Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New Sire Series: American Pharoah

American Pharoah
Perhaps the most exciting stallion prospect to hit the market this century, American Pharoah accomplished nearly every task thrown at him including the Triple Crown.

The colt, by Pioneerof the Nile, finished fifth on debut in a Del Mar maiden special weight but he was beaten by some talented colts with two of them going on to win graded stakes races and the two others placing in Grade 1 events. That debut loss may not have been an eye catcher for American Pharoah but his victory less than a month later caught the attention of everyone in racing when he pulled away to win the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity by 4 ¾ lengths. He was at the top of the conversation for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after winning the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes later that month but the colt suffered a season-ending injury only a few days before the Breeders’ Cup.

On the sidelines for five months, American Pharoah romped in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes in his first race as a 3-year-old and made the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby win look even easier in April. 

The Grade 1 Kentucky Derby may have been American Pharoah’s most challenging victory with Firing Line (Line of David) and Dortmund (Big Brown) running with him the whole way around. He won by a length but Firing Line didn’t make it easy on the colt in the stretch. But the next two Triple Crown races seemed to be cakewalks for American Pharoah as the colt first romped home by seven lengths in a sloppy Grade 1 Preakness Stakes and 5 ½ lengths in the Belmont Stakes. 

American Pharoah didn’t race for nearly two months after that but he shipped back east for the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in early August, a race his trainer Bob Baffert has dominated through the years. American Pharoah gave Baffert his eighth victory while winning his seventh career Grade 1 and eighth race in a row.

The Grade 1 Travers Stakes may have been asking for too much after a campaign that had seen American Pharoah load into the starting gate seven times in five months. With a horse who was tired and had gotten a little ahead of himself training the days leading up to the event, Frosted (Tapit) challenging him on the lead may have been the final nail in the coffin. The steadily improving Keen Ice (Curlin) who had been third and second, respectively, in his last two starts against the Triple Crown winner was able to get three-quarters of a length ahead of him at the wire to spoil American Pharoah’s win streak.

But that loss was mostly forgotten about last month in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic when American Pharoah answered some lingering questions about his ability to take on older horses. Facing some of the top horses in the handicap division, including multiple Grade 1 winner Honor Code (A.P. Indy) and last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist (Tapit), the Classic became the Pharoah Show. American Pharoah led wire-to-wire to give Baffert his second consecutive win in the Classic with an easy 6 ½ length victory. 
American Pharoah winning the Breeders' Cup Classic
The victory was a fitting end to a storybook career that now sees American Pharoah having to prove himself all over again, this time in the breeding shed.

American Pharoah is standing for a fee of $200,000 in 2016, tied with War Front at the second highest fee of any North American stallion (Tapit leads the charge with a fee of $300,000). American Pharoah’s sire Pioneerof the Nile also earned a boost this year, going up to $125,000 while American Pharoah’s grandsire has returned to the United States and will be standing for $100,000. 

American Pharoah is at least a sixth generation six-figure stallion with Empire Maker’s sire Unbridled standing for a private fee at the time of his death but having no-guarantee seasons sell for $225,000 on the open market in 2001, according to the Daily Racing Form. Unbridled’s sire Fappiano also stood for a stud fee of between $125,000 and $165,000 in the 1980s according to the Ocala Star-Banner in 1987. The influential Fappiano is by an even more influential sire in Mr. Prospector. Mr. Prospector’s fee may be the highest of any in the family, topping off at $460,000 for a no-guarantee season in the 1980s. While I couldn’t find a stud fee for Mr. Prospector’s sire Raise a Native, it is probable that sire also stood for $100,000 or more at some point in his career.

American Pharoah is out of the Yankee Gentleman mare Littleprincessemma, who raced twice but didn’t hit the board. The now-9-year-old mare hit gold early with American Pharoah as her second foal. Her first foal, a colt by Maimonides named Xixixi, was also a winner with two victories in 17 starts. Xixixi will also be standing his first year at stud in 2016 as he was retired to Xanthus Farm in Pennsylvania for a fee of $5,000. 

Littleprincessemma did not have a foal in 2013 but has a yearling filly and a weanling colt by Pioneerof the Nile. 

American Pharoah the day he arrived at Ashford Stud
Littleprincessemma is by Yankee Gentleman, who is also the damsire of stakes winners Architecture and Humarumba, and out of the stakes winning, record-setting mare Exclusive Rosette (Ecliptical). The winner of three races, Exclusive Rosette covered about five furlongs on the turf in a time of :57.31 at Atlantic City to set the course record at that track in 1996. 

While she was a decent enough racehorse with six on-the-board finishes in 17 starts for earnings of $27,281, Exclusive Rosette’s produce record is where the mare made a bigger mark. From her eight winners on the track, Exclusive Rosette was the dam of two graded stakes winners. Storm Wolf (Stormin Fever) won the 2005 Grade 2 Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes and is a sire in California, while his full-sister Misty Rosette won the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes and the Crank it Up Stakes in 2006. Misty Rosette is the dam of three winners from three to race according to Equibase.

Exclusive Rosette’s winning daughter Vintage Red (Explosive Red (CAN)) is a stakes producer herself with Red Raffles (CAN) (Bold n’ Flashy (CAN) placing in three Woodbine stakes races in 2007. Vintage Red is the dam of five winners from eight foals in the Equibase database.

Exclusive Rosette’s dam Zetta Jet (Tri Jet) produced eight winners with Exclusive Rosette being her only stakes winner while American Pharoah’s fourth dam Queen Zetta (Crozier) produced one winner. His fifth dam Miami Mood (Greek Game) was a stakes winner who produced six winners with two winning stakes races (with both being Queen Zetta’s full siblings) and a third sibling producing three stakes winners. 

American Pharoah is one of two Pioneerof the Nile sons standing at stud in Kentucky in 2016 with Cairo Prince entering his second season at Airdrie Stud for a fee of $15,000 next year. While American Pharoah’s accomplishments assure him a full book, Cairo Prince covering 148 mares in 2015 has to be a comfort for those wondering how this son of Pioneerof the Nile will be received by breeders in coming years.

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