03/23/2016 11:36AM

Simon: Uncle Mo in rare company

Email

Uncle Mo is the next great sire. While some may think that making that statement so early in a stud career is premature, foolish, outlandish, or all of the above, history suggests that you can reach some educated conclusions about a sire’s future arc based on his first crop of foals.

Early evidence for Uncle Mo, whose debut crop raced in 2015, is compelling. He’s off to a fast start that mirrors some who went on to become leading general sires, and there are parallels between Uncle Mo and the likes of Street Cry and Tapit.

Uncle Mo, who stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., retired from racing with few predicting future greatness for him at stud. Part of this hesitancy came from the top line of his pedigree since he’s a son of Indian Charlie, who had not been noted as a sire of sires. Furthermore, Indian Charlie’s own sire was the relatively obscure and underappreciated In Excess – who traces back on top to Caro and Nasrullah. These days, if a horse does not hail from the Mr. Prospector or Northern Dancer male lines, there will be skepticism about his chances at stud.

But not being from those two popular and pervasive male lines is likely one reason Uncle Mo has been successful: He provides an outcross to numerous mares. Uncle Mo has just three presences of Northern Dancer in his first five generations, the closest one being in the fourth generation, and he has none of Mr. Prospector. You can breed just about any mare to Uncle Mo without having to worry too much about inbreeding.

Indian Charlie, who died at age 16 in 2011, was considered a “filly sire” by some, as many of his best runners were female, including Eclipse Award winners Indian Blessing and Fleet Indian and Canadian champions Roxy Gap and Indian Apple. Indian Charlie, the racehorse, had plenty of speed and class, and he infused that into his only North American champion male, Uncle Mo.

Uncle Mo entered stud in 2012 for $35,000 and got a boatload of good mares, though not necessarily the very best. Represented by 139 named foals in his first crop, he’s made the most of his opportunities thus far. On March 20, Uncle Mo was represented by his 11th first-crop stakes winner when Thrilled won the Plum Pretty Stakes at Sunland Park. Last year, Uncle Mo was America’s leading first-crop sire when he was represented by the undefeated champion Nyquist and six other stakes winners, in the process breaking Tapit’s record progeny earnings for both a freshman and juvenile sire.

And that is what we look at to project future potential.

Since 1975, when the freshman sire category was first recognized as an official leading sire title, there have been 11 stallions, including Uncle Mo, who led that list and also sired an Eclipse Award winner in their initial crop (see table). From that group, eight went on to become very good sires or leading sires: Mr. Prospector, Seattle Slew, Alydar, Danzig, Fappiano, Tiznow, Street Cry, and Tapit. Only two, Cherokee Run and Offlee Wild, did not live up to their early promise, but then, nobody expected either to be a leading freshman sire in the first place. In any case, that’s an 80 percent success rate for predicting future success.

For sires from the large-foal-crop era, Street Cry and Tapit are the closest examples to Uncle Mo in terms of early success.

Street Cry, who stands at Darley, sired 86 named foals in his first Northern Hemisphere crop (he had 49 Southern Hemisphere foals, but one stakes winner, when shuttling during his first year at stud), and four became stakes winners at age 2, including the champion Street Sense. That Northern Hemisphere crop eventually yielded 16 stakes winners, an excellent 18.6 percent of foals, including his best runner, the great Zenyatta.

Tapit, who stands at Gainesway Farm, had 94 foals in his initial crop of 2006, which produced four stakes winners, including the champion juvenile filly Stardom Bound and Spanish champion juvenile As de Trebol. The crop eventually yielded 15 stakes winners, 16 percent stakes winners from foals (any percentage north of 10 percent in today’s world of large books of mares is excellent). Tapit has gone from strength to strength, becoming a two-time leading sire and a preeminent source of stamina and class in North American racing today.

In the era of much smaller foal crops, Seattle Slew sired five stakes winners in from his first crop, 16.7 percent of foals; Mr. Prospector got four stakes winners, 15.4 percent; Danzig was represented by nine stakes winners, a remarkable 28.1 percent of foals; Fappiano got six stakes winners, 20 percent; and Alydar had four stakes winners, 11.4 percent.

Uncle Mo presently has 7.9 percent stakes winners from his first crop, now 3-year-olds, with four graded stakes winners. His progeny have been justifiably hot commodities at the 2016 juvenile sales, with 15 selling for an average of $360,333. His 2-year-olds fetched an average of $157,683 last year.

Much is now expected of Uncle Mo, and he figures to deliver. His stud fee is up to $75,000, and he undoubtedly will be getting better mares from here on out.

For those looking further ahead, now’s the time to acquire fillies by Uncle Mo, for leading sires are ultimately the best prospects to become leading broodmare sires.

It’s never too early to plan (or project) ahead.