Friday, September 30, 2016

Super Saturday a Wide Open Affair

Curlin's Stellar Wind
On Saturday the Road to the Breeders’ Cup gets interesting with the second of three big weekends full of prep races. Santa Anita, the host of this year’s Breeders’ Cup, has five graded stakes carded for Saturday while Belmont also has five graded stakes during its first of two “Super Saturdays.”

With 82 horses entered as of Wednesday, it left more than enough chances for a variety of stallions to pick up some valuable stakes placings for their resumes heading into the final months before breeding season. In all, 65 stallions have horses running in the major graded stakes on Saturday with 14 sires represented by two or more horses.

Interestingly, North America’s top two sires don’t have any entries in these races with both Tapit and Uncle Mo sitting this “Super Saturday” out (Uncle Mo does have an entry in the ungraded Unzip Me Stakes taking place as Santa Anita’s finale on Saturday.)

However, the nation’s other top sires have a chance to make moves in the sire standings with the No. 3 through No. 7 stallions all having runners. Curlin, who sits third only a little under $1.2-million in progeny earnings behind Uncle Mo looks like he could make big strides in the battle for second place on Blood-Horse’s Leading Sires table. The stallion has runners in two races with Stellar Wind running in the $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes and Off the Tracks in the $400,000 Beldame Stakes.

No matter how the other stallions do this weekend, it will be impossible to catch Tapit with the stallion almost $5.4-million in front of Uncle Mo and $6.5-million ahead of Curlin. The most valuable of this weekend’s races is the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont and the four horse field doesn’t have any runners by stallions in the Top 50 in North America.

With runners by seven of the top 10 stallions, there could be a big shake up in the ranks when the final race is declared official on Saturday. Curlin is only $1.8 million ahead of Malibu Moon in 12th place and only a few thousand dollars separate some of the horses between them. 

Malibu Moon
Malibu Moon has a bit of a tough climb with the stallion about $300,000 behind Scat Daddy but could take a big chunk out of that gap if Gormley wins the $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes. Scat Daddy doesn’t have any runners in the big races this weekend but with 10 horses entered between now and Saturday night, it’s possible by the time the big races roll around that his gap will give him even more padding toward keeping his spot in the coming month.

Curlin (third), City Zip (seventh) and Kitten’s Joy (10th) are the only three horses who sit in the Top 10 with at least two entries in Super Saturday races. Of the top 20 sires, 14 will have runners in the big races on Saturday with three having two runners each. 

But mixed in with those well-known U.S. stallions are some other less familiar names. Sires standing in 10 countries and four states have runners in the major Saturday races with the average age of the stallions sitting at 15 years old.

Brazil is the foreign country with the most stallions having runners with three Super Saturday runners by three different Brazilian stallions, all of them entered in California races. Brazil will be looking to upset champions Beholder and Stellar Win in the Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita with two daughters of the country’s stallions running in that race. If Beholder wins the Zenyatta it will be a victory of sorts for Japan, who bought Henny Hughes in 2013.

South Korea has made some big moves in recent years with purchasing U.S. stallions and their purchases are justified this weekend. Any Given Saturday and Tiz Wonderful were both sold in 2014 and just finished up their second seasons in the country. Any Given Saturday’s Hoppertunity has proven to be a mainstay in the top level of racing but will be looking for his first on-the-board finish since the Dubai World Cup when he runs in the Awesome Again. 
Tiz Wonderful has a chance to pull off an exacta in the Gallant Bloom at Belmont Park a few hours before the Awesome Again with his two entries both running in the race. Tiz Wonderful has had a good year in U.S. racing with over $3.5-million in progeny earnings putting him 48th on the U.S. leading sires list.

In what starting to look like a golden age of younger stallions, 18 of the sires with runners entered stud in 2010 or later and six of them are First-Crop sires. The youngest of those sires is Creative Cause, who is seven this year and has Nikki My Darling in the Chandelier. The oldest stallion with a runner is the late Cee’s Tizzy, who would have been 29 this year while the oldest active stallion is the 26-year-old Unusual Heat. Both stallions have one runner each in the Rodeo Drive.

To see all the stallions and their runners in the major graded stakes this weekend, you can look at the list below.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Observations From the First Week of Keeneland September

Saturday evening, the first two Books of Keeneland’s September Yearling sale wrapped up after a week that included a history making offering at the end of Book 1 when Beholder’s half-brother brought $3-million, the highest price at the sale since 2010. With a mixed bag of numbers in both books, the sale had both buyers and consignors on their toes. But outside the numbers, there were also a number of interesting things going on over the past week. Read on to find out which sires hit it big and which buyers made big splashes during the first five sessions of the sale.

Scat Daddy – When Scat Daddy (Johannesburg) died suddenly in December, it was a major loss to the industry. Leaving behind eight crops, Scat Daddy had hit his best stride in the last few years and has the two best 2-year-olds in Europe this year with Caravaggio and Lady Aurelia in addition to Grade 1 U.S. runners like Dacita and Harmonize. That success made Scat Daddy a popular sire at Keeneland September this year with the stallion averaging $288,256 from his 43 sold in the first two books of the sale to put him second on the leading sire chart behind only Tapit. The stallion is also the sire of the sales topper (unless something drastically unexpected happens) as the sire of Beholder’s half-brother who sold for $3-million. If that $3-million is removed from his gross total of $12,395,000, Scat Daddy is still in the top five sires, ahead of stallions such as Speightstown (Gone West), Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) and Curlin (Smart Strike).

Established Sires – Of the top 20 sires by gross totals through the first two books, only Uncle Mo and Orb (Malibu Moon) were sires who had less than four crops of racing age. Uncle Mo’s 25 to sell averaged $283,200 with his most expensive being a $750,000 purchase bought on the last day of the sale by Lane’s End. Orb’s first yearlings seemed to be a fairly big hit with buyers, the stallion had a higher gross total than stallions such as Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday), Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat) and Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector). His most expensive yearling of the first week of the sale was a $450,000 colt out of Grade 3 winner Just Louise (Five Star Day).

Lane’s End – The farm was on the prowl for stallion prospects during the first two books of Keeneland September, buying nine horses under its name for a total of $5.435-million with all nine being colts. The farm’s most expensive purchase was the $750,000 Uncle Mo talked about above while its cheapest was a $425,000 Orb colt. Some notable horses it added to its stable are two colts out of half-sisters to Acoma (Empire Maker) and Arch (Kris S), a grandson of Serena’s Song (Rahy) and a grandson of Azeri (Jade Hunter).

War Front's most expensive offering
War Front Fever – While the Coolmore partners cut back on buying War Fronts this year now that they are supporting the stallion with their own mares, the stallion was still in high demand. Shadwell Farm has jumped into the War Front craze with both feet, buying two colts for over $1-million each while John Ferguson was also in on the purchasing when buying two fillies during the sale, presumably for Darley. Overall, War Front had 19 yearlings sell for a total of $12.045-million and an average of $633,947. Unfortunately for his averages and overall gross, a clerical error caused him to have a $1.9-million RNA on a colt out of Horse of the Year Havre de Grace. If that colt would have sold, he would have been the No. 2 sire ahead of Scat Daddy.

Tapit – There’s not much more to say about Tapit these days other than he’s still the King of North America. He didn’t top the sale this year but of the nine $1-million+ horses, he had four of them and eight of the top 25 most expensive horses of the first two books.

Stud Fees – The average advertised stud fees in 2014 for the 10 stallions who sired the top 25 most expensive yearlings in the first two books was $83,258.50. Interestingly, this crop was bred when both Tapit and War Front were both $150,000. The most expensive stallion at that time was Frankel at $200,085 (with the exchange rate when his fee was announced in late 2013), whose most expensive yearling sold for $900,000 this week. The cheapest at that time was Pioneerof the Nile, who stood for $20,000. Pioneerof the Nile’s most expensive offering this week was a $925,000 half-brother to a Grade 1 winner.

2014 Stud Fee
Medaglia d’Oro
Pioneerof the Nile
Scat Daddy
Uncle Mo
War Front

Into Mischief – Into Mischief shined on the second day of Book 2 when it seemed like he couldn’t do anything wrong. Of his 13 to sell, nine sold for over $100,000 with the stallion averaging $176,154, just $1,154 higher than his median price. Into Mischief stood for $20,000 when his yearlings were conceived. The stallion had taken a large leap to that fee in 2014 after Goldencents won his first Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Into Mischief had previously stood for $7,500 in 2013.

Frankel topped all foreign sires with this filly
Foreign Sires – It was a little rough this year if you were an international sire with horses going through the ring at Keeneland. Galileo, who had the most offerings with seven, averaged $393,750 for the four to sell with a farther three RNAing and his top selling lots being two $500,000 horses. Frankel topped all foreign sires with a $900,000 filly but he found mixed results when his colt, a half-brother to multiple group stakes winner Hartnell, RNAed after bringing a final bid of $325,000. The least expensive foreign sire offering was Teofilo’s filly selling for $7,000. The late Japanese sire Stay Gold’s lone offering brought a final bid of $220,000 but it wasn’t enough to change hands with the colt RNAing at the price.

Street Cry – In his final appearance as a sire at the Keeneland September sale, Street Cry wasn’t a $1-million sire but the stallion was well received with the 16th highest gross total of any stallion during the first two books and the 15th highest average of the stallions with five or more hips to sell. The stallion’s most expensive offering was a $500,000 colt out of Grade 3 winner Elusive Lady with 16 of his 20 to sell bringing six figures with a median price of $190,000. The stallion also had a $525,000 RNA out of the Pomeroy half-sister Acquileia (Arch) on the first day of the sale with one other six-figure RNA the following day.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

International Sires to Watch at Keeneland September

Hip 37 - Galileo x Society Selection
In a sale that routinely attracts international buyers, it’s not a surprise to see internationals of another sort represented at the Keeneland September sale Sept. 12 through 25. Yearlings by nine stallions standing in England, France, Ireland and Japan are scheduled to go through the ring over the next two weeks.

As seems to be the case every time he is mentioned, Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) is again a leader here. The stallion’s seven yearlings lead all the foreign stallions with all seven in the first three sessions (Book 1) of the sale. Last year at this sale, Galileo had four go through the ring and while none hammered for lower than $290,000 only a filly out of Anne of Kiev, who brought $320,000, sold. The previous year, of the five to go through the ring three sold with Galileo’s most expensive offering bringing $425,000.

Galileo isn’t only a sire with yearling offerings at this sale, three of his European sons also have horses in this sale. Last year, Frankel had five offerings at the Keeneland sale with two selling in the ring, one for $800,000 and another for $500,000. This year, Frankel is coming into Keeneland with three stakes winners (two graded) and a stellar record with his first 2-year-olds, which could make a big difference with buyers.

Like his sire, both of Frankel’s yearlings are in Book 1, with one a half-brother to the red hot Hartnell, who won a Grade 2 last weekend in Australia, and the other a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Laragh and multiple graded stakes winner Summer Front. That filly is a full sister to Frankel’s $800,000 offering at last year’s Keeneland sale. That colt, now named Rise Eagle, has made one start in Japan where he finished fifth.

Hip 602 - Frankel x Rose of Summer filly
Group 1 French Derby winner Intello (Galileo) is represented by his first yearlings this year. Interestingly, while his lone offering at Keeneland September was foaled in Ireland, that filly’s well-known graded stakes winning half-brother was a regular on Keeneland’s racetrack, only a few hundred yards from the sales pavilion where this filly will sell on Thursday, Sept. 22 as Hip 3148.

Teofilo (Galileo) rounds out the Galileo trifecta with a filly out of the stakes placed Spellwork selling on the first day as Hip 44. Last year, Teofilo only had one horse go through the ring here with that filly RNAing at $75,000. Teofilo is a very active sire this year with stakes horses in Europe, the United States and even Australia. From six crops of racing age, he has 10 Group 1 winners and 30 group winners overall.

Hip 44 - Teofilo x Spellwork
A common theme between the European sires with yearlings in this sale is that many of them trace to Sadler’s Wells or Danehill. Galileo is the most prolific Sadler’s Wells son around right now but he isn’t the only Sadler’s Wells lined horse here.

Hip 281 - High Chaparral x Danehill's Dream
High Chaparral (Sadler’s Wells) stood next to the aforementioned Sadler’s Wells son at Coolmore’s Ireland base and will be represented here by his final crop of yearlings to go through the Keeneland ring. The stallion’s three yearlings are spread out through the sale with his first yearling going through the ring on the second day as Hip 281. That Irish-bred filly is a half-sister to the stakes placed Viking Storm and from the family of Dr. Devious. His second yearling, Hip 1224, will be going through the ring on Saturday, Sept. 17 with the third, Hip 4098, out of a full sister to graded stakes winner Coalport going through the ring on Saturday, Sept. 24. High Chaparral hasn’t had much luck at the Keeneland September Yearling sale over the last few years with his most expensive Keeneland yearling in the 2010s selling for $75,000 last year.

Holy Roman Emperor (Danehill) keeps the Danehill blood flowing into the later sessions when his son out of a half-sister to Group 1 winner Asti sells a little over a hundred hips in to Book 3. This is Holy Roman Empire’s first representative at the Keeneland September sale since 2010 when a half-brother to Group 1 winner Fidelite sold for $200,000.

Coming into the Keeneland September sale with one offering, Mastercraftsman (Dancehill Dancer) may have the right female family on Hip 271 to attract U.S. buyers. The filly, a May 22 foal, is out of the stakes placed Cozzene’s Angel (Cozzene), who is the dam of multiple Grade 1 winner Toccet (Awesome Again) and whose daughter Shawn’s Hope (Liberty Gold) has an active staking winning filly under her name. Mastercraftsman hit the ground running with multiple Group 1 winner The Grey Gatsby, St. Leger winner Kingston Hill and Group 1 winner Amazing Maria among his first few crops. Mastercraftsman has only had one horse go through the ring in his career, with that offering selling for $80,000 last year.

Hip 271 - Mastercraftsman x Cozzene's Angel filly
Galileo has done a good job keeping his dam Urban Sea in the spotlight, but his younger half-brother Sea the Stars (Cape Cross) has given him a big challenge this year and sits second behind him in the European Sire standings right now. Sea the Stars got off to a slow start with his first 2-year-olds but has flown to the top since then with 31 stakes winners, including dual-Derby winner Harzand this year. In his first crop of yearlings to go through the ring at Keeneland in 2012, his topper as a $675,000 colt. He hasn’t had that big of a success since that first crop with his second most expensive selling for $400,000 in 2014 but he also hasn’t had that many horses go through the ring with none last year.
Hip 192 - Sea the Stars x Awesome d'Oro colt
It’s not often you see a Japanese-sired horse go through the ring at Keeneland but the late Stay Gold (Sunday Silence) is breaking that trend with a colt out of the Grade 1 placed Nan (High Yield). Consigned here by Taylor Made, this colt was bought in Japan and brought back to the U.S. last year. This colt is a unique offering as a Stay Gold yearling has never been offered for sale at a Keeneland yearling sale before.

Hip 533 - Stay Gold x Nan

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Digging into the Data: Summer 2-Year-Old Racing

Into Mischief had multiple winners at both tracks.
Known as the traditional unveiling places of some of the best 2-year-olds in the nation, Del Mar and Saratoga’s 2-year-old races are closely watched every July and August as people try to find the next rising stars of the sport. But there’s more to the racing than just the names of the winners and the times they win in. Keep reading to find out 15 facts about this year’s 2-year-old races at the premiere summer tracks in North America.
  • Del Mar ran 73 2-year-old races with Saratoga running 80 2-year-old races.
  • At Del Mar, five 2-year-olds won two races each. They include Klimt (Quality Road), who won both the Best Pal Stakes and Del Mar Futurity and With Honors (War Front), who broke her maiden in late July at the track before winning the Del Mar Juvenile fillies Turf on closing day.
  • In Saratoga, four 2-year-olds won two races each. Coasted (Tizway) broke her maiden on turf on Aug. 7 then won the P.G. Johnson on Sept. 1. Practical Joke (Into Mischief) broke his maiden on Aug. 6 then won the Hopeful on Sept. 5 while Sweet Loretta (Tapit) won the Schuylerville on July 22 before dead-heating in the Spinaway on Sept. 3. New York-bred Syndergaard (Majesticperfection) took the New York-bred stakes route after breaking his maiden early in the meet, winning the Funny Cide on Aug. 26.
  • Fifteen sires had two or more 2-year-old victories at Del Mar. They were led by Into Mischief with four combined wins by three different horses. Minister’s Wild Cat and Pioneerof the Nile both had their runners win three 2-year-old races at the meet.
  • Eighteen sires had two or more 2-year-old victories at Saratoga. A.P. Indy’s son Bernardini and grandson Tapit led all sires with four victories each. Freshman sire Dialed In, New York sire Freud, Into Mischief, Majestic Warrior and the late Scat Daddy all had three wins each.
  • Ten broodmare sires had at least two 2-year-old victories during the Del Mar meet. Of those former Lane’s End stallions A.P. Indy (3), Dixie Union (4) and Smart Strike (3) all had more than two victories with Dixie Union leading all of them with four.
  • Saratoga saw 16 broodmare sires represented in the winner’s circle twice or more after 2-year-old races. Unbridled’s Song led all broodmare sires with five while Carson City and Distorted Humor both had three victories each as broodmare sires.
  • Seven freshmen sires had 2-year-old winners at Del Mar with eight freshman sires having 2-year-old winners at Saratoga. Dialed In had three winners at Saratoga while Gemologist has three combined winners between the two tracks (one at Del Mar, two at Saratoga).
  • Forty-four Del Mar 2-year-old winners went through the ring at least once. Of those, five RNAed in that sale. Twenty of the winners went through at least two sales with six going through three sales. Sixteen of the winners were bought out of a 2-year-old sale this year while one went through but was a $275,000 RNA at Barrett’s May Sale (Speightown’s Big League).
  • Fifty-eight Saratoga 2-year-old winners went through the ring at least once with six RNAing in that sale. Of those 58, 24 went through the ring in at least two sales (six RNAed in the second sale) and three went through the ring a third time with one of them RNAing then. Twenty-two of the winners sold at 2-year-old breeze sales earlier this year, including Fact Finding (The Factor), who sold at Tattersall’s Breeze-Up Sale for $524,606 before coming back to the United States.
The Factor
  • The most expensive winner at Del Mar was the $500,000 Keeneland September grad Plum Dandy (Medaglia d’Oro) while the cheapest was Slew’s Tiznow’s Red Apple, who was bought for only $2,200. The average purchase price (at the last sale they were bought at) for a Del Mar winner at auction was $141,407.
  • The most expensive Saratoga winner was Spinster dead-heat winner Pretty City Dancer (Tapit), who sold for $825,000. The filly she deadheated with, Sweet Loretta, was a $750,000 yearling. The cheapest winner was Kissin Cassie (High Cotton), who sold at the OBS April Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training sale for $5,000. The average purchase price at the last sale the winners were bought at is $231,687.
  • Keeneland’s September Yearling sale leads all sales with the number of Del Mar and Saratoga 2-year-old winners with 29 between the two meets. They are followed by OBS’ April sale with 11 and OBS’ March sale with 10.
  • Twelve trainers had two or more 2-year-old wins at Del Mar, led by Bob Baffert with nine victories. Baffert was followed by Doug O’Neill with six wins and Keith Desormeaux with five.
  • Bob Baffert with American Pharoah
  • Fourteen Saratoga trainers won at least two Saratoga 2-year-old races during the meet. Todd Pletcher led all trainers with 15 2-year-old victories with Mark Casse tallying a second best eight wins and Chad Brown rounding out the top three with five.
  • Twenty-nine colts, 33 fillies and six geldings won 2-year-old races at Del Mar. Thirty-six colts, 35 fillies and two geldings won 2-year-old races at Saratoga.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Final Crop Sires to Watch at Keeneland September

Every year, the Keeneland September sale provides the racing industry with a view of the progeny of hundreds of different sires during its two week sale. This year, over 4,475 horses are cataloged for the Lexington, Ky. sale taking place Sept. 12 through 25 and for a variety of reasons, the final U.S. conceived yearlings by multiple stallions will be going through the ring at the September sale this year.

Below are six stallions who have at least two yearlings from their final U.S. crop cataloged in the sale.

Disclaimer: In the case of stallions who have been sold to other countries, there is no guarantee that they will not return to the United States. This piece is noting their disappearance from the U.S. stallion ranks at this time.

The leading North American freshman sire in 2013, when Dunkirk (Unbridled’s Song) was sold to Japan in mid-2014, he had five stakes winners including the Grade 1 winning Havana. Dunkirk finished sixth on the second-crop list in 2014 and ninth on the third crop sire list last year. Dunkirk has 13 yearlings cataloged with seven fillies and six colts.

A Grade 2 winner, Fast Bullet (Speightstown) stood for only one year before he succumbed to colic in December of 2014. Fast Bullet had 32 live foals in 2015 in what ended up being his only crop with four of those entered in the Keeneland September sale. All four of those entries are fillies with notable pages. The first one to go through the ring is from the family of Yearly Report, another is a half to a stakes placed filly, a third is from the family of Grade 1 winner Eddington and the fourth is a half-sister to a stakes winner out of a half-sister to Summer Colony.

When Eugene Melnyk decided to step away from horse racing in 2014, Flower Alley (Distorted Humor) was put on the market. A Travers winner, Flower Alley sired the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another two years before he was sold to South Africa in August of 2014. According to Weatherbys, Flower Alley currently has 17 stakes winners including three Grade 1 winners. Flower Alley has two horses entered in the September sale, a filly whose third dam is champion Jewel Princess and another one from the family of Golden Ballet (the dam of Drosselmeyer).

An Irish stallion who died in 2014 at the age of 15, High Chaparral (Sadler’s Wells) was the sire of horses such as So You Think, It’s a Dundeel and Toronado among his over 80 stakes winners. High Chaparral had worldwide success as a top sire in Australia in addition to Europe and North America with six champions and 50 graded or group stakes winners in 10 crops aged three or older. The stallion has one horse in Book 1, Hip 281, who is from the family of Dr. Devious. His two other offerings are later in the sale with one out of a half-sister to a Grade 2 winner and the other out of a full sister to Coalport and Jolly Good Kitten.

Spring at Last
Sold to Saudi Arabia in 2014, Spring at Last (Silver Deputy) is the sire of over 130 winners from 203 starters. Spring at Last stood at WinStar Farm during his U.S. career and sired Grade 1 winner Spring in the Air among others during his seasons in the United States. His first offering will go through the ring on Sept. 22 and is a half-sister to a multiple stakes winner. Other notable offerings for the stallion is a colt from the family of multiple European Group 1 winner Creator, a colt whose third dam is Danzig’s Beauty and a filly out of a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Premium Tap.

A death that shocked the industry in 2014 was that of Street Cry (Machiavellian), who had proven to be a world class sire with major winners around the world. At the time of the Keeneland catalog’s printing, Street Cry had 104 stakes winners and six champions in both the northern and southern hemisphere. The stallion has 45 offerings at the Keeneland September sale with 19 cataloged in the first Book (the first three sessions of the sale) and 13 in the second book (sessions four and five). Of his 19 horses cataloged in Book 1 10 are out of stakes winners, have graded stakes winners as second dams or are half-siblings to stakes winners. Nearly all the others in Book 1 who don’t fall in that category are out of graded stakes winners.
Street Cry