04/29/2016 12:26PM

Stud plans for Derby hopefuls


While a strong performance in the Kentucky Derby can carry a horse all the way to a stall at a major stallion farm, several in this year’s field enter the gates with their stud careers already secured.

Shadwell Farm holds a strong hand, with a pair of stallion prospects in multiple Grade 2 winner Mohaymen and Grade 3 winner Shagaf.

Mohaymen, a son of Tapit out of the Dixie Union mare Justwhistledixie, was purchased by Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum’s Shadwell Farm for a sale-topping $2.2 million at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale. He is a half-brother to 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day.

Ontrack success is an obvious goal for a horse who commands seven figures at auction, but Mohaymen’s purchase was made with a longer-term vision as part of Shadwell’s plan to increase its stallion roster’s appeal to domestic breeders.

Rick Nichols, vice president and general manager of Shadwell Farm, said recent attempts to introduce stallions from Shadwell’s European stable generally went overlooked by breeders, prompting a change in strategy spearheaded by some serious purchases.

“The main reason we went to that much on him is because we want him not only to win the Kentucky Derby but for a stallion,” Nichols said. “The boss” – Sheikh Hamdan – “realized if we want to have stallions in America, we’ve got to develop them in America. The last four or five years, we’ve really been concentrating on going after well-bred colts that, if they do well, we can bring them home and stand them at stud.”

Shagaf is a second-generation Shadwell homebred by Bernardini and out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Muhaawara, giving the operation another solid stallion prospect with prominent North American bloodlines.

WinStar Farm also has two Derby contenders with stalls likely waiting for them at its Versailles, Ky., base: Arkansas Derby winner Creator and Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator.

While Creator races in WinStar’s colors, the farm recently acquired the breeding rights to Exaggerator, owned by the partnership of Big Chief Racing, Head of Plains Partners, and Rocker O Ranch. The deal was announced April 25.

Another horse whose owners likely will stand him in-house is Louisiana Derby winner Gun Runner, a Candy Ride colt who is co-owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm. The latter farm stands seven stallions at its Midway, Ky., base and has never had a son of Candy Ride on its roster.

Champion Nyquist’s breeding rights were secured by Darley in November, days after the colt’s victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. When he retires, he will be among the first sons of record-breaking first-crop sire Uncle Mo at stud.

– additional reporting by Nicole Russo