02/28/2013 12:50PM

Teuflesberg: Leading New York sire by average earnings per runner


“It’s that glorious uncertainty that makes racing the most fascinating, exhilarating sport in all the world.” − John E. Madden

Thus spoke the master of Hamburg Place more than a century ago. And so it remains today. Outstanding racehorses and wonderful sires can appear from unexpected corners of this vast international sport, igniting hope in the breasts of even the most humble of horsemen. The subject of this article was one such pleasant surprise.

Teuflesberg, a Grade 2 winner of $621,981 and more recently New York’s 2012 leading progenitor by average earnings per starter, was once a $9,000 yearling. No, he wasn’t entirely a bolt from the blue − he became one of 20 first-crop stakes winners for Johannesburg − but he possessed no black type other than himself under his first two dams, and no graded stakes winners until the fourth generation. The 2005 market was also flooded with young, seemingly better-bred yearlings by Johannesburg. One might assume that Teuflesberg would not attract a crowd of potential buyers − he didn’t. Of the 85 Johannesburg yearlings auctioned that year, 80 sold for more than Teuflesberg.

For a racing partnership that included jockey-turned-trainer Jamie Sanders, Teuflesberg − German for “devil’s mountain” − came around slowly, not winning until his eighth start. He was a high-strung colt who often found trouble at the start but with time evolved into a gutsy, athletic runner capable of looking a good rival in the eye and giving him a race to the wire. By spring of 2007, he was deemed worthy of a dream shot at the Kentucky Derby, though this proved a miscalculation. He went off at 51.90-1 and ran like it, finishing 17th. When properly placed, however, Teuflesberg won stakes from six to eight furlongs, including the seven-furlong, Grade 2 Woody Stephens.

He seemed on an upward career trajectory when tragedy struck Oct. 6, 2007, when Julien Leparoux pulled him up abruptly in the second furlong of the Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland. Five days later, surgery was successfully performed at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., to repair fractured sesamoids in his left foreleg.

With a newly fused ankle, Teuflesberg entered stud at Hurricane Hall in Lexington for $10,000. Two years later, he relocated to Journeyman Stud in Florida. With each passing season his crops have gotten smaller − 35 foals of 2009; 18 in 2010; and, even at a reduced $3,500 fee, his current crop of 2-year-olds numbers just 14, and not one from a stakes-producing mare.

As interest in Teuflesberg waned, his first foals came of racing age. Among them was a $1,500 yearling who by mid-2012 showed signs of becoming a top sprinter. Still, in November Teuflesberg turned up in Keeneland’s breeding stock sale catalog, buried deep in session eight. Stallions of promise are rarely offered at public auction, and when they are, they usually do not sell well. Yet there was Teuflesberg − Hip No. 2858.

How easily he could have passed through the ring and into total obscurity but for what happened 10 days before his date with the auctioneer. On Nov. 3, Teuflesberg’s bargain yearling, now named Trinniberg, electrified racing with an upset victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, after which his sire was withdrawn from the sale and sold privately. Teuflesberg, who now boasts an Eclipse Award champion from his debut crop, was acquired by New York breeder Joe McMahon, who said he’d “been trying to buy a horse like this for 30 years.”

Largely because of Trinniberg, but with help from fellow 2012 stakes winner Wizardry and 12 additional winners, Teuflesberg led New York’s general sire list by average earnings per runner ($68,011) and ranked second by progeny earnings among second-crop sires. Nationally, he ranked 11th among active, North American-based second-crop sires.

Bigger and better things are probably on the horizon for Teuflesberg, who in 2013 joins a power-packed stallion roster at McMahon of Saratoga, where he will stand for $5,000. The well-traveled young sire might have found a permanent home in the Empire State.

Leading sires by average earnings per runner

1 Teuflesberg (2004, Johannesburg) McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds $5,000 29 14 $68,011
2 Frost Giant (2003, Giant's Causeway) Keane Stud Operations $7,500 15 12 $56,042
3 Alex's Pal (1999, Valid Expectations) Centennial Farm $3,500 25 16 $36,756
4 Freud (1998, Storm Cat) Sequel Stallions New York $10,000 126 66 $30,728
5 Gold Token (1993, Mr. Prospector) Died 2006 19 11 $28,171
6 Utopia (JPN) (2000, Forty Niner) McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds $5,000 77 34 $26,060
7 Posse (2000, Silver Deputy) Vinery New York at Sugar Maple $12,500 191 107 $25,119
8 Bluegrass Cat (2003, Storm Cat) Vinery New York at Sugar Maple $15,000 181 106 $24,421
9 El Corredor (1997, Mr. Greeley) Questroyal North $7,500 196 104 $21,462
10 Congaree (1998, Arazi) Highcliff Stallions at McMahon of Saratoga $7,500 94 53 $19,968