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Corinthian tops freshmen with 80 yearlings in catalog
As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. While many stallions have a few foals from their first crop sell as weanlings, the first chance to make a big impression comes when members of that initial crop are offered as fully developed yearlings.
By then, the stallion has stood for three years. At a time when many buyers have a “What have you done for me lately” mentality, he must show some action in the sale ring and, subsequently, on the racetrack. If he does not, he is not long for the stallion barn − at least not the same stallion barn.
A few stallions have already been put before the buyers this year at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July and Saratoga August sales, but shoppers will get a true first impression at the marathon Keeneland September sale.
Because the Keeneland auction begins with the select stock − even more so this year with a small, select Book 1 − and progresses for two weeks, viewing the offspring of a stallion whose progeny is spread over the entire sale is akin to attending a Debutante Ball and two weeks later being invited to a YMCA sock hop.
But although the more fashionable pedigrees and better conformed yearlings may sell the first week, a good horse can come from anywhere and come in any shape or size, and there are yearlings from the first crop of stallions cataloged throughout the entire sale.
Of the 4,857 yearlings cataloged to the Sept. 12-26 auction (14 daily sessions; no selling Sept. 18), 1,105 are from their sire’s first crop. That means 23 percent of the yearlings cataloged, or about one of every five to enter the sale ring, is by one of the 39 stallions in this category.
These 39 stallions cover much territory in terms of stud fees, sire lines, female families, race records, and number of yearlings in the sale.
Several of the stallions have many yearlings in the sale, topped by Corinthian, with 80 cataloged. Six others have 50 or more: Hard Spun, 75; Discreet Cat, 63; Scat Daddy, 57; English Channel, 55; After Market, 53; and Street Sense, 52.
At both the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky and Saratoga sales, the leading first-crop sire by average was Hard Spun, a Grade 1-winning son of Danzig who ran second in the Kentucky Derby and in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Six of Hard Spun’s yearlings sold in Kentucky for an average of $140,833, and three sold in Saratoga for an average of $255,000. Hard Spun stands at Darley near Lexington.
Street Sense ranked second at Saratoga, where seven sold for an average of $216,429. Discreet Cat ranked second in Kentucky, where six sold for an average of $127,500.
Corinthian was third by average among first-year stallions at both sales: In Kentucky, seven sold for an average of $81,429, and in Saratoga, six sold for an average of $183,333.
Bloodstock agent Mike Ryan said those numbers did not surprise him. Of the 164 yearlings offered at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky and the 341 offered at Saratoga, Ryan said he has been most impressed by the Street Sense yearlings.
“His yearlings show his dominance,” he said. “There is just something about them. They have substance and good bone.”
Street Sense, by Street Cry out of the Dixieland Band mare Bedazzle, was the first colt to win the Kentucky Derby after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He is from a sire-producing family, his second dam being a half-sister to Mr. Greeley.
Ryan said he could recall three stallions whose offspring impressed him from the time he saw members of their first crops.
“Wild Again, Dynaformer, and Mr. Greeley,” he said, later adding Storm Bird and Danzig to the list. “Dynaformer is a great example of the dominance I was talking about. I think I have seen two gray horses by Dynaformer. That’s it. He just stamps them all the same.”
Ryan said there is no reason to view the yearlings of first-year sires differently.
“I’m still looking for athletes, those horses with good movement, a good mind, and a good attitude,” he said.
In addition to Street Sense this year, Ryan said he has been most impressed with the yearlings by Hard Spun, Corinthian, Any Given Saturday, Scat Daddy, and Purim.
“Purim’s foals are a duplicate of Dynaformer,” his sire, Ryan said.
Nathan Fox, who stands Purim at his Richland Hills Farm near Midway, Ky., said he was not pleased with the location of the Purim foals in the Keeneland catalog, but that he shares Ryan’s enthusiasm for their resemblance to Dynaformer. Fox started Dynaformer at stud for a $5,000 fee at his former Wafare Farm and watched him rise to prominence. Dynaformer later was relocated to Three Chimneys Farm, and his fee was raised, going as high as $150,000.
“Just like Dynaformer, I think the older they get, the better they will get,” Fox said of Purim’s offspring. “They are very good looking foals, and yes, they look like Dynaformer.”
Purim was produced from the Lord At War mare Kirsteena, and his fourth dam, Aspidistra, was the dam of the great Dr. Fager. Purim is a good example of a horse by Dynaformer getting better with age. Unraced at 2, Purim won a stakes at 3, two stakes at 4, and three stakes at 5, including the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile.
While Purim won his Grade 1 on turf (he also won stakes on dirt), Corinthian scored his biggest triumphs on dirt, in the Met Mile and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. By Pulpit out of the Easy Goer mare Multiply, he, too, is from a sire-producing family, being the immediate female family of Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells. He stands at Antony Beck’s Gainesway Farm near Lexington.
“He was highly popular coming off the track; his final start was a big race,” Michael Heron of Gainesway said, referring to his victory in the Dirt Mile, which earned a 119 Beyer Figure. “He’s a good physical horse, and his foals look the part. But this will be a tough year for any first-year sire. In this economy, many buyers are gravitating back to proven sires.
“For those of us with first-year sires, that presents a bit of a Catch-22, because we understand the economic state of the market, but it is important for that first crop to do well,” he said. “We also stand Tapit [by Pulpit], and that sire line is in vogue. Plus, Corinthian has a strong female family behind him.”
Of the 80 yearlings by Corinthian cataloged to the Keeneland September sale, about 15 are consigned by Gainesway, which sold one at Saratoga for $250,000. Another consignor sold one for $425,000.
Brereton Jones, who owns Airdrie Stud near Midway, Ky., has three stallions represented by their first crops as yearlings this year: Stevie Wonderboy, Flashy Bull, and Istan.
“Of course it’s a big deal in how the yearlings by a first-year sire sell, but obviously, what is more important is how they run,” Jones said. “It is important to get them started off right, so that means getting them in the right trainer’s hands. In other words, at the sale, it is more important to get them in the right hands than in the right bank accounts.”
Flashy Bull (by Holy Bull-Iridescence, by Mt. Livermore) got off to a good start, with seven sold at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky for an average of $54,643 (he stands for $7,500).
“He’s good looking, and his foals have good muscle tone and balance,” Jones said. “Stevie Wonderboy (by Stephen Got Even-Heat Lightning, by Summer Squall) was a champion 2-year-old and is a big, rangy horse. His foals do not have as much muscle but are very racy looking. Istan (Gone West-Ronda, by Bluebird) is a son of Gone West, and I am a big fan of Gone West stallions. They are nice, medium-sized foals, and he has a good female family, which traces back to Mill Reef.
“Let’s face it,” Jones said. “None of us really knows which stallions will make it and which ones will not. We just try to give them the best shot at making it that we can.”
Stallions with first yearlings selling at Keeneland September:
After Market, 53
Any Given Saturday, 48
Bob and John, 34
Discreet Cat, 63
English Channel, 4
Exclusive Quality, 4
Flashy Bull, 33
Friendly Island, 2
Half Ours, 32
Hard Spun, 75
Hat Trick, 12
Latent Heat, 38
Lawyer Ron, 48
Master Command, 40
Noble Causeway, 25
Patriot Act, 2
Political Force, 33
Saint Anddan, 2
Scat Daddy, 57
Silent Name, 14
Silver Wagon, 4
Steve Wonderboy, 37
Street Sense, 52
Sun King, 14