Updated on 09/17/2011 12:10PM

In Excess as good at stud as he was on track


Long experience and careful data collection show that the best racehorses form the most reliable pool for selection of the best stallion candidates. In the case of California's breeding industry, the best sire in the state's history was Rex Ellsworth's Khaled, a grand-looking son of Hyperion who was unbeaten in England as a juvenile and winner of the St. James's Palace Stakes the next year. He was an outstanding sire on the national scene, with Kentucky Derby winner Swaps as his best offspring.

For a more contemporary example of a top-drawer racehorse who has made the grade as a stallion in the state, look no further than leading sire In Excess. A high-class colt at 2 and 3, In Excess developed into the one of the best racers in North America at 4 in 1991, when he won the Metropolitan, Suburban, Whitney, Woodward, and San Fernando.

Given the importance of his 4-year-old form, In Excess could be called the best racehorse to retire to stud in California since Khaled. That puts him in some exceptional company, which includes champion Bertrando and Grade 1 winner Flying Paster. Without doubt, all three have proven significant influences for excellence and speed in California breeding, and In Excess's stud record, with about three dozen stakes winners, almost sent him packing to Kentucky after the revelation of the quality in his early crops.

A syndicate headed by Scoop Vessels scotched that idea, however, and In Excess was retained for California's program. He stands for a private fee at Vessels Stallion Station in Bonsall, Calif.

Vessels had the right idea, and In Excess is dominating the stallion rankings in California. He stands at the head of the general sire list in the state with more than $4.3 million, nearly a million more than his nearest competitor. The stallion's best performer this year is the French classic winner Musical Chimes, who won the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at Longchamp in the spring and recently placed second in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita.

The horses immediately following In Excess on the state sire list are the Forty Niner stallion Roar and Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Lit de Justice. Both were very good racehorses, and Roar, following a victory in the Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway, developed into a Kentucky Derby challenger.

Initially retired to stud in Kentucky, Roar was moved to California in 2003 and stands at Rancho San Miguel for $6,000. His best offspring is Demoiselle Stakes winner Roar Emotion.

A winner of more than $1.3 million and champion sprinter of 1996, Lit de Justice moved from Kentucky to Magali Farms, where he stands for $5,000 live foal. His leading earner is 4-year-old stakes winner No Parole with $351,874.

Roar and Lit de Justice also are second and third on the juvenile sire list - behind Swiss Yodeler. A son of Eastern Echo, Swiss Yodeler was a leading freshman sire nationally last year and he has maintained a narrow edge in the California juvenile rankings for 2003.

Going into the week, Swiss Yodeler had $530,502 in juvenile progeny earnings, compared to Roar's $525,623 and Lit de Justice's $523,172. The competition is as intense as those numbers indicate. Success in the juvenile rankings brings considerable bragging rights and promotional cachet. And in a stallion market growing ever tighter with the expansion of the mega-book for leading stallions, winners and earnings are essential to staying in business.

That does not appear to be a problem for Swiss Yodeler, however. His first crop of 44 foals and second crop with 56 are sizable but not exceptionally large for these times. And as a sire who got early-maturing and successful stock last year, Swiss Yodeler will have more and more opportunity at stud. He stands for $7,500 at Pepper Oaks Farm.

His offspring are precocious in racing performance, just like their sire. He won six of nine starts as a juvenile, with a pair of thirds, and earned $617,200 that year. Following wins in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, Best Pal, Haggin, and Westchester, Swiss Yodeler scored his most important victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity at 1 1/16 miles. He also ran third that year in the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity and Norfolk Stakes, won by Silver Charm and Free House, respectively.

Free House, meanwhile, is this year's leading freshman sire in California. A courageous gray, he is ranked eighth on the juvenile sire list with $296,767. From 19 starters in his initial crop, this son of Smokester has seven winners of nine races.