01/04/2010 12:00AM

Top sire? Depends how you count


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Want to know who 2009's leading sires were? Sometimes it depends on how you slice the data.

If you consider only North American progeny earnings, the answer is clear. the Lane's End sire Smart Strike, sire of likely juvenile champion Lookin at Lucky, led another Lane's End sire, A.P. Indy, by more than $366,000 at the Dec. 31 finish line. But Thoroughbred racing and breeding are international businesses now, and when you start calculating foreign earnings, things can get more complicated.

Daily Racing Form and Blood-Horse, a weekly trade publication, do not count earnings from Hong Kong, Japan, or the Southern Hemisphere in their overall sire rankings. By contrast, Thoroughbred Times counts earnings from 18 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Southern Hemisphere countries, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Often, the differences simply mean there's a discrepancy among the total earnings attributed to a stallion, though his rank at the top of the heap is not in dispute. But, occasionally, as in the 2009 juvenile sire list, they can toss up different leaders on different lists.

Daily Racing Form and Blood-Horse agree that Offlee Wild was the top sire of 2-year-olds in 2009, with $1,951,283. But Thoroughbred Times crowns Giant's Causeway, listing earnings of $2,040,071.

Daily Racing Form and Blood-Horse exclude Hong Kong and Japan due to their vast purses, which give even lower-level runners outsized influence on sire lists ranked by earnings. And many stud farms with shuttle stallions prefer to see sire rankings with Southern Hemisphere earnings left out, because, as Blood-Horse executive editor Eric Mitchell said: "They are completely different markets. The earnings are different, the horses are different, sometimes the mare quality can be very different, and if you start blending those numbers you don't necessarily get an accurate picture for where your horses are going to be ultimately racing and selling."

In the remaining sire categories - general, freshman, broodmare, and turf - all three publications agree on who the leaders are, if not on precise earnings.

Giant's Causeway was last year's leading general sire, with $11,079,918, according to Daily Racing Form and Blood-Horse, though Thoroughbred Times credits him with more than $15.9 million.

The freshman sires' battle between Darley stallion Offlee Wild and Hill 'n' Dale's Roman Ruler ended in a win for Offlee Wild. The Wild Again horse edged out Roman Ruler by just $11,332, according to Daily Racing Form, when his son Heavenville earned $12,040 with a third in the Dec. 31 Louisiana Futurity.

Coolmore's great sire Sadler's Wells (now pensioned) was the year's top broodmare sire with $17,010,043 under Daily Racing Form criteria, thanks to such big winners as Breeders' Cup Turf victor Conduit. And Dynaformer, standing at Three Chimneys for $150,000 this year, got a boost from Gozzip Girl's 2009 performances to become the top turf sire with $4,075,777.

Incidentally, Daily Racing Form also publishes a different set of criteria for its Leaderboard stallion rankings that appear online and in the newspaper. Those criteria rank sires by their progeny's U.S., Canadian, and Dubai World Cup Day earnings. The 2009 leading sire under those terms was Distorted Humor ($9,620,689).

Darley buys land in South Carolina

Darley has added to its South Carolina property. Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's racing and breeding operation purchased Stonerside Stable's facility there in 2008 and now has added about 360 acres in Aiken, according to a Thoroughbred Times report.

Darley put in an offer on the Aiken Training Center last year but was rebuffed by the facility's board of directors and had since been seeking property on which to build a state-of-the-art facility, including a one-mile training track. The new property is about six miles from the Aiken Training Center.

"There were a number of factors involved with our selection of Aiken - the history, the location, and the weather," Darley USA president Jimmy Bell told the Times.

Darley has about 65 horses at the Aiken Training Center, which was developed in 1941.

* In Kentucky, Darley and Lane's End will host open houses in conjunction with the Keeneland January sale. Darley in Lexington will be open to visitors from noon until 3 p.m. Jan. 9-15. Lane's End in Versailles also will open on those dates from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will be serving food and drinks.