11/01/2017 1:10PM

First-crop weanling sires an accomplished group

Barbara D. Livingston
Multiple Grade 1 winner Tonalist has weanlings from his first crop in both the Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland November breeding stock sales.

Even without Triple Crown winner American Pharoah leading the way, the group of Kentucky stallions whose first foals arrived this year would have to be considered among the strongest in recent memory. The young stallions combined to win two editions of the Belmont Stakes, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Breeders’ Cup Mile, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint; international classics that include the French 2000 Guineas and Chilean Triple Crown; two editions each of the Metropolitan Handicap, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Donn Handicap; and the Whitney Handicap, Woodward Stakes, Cigar Mile Handicap, and Dubai Golden Shaheen.

Weanlings from the first crops of those standout racehorses will be on offer at the upcoming Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale and Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

“It’s as good a group of first-crop sires as I can ever remember,” Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said. “It’s a special group of horses, both in terms of race record and pedigree. This group has all the attributes to become major, major stallion influences. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to look up in seven or eight years and say, ‘Wow, this is one of those vintage crops.’ ”

Illustrating the high hopes for this group, of the 81 weanlings cataloged for Fasig-Tipton’s highly selective sale, 25, or 31 percent of the group, are by first-year sires. Last year, that ratio was 7 of 53 weanlings, or 13 percent.

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Joining American Pharoah as first-crop weanling sires with youngsters selected for both Fasig-Tipton and for the elite Book 1 portion of Keeneland November are Carpe Diem, Competitive Edge, Honor Code, Liam’s Map, Palace Malice, and Tonalist. Competitive Edge stands alongside American Pharoah at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud; Honor Code, Liam’s Map, and Tonalist reside at Lane’s End; Palace Malice stands at Three Chimneys Farm; and Carpe Diem stands at WinStar Farm.

Champion Honor Code, 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, and 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map were part of a powerful hand for Lane’s End, which also welcomed Grade 1 winner Mr Speaker to the stallion complex in the same season. Honor Code earned 2015 Eclipse Award honors as champion older dirt male, with ontrack rivals Liam’s Map and Tonalist the other two finalists. Honor Code is from the final crop of Lane’s End flagship sire A.P. Indy and is out of a Storm Cat mare from the family of Serena’s Song.

Tonalist also has a stellar pedigree, being by leading sire Tapit and from the family of Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, champion Plugged Nickle, Grade 1 winners Riskaverse, Sauce Boat, and Christiecat, and leading sire Raja Baba. Tonalist was foaled and raised at Wayne and Cathy Sweezey’s Timber Town Farm, and the operation consigns four of his weanlings between the two November sales.

Wayne Sweezey said Tonalist’s weanlings have their sire’s size and scope.

“If you’re asking if I’m happy with the crop I’ve seen, I’m very happy,” he said. “I’m delighted.”

Multiple Grade 1 winner Constitution, also by Tapit, recorded a major coup with a seven-figure mare in his first auction as a covering sire. Ithinkisawapudycat, dam of Grade 3 winner Sweet Loretta, sold for $2.2 million to Mount Brilliant Farm in foal to Constitution at the 2016 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, keying a $508,143 average for the young stallion. Constitution, who has four weanlings in Keeneland November’s Book 1, stands at WinStar Farm, which also has Grade 1 winners Carpe Diem and Daredevil and classic-placed Commissioner in this group.

“It’s going to be a great crop of sires, not only ours, but the whole crop in general,” WinStar Farm president and CEO Elliott Walden said. “It’s a good group. Hopefully, we can get two or three proven sires out of this crop, whether they’re ours or somebody else’s, but we need good sires. Hopefully, someone will come forward.”

Other first-crop weanling sires this season include Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern; French 2000 Guineas and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie; Breeders’ Cup Sprint and Juvenile Sprint winner Secret Circle; Chilean Triple Crown winner Hakassan; Grade 1/Group 1 winners Danza, Hampton Court, Jack Milton, Lea, Palace, and Wicked Strong; classic-placed graded stakes winner Medal Count; and graded stakes winners Conveyance, Race Day, Summer Front, and Tapiture.

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