05/16/2014 5:38PM

New studs help Pin Oak Lane prosper

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Barbara D. Livingston
Bayern will be one of two runners by current or former Pin Oak Lane stallions in the Preakness.

The stallion business is ultimately a forward-looking endeavor, but the past performances of the Pin Oak Lane roster are hard to ignore.

Pin Oak Lane in New Freedom, Pa., accounts for four of the state’s top five sires ranked by progeny earnings through May 4 – Any Given Saturday, the late Rockport Harbor, Offlee Wild, and Corinthian – and all are standing as the property of major Kentucky breeding operations. All but one of them are awaiting their first foal crops in Pennsylvania, but the success of their progeny at previous locales ensured that the stallions’ reputations preceded them.

The influx of commercial sires to Pin Oak Lane has been a boon for William J. Solomon, who has owned and managed the farm since 1973.

Solomon, a graduate from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, said that he prefers forming partnerships with Central Kentucky farms such as Darley and Gainesway to owning horses himself. He also noted that the arrangement is beneficial to Kentucky farms, as it allows them to bring a particular stallion back to the Bluegrass State if demand increases.

Solomon said there was a time when Kentucky breeding operations wouldn’t allow sires of such quality to stand in Pennsylvania.

“In other words,” he said, “the farms would never let a horse go out of Kentucky with the slightest bit of life. But now things have changed because the number of mares being bred is down, so it’s tougher for [managers] to draw a book down there. But up here, the sires still have life.”

Fast-rising sire Any Given Saturday, the leading general sire of 2014 in Pennsylvania, headlines Pin Oak Lane’s roster. The 10-year-old son of Distorted Humor debuts in the Keystone State this year after standing six seasons at Darley’s American base at Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky. Through May 4, the stallion has been represented by 49 winners this year with total progeny earnings of more than $2.14 million, highlighted by Grade 2-winning 3-year-old Hoppertunity. Any Given Saturday stands for an advertised fee of $5,000 with discounts for multiple mares.

Any Given Saturday is the latest arrival in the partnership between Pin Oak Lane and Darley, which also stands Offlee Wild at the Pennsylvania farm and stood the late Rockport Harbor.

Solomon said that the business arrangement Pin Oak Lane has with Darley benefits both parties, and that he carefully considers a stallion’s potential long-term appeal in the Pennsylvania market before accepting a transfer. Since the pool of mares is smaller in Pennsylvania than in Kentucky, and consists of more modestly bred horses, a new stallion’s book can dwindle quickly if he does not appeal to breeders from the outset.

“Darley owns their horses, so it’s not a problem if they want to do something,” Solomon said. “When we bring those horses up [to Pennsylvania], we know they’ve been bred to a great number of quality mares.

“Darley is very generous with the terms of their arrangement, so all of those things have made it very special. We’re very blessed with our relationship with them, and without them, it would be very difficult here.”

The late Rockport Harbor, by Unbridled’s Song, arrived at Pin Oak Lane for the 2013 season, and this year ranks second on Pennsylvania’s general sire list with progeny earnings of nearly $1.45 million through May 4. He completed one breeding season in the state before he was euthanized last August due to complications from laminitis. His lone crop of Pennsylvania-sired foals are newborns of 2014.

Rockport Harbor was Pennsylvania’s leading sire by progeny earnings in 2013, due in large part to Ria Antonia’s win via disqualification in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Ria Antonia is entered in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

Ria Antonia will be one of two runners to represent the Pin Oak Lane stallion roster in the Preakness, joining Grade 1-placed Bayern, by Offlee Wild. Solomon noted that Bayern’s jockey, Rosie Napravnik, went to school about 20 minutes from the farm.

“It’ll be a big day for both of them,” he said.

Offlee Wild, a 14-year-old son of Wild Again, sits in fourth on Pennsylvania’s 2014 sire list, with 27 winners and progeny earnings of just over $1 million. His first Pennsylvania-sired foals will be yearlings of 2014 after six crops as a Kentucky stallion. He stands for an advertised fee of $4,000 with discounts for multiple mares.

Rounding out the Pin Oak Lane stallions in Pennsylvania’s top five is Corinthian, who has 43 winners and earnings of over $980,000 through May 4. The 11-year-old son of Pulpit is in the midst of his first season in Pennsylvania after six seasons at Gainesway in Lexington, Ky., and stands for $4,000 with reduced rates for multiple mares.

“Corinthian doesn’t have a lot of stakes horses, but he has an awful lot of good runners,” Solomon said. “It looks like Corinthian’s going to have a good book, probably somewhere in the 50 to 60 range, the same with Offlee Wild. As for Any Given Saturday, we’re going to have to cut it at about 120.”

While the farm’s flagship stallions may be the national-level horses arriving from out of state, Pin Oak Lane also introduced a local runner at stud for the 2014 breeding season, Grade 3-placed multiple stakes winner Norman Asbjornson.

The 6-year-old son of Real Quiet stands as property of Harry Nye, who campaigned the horse as a homebred. Nye also owns the Pin Oak Lane stallion More Smoke. Norman Asbjornson stands his debut season at stud for $2,500 with a multiple-mares discount.