12/29/2016 1:46PM

Stallions Deep Impact, Galileo, and Tapit ruled 2016


In a year of international synergy in the ever-more-global Thoroughbred bloodstock industry, three stallions dominated their corners of the globe: Japanese Triple Crown winner Deep Impact, the world’s leading sire due to staggering purses in his home country; the ineffable Galileo in Europe; and Tapit, who keeps setting the bar higher for himself in North America.

Tapit will lead the North American general sires list for the third consecutive year and has again broken his own single-season earnings record with a bankroll of $19,187,510 through Wednesday. The Gainesway stallion reached the $100 million milestone in career earnings this season with runners such as Belmont Stakes winner Creator, who gave the stallion his second winner in three years in the oldest and longest American classic. Creator’s dam, the Peruvian champion Morena, became the latest standout producer to emerge from that country; Creator was later sold for stallion duty in Japan.

Tapit was also represented by Frosted, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 123, the top number of the year, when romping by 14 1/4 lengths in the Metropolitan Handicap. He picked up two more Grade 1 winners when recording a rare feat at Saratoga, as his daughters Pretty City Dancer and Sweet Loretta finished in a dead heat for the win in the Spinaway Stakes. It was believed to be the first dead-heat sweep for a sire in a Grade/Group 1 event since Prince of Dance and Scenic, by Sadler’s Wells, won the Dewhurst Stakes in 1988.

Tapit’s dominance carried over to the commercial arena, where he was responsible for the North American leaders in several categories. He sired the year’s most expensive 2-year-old, a $1.8 million colt sold to the partnership of Woodford Thoroughbreds and Robert LaPenta at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale. The colt was among four seven-figure lots helping the select sale to across-the-board gains in what was a polarized market for juveniles.

Tapit was the covering sire of North America’s most expensive broodmare of 2016, Unrivaled Belle, who sold for $3.8 million to Mandy Pope at Keeneland November. He also led the bellwether Keeneland September yearling sale by both gross and average, edging out his commercial rival, the internationally popular War Front.

But topping that auction was a $3 million colt by the late Scat Daddy who headed to Europe for training after selling to Coolmore. Keeneland September finished with overall steady returns, as the upper and middle markets posted gains in average and median, but lost traction in the lower markets, a trend borne out by other yearling sales on the year.

Among the global interests playing at a higher level than usual were Korean owners, who have always placed a premium on American stock because racing in that country is conducted on dirt. The Korean racing and breeding industry is headed into 2017 with momentum after a year of significant accomplishments. In the past 12 months, Korea was elevated into Part II of the International Cataloguing Standards Book, sent its first runners to the Breeders’ Cup and the Dubai Carnival, hosted the inaugural Korea Cup meeting in association with Keeneland, found increased purchasing power at major sales, and imported a number of prominent stallions to bolster its stock.

Another emerging entity in recent years has been China. The China Horse Club has compiled a portfolio of diverse stallion interests, with shares in three prominent newcomers for 2017: champion California Chrome, who will enter stud at Taylor Made Farm; Preakness winner Exaggerator, retiring to WinStar Farm; and the globetrotting Flintshire, entering stud at Hill ‘N’ Dale in partnership with his breeder, Juddmonte Farm, and S.F. Bloodstock.

Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte also campaigns 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate. The latter was bred by Clearsky Farm, which enjoyed a banner year with Grade 1 winner Lord Nelson and Abel Tasman and Grade 2 winner Mohaymen on the track.

Another entity investing in incoming stallions is Liliana Solari and son Carlos Heller’s Don Alberto Corp., a dual-hemisphere operation whose Kentucky base is the former Vinery property purchased in 2013. Last fall, Don Alberto teamed with Gainesway to repatriate Empire Maker from Japan, and this year joined forces with WinStar for Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Tourist’s stud career. Three Chilean-breds also showed off their home country’s best by capturing stakes at the boutique Saratoga meet this summer.

Following Tapit on the North American general sires list by earnings were Curlin and Uncle Mo. The latter was the busiest stallion in North America in 2016, covering 253 mares, according to The Jockey Club’s Report of Mares Bred. Following were Into Mischief with 218 and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah at 208 for his first season. Foal crops appear to have stabilized, with The Jockey Club projecting a 2017 North American registered foal crop of 22,500, marking no change from the projected crop of 2016.

Deep Impact not only sired his third Japanese Derby winner this year, he swept the trifecta in the classic, as Makahiki held off Satono Diamond by a nose, with Dee Majesty another half-length back in third. Deep Impact leads the world in earnings with $72,207,083; more than $67 million of that was earned by his runners in Japan, where purses are inflated.

Europe’s leading sire is Galileo, who had bankrolled $30,602,884 on the season through Wednesday. His runners in the U.S. included Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Highland Reel and Grade 1 winner Photo Call. Galileo appears to have a worthy heir in his unbeaten champion Frankel, who recorded six group winners from his highly anticipated first crop, including Japanese Group 1 winner Soul Stirring.

Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra, both of whom have had star-crossed careers as broodmares, were inducted into the Hall of Fame in August – four months after Zenyatta’s newborn colt died of meconium aspiration. Dolphus Morrison, the breeder of Rachel Alexandra and also her initial owner, died in October at 82.

Turkoman, believed to be the oldest living Eclipse Award winner, was euthanized in late December at age 34. Several other prominent stallions died this year, including Quiet American, Seeking the Gold, Arch, and Kingmambo, all accomplished runners who made a lasting impact as sires and broodmare sires. Grade 2 winner Proud Citizen, the sire of a pair of Kentucky Oaks winners, died, as did pensioner Not For Love, Maryland’s all-time leading sire and the broodmare sire of California Chrome. Other prominent stallions who died this year included champions Cherokee Run, Halling, Leroidesanimaux, Smoke Glacken, and Timber Country, along with Brilliant Speed, Charitable Man, Exchange Rate, Offlee Wild, Oratory, and Vicar.

Broodmares who died this year included champion Storm Flag Flying; stakes winner Tap Your Heels, the dam of Tapit; Canadian champion Silken Cat, the dam of Speightstown; Grade 1 winners and/or producers Tranquility Lake, Somali Lemonade, and Well Dressed; and Canadian classic producers Regent n’Flashy and Misty Mission.

Old Friends, the flagship Thoroughbred retirement farm, lost champion Hidden Lake, Grade 1 winner Wallenda, Grade 3 winner Delay of Game, stakes winner Flick, and Mixed Pleasure. But the farm also welcomed new faces in 2016, including 1999 Horse of the Year Charismatic – its third dual classic winner repatriated from Japan.