03/20/2015 1:39PM

Brahms hits Arkansas market at opportune time


Richard Hessee’s purchase of Brahms to stand at stud in Arkansas a few seasons ago could not have come at a better time. Sunbean was on the cusp of developing into one of the stallion’s leading earners, just starting to build a name for himself in his native Louisiana. At the same juncture, Hessee brought Brahms to his Trophy Club Training Center in Royal, Ark.

“That was fortunate, Sunbean coming along,” Hessee said.

Sunbean’s earnings of $621,250 last year helped lift Brahms to the top of the general sire list in Arkansas in 2014. The stallion, now 18, actually dominated the standings. Brahms had progeny earnings of $1,894,094, while The Daddy, who also stands at Trophy Club Training Center, ranked second with $1,007,928.

Of the 43 winners that Brahms had from 76 runners last year, none made more of an impact than Sunbean. He went 7 for 9, with all of his wins coming in stakes races. Sunbean accounted for the $200,000 Louisiana Premier Night Championship at Delta Downs in February, the $58,200 Star Guitar at Fair Grounds in March, the $100,000 Louisiana Legends Classic at Evangeline Downs in May, the $100,000 Evangeline Mile in June, the $100,000 Gold Cup at Delta Downs in November, and the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds in December.

It was on the Champions Day card in December that Sunbean hit $1 million in earnings, placing him alongside Arson Squad as the best runners sired by Brahms. Arson Squad, a multiple Grade 2 winner and earner of almost $1.2 million, last raced in 2011.

Another stakes winner last year for Brahms was B and B’s Pulpit, winner of the $60,000 Gentilly in February 2014 at Fair Grounds.

Hessee said Brahms, a Grade 1 winner and earner of $843,050, is in his third season at Trophy Club Training Center. He found the stallion appealing for several different reasons and made the move to buy the son of Danzig and the champion Mr. Prospector mare Queena.

“We purchased him through Vinery,” Hessee said. “A friend of ours, Patrick Morrell, had recommended Brahms to us. He was a $1 million baby when bought as a yearling. He’s a beauty of a horse. He was also a Danzig, a line that wasn’t represented here in Arkansas.”

Hesse said there were also other qualities, like durable offspring, that drew him to Brahms.

“He was a consistent stallion, consistently got runners,” he said. “We breed to race ourselves, and that was another reason we liked him – his babies do get to the track, and they stay together.”

Breeders have noticed. Hessee said Brahms is getting mares this season from around Arkansas, as well as from Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

“He’s steady, gets about 35 to 50 mares,” Hessee said. “For a regional sire in Arkansas, that’s not bad. I think the number of mares being bred in Arkansas remains about the same, but I think that’s going to change with the purse structure in Arkansas. We’ve got one of the best racetracks in the country in Oaklawn.”

Brahms stands just 10 miles from the Hot Springs, Ark., track that has seen purses grow exponentially since opening a gaming center. Maiden special weight races for Arkansas-breds are worth $64,000 at the current meet that runs through April 11.

Brahms’s first crop of Arkansas-bred runners eligible to chase Oaklawn’s elevated purses will reach the races in 2017.