06/29/2007 12:00AM

Invasor likely to attract plenty of interest


Invasor is by Candy Stripes, who sired the Grade 1 winner Different and was broodmare sire of Pacific Classic winner Candy Ride.P

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The retirement of the international champion Invasor due to a sesamoid injury prompts the question: "What's next for the 2006 Horse of the Year?"

Obviously a top-class racehorse, Invasor successfully faced repeated challenges on the racetrack but now must meet a different set of criteria for breeders and potential stallion season buyers.

Most obviously, as a horse bred overseas, Invasor must overcome some level of unfamiliarity with his ancestry. But the bloodstock involved is not as unfamiliar to North American breeders as some other South American bloodlines.

Linebred to the great international influence Nasrullah, Invasor descends from Nasrullah in the male line through Blushing Groom's son Candy Stripes, a Kentucky-bred and French-raced horse who ran second in the French 2000 Guineas and went to stud in Argentina, where he became a success at home and in the United States.

Michael Hernon of Gainesway Farm noted that farm founder John Gaines "imported Blushing Groom and stood him to become a major international stallion."

"It's a precocious line with good representatives still active," Hernon said, citing as an example Orientate, who was a champion sprinter by Blushing Groom's son Mt. Livermore.

Orientate, Hernon said, "was a versatile horse that won sprinting and going two turns, and is getting winners on dirt and turf and already some Polytrack winners. So, in regard to the line's versatility, it's not surprising to see a top racehorse come out of South America and translate his top form into success while racing here."

Prior to the importation of Invasor, offspring by Candy Stripes had proven themselves in the United States, including Spinster Stakes winner Different, and the stallion is the broodmare sire of Pacific Classic winner Candy Ride. Candy Stripes did so well in South America that he spent a few seasons covering in North America.

And exposure to the best of the stock by Candy Stripes has made some breeders very positive about using his son Invasor.

"I'm thrilled Invasor is joining the stallion ranks," said Rob Whiteley, owner of Liberation Farm and a regular consignor to premium yearling auctions. "For me, this is a mulligan. I loved Candy Stripes when he came back here to stand. I bought a share and was very happy with the offspring that resulted for me, but was very disappointed that the long-standing and shallow stigma against some South American horses prevailed.

"I'm expecting the commercial acceptance of horses with South American origins to be better this time around. Seeing a horse of this quality succeed on the tracks in the U.S. encourages people to drop the stigma."

Another incentive for American breeders to get on board and send mares to a stallion from South America is simply pricing.

The stallion market is so competitive that good mares and savvy marketers flock to stallions that offer value in the marketplace. As a Horse of the Year, for instance, Invasor is likely to stand at a fee that would allow a wider spectrum of breeders to purchase seasons to him, compared to such recent Horses of the Year as Ghostzapper (who entered stud for a fee of $200,000), Point Given ($100,000), and Mineshaft ($100,000).

Saint Liam ($50,000) and Tiznow ($30,000) represented a different level of pricing for a Horse of the Year when they entered stud, and the marketplace responded well to those stallions.

It is likely that Shadwell will develop a similar strategy for Invasor, pricing him at a level that would make him irresistible to both home breeders and market breeders and then selecting the most promising broodmares from the resulting pool of candidates.

Such a plan could be a good thing for breeders looking to maximize value, while accepting a lower level of risk. The best athletes, regardless of their bloodlines, tend to have the best results as stallions or broodmares. Borne out by decades of research, this is only logical, as the best athletes already possess the qualities of bone, muscle, heart, and spirit that allow one horse to rise above another in competition.

Yet other factors also influence breeders in the selection of mates. Byron Rogers, director of stallions at Taylor Made Farm, said that a scarcity of stallions from the Blushing Groom male line may affect the demand for seasons to a horse of proven racing merit like Invasor.

"I think the Blushing Groom line is a fraction underappreciated in North America," Rogers said. "Although both horses stood in Kentucky, Blushing Groom and Roberto are the two sire lines you wish you had a little more of. They can give you fast 2-year-olds that train on and can become any kind of racehorse."

Given a mid-range stud fee for next year, Invasor is likely to attract a large volume of applications for his services, perhaps several hundred, and then the difficult process of selecting the best potential mates will rest with the Shadwell management.