the youngest sires at eight years of age while three get the award for the oldest at 20. Sixteen of the sires are under 15 years of age while eight are over 15. Two of the Triple Crown race winners (Kentucky Derby and Preakness) were sired by stallions with first 3-year-olds in Bodemeister and Maclean’s Music.

All but six of the sires are still available to U.S. breeders. Of those six, two are in South Korea (Hansen and Tiz Wonderful), one is in Uruguay (Discreetly Mine), one shuttles between Australia and Europe (Helmet), one is in Japan (Gold Allure), and Exchange Rate is dead. Of those in the U.S., only Slew’s Tiznow stands outside of Kentucky.

Discreetly Mine
Owners – Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss are the only owners this year to have more than one winning horse in the Triple Crown series. Their Royal Mo won the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes while Gormley (Malibu Moon) took home both the Grade 3 Sham Stakes and Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. Whitham Thoroughbreds, Isabelle de Tomaso, Darley (who both runs and breeds horses under its Goldolphin name now), and Calumet are all owners who both bred the horses who won the prep races for them.

Stud Fees – Both the average and median stud fees of the stallions with race winners took a jump up from 2013 (when this 3-year-old crop was conceived) to this year’s fees. The average 2013 stud fee rose 123.88 percent from $28,707 to $64,268 in 2017 while the median jumped 75 percent from $20,000 to $35,000.

Everyone knows that Tapit’s (Pulpit) stud fee has made a hefty leap since 2013, jumping from $125,000 to $300,000 for a 140 percent increase, but Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday) has made the biggest jump by percentages. The Spendthrift Farm stallion stood for $7,500 when his Grade 3 Southwest Stakes winner One Liner was conceived and now stands for $75,000, a 900 percent increase. The closest stallion to him on that list is Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker), who jumped 633.33 percent to $110,000 this year from $15,000 in 2013.

Into Mischief
The most expensive stallion to sire a series race winner is Tapit, who was most expensive in both 2013 and this year. Slew’s Tiznow (Tiznow) has been the least expensive of all those stallions with a stud fee of $2,500 in both 2013 and 2017. Slew’s Tiznow is the only stallion who hasn’t had a stud fee change between the time the crop was conceived and now.

Stud Farms – WinStar Farm’s success was talked about above but two other farms also had three different stallions sire race series winners. Darby Dan Farm has a promising young roster at the moment with two of their three stallions being under 10 years of age (Dialed In and Shackleford) while the third (Take of Ekati) is only 12. Two of the three stallions also had their prep winners run in the Kentucky Derby. Lane’s End’s roster is full of proven quality and this Kentucky Derby season was no different with 18-year-olds Candy Ride and Mineshaft having series winners. But Lane’s End also had a younger gun in here with 11-year-old Quality Road, whose Guest Suite won the Lecomte.

Stallion Records – Tapit has taken over North America and the Belmont Stakes is no exception. He’s sired three of the last four Belmont Stakes winners (Tonalist, Creator, Tapwrit) and the one year he didn’t sire the winner, his son finished second. He’s the first sire since Lexington in 1868-1871 to sire three Belmont Stakes winners in four years. In 2016, he didn’t only have the winner but also had the third place finisher (Lani).

Curlin came close to having his third classic winner in five years when Irish War Cry led most of the way in the Belmont but it wasn’t to be. However, he still kept an interesting streak going with a classic-placed horse in every crop. That’s even more impressive since he only had 41 foal in this year’s 3-year-old crop, according to Equineline. His foal numbers return to the triple digits with this year’s 2-year-olds.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Keeping It In the Family: Belmont Festival Full of Family Ties

On Saturday, the racing world turns its eyes to Belmont Park for the final leg of the Triple Crown. The Belmont Stakes has a 12 horse field though it is missing the winners of the first two legs of the Crown and Lookin At Lee (Lookin at Lucky) will be the only horse to compete in all three legs of the series this year.

But while the Belmont Stakes may not be all that people hoped for after the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes the New York Racing Association has put together an interesting 13 race card that includes 10 stakes, with all but one being graded. Ninety-four horses will enter the gate in those 10 races in a sort of mid-year Breeders’ Cup preview.

So instead of focusing on just the Belmont Stakes, we did a little bit of digging into the pedigrees on display during a top notch card of racing.

Stallion Numbers – Sixty-eight stallions have runners in Saturday’s stakes at Belmont Park. Of those, all but six are still active sires with two from that group pensioned and four dead. Those still alive currently live in 10 countries and those currently in the U.S. stand in five different states. Seventy-five different stallions have daughters with runners in the races on Saturday and 27 of those damsires are still (presumed if no news said differently) to be alive.

Fusaichi Pegasus is a broodmare sire who is still active at stud.
Stud Fees – The average advertised stud fee of sires with runners is $51,332 (current advertised stud fees were not found for eight of the active stallions with two others, Awesome Again and Bodemeister, both advertised as private.) The lowest advertised priced stallion is Florida’s High Cotton (Dixie Union) while the most expensive is Dubawi (Dubai Millennium), whose 2017 stud fee converted to $324,025 when using today’s exchange rate. Nine stallions with runners in the stakes stand for $100,000 or more, eight stand for $50,000 to $99,999, 25 stand for between $10,000 to $49,000 and 10 stand for under $10,000.

Active Broodmare Sires – Breeders can still send mares to 22 (29 percent) of the broodmare sires whose daughters have runners this weekend. Sixteen have advertised stud fees for 2017 while six others were either listed as private or standing with no advertised stud fee on their farms’ pages. The most expensive of the active stallions is Dansili (Danehill) at $84,238 while the cheapest is Strong Hope (Grand Slam) at $2,000. The average stud fee for the still-active sires is $18,335 with two standing above $50,000, three standing for between $10,000 and $49,000 and 11 standing for under $10,000. The oldest damsire with an advertised stud fee is the 25-year-old French Deputy (Deputy Minister), who stands in Japan and has a fee of $7,308 according to JBIS.

Runner Numbers – Of the 68 sires with at least one runner in the stakes race on Saturday, 17 have two or more and nine of those have three runners in the stakes. Of those horses with three runners, Quality Road (Elusive Quality) and Union Rags (Dixie Union) both double up in the Grade 1 Acorn with two runners apiece while Scat Daddy (Johannesburg) has two in the Grade 1 Just a Game and Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado) has two in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps. Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike) may get the award for most versatile sire this week as he has a runner in the shortest race of the day on dirt (the G2 Woody Stephens) and one in the longest race of the day with Lookin At Lee in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. Just to add a little more variety to his resume, he also has an entry in a race between those two in distance with Lookin at Blessing in the Easy Goer Stakes.

Lookin at Lucky
Northern Dancer Returns – Northern Dancer is a frequently talked about subject on this blog but we’re looking at him a little differently today. Yes, the stallion’s sire line is responsible for 26 (38 percent) of the stallions with runners in these races but the more interesting part is it’s through six different sons. Storm Bird leads everyone in that category with 11 sires from his branch having 14 runners. He can thank Storm Cat for that with all 11 sires by Storm Cat sons or grandsons (or sired by Storm Cat himself). Sadler’s Wells and Danzig are tied behind Storm Bird with four each, Danzig’s line running through four different stallions and Sadler’s Wells running through two (El Prado with three and Galileo with one). So while Northern Dancer does again have a lot of representation, his sons and grandsons are carving out their own place in history – and the breeding industry.

Variety – Outside of Northern Dancer, 10 other sire lines have runners on Saturday. Mr. Prospector leads them all with 17 sires from his line (through Afleet, Fappiano, Forty Niner, Gone West, Kingmambo, Seeking the Gold and Smart Strike). The Bold Reasoning line is right behind him with 13 stallions, thanks to A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) and eight others have a few each. Hail to Reason has the most of those eight with four (two from Halo’s line) and Rough’n Tumble also has two from his line thanks to the late Holy Bull.

On the damsire side, Mr. Prospector beats out Northern Dancer by having 26 different stallions (33 percent) from his line with daughters producing runners on Saturday compared to Northern Dancer’s 22.  Eight of those stallions with daughters represented here are Mr. Prospector’s sons (Gone West leads this group with his daughters having two runners). Of those sired by Mr. Prospector sons, Fappiano wins out with six stallions from his line having seven runners. Gone West follows with four with five other sons having one damsire each coming from their branches. Bold Reasoning and Hail to Reason both have more than five stallions each from their sire lines, with six of Bold Reasoning’s eight thanks to A.P. Indy’s prominence as a stallion (Indy’s sire Seattle Slew has one other runner coming from a Vindication daughter) and all but one of Hail to Reason’s come thanks to Halo.

Darley – While they have a bit of an advantage with stallions around the world having runners here, Darley has the most sires represented of any farm with seven. Four of those stand in the United States with Dubawi, New Approach and Lonhro all standing outside of the country (Lonhro did stand in the U.S. for a few seasons, which is when his runner here was conceived). Darley is followed closely by Lane’s End’s six stallions with runners in Saturday’s Belmont Park stakes, with three stallions 11 years of age or younger, and WinStar Farm who also has six stallions with runners including young stallions Bodemeister (Empire Maker) and Super Saver (Maria’s Mon).

Darley's Medaglia d'Oro has three runners.
Average Ages – There is only an 11 year gap between the average ages of the sires and damsires with runners in the Super Saturday races.

The average age of the sires sits at 14.76 years old with the youngest being four 8-year-olds and the oldest being Birdonthewire (Proud Birdie), who was born 28 years ago. Eleven of the stallions are 20 or older, 45 are between 10 and 19 and 11 are under 10 years of age. Those in the 10 through 19 age range average the highest stud fees at $58,723 (led by Dubawi and Tapit) with the older guys averaging about $15,000 less with a $43,786 average, led by Distorted Humor (Forty Niner) at $80,000, and the youngest group averaging $31,100 led by Uncle Mo at $150,000.

The damsires average 25 ½ years of age with the oldest being Kris (Sharpen Up), who was born 41 years ago and the youngest being Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat) at 14 years of age. Nine of the broodmare sires are under 20 years of age (five still stand at stud), 44 are between the ages of 20 and 29, 19 between 30 and 39 and only Kris is over 40. Lycius (Mr. Prospector) seems to be the oldest damsire still alive at 29 years of age with no news of his death announced that I could find. A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew), whose sire line is responsible for 27 runners (29 percent of the entries) between the sires and damsires categories, is the second oldest at 28 years of age.

Bluegrass Cat's daughter Ithinkisawapudycat (pictured) is the dam of Acorn Stakes contender Sweet Loretta.
Double Dipping – Six stallions are both the sire of at least one runner in the stakes on Super Saturday and the broodmare sire of at least one other runner. Between the two categories, Awesome Again (Deputy Minister) has six runners, including two he sired, for the most of any stallion in this group. Disco Rico (Citidancer) has a unique distinction of being the sire of one runner and damsire of another in one race with Disco Partner and Pure Sensation (Zensational) breaking next to each other from the gate in the Grade 3 Jaipur on Saturday.

Commercial Talk – While buying a classic horse is what everyone hopes for, the only classic on the card doesn’t have the highest average sales price of Saturday’s races.

The sales average for the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes from seven to sell (10 went through the ring) is $324,762 while the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes has an average of $697,975,  helped greatly by Celestine (Scat Daddy) selling for $2.55-million last November. However, if you take her price tag from that sale out and put in her yearling price of $100,000, the average for that race drops to $85,475. Taking out the big price-tags from Horse of Racing Age sales for all races and inserting the last price the horse sold for at public auction before making a start boosts the Metropolitan Handicap to the most expensive race on the card with an average of $386,800 for the 10 horses sold, helped in large part by Mohaymen’s (Tapit) $2.2-million price tag.  The Grade 1 Acorn follows that up with a $365,000 average for five sold at public auction, with three selling above that average (Sweet Loretta is the most expensive, being a $750,000 weanling.)

The most expensive of any horse of any age to sell publicly who is running in Saturday’s races is Celestine at that $2.55-million tag. She is also the most expensive RNA of the 67 horses racing Saturday who have been through the ring, RNAing at $975,000 as a 2-year-old. The most expensive horse running in the Belmont Stakes is the $1.2-million Tapwrit (Tapit), who sold in Saratoga as a yearling.

War Story (Northern Afleet) and Jamminwithbrandon (Stay Thirsty) get the award for going through the ring the most times at four each. Jamminwithbrandon sold three of the four times with his highest price tag being $100,000 (twice) while War Story sold twice, including as a $90,000 yearling. War Story also went through the ring as a racehorse, but RNAed for $545,000. Overall, eight horses running on Saturday have sold for $500,000 or more at least once in their careers.

War Story
The race with the most homebreds or horses sold privately is the Grade 1 Manhattan where
55 percent (five of nine) of the runners are homebreds. Meanwhile, all but one of the 10 horses entered in the Easy Goer have sold at least once. Only two of the 12 horses in the Belmont Stakes have never been through the ring with both Irish War Cry (Curlin) and Patch (Union Rags) being homebreds.

Belmont Winners – Four Belmont Stakes winners sired runners in Saturday’s stakes with 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags (Dixie Union) the only one of the four to have a runner in this year’s Belmont Stakes (Patch). Five Belmont winners sired daughters with runners on the day with both A.P. Indy and Thunder Gulch (Gulch) represented in the Belmont Stakes thanks to Patch (Union Rags) and Twisted Tom (Creative Cause). Stamina shouldn’t be any issue for the one-eyed Patch, who is by a Belmont Stakes winner and out of the daughter of another Belmont Stakes winner.
Creative Cause

Interesting Inbreeding – One runner on Saturday who really catches the eye is Macho Uno’s Tommy Macho in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. The 5-year-old horse is out of Starstream, who is a daughter of Macho Uno’s half-brother Awesome Again. That gives Tommy Macho a 2 x 3 cross to talented broodmare Primal Force (Blushing Groom). You sometimes see a horse inbred to a sire nearly that close but it isn’t often you run into that inbreeding going back to a mare. Primal Force and the family behind her is the only horse Tommy Macho is inbred to with the other branches of that pedigree free of any inbreeding in at least the first five generations.

Live Oak Stud – Eleven people/operations have bred at least two stakes entries on Saturday’s card but only Live Oak has three entries. They have a lot variety between those three horses with Holding Gold (Lonhro) running in the shortest turf race of the day and World Approval (Northern Afleet) running in the longest turf race of the day with Awesome Slew (Awesome of Course) cutting between the two distances in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on the dirt. All three horses are still owned by Live Oak.

Chester and Mary Broman will have a challenge in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps if Highway Star (Girolamo) and Bar of Gold (Medaglia d’Oro) come down the stretch together. They bred and own both fillies so it could be a banner day for them if both girls run well. Overall, 21 of the breeders or co-breeders still own at least a part of the horses they bred.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Keeping It In the Family: Star Families in the Epsom Oaks and Derby

The month of May be walking out the backdoor this week but classic fans worry not, the next two weeks are full of classic races on both sides of the Atlantic.

This week two of the most important races in the world, the Epsom Derby and Oaks, take place on Friday and Saturday in England with participants from multiple countries running. While “Keeping It In the Family” has focused on one race per blog this year, this week’s observations will combine both races as they have some very interesting similarities.

Note: Due to publishing date and time, the Derby entry stats reflect runners before the final entry stage.

Scat Daddy was a Coolmore stallion at the time of his death.
Coolmore – It’s not unusual to see Coolmore stallions dominate races around the world with the Oaks and Derby being no different. While their ace stallion Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) has seven entries between the two races (six in the Derby at this entry stage and one in the Oaks), he isn’t the only Coolmore star here. Of the 30 runners in the two races, 14 (46.7 percent) are sired by stallions who either currently stand at the farm or stood there at the time of their death.

Dubawi – Dubawi (Dubai Millennium) has been a little quiet this year as rival Galileo has taken the spotlight in the early European classics but he has an interesting distinction here. Both runners in the Epsom Oaks who aren’t from Northern Dancer’s male line are sired by Dubawi. He doesn’t hold the same distinction in the Derby but is the sire of two of the four runners who aren’t from the Northern Dancer line. One other is from the Mr. Prospector line that Dubawi also descends from.

Commercial Run – It isn’t too unusual to see stallion ads in Europe noting that if the breeding to a stallion produces a filly, the dam can have a free return to the sire and there’s even the #ThisFillyCan campaign in the United Kingdom to try to get fillies a little more credit in the industry. But there’s also an interesting trend when looking at the number of fillies vs. colts that went through the ring who are entered in these races. Nine Derby entries (45 percent) sold at public auction while only two fillies sold at public auction (20 percent) and one other went through the ring but was a buy back.

Whisperview – Aidan O’Brien and wife Anne-Marie are important parts of the Coolmore puzzle, but did you know they also breed horses? Breeding under the name Whisperview, they have had much success through the years and are responsible for two entries in the Derby at this entry stage. Both are trained by Aidan O’Brien for Coolmore.

Aidan O'Brien with Coolmore's Michael Tabor after a Breeders' Cup victory.
Young and Old – There seems to be a nice balance between the younger and older sires this time around with the eight stallions with runners in the Oaks averaging 15 1/2 years of age and 13 ½ for the Derby. While there are the old faithfuls like Galileo, Invincible Spirit, Cape Cross and the like, there are also some exciting youngsters coming up with Frankel having two Derby entries in his first crop, Nathaniel having three between the Derby and the Oaks and the ill-fated Campanologist also having a Derby entry in his first crop. The first 3-year-olds sires did fare better in the Derby than the Oaks with Nathanial the only one from that group to have at least one Oaks entry.

Sadler’s Wells Sons – While it’s been many years since a Sadler’s Wells son or daughter has run in a classic, these races are putting his sons and grandsons in the spotlight. As said earlier, Galileo has seven entries between the two races but High Chaparral’s second-to-last crop has yielded two Derby entries and Montjeu’s son Pour Moi, who was recently moved to Coolmore’s National Hunt division, gives Montjeu representation here as a grandsire with Wings of Eagles. Even Yeats, who has shown a lot of promise as a jumps racing sire has an entry here with Diore Lia, though she’s a bit of a controversial Derby runner. Also mentioned earlier were runners by Frankel and Nathaniel, who are sons of Galileo along with Teofilo, taking Sadler’s Wells count of sons and grandsons with runners in the Oaks and Derby up to seven.

Nathaniel (Newsells Park photo)
Kingmambo – The late U.S.-based stallion Kingmambo (Mr. Prospector) has proven to be more of a top broodmare sire than a real siremaking machine and these races are no different. While his late son Campanologist has a runner in the Derby, his daughters account for two more of them. Perhaps his best son at stud is Lemon Drop Kid, who is also the broodmare sire of a runner in the Oaks along with another son in Dubai Destination. All but one of these runners duplicate a distant version of the successful Northern Dancer/Mr. Prospector cross of a few decades ago. Interestingly, the two Oaks entries both come from the Green Desert branch of the Northern Dancer line though through two different stallions. In the Derby, Campanologist’s Pealer is the only one who doesn’t duplicate that cross with his dam by Big Shuffle, who is a grandson of Bold Reasoning.

Galileo over Danehill and Family – The most successful cross in reason seasons seems to be Galileo over the Danehill/Danzig family and it will get another chance to show off this weekend. Of Galileo’s seven runners, four are out of mares sired by Danzig, his sons or grandsons. The cross is also being tried with Galileo sons with Nathanial’s Glencadam Glory out of a mare from Danzig’s line though that is the only cross with a Galileo son.

The cross is also working in reverse with Derby entry Crowned Eagle (Oasis Dream) by a great-grandson of Danzig and out of a Sadler’s Wells granddaughter.

Variety – While the sires in this race don’t provide much sire line diversity with 24 of the 30 (80 percent) by stallions from Northern Dancer’s male line and another five from the Mr. Prospector line, the broodmare sires represented in this race are here to help out. Yes, 14 of them also come from that same Northern Dancer line but the other 15 are from six different sire lines. Mill Reef, Blushing Groom and Atan all get shout outs here though as Atan and Blushing Groom have two runners each and Mill Reef has four with one in the Derby and three in the Oaks.

Active Broodmare Sires – They may be old enough to be “grandfathers” but no fewer than five stallions whose daughters have runners are still active breeding stallions. Galileo has the added distinction of being both the broodmare sire and sire of runners with runners on both sides of the coin in both the Derby and the Oaks. Giant’s Causeway gets credit for being the grandsire of a stallion with a runner in the Oaks in addition to being the broodmare sire of another runner (Lope de Vega’s Isabel De Urbina and Alluringly). 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Keeping It In the Family: International Bloodlines in Irish 2,000 Guineas

War Front
After a classic-heavy month around the world, Ireland takes its place in the spotlight this weekend with the Irish 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas. The 2,000 Guineas attracted a small field of six for Saturday’s race but Galileo isn’t the man in charge with multiple runners here. U.S. sire War Front has the most runners with two in the field with four other stallions also having entries.

Galileo – Galileo only has one runner here but it’s a good one with his son Churchill winning the Qipco 2,000 Guineas three weeks ago and now going for the Irish equivalent. He also has one grandson in the race, sired by Teofilo. Galileo has had a decent amount of representation in classics as a broodmare sire the last few years but neither he or his sire, Sadler’s Wells, have any daughters with runners here.

War Front – War Front (Danzig) has been a huge hit in Europe and this year has sired the most Irish 2,000 Guineas runners of any sires. Not surprisingly, both War Fronts are owned by Coolmore and partners with that global powerhouse heavily supporting the stallion the last few years. This is arguably the best crop of 3-year-olds to date for War Front and they could go extremely far in helping erase the reputation he has in Europe of only being a 2-year-old sire if they perform well in races like this.

The Next Generation – The sire power of the newer sires around the world has been a large topic of conversation on this blog lately and the Irish 2,000 Guineas in another race where the young guns in the breeding shed are represented. Of the five different sires with horses in the race, two are stallions with their first 3-year-olds (Casamento and Helmet) and two others are still fairly young with their first crop hitting the ground in 2009 (Teofilo and War Front). Galileo has six years on all of them with that stallion entering the shed in 2002, the year War Front was born.

Stud Fees – Last week when looking at how stud fees had risen with the sires who had runners in the Preakness, it looked like there was a big fee increase for multiple U.S.-based stallions between 2013, when this crop was conceived, and 2017. Kentucky-based War Front follows that U.S. theme with a jump from $80,000 (approx. €71,190 today) in 2013 to $250,000 (approx. €222,469) in 2017. Stud farms in Europe seem to be a bit more conservative when raising fees and this group of stallions shows that. Galileo has been private for years, so it’s hard to know exactly how his fee has moved (odds are very good that it has risen steadily) but Casamento has pretty much stayed the same with his stud fee just changing from euros to pounds (5,000 in both denominations, though moving to pounds raised his fee by a few Euros in today’s exchange rate) and Helmet doing the same in the €10,000 fee range. The only European stallion to make a fee jump was Teofilo, who moved from €35,000 in 2015 to €40,000 this year.

Because of War Front’s large stud fee jump, the average stud fee of the four stallions with advertised fees jumped from €30,297 in 2013 to €69,950 this year.

U.S. Damsires – Six different stallions sired the broodmares who produced this year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas runners. The U.S. holds a few bragging rights here with three of the six runners out of mares by U.S.-based stallions. Of those stallions, two are still standing with More Than Ready (Southern Halo) at a fee of €53,392 in 2017 and Grindstone at a fee of €1,334. Race favorite Churchill is out of a mare by the legendary U.S. stallion Storm Cat (Storm Bird), who obviously has a few European connections outside this horse through his own sire Storm Bird and his son Giant’s Causeway. Giant’s Causeway also gives Storm Cat some representation through the male line of runners with Giant’s Causeway grandson Casamento siring Glastonbury Song.

More Than Ready
Auctions – After looking at the Preakness field last week where all but one of the horses had been sold at public auction at least once, it’s interesting to note that according to Equineline, only two horses in this field have sold at auction. There are a few who are running under names other than their breeders, making it look like they were probably sold privately but only $850,000 (€756,396) Keeneland November weanling purchase Spirit of Valor (War Front) and €31,0000 Goffs Sportsman’s Sale yearling Glastonbury Song (Casamento) have sold in the ring.

With every runner in the race coming from the Northern Dancer sire line in this race, the chart below shows the broodmare sire line of each runner.


Horse (Sire)
Broodmare Sire
Broodmare Sire Line
Churchill (Galileo)
Storm Cat
Northern Dancer
Glastonbury Song (Casamento)
More Than Ready
Irishcorrespondent (Teofilo)
Mark of Esteem
Shirley Heights
Lancaster Bomber (War Front)
Indian Ridge
Orderofthegarter (War Front)
Northern Dancer
Pipes of Peace (Galileo)
Northern Dancer
Spirit of Valor (War Front)
Mr. Prospector
Thunder Snow (Helmet)
Dubai Destination
Mr. Prospector
War Decree (War Front)
Street Cry
Mr. Prospector

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Keeping It In the Family: Mr. Prospector Reigns in Preakness

Mr. Prospector (WikiMedia Commons/Pawneese photo)
It seems like it’s only been days since Always Dreaming (Bodemeister) crossed the line first in the Kentucky Derby but it’s time to get back on track for the Preakness Stakes. The field attracted 10 horses with five familiar faces from the Kentucky Derby and five fresh faces who sat out the run for the roses out.

With new horses comes a new set of pedigrees to analyze and there are a few interesting points to know as we head into the second leg of the United States’ Triple Crown.

Mr. Prospector – If you like Mr. Prospector and sons, this is the race for you. Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native) is responsible for the sire lines of five of the entries (50 percent) and three of the damsires. Recently repatriated Empire Maker is responsible for the morning line favorite and second choice with son Bodemeister siring Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and another son, Pioneerof the Nile, siring last year’s champion 2-year-old Classic Empire. Empire Maker’s sire Unbridled's branch has three of the Mr. Prospector lined horses in the field (two sire lines, one damsire line), including being the damsire of Gunnevera. Forty Niner also gives the Mr. Prospector blood to two horses with Cloud Computing being a great-grandson and Multiplier out of a Trippi (Forty Niner grandson) daughter.

Interestingly, though Mr. Prospector’s line is found on both the top and bottom sides of pedigrees in this race not one horse doubles up on his sireline, which you don’t see often. Overall, eight of the Preakness runners (80 percent) can trace their sire or damsire line to Mr. Prospector.

In Excess – In Excess (Siberian Express) seems to always quietly pop up in stakes races and this race is no different. His grandson Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) has spread his line far and wide the last few years and is in here with 2016 Keeneland November $8,500 purchase Conquest Mo Money. But that’s not the only place you’ll find the late In Excess. He is also the damsire of Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, who is trying to win the second leg of the Triple Crown in this race.

Mineshaft – Horse of the Year Mineshaft may not be the first son thought of when you think of A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew), but thanks to him, the Indy sireline is alive and well at the Preakness. While A.P. Indy is the damsire of two Preakness contenders (Hence and Cloud Computing), Mineshaft is the grandsire of two Preakness contenders in Gunnevera (Dialed In) and Senior Investment (Discreetly Mine) as the only A.P. Indy son with representatives here. Mineshaft is sneakily starting to keep his branch of the Seattle Slew line’s sire-of-sires reputation going with Dialed In being the No. 1 ranked First-Crop sire by earnings in 2016 and a few other nice sons coming up over the next few years.


Stud Fees – Looking back now, the stud fees for the sires of this year’s Preakness entries probably looks like a deal. Combined, the 2013 stud fees for those stallions cost $234,000 going off of advertised fees with an average of $23,400. The least expensive was Maclean’s Music (Distorted Humor) at $6,500 while the most expensive was Tiznow at $75,000. That average has risen to $47,611 (as of the time fees were announced for 2017 this winter) for the nine stallions still standing in the U.S. with Discreetly Mine sold to Uruguay last summer when standing for a $5,000 fee in the U.S.

There have been some major price hikes since this crop was conceived in 2013 with Pioneerof the Nile rising from $15,000 to $110,000 and Uncle Mo from $35,000 to $150,000. Overall, six of the 10 stallions have had their stud fees raised from 2013 to 2017 with Bodemeister’s fee recently going private after standing for an advertised fee of $25,000 earlier this year.

Uncle Mo has had a large fee increase since 2013.
Auction Prices – All but one horse in the Preakness Stakes sold at auction as a weanling or yearling, averaging $185,333 with 2-year-old champion Classic Empire being the most expensive at $475,000 and Gunnevera the least expensive at $16,000. Only Conquest Mo Money has been through the ring since selling as a weanling or yearling, bringing $8,500 during the Conquest Stables Dispersal last November. Each of the nine horses to sell brought over two times their sire’s 2013 stud fee with every horse to sell going through the Keeneland sales pavilion (Conquest Mo Money originally sold through Fasig-Tipton as a yearling but was reoffered last year at Keeneland.) None of the horses in the Preakness went through the ring at a 2-year-old sale and Hence (Street Boss) is the only horse to be raced by his breeder (Calumet Farm).

Horse (Sire)
Sire Line
Branch of Sire Line
Always Dreaming (Bodemeister)
Mr. Prospector
Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile)
Mr. Prospector
Cloud Computing (Maclean’s Music)
Mr. Prospector
Forty Niner
Conquest Mo Money (Uncle Mo)
In Excess
Gunnevera (Dialed In)
A.P. Indy
Hence (Street Boss)
Mr. Prospector
Lookin at Lee (Lookin At Lucky)
Mr. Prospector
Smart Strike
Multiplier (The Factor)
Northern Dancer
Senior Investment (Discreetly Mine)
A.P. Indy
Term of Art (Tiznow)
In Reality