Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Breeders' Cup Classic Victory Key to Kentucky


2014 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Bayern
After Bayern put in another disappointing run on Sept. 26 in the Awesome Again Stakes, the colt was retired to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm early in the week to prepare for the 2016 breeding season.

One of 19 Breeders’ Cup Classic winners to return to the track the following year, Bayern’s record of two thirds in five starts is probably most similar to Wild Again, who raced four times after his victory in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup. However, while Bayern raced in graded stakes all year, Wild Again only made one stakes start after his Classic victory, retiring with a second in the Grade 1 Meadowlands Cup.

Overall, Breeders’ Cup Classic winners have combined for 33 wins in 103 post-victory starts for a 33 percent strike rate. While you expect a Classic winner to be a classy runner even if they have lost a step post-Classic, those 19 Classic winners also combined to have 41 second or third-place finishes in addition to the 33 wins for 74 total on-the-board finishes (72 percent strike rate).

On the breeding end of the Classic winners’ resumes, unsurprisingly all but six of them (included in that count of six is the mare Zenyatta, who cannot stand at stud but retired to the broodmare pasture at Lane’s End) started their stud career in Kentucky. Perhaps more surprising is the number of stallions still in Kentucky as of their last season standing at stud. Fifteen of the 27 stallions who have already entered stud (Bayern and Cigar are removed from this count) were still in Kentucky as of their last season in the breeding shed. 

In 2012, I researched where each of the Triple Crown race winners since 1985 had stood during the beginning and end of the stallion careers. While obviously some of this data is outdated now, in 2012 only eight winners of the Kentucky Derby and/or Preakness ended their stallion career or stood in Kentucky in 2012 with nine Belmont Stakes winners standing in the state.

Stallions leave Kentucky for a variety of reasons but with so much emphasis put on getting horses to the 3-year-old classics (the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont), it is interesting to see so many more Breeders’ Cup Classic winners standing in the big Kentucky market compared to those other races.

On first glance it could be assumed by this information that Classic winners are more successful sires than 3-year-old classic winners. But before jumping to that conclusion, it should be pointed out that as of Sept. 30, the only winner of either race in the Top 10 on the General Leading Sires list on Stallion Register was Curlin (who won both the Preakness and the Breeders’ Cup Classic) with two other 3-year-old classic winners in the top 20 compared to one other Breeders’ Cup Classic victor. 

To figure out which race throws the better sires will take more research (and words) than I have room for in this post, but just looking at the locations of the winners draws an interesting picture that opens up discussions about the (future) sire strength we see when the horses load into the gates for these big races.

To see the post-victory record and stud location of all the Breeders’ Cup Classic winners, look at the chart below.


*Invasor currently stands in Uruguay but is only leased to the country for three years.

+Tiznow won both the 2000 and 2001 Classic so his post-win record reflects his retirement after that second victory.

*Cigar was infertile so even though he entered stud at Ashford, he never produced a foal while there.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Looking at How 2-Year-Old Champions Do As Older Horses


2009 2-year-old champion Lookin At Lucky was retired at the end of 2010
One good thing about social media is that it leads to interesting discussions. After Beholder’s win the other day Brian Zipse of Horse Racing Nation asked when the last time a 2-year-old champion (Beholder was U.S. champion 2-year-old filly in 2012) has accomplished as much as her. While that was a really solid question, I started wondering how many 2-year-old champions are actually given a chance to race after 3.

Due to the financial risk of a colt not coming back the same or moving forward as an older horse (especially in the case of injury) a lot of them are whisked off to stud before we get to see them past their classic season. This leaves a lot of 'what ifs' left behind, especially if a horse was running near the top of his game at the time of retirement or injury.

For the purpose of my research I looked at 2-year-old champions from 1994-2013 of both sexes from the United States and Europe. While parts of the findings weren’t surprising, the European 2-year-old filly champion stats definitely threw me off a bit.

U.S. 2-year-old champion males
The only horse on this table still racing is Shared Belief, who is a gelding and won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap before getting hurt earlier this year. Shared Belief is currently preparing for his return to racing with a 5-year-old campaign in the cards. Overall, only four others have returned to the track after their 3-year-old seasons with Midshipman winning a conditions race in Dubai, Declan's Moon placing in a Grade 3 race as a 4-year-old and Macho Uno winning a Grade 2 in addition to placing in another Grade 2.

Showing that owners are a little more willing to give fillies a chance to bounce back or mature, the 2-year-old filly champions had a much higher representation in the older horse division. 

2-year-old champion fillies
In a reversal of the champion males the 2013 champion didn't race, with the next three champions showing up in the older female division two years later and holding their own. The most obvious of those is Beholder, who won her third straight Zenyatta Stakes on Saturday, however all but one of the other 2-year-old champions who raced on after three at least placed in a graded stakes event or won an ungraded stakes with four others winning at the graded stakes level.

The United States results came out as many would expect them to with older mares having a little more lee-way than horses with owners when it comes to not bouncing back after injury or holding their form at four.  

But more surprising for me was the European research results.

European (Cartier) champion 2-year-old males
Many of the male champions retiring early weren't overly surprising to me after looking at their United States counterparts. More surprising when it came to these horses who stayed in training was what they had done as older horses. Of the eight to continue racing past four, one was a Horse of the Year, two won at least one Group 1 event with a three others not winning group stakes but placing at the Group 1 level. 

Overall, there were better results for those male champions who raced on at four and five which may could partially be attributed to the surface they ran on among other factors. 

One interesting statistic comes to the European champion fillies. While North American breeders seem to be more willing to keep their champion fillies racing, the European fillies retire at about the same rate as champion 2-year-old colts.

European (Cartier) champion 2-year-old fillies
Since Rainbow View ran in North America as an older horse in 2008, only one champion 2-year-old filly has returned to the track after her 3-year-old year (Chriselliam was never given the chance as she died early in her 3-year-old year). However, they weren't whisked to stud right after the championship as every 2-year-old champion filly from 1999 to 2012 made at least one start as a 3-year-old, although the overall number of 17 fillies racing at 3 is slightly lower than the other champion divisions listed with those having only one champion miss the 3-year-old season.

Those 2-year-old filly champions who went on to race at 4 and beyond have held their own with classic winner Attraction winning the Group 1 Matron Stakes to end her 4-year-old campaign, Certify winning a group 2 after a scandal kept her from racing at 3 and Rainbow View winning a U.S. Grade 3. Each of the champions to race on at 4 at least placed in a group stakes.

While it was interesting that many of those who won championships and raced as older horses didn't go on to do as well as older horses, in some cases one could wonder what they were up against when winning that first championship (winning a championship in any case is an excellent achievement). The most interesting points in my research definitely came on the European side with those horses throwing me the biggest surprises by having the males do exceptionally well and many of the females leaving the track during their 3-year-old seasons. 

Unfortunately, we probably won't be able to see how last year's champions in any of these divisions develop as older horses either. Take Charge Brandi, who won the U.S. filly championship, was said to almost certainly be retiring after a bad showing last weekend with Gleneagles and American Pharoah also set to retire at the end of 2015. European champion 2-year-old filly Tiggy Wiggy was retired earlier this month.

Note: All results came from Equibase and Racing Post. Horses must have raced in countries noted on those databases as older horses to have been included as making starts on the tables.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tapit: King of American Sires

Tapit's Book 1 topper out of Silver Colors
‘And you get a Tapit and you get a Tapit and you get a Tapit …’ seemed to be the theme of the first week of the Keeneland September Yearling sale if you were willing to open up your wallet wide enough during the first four sessions of the sale.

It seemed early in the week that Claiborne Farm’s War Front might finally get the upper hand on Tapit in the sales ring as he had three of the top five priced horses to go through the ring during the opening session and one of the top five during the second day. But Tapit wasn’t far away from the top of the list either day, with one of his colts RNAing for $1.2-million on Monday (the second highest price of the session if he would have sold) and at least one horse each day in the top 10 highest priced yearlings.

But on day three, Tapit was ready for the games to end and handily took over the top of the standings as we’ve come to expect from the stallion. While War Front had three of the top 10 most expensive yearlings in the final book one session, Tapit had the top two highest priced horses in addition to the No. 9 highest price horse.

Overall in the first two books of the Keeneland sale, Tapit had 46 yearlings go through the ring with 32 of those selling. The stallion’s sale wrapped up on Friday during the first day of Book 2 with his 32 yearlings bringing a gross price of $16.86-million and an average of $526,875.

Not too bad a return for a stallion who stood for $125,000 the year those horses were conceived. This year Tapit had the highest stud fee in all the (North American) land at $300,000 and was booked full.

Tapit's second most expensive yearling at Keeneland September, a colt out of Pure Clan.
Tapit has been in high demand since his first crop hit the track with early runners such as Breeders’ Cup winners Stardom Bound (also giving Tapit a 2-year-old filly champion in his first crop) and Tapitsfly showing that he could produce both dirt and turf horses. Since then he has had horses such as 2-year-old champion (and another Breeders’ Cup victor) Hansen, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar, Careless Jewel and Joyful Victory in the first five years of having crops on the track.

But the stallion’s 2014 season was definitely his best year so far.

With his first crop only 8 years old last year, the son of Pulpit broke the North American record for progeny earnings with $16,813,536 and taking the Leading Sire title, according to Blood-Horse’s Stallion Register. That year was headlined by siring the winners of the Kentucky Oaks (Untapable) and the Belmont Stakes (Tonalist) among his 17 stakes winners and 12 graded stakes winners. Untapable also took home champion 3-year-old filly honors and the Breeders’ Cup Distaff to really top off her sire’s unstoppable roll in 2014.

Tapiture (shown here as a 2-year-old) was one of Tapit's many graded stakes winners in 2014.
Untapable took Tapit’s Breeders’ Cup win count up to five, tying him with the legendary trio of Danzig, Kris S. and Storm Cat as the stallions with the second most wins at the Breeders’ Cup. Only Sadler’s Wells has more with six wins.

Even though Tapit started at a modest stud fee of $15,000 when retiring in the autumn of his 3-year-old year, it shouldn’t have been too surprising that he turned into a supersire. He sold as a yearling for $625,000 at the 2002 Keeneland September Sale and won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at three and the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity at two but even more important than his race record was his pedigree.

Tapit’s sire Pulpit produced multiple Grade 1 winners with over 70 stakes winners on both dirt and turf, including Pyro, Rutherienne and Corinthian. Even though the late Pulpit was born 21 years ago, his sons are fairly young with Tapit being one of his first more ‘well-known’ sons to retire. But from the limited crops by his sons, Pulpit is the grandsire of dual-classic winner California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit), millionaires General Quarters (Sky Mesa) and Dynamic Sky (Sky Mesa) and the horses Tapit has produced.

Pulpit is by the incomparable A.P. Indy who turned into a sire-of-sires with Pulpit, Flatter and Malibu Moon among his sons who have already proven to be top notch racehorse sires (and in some cases sires-of-sires). While the stallion was pensioned in 2011, A.P. Indy still has more stallions who are waiting for their chance to shine with Astrology and Take Charge Indy among those who will have their first foals hitting the track in the next few years.

But just as important, and perhaps even more so, as Tapit’s sire line is his female family.

His dam Tap Your Heels was a stakes winner who has had three foals win on the track from six to race. Of those, Tapit is the first graded stakes winner but his half-sister Overandabeauty was stakes placed. But even more important from a production standpoint is that she is the producer of a stakes winner. Tap Your Heels is also the dam of Home From Oz, who was unraced but produced multiple Grade 2 winner Madefromlucky and stakes placed Japanese runner A Shin Gold
Madefromlucky is a graded stakes winner in 2015.
But the ability to produce doesn’t just stop with Tap Your Heels and her offspring.

She is a half-sister to champion Rubiano, who had produced 21 stakes winners in seven crops of racing age at the time of his death in 2002, and Hong Kong Squall, who produced 2009 champion 3-year-old colt Summer Bird. Four of Tap Your Heels’ other half-sisters produced stakes placed horses and two produced graded stakes winners.

Farther back in the family is Glitterman, the sire of 64 stakes winners at the time of his death, under Tapit’s third dam and leading sire Relaunch under his fourth dam.


While from a race record standpoint, Tapit probably wouldn’t have been the horse many would have imagined would become the top sire of the 2004 3-year-old crop, his pedigree backs up his success. And if this year’s yearling sales are any indication, we’ll be seeing Tapit at the top of both the leading commercial sire and racehorse sire lists for years to come.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Keeneland Final Crop Sire: Harlan's Holiday

One of the bittersweet moments of the 2015 Keeneland September sale will be when Hip 3100 exits the ring. The colt consigned by Glennwood Farm and out of Stunning Image (IRE) is the final yearling to sell at Keeneland by Harlan's Holiday, who died in November of 2013.

Overall, 73 Harlan's Holiday yearlings are scheduled to go through the ring (after outs) over the next few weeks with 24 of those in Book 1 (Sept. 14-17). They will join 417 other yearlings by the sire who have entered the ring at a September sale since 2006, with that group including U.S. champion Shanghai Bobby, Canadian champion Conquest Harlanate and Grade 2 winner Intense Holiday among others.
Shanghai Bobby in 2015
This year at Keeneland, Harlan's Holiday will again be represented by a good group of yearlings. Multiple yearlings offered are out of stakes winning dams with others being full sibling to the aforementioned Intense Holiday (Hip 340) and Grade 3 winner Poker Player (Hip 1044) in addition to foals out of daughters of Oh What a Windfall (Hip 133), Pretty 'n Smart (Hip 189), Fashion Star (Hip 207), Aletta Maria (Hip 231) and Danzig's Beauty (Hip 841). You can see a full list of yearlings who have stakes winning siblings (in bold) and half-siblings below.



According to Thoroughbred Daily News, so far this year Harlan's Holiday's yearling sales average is $202,352 and a median of $210,000 with 17 yearlings selling from 19 to enter the ring. In his final season at stud, Harlan's Holiday stood for $35,000, however as he was still a fairly young sire that was sure to rise in coming years.

Dying at 14 years of age, Harlan's Holiday only has nine crops of racing age (including 2-year-olds) with 63 stakes winners, four champions and 581 winners. Harlan's Holiday currently sits 17th on The Blood-Horse's North America General Sire list by earnings and finished in the top 10 in 2013 and 2014 with an 11th place finish on the list in 2012. While not often a flashy stallion, Harlan's Holiday has held his own against other top stallions and gives owners a solid racehorse.

But those who buy Harlan's Holiday yearlings won't just have a racing career to look forward to as his offspring are quickly showing that they can excel in the breeding shed. 


Harlan's Holiday son Into Mischief
His son Into Mischief may lead the pack with dual Breeders' Cup winner Goldencents but he is followed closely by Majesticperfection, who has a big winner in his first crop with Lovely Maria winning the Kentucky Oaks this year. Following in their footsteps looks to be Shanghai Bobby, whose first foals were born this year and Willcox Inn whose first, and only crop, will be born next year in New York.

Harlan's Holiday's loss was a big one for the industry but with his yearlings going through the ring at Keeneland, it looks like he may make one final bang in the yearling sales ring before cementing his legacy on the track over the next few years.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Keeneland September First Crop Sires: Bodemeister

When looking at the freshmen sires in this year's Keeneland September sale, the number of yearlings by those stallions is staggering. Freshmen sires are represented by over 830 foals during the two week sale, a little over 20 percent of the catalog. That group is led by Bodemeister with 83 yearlings scheduled to sell from the stallion's first crop.

As mentioned in my previous blog, 98 Bodemeister foals have sold or will sell at this year's summer Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland sales with the majority coming in this sale. To put the number of Bodemeister yearlings to sell at Keeneland into prospective, 61 percent of his first crop will be entering the Keeneland pavilion (before outs) in the first five books of the sale (Bodemeister has none cataloged in Book 6, which is the final two sessions of the sale).

However, when looking at Bodemeister this interest in his yearlings makes sense.

One of the most popular (if not the most popular) stallion prospects to retire for the 2013 breeding season, Bodemeister was bred to 174 mares in his first crop at a fee of $30,000. The super speedy son retired to WinStar as the only Empire Maker son on their roster (he was joined by Pioneerof the Nile a few months later before the start of the 2013 season) and possibly the most brilliant son of Empire Maker to run.

Breaking his maiden by 9 1/4 lengths in his second start, trainer Bob Baffert stepped him up to stakes right away. After a second in the San Felipe, people were able to see how fast Bodemeister was when he led wire-to-wire in the Arkansas Derby to win by another 9 1/2 lengths.




Video courtesy of NTRA Horse Racing

Even though he lost the Kentucky Derby, it may have been the best performance of his career. Bodemeister blasted through opening fractions of 22.32 and 45.39 and looked like he may take the Derby in just his fifth career start. I'll Have Another nipped him in the stretch (and spoiled his party in the Preakness as well) but if breeders and others who watch racing weren't paying attention to him before that performance, they were planning to send mares to him after that.


Video courtesy of Kentucky Derby

Unfortunately, Bodemeister was retired that summer with a shoulder injury that kept him from racing after the Preakness, so we didn't get to see his full range of talent. However, as said above, it didn't keep breeders from sending him mares with the 174 in his first season at stud and 176 last year.

Fittingly, his graded stakes winning dam's name is Untouched Talent.

Untouched Talent herself was lightly raced with four runs between July and October of 2006 being the only ones on her resume. She did put together an impressive string of runs during that time period with a win in the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes and second place finishes in a Grade 1 and a Grade 2. In the breeding shed, four of her seven foals have raced with all four of those winning.

Other than Bodemeister, Untouched Talent's top foal at the moment is Fascinating. Like her dam, Fascinating was second in the Del Mar Debutante during her career. Fascinating raced until early in her 4-year-old year, putting in multiple runs last fall and retiring in February of this year after a third place finish before being bred to War Front.

Bodemeister's page under his first dam only looks to get stronger with the 2-year-old Finnegan (IRE) an exciting prospect for Wesley Ward next year. 
Finnegan in April 2015
Out of the multiple graded stakes winning mare Parade Queen, Untouched Talent is a half-sister to the Grade 2 placed Top Billing and stakes winning King Gulch. Under Bodemeister's third and fourth dams there are an additional seven stakes winners, giving him strong female family influence to compliment Empire Maker. 

An interesting note about Bodemeister's pedigree is that he is from the same successful Unbridled x Storm Cat cross as Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (by Pioneerof the Nile) among others.

As one of the two best sons of Empire Maker at stud, Bodemeister gives breeders and buyers an Unbridled cross through a line other than Unbridled's Song. Bodemeister also has the chance to pass on some extra speed that it doesn't seem Empire Maker was able to give to many of his offspring unless bred to fast mares.

Bodemeister in January 2014

In relation to the Keeneland sale and buyers, Bodemeister is the best opportunity buyers have to add Empire Maker blood to their racing stables this year. Pioneerof the Nile is represented by the second most yearlings of Empire Maker sons with 44 but including those yearlings, there are only 46 Empire Maker grandget who aren't by the subject stallion.

While Pioneerof the Nile will be the Empire Maker son to get the biggest boost from American Pharoah's Triple Crown win, it can be expected that Bodemeister's stock will also be up due to the win. 

With a yearling average of $228,750 so far this year, according to Thoroughbred Daily News, it looks like September could be a banner month for Bodemeister's first real journey back into the public eye since his outstanding 2012 Triple Crown run.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Commercial Market Alive and Strong for First Year Sires

When one mentions that the racehorse industry has become commercialized, they only have to point to the yearling sales to prove their point. 

This year’s first season sires are an example of that, with the racing industry getting to see a large sample of these new sires’ offspring a year before they make it to the track.

Union Rags has 75 yearlings selling this summer
Between the sales of the two major sales companies (Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton) summer yearling sales, many foals born to these new sires last year won’t race under their breeders’ names. Freshmen sires account for 990 yearlings selling this summer, with 45.3 percent of their foals born in 2013 going through the ring at Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland.

On first glance, WinStar Farm’s Bodemeister, who had 135 foals born in 2014 looks to be the freshman stallion most visited by commercial breeders. Of those 135 born, 98 have either sold at a Fasig-Tipton yearling sale this summer or will sell at Keeneland September next week (that number doesn’t include outs from the Fasig sales, those sold at other sales companies’ sales or Fasig-Tipton’s October sale in Lexington).

However by percentages, the most commercial honor goes to Lane’s End’s The Factor, who has a little over 75 percent of his first crop of yearlings in the big sales this year.

THE FACTOR

After the last few years that The Factor’s sire War Front has had, it has probably been assumed that The Factor was going to be a sought after first year sire at the sales. The first real indication that it was going to be a big year for The Factor was at Fasig-Tipton's July Sale when five of his yearlings sold for a gross amount of $720,000 (high seller went for $250,00) with a median price of $150,000. That was topped a month later when the stallion had six yearlings (the second most of any freshman on this list) entered at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale with a median of $312,500 and a gross total of $2.32-million.

The biggest fireworks of the night for the stallion came from the last two yearlings to go through the ring with a $600,000 purchase by Crupi’s New Castle Farm followed by a winning bid of $750,000 by Willis Horton. Not too shabby for a stud fee of $15,000.

While you would think that some of The Factor’s 65 Keeneland September entries may have come after those results, that isn’t the case as all entries for Keeneland September had to be in by May 1, 2015.

Interestingly, from the 40 freshmen sires I looked at (all U.S.-based), by percentages some of the stallions I assumed would be bred more by breed-to-race owners instead of breed-to-sale have more selling than those that would appear more commercial.

Looking at the table below, an example of this is Aikenite. Three of the “big” stallions from this crop predictably top the list of percentage of foals being sold in the four sales looked at, but Aikenite has nine of his 14 foals cataloged to sell, putting him in that No. 4 position above stallions like Preakness winner Shackleford and 2-year-old champion Hansen (whose yearlings are the only crop of U.S.-breds he’ll have).

2015 FRESHMEN SIRES BY PERCENTAGE OF YEARLINGS SELLING

Showing that the racing industry is about searching for the next big thing, the new sires rank right up there with the current top 10 sires by percentage of yearlings going through the sales ring. Bodemeister and The Factor actually top the percentages of those top 10 sires, but with Bodemeister having more to sell than any of the top 10 sires and only Malibu Moon having more cataloged than The Factor, Union Rags and Gemologist that number makes sense.

One interesting observation is that Tapit and his sons seem to have a little lower percentage of yearlings than their contemporaries.

Of the top 10 leading sires, Tapit only has 54.14 percent of his 2013 foals selling even though they do sell very well. However, what may be to blame for less Tapits selling compared to the others is his $125,000 stud fee. While he gets many of the top mares, a lot of those breeders are also in a position to keep the resulting foals rather than sell them.

As for his freshman sire sons Tapizar, who entered the market at a stud fee of $15,000, got a healthy number of 103 live foals on the ground in 2014. Fifty-nine of those are selling in the big sales this summer and fall, but that number places him only seventh on the list of highest percentages of yearlings sold with nearly 20 percent less selling than The Factor.

Hansen, who entered stud at a fee of $12,500 at Coolmore's Ashford before being sold to South Korea, has 53 of his 102 foals selling for a 51.96 percent cataloged rate. Those breeders who entered his yearlings in sales must be feeling decent going into the Keeneland sale with his two yearlings at the Saratoga Selected Yearlings sale going for $200,000 and $250,000. He didn’t see as big of prices at The July Sale but the Hansens held their own with one bringing $125,000 and another $84,000 for a median of $84,000 from the three sold (one was a private sale).

However, while the percentages of Tapit (and his sons') yearlings to go through the ring are lower than others, there will be more than enough to choose from at Keeneland with the three mentioned having a combined 147 in the sale before outs.

2015 TOP 10 U.S. SIRES BY PERCENTAGE OF YEARLINGS SELLING

The business of racing always comes down to who is best on the track, whether it be the most successful stallions or racehorses. But finding out which stallion buyers will want in the sales ring is also a big, but potentially rewarding, gamble.

If the percentage of yearlings by freshmen sires going through the ring is any indication, many have taken that gamble and are looking to prove that the commercial market is alive and strong again this year.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Keeneland September First Crop Sires: Frankel

When looking at the new stallion standing in the northern hemisphere during the 2013 breeding season, it was enough to make one's mouth water. Even with some of the best racehorses we've seen on either side of the pond in the group, it was definitely headlined by the undefeated Frankel, who has enough star power in the racing industry to eclipse a Hollywood awards show. 

While getting mares pregnant is just the first round of tests a stallion undergoes at the start of his breeding career, Frankel excelled at that challenge just like he did his racing career. Of the 133 mares who visited Frankel in his first northern hemisphere season, 126 were scanned in foal. 

Frankel covered one of the strongest books a first year stallion in recent history has gotten with 113 of his mares at least wining on the track and 92 (69 percent of his mares in foal) earning black type (winning or placing in stakes races). Even more impressive is that Frankel attracted 38 Group or Grade 1 winners in that first year with 26 of his mates being the dams of Group or Grade 1 winners, according to Racing Post. Of those 38 Group 1 winners and 26 Group 1 producers, two of them fit both categories.

Like expected, the second test of seeing how his weanlings sell also earned him an A+. 

While there were four RNAs, of the four who went home to new owners the top seller went for $2,259,720, according to Thoroughbred Daily News with a median of $761,542.  
This year, with six to sell from six in the ring, his median has dropped slightly to $472,132 but his top seller so far has been a $1,277,535 filly. However, for the U.S. market, Frankel's acid test will come between September 14 and September 16 when he has five yearlings sell at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in Lexington, Ky., his first offspring of any age to go through a sales ring in North America

As he did on the racetrack, Frankel looks to dominate the freshman stallions at Keeneland, starting with Hip 183 and ending with Hip 698 (all first book yearlings). Those yearlings are out of mares who are either Grade 1 producers, half siblings to group/graded stakes winners or themselves are graded stakes winners. 

The strongest of that grouping may be Rose of Summer, who produced Grade 1 winner Laragh and multiple graded stakes winner Summer Front and has four winners from seven foals to race. 

Summer Front in April 2015
Summer Front's record at the graded stakes record is so impressive that it nearly pushes the accomplishments of his stakes placed granddam right off the page. However, they aren't long enough to boot off 2001 Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity winner Siphonic, who also finished third in that year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile, adding to the already strong page that Rose of Summer gives her yearling. 

Other foals out of Rose of Summer have sold at public auction anywhere from $75,000 to $850,000 and unless this colt has a major problem, it won't be surprising to see him go near or above that top price. One interesting note on the pedigree of this yearling is that with Rose of Summer being by El Prado and Frankel being by Galileo, he has a 3 x 3 cross to very influential turf sire Sadler's Wells. Through other horses on his pedigree, he also has 5 x 5 crosses to Mr. Prospector and His Majesty (a horse other than Sadler's Wells also adds to his Northern Dancer blood with that cross sitting at 4 x 5 x 4).

The second strongest mare who has a yearling by Frankel in the sale could be multiple graded stakes winner India. India hasn't yet reproduced herself but only has two foals to race, with both of those being winners.

An earner of over $630,000, if India is anything like her dam or half-sister she will have a stakes winner in no time. India's dam Misty Hour is the dam of Pilfer, who held her own on the track but whose strength comes in the breeding shed. Pilfer is the dam of two-time Grade 1 winner To Honor and Serve (who entered stud the same year as Frankel) and Grade 1 winning 3-year-old Angela Renee. Her other winner from five to race is Elnaawi, who isn't as accomplished as his half-siblings but is a stakes winner and was third in the Grade 1 Donn and Grade 3 Gotham Stakes.

The other three mares with yearlings by Frankel at Keeneland aren't as accomplished on the track or in the shed as Rose of Summer or India but looking at their families, it it easy to see why they got in to Frankel's first book.

Perhaps the most amusing pairing was Frankel to Tashzara. 

During his racing career, Frankel had a rival named Excelebration who couldn't get out of his shadow and finished second or third to him five times, with four of them being Group 1 races. Tashzara is a half-sister to Excelebration, in addition to multiple Group 3 winner Mull of Killough and India stakes winner Shivalik Showers. While it can be debated that a colt like India's may stay in the United States, it would be shocking if Tashzara's colt races here instead of Europe or Japan as he is screaming out for European classic races.

One Frankel colt who is sure to grab the attention of both Europeans and Americans is Reaching's colt by the stallion.

Reaching herself was just placed, but the mare only raced three times before the Coolmore group retired her. By hot stallion Dansili, Reaching is out of Grade 1-placed Maryinsky. Maryinsky is out of the bluehen mare Blush With Pride and has already started her own legacy. 

Maryinsky's filly Peeping Fawn was not only a dual classic winner in Ireland, she was also the 2007 European champion 3-year-old filly. Peeping Fawn retired after that year and her 2011 colt, named Sir John Hawkins. A winner on debut in 2013, Sir John Hawkins placed in two group stakes during his 2-year-old year but disappeared after a last place finish in Dubai as a 3-year-old.
Peeping Fawn's colt at the 2014 Keeneland September Sale


Maryinsky is also the dam of Group 1 winner Thewayyouare, who sired 2014 U.A.E. Derby winner Toast of New York during his time in the United States. Thewayyouare now stands at Coolmore's base in Ireland. Other notable horses in Reaching's pedigree are 2006 and 2007 Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rag to Riches, who are out of Maryinsky's half-sister Better Than Honour.

It is ridiculous to call this final pedigree weak but compared to the mares above Compelling's colt, who is the first Frankel in the Keeneland ring, has just a little lower page value. Compelling was a winner at three in Ireland and placed in a handicap the race after that before retiring in mid-2011. 

Compelling also has an unraced 2-year-old filly on the ground named Mondelice. Like this colt, she comes from a Sadler's Well's-lined stallion in the form of Sadler's Wells son Montjeu. Frankel's grandsire is Sadler's Wells so Compelling's yearling is 3 x 4 while Mondelice is 2 x 4. 

While Compelling didn't do much on the track, she does come from a successful family with her dam being a Group 1 winning filly who was the high-weight 2-year-old filly in both Ireland and England. That dam, named Damson, is also the dam of 2011 Group 2 winner Requinto. The young family is still active on the track with Independence Day placing in the Group 3 Curragh Stakes so there are plenty of updates to come on this colt's page.

Stakes winners also stand under the third and fourth dam, with at least one of those stakes winners under the fourth dam also producing a Group 1 winner.

Looking at the five Frankel offerings going through the ring, no one can complain about the United States getting weaker Frankel yearlings and they are sure to do their sire proud in the first three days of the sale. But for those who can't afford to put a bid in for a Frankel foal, the second week of Keeneland September brings a chance to buy into his family with 3/4 brother Bullet Train having 10 offerings at Keeneland, starting in Book 4 on September 22.