01/18/2013 1:33PM

Giant's Causeway regains top spot on general sire list

Photos by Z
Giant's Causeway led the 2012 general sire list in North America with over $10 million in progeny earnings.

It’s one thing to reach the top of the mountain. It’s another to stay there.

In the past four seasons, four different men have each held the National Football League’s rushing title and Major League Baseball’s home run crown. Over the same span of time, three different players have each been the leading scorers for the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer.

In the race for North America’s leading stallion by earnings, only two horses have held the top spot over the past four years, and Giant’s Causeway has been there for three of them.

A 16-year-old son of Storm Cat, Giant’s Causeway finished 2012 as North America’s leading sire, with $10,102,723 in progeny earnings from 335 runners and 150 winners. He also led all North American sires by stakes winners (26), graded stakes winners (14), and Grade or Group 1 winners (four, tied with three other sires).

Giant’s Causeway stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., for an advertised fee of $85,000.

Giant’s Causeway regained his spot at the top of the list after finishing fourth to Distorted Humor in 2011, having led the list in 2009 and 2010. Smart Strike held the top spot for 2007 and 2008.

"It’s a major accomplishment," said Dermot Ryan, manager of Ashford Stud, "and he just turned 16, so I think he’ll be champion sire a couple times more, hopefully."

Canadian classic winner and then-3-year-old filly Irish Mission was the leading earner for Giant’s Causeway in 2012, with wins in the Breeders’ Stakes over males and the Woodbine Oaks, for earnings of $837,081. She also finished second in the Queen’s Plate Stakes, the premier race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

The international influence of Giant’s Causeway was apparent in 2012, with stakes winners in the United States, Canada, England, France, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Chile, Peru, and Saudi Arabia, as well as stakes-placed runners in Argentina, Germany, South Africa, and Brazil.

In addition to producing successful runners internationally, Giant’s Causeway has become a targeted stallion for international mares. His 2013 book includes Tarfah, the English-based dam of two-time European champion Camelot.

"She was sent from England over here," Ryan said. "That shows how international [Giant’s Causeway] is, when you see mares of that caliber coming over here."

The success of Irish Mission and all the other successful runners in 2012 by Giant’s Causeway follow on the heels of so many other top runners sired by this son of Storm Cat.

His most successful foals in past years include European champion Shamardal, New Zealand champion Showcause, Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Man of Iron, multiple Grade 1 winners Aragorn and Giant Oak, and Japanese Group 1 winner Eishin Apollon. The sons of Giant’s Causeway have begun to establish themselves in the breeding shed, with more than 30 standing at stud around the world, led by Grade 1-producing sire First Samurai and New York’s 2012 leading freshman sire, Frost Giant.

Ryan said that sons and daughters of Giant’s Causeway have proven popular with trainers, not only because they win, but because of how they do it.

"They keep showing up, they return, they’re straightforward to train, they’re sound," he said. "They seem to act on all different surfaces – grass, [synthetic], dirt. We all know how important that is in American racing, and he goes beyond American racing – he’s international. He’s had classic winners in Europe."

Giant’s Causeway was the first foal out of the Grade 2-winning Rahy mare Mariah’s Storm, who has produced six winners.

The chemistry between Mariah’s Storm and sire Storm Cat proved to be highly successful, with seven of her 10 foals coming from that cross, including Group 2-placed and leading New York sire Freud. Also coming from that cross was Group 2-winning filly You’resothrilling.

"He was out of a great mare in Mariah’s Storm, a good family, and she was a good producer," Ryan said. "It’s a good American race family. It’s a good pedigree. You open it up, and it’s just self-explanatory."

Giant’s Causeway was a Group 1 winner in three countries during his racing career, with nine wins in 13 starts over two seasons for earnings of $3,078,989. His career reached its peak during his 3-year-old campaign in 2000, when he won five Group 1 races in England and Ireland, then came within a neck of winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs en route to Europe’s Horse of the Year honors.

"He was a very good racehorse himself, by a good stallion, out of a good mare, and he’s just producing all the good genes that he has," Ryan said.

Giant’s Causeway’s 2012 graded
or group stakes winners

BOOK REVIEW, 2009 f., out of Clever Babe, by Distorted Humor. 5 wins in 9 starts, $584,955, La Brea S. (G1).

GIANT’S STEPS, 2009 c., out of Hamsaat Hi Haat, by Hennessy. 3 wins in 4 starts, $202,088, El Ensayo Mega (Chilean Derby) (Chi-G1), Polla de Potrillos (Chilean 2000 Guineas) (Chi-G1), Gran Clasico Coronacion (Chi-G2).

KUNG FU MAMBO, 2009 c., out of Sweet City Gal, by Kingmambo. 2 wins in 5 starts, $124,868, Derby Nacional (Per-G1).

ARCADIUS, 2004 g., out of Unify, by Farma Way. 1 win in 1 start, $90,000, Calvin Houghland Iroquois Hurdle S. (G1).

CREATIVE CAUSE, 2009 c., out of Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer. 1 win in 5 starts, $518,000, San Felipe S. (G2)

DALKALA, 2009 f., out of Daltaya, by Anabaa. 3 wins in 6 starts, $321,548, Qatar Prix de Royallieu (Fr-G2), Prix Cleopatre (Fr-G3).

VISCOUNT NELSON, 2007 h., out of Imagine, by Sadler’s Wells. 1 win in 6 starts, $380,000, Al Fahidi Fort (UAE-G2).

CORPORATE JUNGLE, 2008 h., out of Lady Carson, by Carson City. 3 wins in 8 starts, $246,718, Appleton S. (G3).

NAPLES BAY, 2008 m., out of Cappucino Bay, by Bailjumper. 2 wins in 6 starts, $159,300, Noble Damsel S. (G3).

DANCING SOLO, 2009 f., out of Dancing Alone, by Kingmambo. 3 wins, $140,459, Boiling Springs S. (G3).

BATTLE HARDENED, 2009 r., out of Jen’s Fashion, by Northern Fashion. 1 win in 4 starts, $127,847, Sam F. Davis S. (G3).

RITE OF PASSAGE, 2004 g., out of Dahlia’s Krissy, by Kris S. 1 win in 1 start, $181,517, QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (Eng-G3).

A SHIN G LINE, 2005 h., out of Lady Danz, by Danzig. 1 win in 7 starts, $689,497, Kokura Daishoten (Jpn-G3).

STEP IN TIME, 2007 h., out of Cash Run, by Seeking the Gold. 5 wins in 13 starts, $83,457, Japan’s Cup (KSA-G3).