02/13/2017 9:36AM

Bergman: Merchandiser has the pedigree to produce as a stallion

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Merchandiser is a son of Muscle Hill out of Majestic Style.

Lofty goals are required to be in the breeding business. No one, whether horse lover or investment speculator, decides to breed a mare to a stallion without looking to produce the best racehorse possible.

Some believe there is just one way to achieve greatness and that comes by mating the best bred and most accomplished stallion to a mare that matches. The idea being that blood from two greats is assurance that the resulting progeny will have the utmost capabilities on the racetrack.

History on the other hand has proven that this concept, while perhaps a better guide, is not the only method available to reach the Promised Land.

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Merchandiser is a first year stallion that falls out of the spotlight but should be measured fully by all aspects of what it takes to be a top trotting sire in this sport.

For one, he’s a son of Muscle Hill, arguably the best trotter of all time. Secondly, the one-time six-figure yearling bred by the home of champions Brittany Farms, has a pedigree that few can match now or perhaps in the future.

“You know when George (Segal, owner of Brittany Farms) bought the farm one of the top mares he acquired was Keystone Profile,” said Greg Peck, co-owner of the stallion. “Merchandiser is the first foal from the last daughter of Keystone Profile.”

As such, Merchandiser carries a bloodline that extends an already proven line to the next generation.

“He’s bred a lot like the successful sires Muscle Mass and Muscle Massive,” said Peck. “The big difference is that he’s a son of Muscle Hill.”

Indeed, those in the business always want to get to the next generation. It’s a way to refine and many say advance the breed. Muscle Hill has been a dominant force as a stallion since his retirement and Peck knows a thing or two about the horse.

“When I trained Muscle Hill I was always conscious of him becoming a stallion. I thought it was important that he be a fresh horse at the end of his racing career. I believe that’s what’s helped him become the stallion that he is,” Peck said.

With Merchandiser, Peck acquired the stallion late in the 2-year-old season for a small fraction of his yearling price. He took time to develop the colt and eventually would put a 1:53 4/5 mark on him.

“He went in 1:53 4/5 with me driving,” said Peck with a laugh. “I think if I brought him back to race this year he would have gotten better. I looked at him the same way others looked at Resolve.”

Peck’s interest in returning Merchandiser to race this year changed when he began getting interest to stand the horse as a stallion.

“People had seen him on the racetrack and knew his pedigree,” said Peck, who began selling shares in the stallion for $10,000 that included one lifetime breeding.

“The interest has been unbelievable,” said Peck of Merchandiser, who will stand for a fee of $4,000 at Stonewater Farm in Ancaster, Ontario.

What made Ontario more attractive for Merchandiser was the fact that Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder, a son of Muscle Hill, had to cancel plans to stand in 2017 in Ontario due to fertility issues and another son of Muscle Hill, E L Titan, moved to New York.

That has been enough to attract strong interest in a horse that perhaps didn’t produce on the racetrack what his pedigree suggested he was capable of.

“I think my friend Mitchel Skolnick proved that you can take an unproven racehorse with pedigree and make a stallion out of him,” said Peck, referring first to Trade Balance on the trotting side and then going to Always A Virgin, a son of Western Ideal that didn’t attract much national interest from breeding farms in the early years but caught on rather well with the arrival of all-time greats like 2016 Horse of the Year Always B Miki.

Finding great value is perhaps the best way to hit a home run in this business. At $4,000 in Canadian funds, Merchandiser should have the backing to match his potential to be an important stallion on the rise in North America.