09/24/2004 12:00AM

Young sires become hot commodity


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Down the long and winding trail of the 14-day Keeneland September sale, very few freshman sires make a mark among the top 20 leading sales sires. That group is consistently dominated by the stalwarts of breeding, such as Storm Cat, A.P. Indy, Kingmambo, Seeking the Gold, and Gone West, among others.

At this point in the sale season, however, a trio of neophytes has ventured into this lofty territory. They are Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, European champion Giant's Causeway, and Breeders' Cup Mile winner War Chant. Three horses from whom great things were expected, they are benefiting from early returns off the racetrack, have already had stakes winners from their initial crop of racers, and seem poised for greater things ahead.

Fusaichi Pegasus has a colt in Roman Ruler who has shown outstanding ability and courage. And whereas the offspring of Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus are doing well in the United States, those by Giant's Causeway and War Chant are forging a path with turf racing in Europe.

After getting strong, correct, good-looking yearlings, freshman sires must produce impressive winners on the track, and these horses have. As a result, the year's sale averages for Fusaichi Pegasus and Giant's Causeway stand at more than $300,000, with War Chant's yearlings of 2004 averaging more than $200,000, each with more than two dozen yearlings sold.

War Chant, a son of Danzig and champion Hollywood Wildcat, stands at Three Chimneys Farm.

Case Clay, sales director at the farm, said, "We are very pleased with War Chant's 2-year-olds and just as pleased with the way they are selling as yearlings."

The yearlings and 2-year-olds by War Chant are good-sized horses with the scope to indicate they should mature well.

"The War Chants do look like they will train on," Clay said, "and I feel like the market is a little surprised at the early success of War Chant."

More Than Ready, Successful Appeal, and Yes It's True are three other stallions who have found a strong reception for their offspring at the yearling sales this season. Not coincidentally, all three are among the top five freshmen sires this year and have stakes winners in good company. The two not already based in Kentucky, Successful Appeal and Yes It's True, are moving to Kentucky on the basis of their performances.

Yes It's True will be joining War Chant at Three Chimneys, and Clay noted that a stallion who "can get early 2-year-olds was something that we felt was missing from our lineup."

These stallions are all set for a nice bounce in stud fee for next year also. A winner of the Cowdin at 2 and the Withers at 3, Successful Appeal is not only the leading freshman sire but also the leading sire of 2-year-olds overall, and he will have the greatest percentage increase. This year he stood in Florida at Walmac South for $6,000, and his stud fee for next year, standing at Walmac in Kentucky, will be considerably higher.

Successful Appeal's offspring have earned more than $800,000, and to date he has 10 winners and four stakes winners. At the September sale this week, buyer and pinhooker Cam Allard paid $180,000 for a daughter of Successful Appeal to top the Wednesday session, with the price representing a mammoth multiple on the stallion's earlier stud fee.

The new fees on these stallions have not yet been announced, although most farms anticipate making their fees public around Oct. 1.

Yes It's True, previously based at Padua Stables in Florida with a $10,000 fee, has a pair of stakes winners already from his first crop, including the unbeaten Chandtrue, and Yes It's True is passing on the speed that he showed in his own racing career, when he won 11 of 20 starts at 2 and 3, including the Sapling, Hollywood Juvenile Championship, De Francis Dash, Riva Ridge, and Swale, among other good stakes.

More Than Ready also has sired two stakes winners and has a racing profile similar to that of his comrades on the freshman sire list. A winner in five of his seven starts at 2, including stakes from May to August such as the Sanford, More Than Ready came back at 3 to win the King's Bishop and Hutcheson at seven furlongs and run second in the Blue Grass and Vosburgh.

The stallions who sire not only the swift 2-year-olds but also racers who keep improving with age will reap even further rewards with their results next season.