01/19/2012 1:05PM

Dynaformer still having impact at age 27

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Barbara D. Livingston
Three Chimneys will limit Dynaformer’s book to 40 mares this year, when his stud fee will be $150,000.

LEXINGTON, Ky. − Age has not mellowed Dynaformer. He turned 27 on Jan. 1 and is still healthy and as cantankerous as ever, stallion manager Sandy Hatfield reports. He’s also up-to-date with social media: to follow tweets about him, search for #hanniballecterofhorses.

“He’s a tough horse, there’s no doubt about it, and he’s very much an opportunist,” said Hatfield, who has been with Dynaformer for almost 13 years. “He’ll let you know when he’s had enough of something, and you’d better change what you’re doing. He kind of runs the show.”

But Dynaformer will make one concession to age this year. Three Chimneys will limit his book to 40 mares this year and breed him just once a day. Chances are, there will be more good runners coming out of this small, late-career crop.

In 2011, his son Brilliant Speed won the Blue Grass Stakes. Daughter Blue Bunting took the English 1000 Guineas and Irish Oaks. Another son, Americain, picked up Australia’s champion stayer title. Back in America, Star Billing won the Matriarch late in the season, a victory that also had happy ramifications in the Keeneland January auction ring, where a couple of pricey pedigrees were dotted with Dynaformer’s name. Star Billing’s dam, Topliner, topped the sale at $1.4 million; her half-sister, Grade 1 winner Starrer, also is by Dynaformer. And he got a nice price to his own credit when his stakes-placed daughter Receipt, carrying a foal by the late Indian Charlie, sold for $350,000.

Not a bad set of updates on a résumé that already featured such progeny as Barbaro, Perfect Drift, Rainbow View, Film Maker, Riskaverse, Sand Springs, Harmonious, and Purim, as well as three-time steeplechase champion McDynamo.

By Roberto, Dynaformer − who started his stud career at Nathan Fox’s Wafare Farm in 1990 at $3,500 − gradually has climbed the ladder: He’ll stand this year for $150,000.

“Nathan was wonderful about being particular and starting him out with the kind of mares he thought would match well with him,” Hatfield said. “They did, and every year it was another good horse and another good horse. They just keep coming.

“Those Roberto lines that Dynaformer so clearly defines gives those horses a toughness and a stamina and strength that makes them great horses,” she said. “When you look at Dynaformer, he’s not the most beautiful horse, but, as someone once said, ‘Beautiful is as beautiful does.’ ”

Beauty helps in the sale ring, of course, and Dynaformer’s lack of it made him a preferred sire among homebreeders rather than commercial breeders. It’s rare for him to sire a yearling session-topper. One notable exception: Urban Poet, out of Preach, went for $2.9 million at the 2007 Keeneland September sale.

“I think the reason he’s had such a slow rise has been because his offspring tended to not be very pretty,” Three Chimneys president Case Clay said. “It’s such a beauty contest at the sales that it took a while for buyers to realize, hey, the Dynaformers, even though they’re ugly, they can run. And then his mare quality got better and better as he did better and better as a sire.”

There was recent bad news for fans of Dynaformer and the Roberto line. The young Dynaformer stallion Purim died Jan. 14 after colic surgery. He was just 10, and his first crop of runners are 3-year-olds this year.

“The Roberto line has been diminishing for some time,” Clay said. “Thankfully, Arch and Blame are carrying the torch a bit, and Dynaformer has helped keep that line alive. And he’s also been one of the sires that has kept the Atlantic Ocean a little smaller, because he’s been popular on both continents.”

Dynaformer’s schedule has slowed, but woe betide anyone who assumes he’s a docile old man.

“We breed him in a muzzle, not because he’s mean to his mares, but because he’s pretty happy coming down to the breeding shed, and sometimes you’re not walking fast enough,” Hatfield said. “He gets excited, and he gets aggressive.”

Dealing with any stallion, and Dynaformer in particular, requires the art of diplomacy.

“We catch him with feed, we give him a carrot when he has to have a shot,” Hatfield said. “We try to make things as pleasant for him as we can. And sometimes, just like a kid, he has to know he’s not the boss, so he doesn’t get away with things he knows he’s not supposed to get away with.”

Hatfield said Dynaformer has become more sensitive to summer heat, but otherwise he’s as hardy as ever. Provided he remains fertile, there’s no reason to think he won’t stand for a full season this year.

“Every mare we get in foal is a gift, at this age,” Hatfield said. “But he’s worth a try.”

“It’s been a great run,” Clay said. “We’ll try him again this year. But even when he’s not breeding anymore, we’ll try to keep him around as long and as comfortable as possible.”