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Market looks favorable for 2015 newcomers
Youth is coming back in vogue for spring – and just in time for a diverse group of stallions set to enter stud in Kentucky for 2015.
After several years of breeders and buyers gravitating toward proven sires, younger stallions have been met with signs of favor in a resurgent bloodstock and sales market. There was clear evidence of the pendulum’s motion at last fall’s marquee Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Two of the top 10 covering sires by total sales were first-year stallions of 2014, led by Orb, who was bested by only commercial juggernauts War Front and Tapit. Along similar lines, three of the top 10 weanling sires of the sale were first-crop stallions, with Bodemeister finishing second to Tapit. First-crop sires also continued to perform strongly with just-turned yearlings at last month’s Keeneland January horses of all ages sale, with three stallions in the top 10.
“[The market is] pretty strong. Freshman sires are back in favor again,” said Grant Williamson, director of stallion nominations and sales at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., which will stand champion Will Take Charge in 2015. The horse, a son of the late Unbridled’s Song, is advertised at $30,000, making him the most expensive first-year stallion in North America for 2015.
“There were a few years there where people were running to sort of the proven horse,” Williamson continued. “But the market’s definitely looking a little more favorable for people, and they’re jumping straight back onto the freshman sires.”
:: COMPLETE LISTING: New stallions of 2015 in North America ::
Among the top five stallions by mares bred in 2014, two of those, Violence and Flat Out, were first-year stallions. Spendthrift Farm, which stands Flat Out, has four additions at its Lexington, Ky., base, all Grade 1 winners, this season.
“The market is very open to these first-year horses,” Spendthrift stallion sales manager Mark Toothaker said. “People are back in the game with breeding mares to first-year stallions. We had a very good year last year, and we’re hoping for every bit as good a year – or better – this year.”
Champion Will Take Charge won 7 of 21 career starts, winning or placing in 13 stakes, for earnings of $3,924,648. Unplaced in the 2013 Triple Crown series, Will Take Charge came alive in the second half of the season, winning the Travers Stakes, Clark Handicap, and Pennsylvania Derby, and finishing second by a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, to claim a divisional Eclipse Award. He returned last year to win the Oaklawn Handicap and place in multiple Grade 1 events before being retired.
Will Take Charge is out of multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady, Kentucky’s reigning Broodmare of the Year. She also produced Grade 1 winner Take Charge Indy – about to enter his second year at stud – and is the second dam of champion Take Charge Brandi.
“[Will Take Charge is] everything you’re looking for in a horse,” Williamson said. “He could get two turns; he ran against the best; he performed admirably over three seasons. He’s by a very good sire, from a female family that’s just exploded the last couple of years. When you add that all up, and you put his physical on top of it, he’s a great choice.”
Joining Will Take Charge at Three Chimneys is Strong Mandate (by Tiznow), who romped in the Hopeful Stakes as a juvenile. He is also from a solid female family; out of multiple Grade 1 winner Clear Mandate, Strong Mandate is a half-brother to stakes performers and stallions Full Mandate, The Mighty Tiger, and Newfoundland.
Spendthrift’s four additions – Cross Traffic (Unbridled’s Song), Goldencents (Into Mischief), Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron), and Shakin It Up (Midnight Lute) – are all Grade 1 winners. Highlighting the group is Goldencents, who won the 2013 Santa Anita Derby before running unplaced in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He rebounded in style, finishing first or second in nine of his 10 remaining career starts, all at a mile or less. That span included two victories in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile; the second pushed his earnings past $3 million. Goldencents now enters stud alongside his popular young sire, Into Mischief.
“This is a horse we’ve been following along with from the time he was a weanling,” Toothaker said. “Like his sire, he’s got a very good hip, great bone, a deep heart and girth on him. He’s a very correct horse. We’re very excited to have him. Breeders have gone crazy for him. Basically, his book was full as soon as he crossed the line at the Breeders’ Cup.”
Among the intriguing additions to Kentucky’s stallion ranks is Noble Mission (Galileo), a full brother to unbeaten champion Frankel. Lane’s End acquired a majority interest in the horse, and will stand him in Versailles, Ky., in conjunction with breeder Juddmonte Farms for an advertised fee of $25,000, making him among the most expensive in his class.
“You always try to start horses out at levels that are attainable to breeders, because they’re helping you make a stallion,” Bill Farish of Lane’s End said. “The response has been as we’d hoped.”
Noble Mission blossomed late in his career, earning Cartier Award honors as Europe’s champion older male last year when he scored Group 1 wins in England, Ireland, and France and was Group 1- placed in Germany. In addition to being a full brother to Frankel, Noble Mission is a half-brother to Group 3 winner and young Kentucky sire Bullet Train.
Noble Mission is among several sons of international titan Galileo who enter stud in or relocate to North America for 2015.
“With Galileo’s success and the number of top Galileos that are at stud [in Europe], it was bound to start happening,” Farish said. “You can only stand so many sons of a stallion in the same region.”
Galileo has a second Cartier Award champion entering stud in Kentucky in Magician, standing at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles. Magician earned champion 3-year-old honors in 2013, winning the Irish 2000 Guineas and Breeders’ Cup Turf. He made another productive trip to the U.S. to finish second in the 2014 Arlington Million, and now hopes for similar fortune at stud in his adopted country.
“As a classic-winning son of Galileo, Magician had obvious appeal in Europe,” Ashford manager Dermot Ryan said. “However, his win at the Breeders’ Cup was the best performance of his career so it made a strong argument for bringing him here. A son of Galileo that had such an outstanding performance in American conditions is a very desirable proposition.”
Magician is part of a strong hand of young stallions for Ashford this year, which also has Verrazano (More Than Ready), a multiple Grade 1 winner on dirt in the U.S. and Group 1-placed in Europe on turf.
“Coolmore is a global operation, so a horse like Verrazano has plenty of options,” Ryan said. “He has form at the highest level on turf, and More Than Ready is very well thought of in the Southern Hemisphere, so that is all in his favor when it comes to shuttling. He’s been very well received in America so far, so he will cover a big book of mares this spring and we will go from there.”
Multiple Group 1 winner Declaration of War (War Front) stands his first North American season at Ashford after launching his stud career at Coolmore’s Irish base. He is among a trio of Grade/Group 1 winners to cross the pond to stand in Lexington for the first time, along with Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Red Rocks (Galileo), coming to Calumet Farm from Italy, and Mr. Sidney (Storm Cat), coming to Walmac Farm from France.
Two other Grade 1 winners, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno) and Arlington Million hero Real Solution (Kitten’s Joy), both enter stud alongside their sires, at Adena Springs in Paris, Ky., and Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville, Ky., respectively.
Several other Grade/Group 1 winners or intriguing stallion prospects also enter stud in regional markets this year.
Grade 1-winning millionaires Boisterous (Distorted Humor) and Jeranimo (Congaree) are among a quartet of new stallions at Tommy Town Thoroughbreds in Santa Ynez, Calif. The two turf standouts combined for 15 graded stakes victories during their careers.
Boisterous, in particular, comes from an extended family known for producing top stallions. Notable relatives include Exclusive Native, whose offspring include Triple Crown winner Affirmed and Kentucky Derby winner Genuine Risk. It is also the family of sires General Assembly, Out of Place, and Gold Fever.
California also adds regally bred Stormberg (Storm Cat) at NexStar Ranch of Temecula, Calif. The winner is out of champion and blue hen Serena’s Song, whose graded stakes winners include Grand Reward and Harlington, both useful regional sires.
Re-entering the landscape is Adena Springs South, relaunching with four young stallions in Williston, Fla. Among those is first-year sire Capo Bastone (Street Boss), winner of the Grade 1 King’s Bishop Stakes. The horse was a $300,000 purchase as a stallion prospect out of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky selected fall mixed sale.
Del Mar Futurity winner Drill is one of two Grade 1 winners from only two crops sired by champion Lawyer Ron, the other being Itsmyluckyday at Spendthrift. Drill begins his stud career at Get Away Farm in Reddick, Fla.
Uncaptured (Lion Heart) was Canada’s Horse of the Year as a juvenile in 2012, winning 6 of 7 starts, including a pair of graded stakes at Churchill Downs. The Ocala Stud newcomer also won the 2013 Prince of Wales Stakes, the middle leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.
Now in its second year of operation, Pleasant Acres Stallions in Morriston, Fla., continues to expand, adding a pair of stallions. Csaba (Kitten’s Joy) was a multiple graded stakes winner on dirt for his turf champion sire.
Alpha (Bernardini) was a multiple Grade 1 winner at Saratoga Race Course, taking the Travers Stakes in a dead heat and the Woodward Stakes the following season. The millionaire won or placed in six other stakes in the state. Alpha returns to familiar territory to launch his stud career at Sequel Stallions in Hudson, N.Y., for owner-breeder Darley.
Grade 2 stakes winner Central Banker (Speightstown) made headlines when he was purchased for $400,000 last fall, becoming the most expensive stallion prospect sold at the Keeneland November sale since 2000. He will enter stud at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds.
The region gets an infusion of sons of leading sire Tapit, with Grade 3 winner Bandbox entering stud at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, Md.; Grade 2-placed Tritap at Heritage Stallions in Chesapeake City; and stakes winner Winchill at Pointer Farm in Bernville, Penn. Grade 3 winner Super Ninety Nine, by Tapit’s sire, Pulpit, also comes to Maryland, standing at Country Life Farm in Bel Air for Spendthrift, which partnered with Country Life to launch the career of classic sire Malibu Moon.
Heritage Stallions, established last year, also adds a son of Galileo in Seville, set to stand his first North American season after beginning his career in Chile. The German-bred was a Group 1 winner in Australia and Group 1-placed in three European countries.
◗ Calumet Farm has seen a rapid expansion of its stallion operation under the ownership of Brad Kelley, who assumed control of the historic operation in 2012. This year, Calumet will stand stallions in five states, as well as Canada and Ireland. Among those is first-year stallion Vertiformer (Dynaformer) at Poplar Creek Horse Center in Bethel, Ohio. Vertiformer, a stakes winner in France and graded stakes-placed in the U.S., has close ties to several other young sires. He is a half-brother to Declaration of War, and both are out of a half-sister to Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags, whose first weanlings and yearlings have been favorably received.
◗ The most accomplished newcomer in Canada is Grade 2 winner Rookie Sensation (Unbridled’s Song), entering stud at Adena Springs North in Ontario.
◗ Ive Struck a Nerve (Yankee Gentleman), who sprang a 135-1 upset in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes in 2013, returns to the state of his biggest victory to stand at Peach Lane Farms in Opelousas, La.
◗ Mr. Besilu (A.P. Indy) made headlines when selling for $4.2 million to Besilu Stables at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale based on his outstanding pedigree; his dam, multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire Balance, is a half-sister to Horse of the Year Zenyatta. Mr. Besilu went winless in seven starts, and now enters stud at Eureka Thoroughbred Farm in Fredericksburg, Texas.