10/05/2014 6:00PM

Trappe Shot fires with first yearlings

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Tom Keyser
Trappe Shot, who now stands at Claiborne Farm, has been well-represented by his first crop of yearlings.

One of the annual subplots of the Keeneland September yearling sale is the market’s reception to foals by first-crop stallions.

Since the mammoth auction provides one of the first chances for buyers to inspect yearlings by multiple young sires in one location, impressions can be made there that can last for years. While a strong auction performance doesn’t guarantee success on the track, immediate commercial appeal can help propel a stallion’s book of mares in the difficult third and fourth seasons at stud, giving him a better chance to succeed in the long term.

When foals by first-crop sires became more prominently featured in Book 2 and beyond at the 2014 Keeneland September sale, Claiborne Farm’s Trappe Shot quickly established himself as a name coveted by buyers. By the end of the auction, the son of Tapit was North America’s leading first-crop sire by average sale price, with 64 yearlings sold in 2014 for an average of $120,500 through Sept. 23.

“I know last spring when they were born, people told me they had nice foals, and I knew the way the weanlings sold in November that if the weanlings turned into what everybody thought they would, he’d have a good yearling sale,” Claiborne’s Bernie Sams said of Trappe Shot’s first crop.

Trappe Shot’s September sale was highlighted by a half-brother to Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar, bred on a similar Tapit-line cross, who sold to Juddmonte Farms for $600,000 to top the auction’s fifth session and draw the second-highest price of Book 2.

Earlier in the year, Trappe Shot was the leading first-crop sire by average with two or more sold at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale, with three foals selling for an average price of $104,000. He followed up with a quartet of offerings at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, third-most among rookie stallions, highlighted by a $400,000 colt from the family of notable sires Wiseman’s Ferry and Bernstein.

Trappe Shot ranked sixth in his class by average weanling sale price in 2013, with 20 foals selling for an average price of $70,600. As the yearling season began, the 7-year-old was looking up in the rankings at sires Uncle Mo, Gio Ponti, Ice Box, Sidney’s Candy, and Haynesfield.

“For a $10,000 [stud fee] stallion, he did pretty good,” Sams said. “The one that brought a lot of money in Saratoga looked just like Trappe Shot but probably a little bit bigger. They obviously outsold what you thought they could bring. If you can come out of there with the kind of average he did and top that sire list with the other horses that were standing for more money than he was, it’s exceptional.”

Of the top six first-crop stallions by average yearling sale price with five-figure stud fees, Trappe Shot was the only one whose 2014 fee remained unchanged from his debut season in 2012, holding steady at $10,000. Sams said part of that was due to Claiborne’s long-term pricing strategy, and part of it was based on breeders’ reaction to the stallion.

“The fact that you haven’t had to adjust the stallion’s fee in four years says a lot for him and says a lot for his popularity and what people think of their foals,” Sams said. “Obviously, the second crop was as good as his first crop, and hopefully the third and fourth will be just the same.”

Sams said that Claiborne did not take any special measures to promote Trappe Shot beyond what it normally does for its stallions, leaving the physical traits of the foals and word of mouth as the major factors in the stallion’s rising popularity.

Late in the second session of last year’s Keeneland November breeding stock sale, Bernard McCormack of Ontario-based Cara Bloodstock had signed a ticket on Mazucambera, a stakes-winning daughter of Milwaukee Brew in foal to Eskendereya, and he quickly made the decision on where to send the mare for her next mating.

McCormack said he takes advantage of his limited time spent in Central Kentucky by absorbing as much information as he can around the farms and sales grounds. Based on the information he had gathered about Trappe Shot, McCormack was on the phone with Sams by the end of the session to book a 2014 season for his newly acquired mare.

“When you buy a mare, you start thinking about who you’re going to breed them to, and for a popular stallion like he was, just getting started with the November sale last year, I thought the best move for me was to see if I could get a season right quick with a mare out of Book 1,” McCormack said. “That was how I got to breed to him before they even sold any of his foals. It was just based on listening to what people were saying and knowing that the foals were nice, and using that information to make my next mating plan. Some of it’s luck, but sometimes it’s listening to what people are talking about, too.

“The thing that I had heard about Trappe Shot is that he had great-looking foals on the farm,” he added. “That was from the spring, when they were hitting the ground. Being a Tapit, of course, there was a following to the market.”

Sold for $850,000

Bred in Florida by the late Jack Dreyfus’s Hobeau Farm, Trappe Shot was sold as part of the farm’s dispersal during the 2009 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training. He was purchased by bloodstock agent Steven Young for $850,000, a record price for a horse sold at public auction in Maryland, and sent to the barn of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for owner Nicholas Brady’s Mill House.

Trappe Shot won 6 of 12 starts over three seasons of racing, highlighted by a victory in the Grade 2 True North Handicap, and earned $703,884. While best known for his work as a sprinter, Trappe Shot won the 1 1/16-mile Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park, then followed up with a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at 1 1/8 miles.

Trappe Shot is out of the winning Private Account mare Shopping. That broodmare also is the dam of Grade 1 winner Miss Shop, Grade 2-placed stakes winner Bought in Dixie, Grade 2-placed Bulling, and stakes winner Shop Again, the dam of Grade 1 winner Power Broker.

“Physically, he’s a correct horse; he’s got plenty of bone,” Sams said. “If he were an inch taller, he’d be perfect, but he throws foals bigger than what he is, and that’s what people have been looking for. A lot of them probably look a bit like him but have a little more leg.”

In assessing the rapid popularity of Trappe Shot’s progeny, Sams took notice of the differing paths between Trappe Shot and the farm’s flagship stallion, War Front. While War Front is now one of the market’s most coveted sires in the yearling auction arena, it wasn’t until his first foals became juveniles that buyers really began to take notice.

“Since the [Keeneland September] sale, I’ve probably gotten 100 applications already [for Trappe Shot], so it’s going to be an interesting process trying to sift through what I’ve got,” Sams said. “But I’d rather be in that spot than having to go out and beg for mares.

“With War Front, [his first crop] sold fine as yearlings, but the year that he had 2-year-olds, I don’t think we sent out probably 12 contracts until the [Fasig-Tipton] Florida 2-year-old sale,” he continued. “Then, when the horses started breezing, people liked them. We had 12 contracts out by March 1 of his 2-year-old crop [year], and after the 2-year-old sale in Florida, I think we sent out 58 contracts. That’s what the 2-year-old sale did for War Front, so the commercial aspect definitely drives the bus.”