05/09/2013 1:32PM

DRF Breeding Hot Sire: Malibu Moon


Malibu MoonJoy Gilbert photo, courtesy Spendthrift FarmMalibu Moon

When Orb won the 139th Kentucky Derby, he became the first classic winner for his sire, the 16-year-old Spendthrift Farm stallion Malibu Moon, and the colt’s emphatic score adds more luster to A.P. Indy, whose influence on contemporary Thoroughbred racing and breeding continues to grow.

Malibu Moon has become one of North America’s most consistent sires since entering his first season at stud in 2000. That he has risen to such prominence is a credit to his pedigree and an astute decision by Spendthrift’s B. Wayne Hughes, who owned and bred the son of A.P. Indy. Malibu Moon raced only twice as a 2-year-old in California for trainer Mel Stute, breaking his maiden in his second start at Hollywood Park in May 1999, before suffering a career-ending injury.

With his stud options limited, Hughes decided to keep a majority interest in his horse and sold an interest to the Pons family, which owns Country Life Farm in Bel Air, Md. Malibu Moon stood at Country Life in 2000 for an initial fee of $3,000, and his pedigree – out of the Group 1-winning Mr. Prospector mare Macoumba, a half-sister to four other stakes winners – suggested he had potential as a sire. Provided a full book of mares at Country Life, the young stallion made the most of his opportunity.

In his first crop, Malibu Moon was represented by Perfect Moon, who won two graded stakes as a juvenile, including the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. His second crop brought champion 2-year-old male Declan’s Moon as well as Malibu Mint, who won the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap as a 4-year-old in 2006.

Shortly after Declan’s Moon won the 2004 Eclipse Award, Malibu Moon moved from Country Life to Dr. Tony Ryan’s Castleton Lyons in Lexington, Ky., where he stood for three seasons and attracted higher-quality mares. Meanwhile, Hughes renovated the historic Spendthrift property just east of Castleton Lyons, which he purchased in 2004, and oversaw its transition into the full-scale commercial-breeding facility.

By the time Malibu Moon moved to Spendthrift in 2008, he was a proven, solid sire of racehorses. Through May 6, the stallion had sired 68 stakes winners from from 914 foals ages 3 and up (7.4 percent), with 26 graded stakes winners and nine Grade 1 winners. His runners have earned more than $58.8 million, and Orb’s Derby win solidified his current second-place position on the North American general sire list, trailing only Leroidesanimaux, whose progeny earnings are largely composed of Animal Kingdom’s huge Dubai World Cup winner’s purse.

Seven of Malibu Moon’s nine Grade 1 winners – Malibu Mint, Life At Ten, Devil May Care, Ask the Moon, Malibu Prayer, Funny Moon, and Eden’s Moon – are fillies. Add to that impressive group several other graded stakes-winning fillies, including standout 3-year-old Kauai Katie, and it’s no surprise that Malibu Moon has developed a reputation as a sire of fillies.

Devil May Care finished 10th in the 2010 Derby before winning the Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks later that summer, but John Oxley’s multiple graded stakes winner Prospective, who finished 18th in last year’s Derby, had been the most prominent son of Malibu Moon to establish a presence on the Triple Crown trail until this year.

“In Malibu Moon’s case, hopefully [Orb’s Derby win] will go to dispel the idea that he’s a filly sire,” Spendthrift manager Ned Toffey said. “You know, if you look at his stakes winners, that’s maybe not an unfair criticism. To have him get a horse like Orb – No. 1, a colt, and No. 2, a classic winner – maybe [going forward] people will feel a little more comfortable buying a colt off of him [at auction]. His colts have continued to sell very, very well.”

Indeed, unlike the past two Derby winners, Animal Kingdom (by Leroidesanimaux) and I’ll Have Another (by Flower Alley), Orb’s victory in the classic may not have as dramatic of an effect on Malibu Moon’s stud fee and the prices paid for his yearlings and juveniles at sales because he is already a commercially popular sire. He stands for a fee of $70,000, and his yearling average last year was $147,088.

Malibu Moon was represented by the highest prices last year at both the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July and Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sales. This year, his juveniles at auction have sold for an average of $264,667, and he was represented by the highest-priced 2-year-old, a colt who sold for $675,000, at the Barretts select sale in March.

“I think for a horse like him, depending on what Orb does and what happens the rest of the year, you know, the [Derby] effect on the stud fee is obviously going to be a little bit less than it would be on another [less proven] horse because he’s already got a substantial body of work,” Toffey said. “It is a really nice cherry on top.”

Orb, bred and raced by Phipps Stable and Stuart Janney III, hails from a female family that traces through several generations of top Phipps Stable and Janney family runners. His dam, the winning Unbridled mare Lady Liberty, had failed to impress with her early offspring. Janney credited Claiborne Farm’s Seth Hancock, his other major partner in the game, with persuading him to take a second look.

A.P. Indy, perennially among the leading sires in North America until he was pensioned in 2011, also is the grandsire of Princess of Sylmar, by young sire Majestic Warrior, who won the Kentucky Oaks the day before Orb’s classic victory.