04/19/2013 10:43AM

Kentucky Oaks winners make an impact in the commercial market

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A survey of how Kentucky Oaks winners have fared as broodmares in North American yearling sales since the late 1980s serves as another reminder of the inexact science at the heart of Thoroughbred racing and breeding.

While winning arguably the most prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies is valuable in its own right and can provide an early boost to an Oaks winner’s progeny at auction, Oaks winners, like all other accomplished racemares, have to prove themselves as broodmares.

Using a 20-year time frame from 1989 (when the North American bloodstock market was contracting due to changes in the federal tax code) to 2008 (the most recent year with an Oaks winner whose progeny sold at auction), 18 yearlings out of Oaks winners sold at North American auctions for a total of $15,977,500, an average of $887,639.

Thirteen of the 18 sold for $100,000 or more, and three topped the $1 million mark. None of the high-priced yearlings, however, has come anywhere close to matching its dam’s success on the racetrack.

The overall numbers are highly skewed by the performance of one Oaks-winning broodmare: Secret Status, who wore the garland of lilies in 2000. The daughter of leading sire A.P. Indy out of stakes winner Private Status, by Alydar, also won the Mother Goose and Florida Oaks and placed in two Grade 1 stakes that year. Five of her offspring have sold at yearling sales for a total of $10,580,000, an average of $2,116,000.

Secret Status’s second foal, a colt by Storm Cat, sold for $6.3 million, the second-highest price at the 2005 Keeneland September sale, with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s primary bloodstock agent, John Ferguson, signing the ticket. Named Objectivity, the colt was shipped to Darley’s English division but never made it to the races.

The second-most-expensive yearling from recent Oaks winners also was out of Secret Status but has a better chance to justify his sale price. At the 2007 Keeneland September auction, Secret Status’s yearling by Unbridled’s Song topped the sale at $3.7 million. The gray or roan colt was purchased by Coolmore bloodstock agent Demi O’Byrne.

Named Dunkirk, he won two of five starts in an abbreviated racing career while earning $393,200. He finished second in the 2009 Belmont Stakes. Standing at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky, Dunkirk got off to a modest start with his first yearlings at auction last year but has four six-figure juveniles so far this spring, led by a $575,000 2-year-old at the Barretts March sale who tied for the fastest one-furlong work at the presale under-tack show.

The only two graded or group stakes winners among the top 10 yearling prices are by the two Oaks winners from this era who made the overall top 10 list as producers: Seaside Attraction (1990 Oaks) and Lite Light (1991).

Red Carnival, Seaside Attraction’s first foal, was bought by England’s Cheveley Park Stud for $750,000 at the 1993 Keeneland July sale. The daughter of Mr. Prospector went on to win the Group 3 Cherry Hinton Stakes and place in three stakes. She also became a quality stakes producer represented by Group 1-winning sprinter Desert Lord, Group 3 winner Carnival Dancer, and Grade 2 winner Funfair, who broke down in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Lite Light’s fifth foal, Saddad, was purchased by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Stable for $400,000 at the 2000 Keeneland September sale. He won the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes in England as a juvenile before finishing his racing career in the United Arab Emirates.

When considering the commercial prospects of recent Oaks winners, the Coolmore-owned Rags to Riches (2007) has been bred to its stallions, and the health complications of Rachel Alexandra (2009) with foaling are well documented. One possible factor in future auctions could be Blind Luck. Owner Mark DeDomenico purchased the remaining interest in his 2010 Oaks winner after she was retired, and she produced her first foal, a filly by Darley stallion Bernardini, in January.

Top yearling prices of progeny of Kentucky Oaks winners from 1989-2008

Top price Name Sire Dam  (year won Oaks) Sale Race Record, earnings Black-type
$6,300,000 Objectivity, 2004, ch. c. Storm Cat Secret Status (2000) 05KEESEP unraced none
$3,700,000 Dunkirk, 2006, gr. or ro. c. Unbridled's Song Secret Status (2000) 07KEESEP 5-2-2-0, $393,200 G1-placed
$1,300,000 Gyre, 2008, b. c. Bernardini Bird Town (2003) 09FTNAUG 3-0-0-0, $1,734 none
$750,000 Red Carnival, 1992, b. f. Mr. Prospector Seaside Attraction (1990) 93KEEJUL 7-2-1-2, $58,362 G3 winner
$650,000 Lovingonyourmind, 2007, dk. b. or br. f. Storm Cat Farda Amiga (2002) 08KEESEP 1-0-0-0, $0 none
$650,000 Lake Superior, 2009, ch. c. Distorted Humor Summerly (2005) 10FTNAUG 3-0-0-2, $14,850 none
$550,000 Viva a Franca, 2008, dk. b. or br. c. Storm Cat Farda Amiga (2002) 09KEESEP unraced none
$500,000 Indian Spell, 2010, dk. b. or br. f. Indian Charlie Proud Spell (2008) 11KEESEP 5-0-1-1, $6,175 none
$400,000 Saddad, 1999, ch. c.  Gone West Lite Light (1991) 00KEESEP 15-3-0-1, $140,707 G2 winner
$350,000 Grand Gift, 2007, b. c. Ghostzapper Secret Status (2000) 08KEESEP 3-0-0-0, $1,907 none