02/16/2012 3:51PM

Louisiana: Closing Argument fits Castille's plan


The news that Carrol Castille, a major Louisiana Thoroughbred player, had acquired Closing Argument to stand the 2012 breeding season at Whispering Oaks Farm was meaningful in and of itself. The flow of higher-level stallions into Louisiana has slowed to a trickle, and Closing Argument is one of the more promising studs to enter the state in several years.

But there is more to this story than just Closing Argument. This year, Castille, who operates Whispering Oaks Farm in central Louisiana, and Don Hargroder, another owner-breeder who runs Circle H Farms, marshaled their forces. The eight stallions standing at the two farms − Sorceror’s Stone, Run Production, Big Top Cat, K One King, Unbridled Sensation, Gigawatt, Shermanesque, and Closing Argument − were brought under one roof at Whispering Oaks, and Castille sent all of his other Whispering Oaks horses to Circle H. Next year, the stallions will be housed in the Louisiana Stallion Station, a new stud farm that Castille is building on 120 acres behind the Evangeline Downs Training center, which he owns. Construction is scheduled to commence in March, Castille said.

The Louisiana Stallion Station figures to immediately join the state’s top stud farms when it opens, and Closing Argument could top the stallion roster for years, if things go as Castille hopes. Castille said he bought 90 percent of Closing Argument last fall from Ro Parra, who had stood the horse at his Millennium Farms in Kentucky and retained a 10 percent ownership stake. The two men have a common link in Steve Asmussen, who has trained for both of them.

Closing Argument, a 10-year-old by Successful Appeal–Mrs. Greeley (by Mr. Greeley), won 3 of 9 starts during a two-year racing career. He won the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park and came within a half-length of winning Giacomo’s 2005 Kentucky Derby. Closing Argument never raced again after a ninth-place finish in the Preakness, the only start where he failed to finish third or better.

A solid bay standing 16 hands 2, Closing Argument has gotten off to a somewhat surprisingly decent start at stud. He has had 11 horses sell for six figures at auction, 20 runners from his first three crops have six-figure bankrolls, and eight have earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 or higher. Five-year-old Bob Baffert-trained Capital Account appears to be his fastest horse so far, and after sharply winning a second-level allowance race last month at Santa Anita, Capital Account looks like a major cog in the Southern California 2012 sprint division. Closing Argument was ranked 90th nationally during 2011 in terms of progeny earnings, and was the seventh-leading third-crop sire, and his progeny earnings so far in 2012 place him 46th on the national general sire list and first in Louisiana.

Closing Argument stands for a $5,000 fee, one of the highest in the state, but Castille said plenty of breeders have expressed interest in the new arrival.

“We’re getting a lot of traffic and interest in him,” said Castille. “He got off to a great start in January, which is perfect for a new horse coming in.”

Closing Argument bred 89 mares in 2011, and though breeders across the state have been cutting back because of the overall economic climate, Castille thinks 100 mares bred is a realistic total for 2012.

“I think there is still room for the higher-end stallions in Louisiana, stallions that have a pretty nice proven record and that have the potential to get some graded stakes horses,” Castille said. “He’s still a young sire and the speed that he throws and the out-crossing of his pedigree fits well here.”

Castille hopes that breeders with higher-quality mares will prove especially interested in Closing Argument. Louisiana’s breed-back rules require mares who are bred to an out-of-state stallion (something higher quality in Kentucky, say) to be bred to a Louisiana stud the next season, and Castille thinks Closing Argument can gain traction in that area.

“This horse can bring some value for the nicer mares like that,” he said. “You don’t want to breed down with that kind of mare, and I think that’s the niche for this stallion.”

Indeed, it seems like Closing Argument might have found a place he can call home for more than a season or two. And when home becomes Castille’s new stallion digs in 2013, it could prove all the more sustainable. 

New to state for 2012

Canadian Frontier Gone West-Borodislew, by Seattle Slew La Mesa Stallions, Carencro $3,500
Closing Argument Successful Appeal-Mrs. Greeley, by Mr. Greeley Louisiana Stallion Station, Carencro $5,000

New stallions for 2012

Custom for Carlos More Than Ready-Meadow Oaks, by Meadowlake Clear Creek Stud, Folsom $3,000
Due Date El Prado-Hidden Assets, by Mt. Livermore Peach Lane Farms, Opelousas $2,000
Interactif Broken Vow-Broad Pennant, by Broad Brush Red River Farms, Coushatta $2,000
Orthodox Pulpit-Dominique's Joy, by Strawberry Road Peach Lane Farms, Opelousas $2,000
Proudinsky Silvano-Proud Eyes, by Dashing Blade All-star Thoroughbreds, Sulfur $2,000