02/14/2014 1:50PM

War Front: Leading sire by average earnings, average juvenile earnings

Barbara D. Livingston
War Front stands at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.

Leading Kentucky general sire by average earnings
Leading Kentucky juvenile sire by average earnings

War Front enjoyed a breakout season in 2013, and his success has helped attract even better mares to his court, so the best could be yet to come for the young sire.

The 12-year-old Danzig horse, standing at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., checked in fifth on the general sire list – his first time in the top 10 – and was Kentucky’s leading sire by average progeny earnings per starter in 2013. His runners averaged $77,441 to best runner-up Into Mischief’s $70,493.

War Front also was Kentucky’s leading juvenile sire by average earnings in 2014, with $67,534. Second was Lane’s End’s pensioned stallion A.P. Indy, whose final crop of 2-year-olds averaged $61,733 per runner.

War Front’s season was fueled by European standouts Declaration of War and War Command. Declaration of War captured the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Juddmonte International, both Group 1 events, before finishing a close third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in his first start on dirt. War Command was a Group 1-winning juvenile in England and a Group 2 winner in Ireland.

In addition to War Command, War Front’s top juveniles of 2013 included Grade 2 winner Bashart and stakes winners Diamond Bachelor and Giovanni Boldini. All of those successes were on turf, helping War Front place second on the average turf earnings list at $40,940 behind leading general sire Kitten’s Joy at $47,423. That stallion had 174 runners on turf to War Front’s 80.

War Front’s other standouts in 2013 included Departing, a three-time graded stakes winner on dirt; prior Grade 1 winner Data Link, who added the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes to his credentials; multiple graded turf stakes winner Summer Front; and Lines of Battle, the winner of the Group 2 U.A.E. Derby on synthetic. That versatility has been a hallmark of War Front’s stallion career.

“Versatility-wise, [War Front’s progeny] run long, they run short, they win as 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, as older horses,” Bernie Sams, bloodstock manager at Claiborne, said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re sprinting or going two turns. The fact that [they have won on] dirt, turf, and synthetic is pretty remarkable and just shows you how good a sire he really is.”

Racing as a homebred for longtime Claiborne client Joseph Allen, War Front was a standout sprinter on dirt, taking the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap and placing twice in Grade 1 events. He entered stud in 2007 at Claiborne for a modest fee of $12,500 and rapidly demonstrated an ability to move mares up. From his first crop, came Grade 2 winner Soldat, who was the first foal out of an unraced mare, while Grade 1 winners Summer Soiree and The Factor were the first stakes horses out of their respective dams.

As War Front’s first runners debuted, his commercial popularity rose accordingly. Yearlings from his first two crops sold for an average of $36,065 at public auction; in 2011, the year after his first crop raced, that figure leapt to $204,251. Last year, he averaged $363,076, bolstered by a $2.5 million colt who topped the Keeneland September sale.

War Front’s fee has risen at a parallel rate. From $10,000 for 2010, it jumped to $15,000 for 2011 and quadrupled to $60,000 for 2012. He stands for $150,000 this year, tied for the highest advertised fee in North America.

According to The Jockey Club’s statistics, War Front averaged 86 mares in each of his first four books. In the last three years, that figure has risen to an average of 103. Beyond increased quantity, War Front has added quality to his books, which read like a who’s who among prominent racemares and broodmares. The list includes Take Charge Lady (dam of Will Take Charge), Matlacha Pass (dam of Point of Entry), Playa Maya (dam of Uncle Mo), and a host of Grade/Group 1 winners topped by Zenyatta, who is due to deliver a War Front foal this spring.

Already booked to War Front this year are 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, and Betterbetterbetter, who topped the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select fall mixed sale at $5.2 million in foal to the sire. All three are owned by Mandy Pope, a high-profile buyer of mares in recent years, in a show of support that will not be the only one from prominent breeders this year.