07/12/2007 11:00PM

If Posse's runners stretch out, sky's the limit


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Breeders anticipate the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale of select yearlings, to be held Monday and Tuesday, not only because it is the start of the annual yearling sales cycle that might pay them dividends on 2 1/2 years' investment, from the conception of the current yearlings to their sale at 16 to 20 months of age.

Breeders and all those associated with them also anticipate the first sale of the new auction season because it offers the new sire showcase of young, relatively unexposed stallions with their first offspring age 2 or younger.

Included among the stallions represented by their first yearlings are racecourse stars Smarty Jones, Strong Hope, and Medaglia d'Oro, and among the stallions with their first 2-year-olds are Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, Kentucky Derby second Proud Citizen, Hopeful Stakes winner Sky Mesa, champion sprinter Aldebaran, and champion juvenile Macho Uno.

One other freshman sire who has been receiving a lot of exposure recently is the Silver Deputy stallion Posse.

Not only is Posse the leading freshman sire, but he is also the overall leading sire of 2-year-olds with nine winners, two stakes winners, and $460,983 in progeny earnings to date. His two stakes winners include Kodiak Kowboy, winner of the Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs last weekend.

Posse stands for $12,500 live foal at Vinery, or at least that was his stud fee for 2007.

"It's not possible to predict Posse's stud fee for next year," said Tom Ludt, general manager of Vinery. "The number will be a significant increase if he continues like he is now, but it all depends upon how things play out through the next several months."

The big question is not whether the runners by Posse are fast - they have already proven that. But they also need to continue winning as the distances for 2-year-old races lengthen through the year in order to keep their sire at the top of the juvenile sire rankings and escalate his value as a stallion.

The fact is that when a stallion succeeds the only limitation on his value is the degree of his success. And depending on the level and volume of his success, Posse could become an extremely valuable breeding animal, and that would open the door for breeders to purchase shares in the stallion.

"We've casually talked about syndicating him, but nothing has been decided," Ludt said. "It looks like we are probably going to offer shares in the horse so that breeders can take advantage of the opportunity to breed to a sire of consistent, fast horses."

Posse is owned in partnership by Vinery and Bill Heiligbrodt, who also raced Posse. Whether they choose to syndicate Posse or retain him as a privately owned stallion, the horse is another success for the program that Vinery owner Tom Simon has designed for managing his stallions.

Ludt said that Simon's program has always been to "develop a stallion."

"With every horse we stand, we want to own a significant piece of the horse, price the seasons properly for the market so that we can sell a lot of them, and then buy the yearlings at the sales," he said. "Last year, we bought 36 at the sales, including 31 by our sires. We see that these sires need end users, and everyone has different motives when they race. Our motive is to make the stallion, and we want to see them win at the highest level. It is very expensive, but it is one of the things that differentiates us from the traditional stallion station."

Not coincidentally, Kodiak Kowboy is owned and raced by Vinery Stables and was one of 72 horses in training for Vinery.

Buying three dozen yearlings and putting them into training is a very considerable expense, but it is a calculated gamble.

"We have taken a considerable risk in working to develop these stallions," Ludt said, "and hopefully, we'll see a significant reward in the sales ring for this on Monday and Tuesday, as you'd expect to see the nicer ones selling very well."

To date the yearlings and juveniles in training by Posse have sold quite well, and they should sell even better at the Fasig-Tipton sale with the immediate success of their sire.

One of the groups that evaluated the stud prospects for Posse very positively was DataTrack International, whose president, Bob Fierro, said that Posse's success was not a surprise.

"Our biomechanical analysis of Posse as a potential stallion was very favorable," Fierro said. "Our programs, based on his body measurements, projected him as having one of the best chances of the freshmen class of 2007 to get off the mark with a lot of winners early."

Among the physical traits that marked Posse as a probable sire of consistent racers was the exceptional balance inherited from his highly successful sire, Silver Deputy, a medium-sized and typey son of Deputy Minister who shows the considerable influence of his maternal grandsire, Mr. Prospector.

Posse has some of the best traits of both Mr. Prospector and the Northern Dancers, including a robust body and strong hip.

"A lot of the foals by Posse are getting his hip, which isn't your traditional Thoroughbred hip," Ludt said. "It is a very strong, round hindquarter."

It's a view that the competition is getting familiar with.