12/08/2016 9:55AM

Bergman: Tide switches to the breeding shed during the winter months

Conrad Photo
Betting Line is one of many 3-year-olds moving on to stallion duty in 2017.

Racehorses get the chance to prove themselves and their worth on a weekly basis. Such is not the case in the breeding business where time and money have to be added and years are needed before opinions can be shed.

While this year’s focus has been mostly centered on the racetrack with the epic accomplishments of last year’s Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit and this year’s leading nominee Always B Miki, the subject will change in the years to come as new stallions join the ranks, including the aforementioned Always B Miki. The analysis will evolve into which stallion line is the most powerful and enduring.

Some stallions rise faster than others while some never get more than a year to prove their worth before losing market share and value commercially. Stallions are afforded at least three years in most cases, since optimism remains real until it is realized on the racetrack or fails to materialize.

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It’s a fascinating world off the racetrack, with those investing in young horses needing patience and expertise to produce champions. Triple Crown champion Marion Marauder was set to retire from the racing scene but his connections have chosen to bring the son of Muscle Hill back to the races as a 4-year-old. It wasn’t the original plan, but Marion Marauder’s potency as a stallion didn’t live up to all expectations and rather than make a name for himself as a dud at stud or disappoint breeders when mares don’t get into foal, he’ll return to the track in 2017, a place where he’s sure not to disappoint his loyal fan base.

The impressive performance by stallion Muscle Hill at this year’s auctions has led to more breeders being interested in his sons as future stallions as well. Hambletonian winner Trixton is already in the midst of his stud career with full books covered in 2015 and this year. E L Titan, sporting a similar pedigree to Trixton as well as a formidable record as a racehorse, bred roughly 70 mares in Ontario in 2015 and 2016 and still managed to win the Sebastian K invitational at Pocono in 2015. Before his first crop even hits the racetrack, it was announced that E L Titan has moved to Blue Chip Farms in New York to give the Empire State an opportunity to breed into this ultra-hot stallion line in 2017.

Two other sons of Muscle Hill are likely to jumpstart their second careers in 2017, with Southwind Frank assured a spot at Diamond Creek Farms while a deal on Bar Hopping is said to be close at hand. At the same time, it was announced that Muscle Hill himself will be returning to New Jersey, a surprise to many that wondered aloud why any stallion would come back to the Garden State, especially on the heels of the Casino bill being defeated earlier this month. The reality for Muscle Hill at this point of his stallion career is that breeders will find him no matter where his connections choose to stand him.

While sons of Muscle Hill hope to follow in his hoofsteps in the breeding shed at the very infancy of his budding stardom, the opposite appears to be the case on the pacing side of the ledger. Bettor’s Delight has captivated the bloodlines both in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, with incredible success in the United States, Canada and in Australia and New Zealand. His foals continue to dominate Down Under while doing surprisingly well in North America no matter where Bettor’s Delight gets relocated.

A son of Cams Card Shark, Bettors Delight’s first crop hit the racetrack in 2003, yet somehow it will be some 14 years before a second generation is born should Betterthancheddar give his stallion a successful first crop in 2017.

The U.S. Trotting Association shows that the three richest offspring of Bettor’s Delight are two mares—Darlin’s Delight and Southwind Tempo—and a gelding, Bettor Sweet. Only this year did the 5-year-old All Bets Off become his first potential male stallion to reach the $2 million mark in career earnings. All Bets Off, with that distinction, will stand his first year in 2017 at Hickory Lane Farm.

Betting Line will become the first son of Bettor’s Delight to retire to stallion duty off impressive 2 and 3-year-old stakes seasons. Though the Casie Coleman-trained sophomore caused a furor during his days in Delaware, Ohio, he retires from the track as the clear dominant force in the sophomore division this year. Had it not been for some poor luck along the way, Betting Line appeared to have the talent to go with the leading aged performers if given the chance. Winning his last 14 races after a meaningless (unless you bet on him) second-place finish in his sophomore debut, Betting Line’s victories never required the photo finish camera.

It will be interesting as we move forward to see what the impact of sons of Bettor’s Delight will be considering the length of time that was required to produce them in the first place. It’s hard to say that these potential stallions will be given the same time Bettor’s Delight was given. On the other hand, producing viable stakes and racehorses is something Bettor’s Delight has done with each year in spite of being in the shadows of other stallion-makers.

The arrival of Always B Miki in Pennsylvania in 2017 is certainly as likely to shake up the state dominated by Somebeachsomewhere. While Betting Line joins the leading stallion at Hanover Shoe, Always B Miki will breed 140 mares at Diamond Creek Farm where he’s expected to see a very high quality of mares at least in his first crop. That was assured as JK She’salady, the 2014 Horse of the Year, is among the early list of mares expecting a 2017 mating with Always B Miki. JK She’salady is currently carrying a foal by Western Ideal, the first of her broodmare career.