03/13/2013 4:36PM

Arkansas: Brahms, leading general sire


Brahms has become a kingpin in the Southwest since the former Kentucky-to-Australia shuttle stallion moved to Louisiana in 2008. He led the 2009 general sire standings in the Pelican State and in 2012 topped the same list in Arkansas, where Brahms currently holds court at Richard and Frances Hessee’s Trophy Club Training Center in Royal.

He may be a regional dynamo these days, but from the start he could have been anything, anywhere. A son of three-time leading sire Danzig, out of champion Queena, by nine-time leading broodmare sire Mr. Prospector, he easily had the looks and the lineage to command a $1 million bid at Keeneland’s 1998 July yearling sale.

[MORE: See a list of Arkansas’s leading sires from 2012]

For Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier, Brahms was multiple group-placed at 2 in Europe, including a second-place finish to future Horse of the Year Giant’s Causeway. Purchased privately by an American partnership late in 1999, he was turned over to trainer Elliott Walden for a North American 3-year-old campaign.

It went smashingly — he was unbeaten in four starts while racing strictly on the turf, and he scored his biggest lifetime victory as result of a disqualification in the $500,000 Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. Brahms never won again but placed in several important grass stakes at 4 in 2001 before retiring to Vinery Kentucky in Lexington with a 17-5-4-4 record and bankroll of $843,050.

Americans have never been particularly keen on turf runners as sires, and Brahms was most certainly a specialist in that arena. Still, he had shown exceptional class and possessed a stallion’s pedigree, which, along with a reasonable $12,500 introductory fee, made him attractive to breeders.

Brahms’ first crop of 140 foals arrived in 2003 and eventually produced 81 winners, six stakes winners — including multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Arson Squad — and combined earners of $6,350,402. He ranked 17th among North American freshman sires of 2005 (by progeny earnings), 10th among second-crop sires of 2006, and 11th among third-crop sires of 2007. It was a solid, quite respectable record, but apparently not enough to keep him residing in the heart of the Bluegrass much longer.

In 2008, Brahms was sent to Elite Thoroughbreds in Folsom, La., on a lease agreement. His first two crops there — foals of 2009 and 2010 — would include a pair of 2012 stakes winners in Look At the Time (three stakes wins) and Sunbean (Louisiana Futurity winner).

The offspring of this now-16-year-old stallion have proven capable over most major distances and, despite their sire’s affection for grass, have performed well over every type of racing surface. Nineteen of them so far have won in stakes company; in addition to Arson Squad and the two previously noted Louisiana-breds, his runners include Australian group winner Real Mak, U.S. Grade 3 winner Bad Action, and notable North American stakes victors Test Boy, Sea Rescue, and Up an Octave. Twelve of the 19 won exclusively on dirt or synthetic surfaces and five scored only on turf while two won over both surfaces.

An interesting observation regarding Brahms’ offspring is how tough and durable they appear to be — quite an asset at a time when soundness appears increasingly harder to come by. Not all racehorses can be superstars, so it makes sense that the longer a runner can stay in training, the more purse money he or she has the opportunity to compile.

To date, nearly 28 percent of Brahms’ runners from his first five crops (2003-2007) have started 30 or more times. Fifty-four have made it to the gate more than 40 times; 26 have run upward of 50 times; and 12 have started at least 60 times.

Of his 46 Northern Hemisphere winners in 2012, 25 were at least 5 years old. Eleven of those were 6 years old; four were 7 years; and three were 8-year-olds, from the long-ago crop of 2004. While this may tell us that his offspring are not particularly precocious, it also indicates that they stick around tenaciously, earning money season after season.

With his arrival in Arkansas, Brahms shot straight to the top of several categories of the state sire standings — not only did he topple Storm and a Half from the money-won perch he had owned the previous four seasons, but he also proved best as well by winners (46) and stakes wins (four), and was co-leader by stakes winners (two).

For 2013 Brahms joins 2005 Super Derby winner The Daddy at Trophy Club, where his 2013 fee has been set at $2,000.