01/20/2017 11:34AM

Beyer Sire Performance Standings: Birdstone has sneaky-good year

Courtesy of Gainesway Farm
Birdstone, standing for just $5,000, has a high percentage of quality runners.

Tapit’s latest record-setting year atop the North American sire ranks was led by Frosted, who dazzled the racing world with a romp in the Metropolitan Handicap that earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 123 – the highest number of the year.

But Tapit, who commands the highest fee on the continent at $300,000, has a stablemate in the Gainesway stallion complex who quietly put together a solid year based on Beyers in 2016.

Birdstone is standing for an advertised fee of $5,000 in 2017 and is a value sire at that price with a high percentage of high-level runners. The stallion was represented by 97 starters in 2016 – fewer than many perennial leading sires who cover triple-digit books annually. However, quality shone through that limited quantity. According to Daily Racing Form’s Beyer Sire Performance Standings, 7.2 percent of Birdstone’s individual runners posted figures of 90 or above, a benchmark of quality, during the 2016 season. That is a higher percentage than prominent Kentucky sires Awesome Again, City Zip, Ghostzapper, Into Mischief, Malibu Moon, Pioneerof the Nile, and Tiznow – all of whom command much higher fees. By seasonal percentage of runners earning Beyers of 100 or higher, Birdstone comes in at 3 percent – edging Tapit at 2.9 percent.

“He still is relatively overlooked,” said Michael Hernon, Gainesway’s director of sales. “But he’s a great buy for $5,000. He was a top racehorse, and he’s got a great pedigree. Anybody looking to improve their mare for a very affordable price, you could do a while lot worse than look at Birdstone.”

:: 2016 BEYER SIRE PERFORMANCE STANDINGS: Download complete 2016 divisional sire charts ::

:: Learn more about DRF's Beyer Sire Performance Standings ::

Birdstone was one of four stallions who will stand in Kentucky in 2017 with a runner earning an elite figure of 110 or above in 2016, joining Curlin, Pioneerof the Nile, and Tapit. The 110 that Noble Bird posted with his romp in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special – one of two brilliant graded wins for that millionaire last year – was the co-second-highest figure of the year for an active Kentucky stallion, behind only Frosted’s Met Mile.

Birdstone, a three-time Grade 1 winner most famous for denying Smarty Jones the Triple Crown in the 2004 Belmont Stakes, burst onto the scene with a pair of classic winners from his first crop in Sovereign Award champion and 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and Belmont winner and Eclipse Award champion Summer Bird. Noble Bird tied Summer Bird for the co-second-highest Beyer of Birdstone’s stud career. Summer Bird ran a 111 Beyer in winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup and a 110 winning the Travers Stakes.

Mexikoma earned the sixth-highest Beyer of Birdstone’s stud career with a 107 in winning the Sunshine Millions Classic. Birdstone’s other triple-digit runners fueling his percentages in 2016 included the stalwart Blue Tone, who posted a 103 winning an optional claimer at Santa Anita. The gelding recently opened his 8-year-old campaign by winning the Grade 3 San Gabriel at Santa Anita.

“He’s a tremendous value,” Hernon said of Birdstone. “He just had a new graded stakes winner, he’s had a Derby winner, he was a top-class horse himself. Everyone remembers he won the Belmont in a very memorable race, however he broke his maiden by 12 in his first start at Saratoga and he also won the Champagne, a Grade 1, at 2. People think, ‘He won the Belmont, so he’s a plodder.’ It’s crazy. He’s a very good stallion.”

:: Read the full 2017 Kentucky Sires and New Stallions supplement ::