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.

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