05/09/2016 11:30AM

Sparkman: How good is Uncle Mo?

Barbara D. Livingston
Uncle Mo has already sired 13 stakes winners, including three Grade 1 winners, in his first crop.

Uncle Mo was already the hottest young sire on the planet before the first Saturday in May, but just how much hotter will he get after Nyquist’s victory in the 142nd Kentucky Derby? Does any doubt remain that Uncle Mo is the real deal?

History tells us that any single crop, first crop or otherwise, by a stallion can be an outlier viewed from the perspective of an entire career. Those same, dusty history books confirm, however, that if a sire is capable of getting a single crop as good as Uncle Mo’s first crop that he is going to be a very good sire indeed over the length and breadth of his career, even if he never sires another crop quite as intensely good as his first.

Proof of that claim is evident in the accompanying table, which compares the accomplishments of Uncle Mo’s first crop to date with the same statistics from the first crops of the last five American stallions to make a similar splash. 

Uncle Mo's first crop
  Named foals SW Stakes horses G1W Lifetime SW
Uncle Mo 155 13 23 3 13
Giant's Causeway 149 15 29 5 150
Tapit 94 15 30 4 81
Medaglia d'Oro 155 17 29 4 81
War Front 74 12 24 4 41
Street Cry 83 16 29 4 70

Less than halfway through the season of his first 3-year-olds racing, Uncle Mo’s raw numbers already rival the raw numbers of the first crops of the five comparable stallions. The first crop of War Front, the youngest of those five stallions, are now 8-year-olds.

Let that sink in for a moment.

In other words, Uncle Mo’s numbers for his first crop at this way too early point in his stud career already rival the completed racing careers of the first crop of Giant’s Causeway, Tapit, Medaglia d’Oro, Street Cry, and War Front. Granted, Tapit, Street Cry, and War Front sired considerably smaller first crops numerically than Uncle Mo, but the crop numbers are comparable for Medaglia d’Oro and Giant’s Causeway.

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Does anyone doubt that more stakes winners, and probably more Grade 1 winners, from Uncle Mo’s first crop will emerge over the next few seasons? Uncle Mo is already approaching the 10 percent stakes winners-to-foals benchmark that has become so rare in the contemporary breeding industry and seems certain to surpass it, at least for his first crop.

Uncle Mo has produced quality as well as quantity in his first crop. Nyquist, of course, is unbeaten in eight starts and earned champion 2-year-old male honors last year through his victories in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, FrontRunner Stakes, and Del Mar Futurity. Gomo (out of Gentle Audrey, by Elusive Quality) became his second Grade 1 winner last year with her victory in the Alcibiades Stakes, and Outwork (Nonna Mia, by Empire Maker) his third when he captured the Wood Memorial last month. Mo Tom (Caroni, by Rubiano) and Uncle Vinny (Arealhotlover, by Untuttable) also have won graded stakes, and Uncle Lino (Haysee, by Orientate), Thrilled (Excited, by Giant’s Causeway), and Mokat (Flashy Frolic, by Premiership), who ran second to Songbird in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, are prime candidates to cross the graded stakes winner threshold before too long. Others are bound to appear as they mature.

Although he carries three crosses of the ubiquitous Northern Dancer, Uncle Mo’s pedigree enjoys the considerable advantage of being free of most other plentiful current male influences like Mr. Prospector, A.P. Indy, Deputy Minister, and Blushing Groom. That allows breeders who shy away from inbreeding to fire away with mares whose pedigrees concentrate those bloodlines.

Nyquist’s pedigree adds one more cross of Northern Dancer, great-grandsire of his broodmare sire Forestry, and includes a cross of Mr. Prospector through Seeking the Gold, sire of his second dam, Grade 2 winner Seeking Regina. Forestry brings in two crosses of Bold Ruler, A.P. Indy’s great-great grandsire, and Nyquist’s dam, Seeking Gabrielle, is inbred 5x5 to that great stamina influence Ribot.

Seeking Gabrielle is a sixth-generation descendant of 1952 Park Hill Stakes winner Moon Star, by Hyperion, a superbly bred mare imported by Greentree Stud in the 1950s. Moon Star failed to produce anything of particular note for Greentree, but her stakes-placed daughter Twinkle Twinkle, by Tom Fool, established a good but not great family for a number of different breeders. The most accomplished runner along this female line before Nyquist’s appearance was 2013 Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap winner Sahara Sky, by Pleasant Tap, a son of Seeking Gabrielle’s Grade 3 winning half-sister Seeking the Sky, by Storm Cat.

Uncle Mo, of course, still has a long way to go before matching the feats of Tapit, Giant’s Causeway, Medaglia d’Oro, Street Cry, or War Front, but his accomplishments to date indicate that is simply a matter of time and fate.