Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Newcomers Series: Brilliant Speed

A successful multi-surface racer that will be standing in 2013 is Brilliant Speed, a son of the late Dynaformer. Brilliant Speed won his maiden at 1 1/16 miles over turf and received his first graded stakes score in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on Keeneland’s All Weather track. While Brilliant Speed never entered the winner's circle on the dirt, he was well placed in multiple starts on the surface, including a third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) behind Ruler On Ice and Stay Thirsty.

Brilliant Speed (Melissa Bauer-Herzog)
In his 21 lifetime starts, the 4-year-old colt raced in 16 stakes with 14 of them graded. He won two of them, the Blue Grass and Saranac Stakes (gr.IIIT), and hit the board in 10 others. Brilliant Speed’s most impressive race may have been the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) behind European invaders St Nicholas Abbey (IRE) and Sea Moon (GB), highlighting six Grade 1 placings during his career. Brilliant Speed attempted dirt one last time in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic, finishing 11th after over a year away from the surface.

Brilliant Speed’s sire is the multiple graded stakes winner Dynaformer, who is best known for his son Barbaro. However, Dynaformer proved to be a successful sire outside of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner with many of his progeny showing talent on the track. Dynaformer's foals earned over $105 million on the track and he sired 25 Grade 1 winners out of 61 graded stakes winners. While the stallion didn’t reach the million dollar mark himself while racing, with $671,207 in earnings, he sired 18 millionaires (stats from the Lexington Herald-Leader. Dynaformer passed away in late April after surviving an aortic valve rupture on April 14.

Brilliant Speed’s dam Speed Succeeds (Gone West) never raced but is the dam of three foals on Equibase with a 2012 colt by Stormy Atlantic on Equineline. All three of Speed Succeed’s racing age foals have made it to the track, with her daughter Grand Cru Cruzian winning two races in Argentina and Souper Speedy, a 3-year-old colt by Indian Charlie, winning his maiden by ¾ lengths before placing second to O’Prado Again in the 2011 Remsen Stakes (gr. II). Souper Speedy was away from the track for nearly a year but returned on October 14 to finish second by ¾ length.

Speed Succeeds dam Daijin (Deputy Minister) raced nine times in her career, with four wins and two other on the board finishes for $164,044. The 1992 mare was a multiple stakes winner and graded stakes placed after finishing third in the Test Stakes (gr. I) behind Chaposa Springs and Miss Golden Circle.

Daijin proved to be a success in the shed, producing seven foals with four winners out of four to race and two stakes winners. Her most successful foal is the 2004 A.P. Indy mare Serenading. In addition to winning the Falls City Handicap (gr. II) in her last start, she also won two other ungraded stakes and finished second in the Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III). Serenading ended her career with six wins in 18 starts for $538,754 in earnings. She retired in 2009 and had her first foal in 2011, a colt by Street Cry (IRE)  and has a 2012 colt by Smart Strike.

Daijin went to A.P. Indy twice and the cross seemed to be successful both times with Serenading’s full sister Handpainted winning multiple ungraded stakes races and placing in the Selene Stakes (gr. I), Mazarine Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II) and George C. Hendrie Handicap (gr. III) for $435,406 in earnings. 

Handpainted has produced six foals with four of racing age and three to race. Her first foal, a colt by Seeking the Gold named Patena won the 2008 Display Stakes and placed second in the 2009 LeComte Stakes (gr. III) with her daughter Oil Painting (Distorted Humor) placing in the Fury Stakes and Bison City Stakes. While her 2008 full to Oil Painting has not made any stakes starts, he has won four races out of eight starts with another second and third.

Touch For Gold (Mr. Prospector) also produced a stakes runner with Touch Me Not (JPN), a colt by Dance in the Dark (JPN). Touch Me Not has placed in three graded stakes in Japan, also winning the Amethyst Stakes among others.

Stakes winners are seen even farther back in Brilliant Speed’s pedigree with his third dam Passing Mood (Buckpasser) winning the Shady Well Stakes and placing second in the My Dear Stakes. Like her daughter, she went on to outproduce herself in the shed.

From seven foals on Equibase, Passing Mood produced five stakes winners. Two such winners were With Approval, who won two Grade II events and placed in multiple other graded stakes (including the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I)) and 1997 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Touch Gold who also won the Buick Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) among others.

While Daijin proved to be Passing Mood’s strongest daughter, others held their own with Bar U Mood producing the multiple stakes placed horse Silver Spear (Cozzene), winner of $351,472. In addition to the stakes winners, multiple other winners have come from the line.

Dynaformer (Melissa Bauer-Herzog)
Combining Brilliant Speed’s male and female sides shows that the first linebreeding the colt has is Nashua, four generations through Roberto’s (Dynaformer) dam and five back through Mr. Prospector’s (Speed Succeeds) dam. The only other doubling up that is seen in the first five generations is in Daijin’s family with Vice Regent (Deputy Minister) and Cool Mood (Passing Mood) both being by the sire Northern Dancer in the fifth generation.

With his first five generations somewhat clean of inbreeding (and those names being pushed even farther back for the resulting foal), Brilliant Speed brings an interesting cross to the table with route families on all surfaces. He will spend his first season at Three Chimneys, the farm where his sire stood, for $10,000.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Taking a look at some of the Horse of the Year contenders

As the year that has seemed underwhelming comes to an end and the season records of some of the “bigger” horses are examined, the year has turned more exciting. A few names have been mentioned for Horse of the Year honors (both by myself and others) and for the sake of being able to look at all of their records together, I decided to put them in a blog post. I don’t get a vote but the process always interests me so without farther ado, here are some of the Horse of the Year nominees that have been talked about both seriously and not-so-seriously in the past few weeks (names are in alphabetical order).

Note: This only includes North American races.

Fort Larned-
Overall 2012 record: 9-5-1-1 for $3,598,455 in earnings.
Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)
Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I)
Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (gr. III)
Skip Away Stakes (gr. III)
Challenger Stakes (UG)

Alysheba Stakes (gr. II) to Successful Dan

TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (gr. III) to Flat Out and Stay Thirsty.

Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) eighth, the top three were Ron the Greek, Wise Dan, and Nates Mineshaft
Tampa Bay Handicap fourth, the top three were Wiki, Successful Mission, and Swift Warrior

Overall count:
2 G1 wins
2 G3 wins
1 ungraded win
1 second in a G2
1 third in a G3

Game On Dude (8) in the 2011 Classic (Melissa Bauer-Herzog)
Game On Dude-
Overall 2012 record: 6-4-1-0 for $860,00 in earnings
Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap (gr. I)
Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I)
Californian Stakes (gr. II)
San Antonio Stakes (gr. II)

TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (gr. I) behind Dullahan

Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) seventh behind top three Fort Larned, Mucho Macho Man, and Flat Out

Overall count:
2 G1 wins
2 G2 wins
1 second in a G1

Groupie Doll-
Overall 2012 record: 8-5-1-1-2 for $1,315,314 in earnings
Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr. I)
Humana Distaff (gr. I)
Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. I)
Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II)
Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II)

Optional Claiming race

Inside Information Stakes (gr. II) to Musical Romance and Hot Summer

Overall count:
3 G1 wins
2 G2 wins
1 third in G2

It is possible that she could run in the Cigar Mile (gr. I).

I’ll Have Another-
Overall 2012 record: 4-4-0-0 for $2,629,600 in earnings.
Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I)
Preakness Stakes (gr. I)
Santa Anita Derby (gr. I)
Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. I)

Overall count:
3 G1 wins
1 G2 win

Little Mike-
Overall 2012 record: 7-4-0-1 for $2,668,742 in earnings.
Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I)
Arlington Million Stakes (gr. I)
Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (gr. I)
Florida Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes (UG)

Shoemaker Mile Stakes (gr. I) to Jeranimo and Suggestive Boy (ARG)

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitation Stakes (gr. I) behind the top three of Point of Entry, Treasure Beach (GB) and Kindergarden Kid

Overall count:
3 G1 wins
1 ungraded win
1 third in a G1

Point of Entry-
Overall 2012 record: 7-5-1-0 for $1,746,600 in earnings.
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. I)
Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (gr. I)
Man o’ War Stakes (gr. I)
Elkhorn Stakes (gr. II)

Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I) to Little Mike

Allowance optional claimer behind top three of Sky Blazer, Slow Pace and Hailstone

Overall count:
3 G1 wins
1 G2 win
1 second in a G1

Royal Delta-
(Melissa Bauer-Herzog)
Overall 2012 record: 6-4-2-0 for $2,009,251 in earnings.
Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I)
Beldame Invitational Stakes (gr. I)
Delaware Handicap (gr. II)
Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II)

Personal Ensign (gr. I) to Love and Pride
Sabin Stakes (gr. III) to Awesome Maria

Overall count:
2 G1 wins
2 G2 wins
1 second in a G1
1 second in a G3

Wise Dan-
Overall 2012 record: 6-5-1-0 for $2,622,037 in earnings
Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I) ntr
Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (gr. I)
Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes (gr. I)
Fourstardave Handicap (gr. II)
Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) ntr

Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) behind Ron the Greek

Overall count:
3 G1 wins
1 G2 win
1 G3 win
1 second in a G1

For comparison stats:
* Wise Dan, Point of Entry, Little Mike, Groupie Doll, and I’ll Have Another are all tied at Grade 1 wins with 3 apiece
* Groupie Doll and Wise Dan are tied with the most graded stakes wins at 5 each.
* Many of the horses on this list have five wins overall on the season.

Opinion time: This is the first time in a long time that I can think of more than two horses deserving Horse of the Year honors. While I have a good idea who is going to win the award just from listening to conversations, I think that an argument could be made for most of the horses on this list to take home the top honor. Interestingly, some of the horses on this list may not take home any awards, especially in the Turf Male category. From my view, that definitely makes 2012 looks much more competitive than it did in the summer when we were more focused on horses retiring than racing. 

Of course, we still have some big races to run in the coming weeks so all of this could change if someone wins another Grade 1. It was announced today that depending on weights, Groupie Doll could make a start against the boys in the Cigar Mile (gr. I), if she won the race it could change the whole landscape of Horse of the Year,

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Auction results prove that the sport is alive and well

Havre De Grace after her final bid (Photo: Melissa Bauer-Herzog)

Monday’s Fasig-Tipton event not only had excitement fill the ring when reigning Horse of the Year Havre De Grace went for $10 million, it also proved that no matter the issues that surround racing, people are still spending money on the sport.

The buyers at Fasig-Tipton spent $60,220,000 to take home 87 horses, including 15 that went for $1 million or more on Monday night. The sale lasted for more than five hours, starting at 5 p.m. and not ending until after 10, but even the final horse, a half-sister to this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner George Washington, didn’t stop the bidding until she hit $545,000. She didn’t sell but the final bid topped off a night that saw the cheapest horse sold go for $20,000.

Some of those sold on Monday night were Grade 1 winners or producers, Breeders’ Cup winners, or Eclipse Champions. Others were young horses who haven’t yet had a chance to prove that they are a name to remember but with 134 of the 180 horses cataloged going through the ring and 87 of those horses selling, it is evident that no matter what the prestige of the animal in the ring, buyers are willing to spend their money.

Even though the final auction of the season at Fasig-Tipton’s Lexington grounds is over, Keeneland's 10 day finale is currently in progress. The Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale started less than 12 hours after the end of Fasig-Tipton and from the results of the first session, it is obvious that some buyers have moved across town to the other pavilion.

Switch on her way to selling for $4.3 million at Fasig-Tipton's Monday night sale.
Some notable horses are still to come in the next week and the excitement that was felt in the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion Monday night is sure to stay alive until the last horse leaves the ring. In the first day of the sale, five horses sold for over $1 million with last year's Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty topping the session at $4.2 million.

After Keeneland's sale ends on the 16th, buyers will be given a little over a month off before focus turns to breeding season and the next round of sales. If those sales bring the results that have been seen in the ring the first full week of November, fans can be assured that the future of racing is bright.