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Uncle Mo stands out among class of freshman sires for 2015
Uncle Mo set the racing world on fire as a juvenile, winning his three starts that season – including the historic Champagne Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – by a combined 23 1/4 lengths en route to earning the 2010 Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.
Those accomplishments have set the bar high for his own juvenile progeny. Uncle Mo is part of a diverse group of freshman sires whose first foals are 2-year-olds this year. The class includes a handful of Eclipse Award champions, a classic winner, and a number of other major winners.
However, it’s Uncle Mo’s exploits as a juvenile that set him apart. The Indian Charlie stallion followed up on his championship season to be a Grade 2 winner and Grade 1-placed the following year after returning from an illness. He entered stud at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., for 2012 and has 164 foals in his first crop, tops among Kentucky’s first-crop sires.
“You would have to be positive about his prospects,” Ashford manager Dermot Ryan said. “Uncle Mo was exceptional at two – as good a 2-year-old as we have seen in over a decade – so he has every right to sire good 2-year-olds. He was very well-supported in his first year, so he has quality and quantity on his side, and if his progeny retain even a fraction of the ability he had, they will be in good shape. The feedback we have been getting so far is that plenty of them have shown ability early, and his results at the 2-year-old sales certainly reinforce that. All the indications are there that he will hit the ground running.”
Uncle Mo recorded a healthy yearling average of $108,642 last year, led by a $550,000 colt at the Keeneland September sale. M.V. Magnier, representing the Coolmore partnership, signed the ticket. Uncle Mo’s sale average has bumped up to $238,529 for his early 2-year-olds, led by a $725,000 colt at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s March sale who went to Conquest Stables.
“One thing you can certainly say is that Uncle Mo stamps his stock,” Ryan said. “He gets a very consistent line of horses that look very much like their father – very good-sized, exceptionally athletic-looking – and they have his quality.”
The commercial market also has responded positively to the first foals by Grade 2 winner Trappe Shot (by Tapit) and Grade 1 winner Twirling Candy (Candy Ride).
Trappe Shot, who stands at Claiborne Farm, was the leading first-crop sire by yearling average at the Keeneland September yearling sale, and finished second to Uncle Mo by total sales in that category. Trappe Shot’s progeny were led 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.
Trappe Shot’s results were another feather in the cap for the record-shattering season of sire Tapit, who set a record for progeny earnings by a North American-based sire in 2014 and himself was the leading freshman sire of 2008.
Meanwhile, emerging as a commercial presence early in the juvenile sales season is Twirling Candy, who stands alongside his sire at Lane’s End in Versailles, Ky. The young sire was represented by the Barretts February sale-topper when Conquest Stables went to $400,000 for a colt by him. He then followed up with a pair of high-ticket offerings at OBS March, as L.E.B. purchased a $630,000 filly now named Uptown Twirl, and Alex and JoAnn Lieblong purchased a colt for $500,000.
“[His foals] were and they are exceptional individuals,” William S. Farish of Lane’s End said. “You see that often in stallions, and you always hope for the best, but I think they have matured remarkably to do as well as they’ve done in the 2-year-old sales. They’re quick, and obviously did well showing. They’re excellent-looking horses. We thought they would do well, and the closer we got to the sale and the better the horses did training, the buzz was these horses ought to sell well. Did I have any idea they would do as well as they did? No. But I thought they would sell very well because they were very attractive, mature 2-year-olds. I was obviously very happy.”
A pair of turf champions have their first runners this season: three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti (Tale of the Cat), who stands at Castleton Lyons, and Cape Blanco (Galileo), who began his career at Ashford before moving to Japan.
Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer (Distorted Humor) stands alongside his sire at WinStar Farm, which also has the versatile Sidney’s Candy (Candy Ride) with his first runners in the arsenal.
Grade 1 winners Archarcharch (Arch), Paddy O’Prado (El Prado), and Tizway (Tiznow) along with Grade 2 winner Wilburn (Bernardini) all stand at Spendthrift Farm and will have a good number of runners this season.
A pair of Grade 2-winning California-breds are freshmen sires in their home state this season in Bold Chieftain (Chief Seattle) at Victory Rose Thoroughbreds and Sierra Sunset (Bertrando) at Paradise Road Ranch. Bold Chieftain was a hickory campaigner, bankrolling more than $1.6 million in just over seven full seasons of racing, and winning or placing in 27 stakes. He captured the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile, won two editions of the California Cup Classic, and took the Sunshine Millions Classic. Sierra Sunset won the Grade 2 Rebel and three stakes in California.
Grade 2 winner Informed (Tiznow) of Ridgeley Farm will have his first runners this year. The horse won the Californian Stakes and San Diego Handicap in 2009.
Florida, always noted for producing precocious sires, is represented by a strong group of sires this year, led by sprint champion Big Drama (Montbrook), now at Bridlewood Farm. The horse won four stakes as a juvenile, including the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot. He went on to win the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint to secure an Eclipse Award.
Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup winner First Dude (Stephen Got Even) picked up five Grade 1 placings during his career, topped by a close second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont. The Double Diamond Farm stallion has the most juveniles among Florida freshmen, with 98.
Grade 2 winner Adios Charlie (Indian Charlie), who stands at Ocala Stud, made a splash with a pair of high-ticket offerings at OBS March. His first crop was represented by a filly sold to Narvick International for $675,000 and a colt to Conquest Stables for $600,000.
Vineyard Haven (Lido Palace), who stands at Woodford Thoroughbreds, and J P’s Gusto (Successful Appeal), of Journeyman Stud, may not have the numbers to contend on the leading freshman sires list. However, both were outstanding juveniles themselves, so it will be worth watching their progeny this season. Vineyard Haven was a multiple Grade 1 winner as a juvenile, taking the Hopeful and Champagne. He went on to be a Grade 1-winning sprinter at age 3. J P’s Gusto made eight starts as a juvenile with four stakes wins, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes.
Dublin (Afleet Alex), from the first crop of a Grade 1-winning juvenile, went on to be a Grade 1 winner during his own juvenile season, taking the 2009 Hopeful at Saratoga. Now standing for Spendthrift at Keane Stud, he has 70 reported 2-year-olds in his first crop, the most in the category in the state.
D’ Funnybone (D’wildcat) was also a graded stakes winner in the summer of 2009 at Saratoga, taking the Grade 2 Saratoga Special before winning the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont. He went on to be a multiple graded-stakes-winning sprinter as a sophomore. With precocity and speed on his résumé, the Rockridge Stud stallion looks poised for success.
New York has two additional Grade 1 winners with their first runners this season in sprinter Here Comes Ben (Street Cry) at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, and the regally bred Courageous Cat (Storm Cat) at Questroyal North.
Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Court Vision (Gulch) highlights this country’s first-crop stallions. A Grade 2 winner on dirt as a juvenile, he went on to win a Grade 1 race in four consecutive seasons on turf, highlighted by his score in the 2011 Mile over Turallure and Goldikova. Court Vision entered stud at Park Stud in Ontario for Spendthrift.
Other Grade 1-winning freshman sires in Canada include Victor’s Cry (Street Cry) at Park Stud, and Gayego (Gilded Time) at Bar None Ranches in Alberta.
Queen’s Plate winner Mike Fox (Giant’s Causeway) began his stud career at Firestone Farms.