02/17/2011 4:45PM

Leading broodmare sire of 2010: Sadler's Wells

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Sadler’s Wells was the leading broodmare sire in North America for the third straight year in 2010 and has been the leading broodmare sire in Great Britain and Ireland since 2005. His daughters have produced more than 250 stakes winners, including 30 in 2010.

Although born in the United States, Sadler’s Wells was bred by Swettenham Stud and partners and raced in Europe. He was one of the best of a crop that included El Gran Senor, Darshaan, and Secreto, and he was a close relative to Nureyev − both were sons of Northern Dancer, and Sadler’s Wells was produced from Nureyev’s half-sister Fairy Bridge. That Sadler’s Wells’s unplaced full brother Fairy King also was an exceptional stallion shows the prepotency coming from this family.

Since Sadler’s Wells’s initial leading sire title in Great Britain and Ireland in 1990 through his retirement from service in 2008, he has dominated breeding in Europe like no other stallion. From his base at Coolmore in Ireland, he was the leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland 14 times between 1990 and 2004 and was leading sire in France three times.

It isn’t surprising that Sadler’s Wells is a leading broodmare sire, considering he covered the best of Europe’s mares for most of his stallion career. He is credited with at least 322 stakes winners and 14 percent stakes winners to foals. If half of those winners are female, think about what those daughters are doing as broodmares. Now the progeny out of those top-flight mares, stakes winners or not, are being bred to the best stallions in Europe, North America, Japan, and elsewhere.

This phenomenon is similar to that of America’s Mr. Prospector, a dominant stallion throughout his long life and a great sire of sires. Mr. Prospector turned this success around to become the leading broodmare sire in North America nine times, a direct result of the high-quality fillies he produced from the best mares in North America. Don’t expect Sadler’s Wells’s international domination to slow down any time soon.

In 2010, 30 offspring of Sadler’s Wells mares won stakes in the Northern Hemisphere, led by the British-bred Workforce, the champion 3-year-old in Europe and winner of the Epsom Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Other Group 1 winners from Sadler’s Wells mares last year included the Irish-bred Chinese White, the Pretty Polly Stakes winner; Pathfork, the National Stakes winner; and Campanologist, a dual Group 1 winner in Germany.

Most of these stakes winners were bred and based in Europe, with a few exceptions. Pathfork was sired by Distorted Humor, standing at WinStar Farm in Kentucky. Campanologist is a son of Kingmambo, a resident – now retired – at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky. Group 3 winner Elusive Pimpernel is by Elusive Quality, based at Darley America in Kentucky.

Sadler’s Wells mares are still a bit of a rarity in North America, although they have been successful with the best stallions here when given a chance. This is undoubtedly due to the “turfy” nature of a typical Sadler’s Wells mare.

Sadler’s Wells’s offspring had their greatest successes as runners in Europe, and although many have done well in North America – Northern Spur, High Chaparral, Islington, In The Wings, Barathea, Powerscourt, and Perfect Soul, to name a few – they have done so on the grass. It wasn’t until his son El Prado broke through as a top sire of runners on all surfaces that Sadler’s Wells’s blood became more accepted in North America, although international-level breeders were bringing a few mares across the ocean every year.

Sadler’s Wells’s daughters have worked well with several of our best sires, particularly Kingmambo, who along with Distorted Humor and Elusive Quality is also from the Mr. Prospector sire line. With other premier Mr. Prospector-line horses such as Street Cry, Smart Strike, and Speightstown, there are more opportunities available to Sadler’s Wells mares based stateside.

Sadler’s Wells is largely considered a turf sire and probably will be as long as most of the offspring of his daughters are based in Europe. That’s a shame, because he offers wonderful qualities for any gene pool, particularly the American one, which has been accused of being speed-crazy and fragile.