07/27/2007 12:00AM

A source of both runners and broodmares


LEXINGTON, Ky. - A leading stallion who sired 11 champions and numerous major winners around the world, Woodman was euthanized at Ashford Stud on July 19 at age 24. A chestnut son of Mr. Prospector, Woodman has sired 109 stakes winners and, during his own racing career, ranked at the top of the Irish handicap as a juvenile.

Woodman was a very handsome horse with an excellent pedigree and brought $3 million as a yearling at the 1984 Keeneland July select yearling sale. Purchased by British Bloodstock Agency for Robert Sangster and trained by Vincent O'Brien, Woodman seemed poised to make his price seem a bargain, as he won his first three starts at 2, then finished a close fifth in the Dewhurst. Woodman was ranked as the best Irish-trained juvenile of 1985 by Timeform with a rating of 126, but he raced only once at 3 and entered stud in the United States in 1987.

Woodman began his career as a stallion by siring a pair of classic winners (Hansel and Hector Protector) in his first crop of foals. Both Hansel and Hector Protector had been high-class juveniles the season before and, along with the major English stakes winner Mujtahid, made Woodman the leading freshman sire and leading juvenile sire.

Unlike the stallions now standing at Ashford, Woodman was syndicated, and Marvin "Junior" Little bought a share in Woodman.

Little said he paid $75,000 for the share on a "five-year payout."

Little said, "I used my seasons and bred every year, got Hansel and Lahint," Hansel's stakes-winning full brother.

The extraordinary success of Woodman's first crop sent the valuation of shares in the stallion through the roof, with share prices doubling and eventually quadrupling the original price during the boom years for Woodman offspring through the early to mid-1990s.

As an indication of how the price for the stallion's yearlings ran up, Hansel, for instance, sold for $150,000, the third-highest price for a yearling from his sire's first crop. Just three crops later, Hansel's full brother Lahint sold privately for $800,000, and while that was an exceptional price, the progeny of Woodman regularly sold for six-figure sums, and the stallion's stud fee rose to $100,000.

One of the reasons for Woodman's popularity and for the success of his yearlings was their physical quality and uncommon good looks.

Little said, "Woodman was pretty well flawless on conformation, and I sold a lot of his yearlings for a lot of money."

The stallion's best offspring had outstanding balance and strength, and while most of them were good at a mile, the best could win at 10 to 12 furlongs like Hansel, Timber Country, and Bosra Sham.

Hopewell Farm owner Rick Trontz, a shareholder in Woodman, said that he admired the stallion's "versatility as a sire of racehorses and as a good broodmare sire."

Yet to have sustained the percentage of success from his first crop - with multiple champions and classic winners - Woodman would have to have been the greatest sire in the history of the breed. He was not that, but Woodman was not far from being the best son of Mr. Prospector at stud, ranking with leading sires Fappiano, Gone West, Forty Niner, Seeking the Gold, Gulch, and Kingmambo.

Woodman's best offspring included the classic winner and top-class filly Bosra Sham; the champion juvenile and 1995 Preakness Stakes winner, Timber Country; the highweighted juvenile and French classic winner Hector Protector; the 1991 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner, Hansel; and additional champions in Japan, Ireland, and Canada.

Even with these successes, the commercial popularity of Woodman peaked nearly a decade ago, his stud fee began to decline, and for the last three years, the veteran sire of champions stood for $20,000.

Farm owner Dan Considine said: "I bred a lot of young mares to him because I thought he represented tremendous value. He was perfect for clients who wanted to improve their broodmare band, because he could get outstanding racehorses, and his daughters are important producers."

Like Mr. Prospector and most of the Raise a Native line, Woodman was a stallion of exceptional fertility, and Woodman got 44 mares in foal in 2007 from 49 covered.

During the peak of his popularity, Woodman regularly covered more than 100 mares, with a high percentage returned in foal.

As an influence for the future, Woodman is broodmare sire of leading sire More Than Ready, and his daughters annually place Woodman among the leading broodmare sires. Woodman's son Hawk Wing, a highweighted racer in Europe, is showing promise with his first crop at the races this year.

The continuation of Woodman's influence in pedigrees should be a positive factor, as he represents one of the best branches of the La Troienne line. Woodman was the best of three black-type horses produced by his dam, the Buckpasser mare Playmate. She was a full sister to champion Numbered Account, the dam of the important sire Private Account.

Subsequent to Woodman, Playmate produced several expensive yearlings, and her last five foals all raced in Japan, where the mare spent the final years of her life.