Saturday, January 30, 2016

Uncle Mo's Nyquist Highest Weighted U.S. Two-Year-Old

Uncle Mo
A day after having the most Triple Crown nominees of any stallion, Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) was on top of another list when he topped all sires on the U.S. Experimental Free Handicap with 10 2-year-olds listed including the highweighted champion 2-year-old colt Nyquist. Two-year-olds must have made at least one start in graded or listed stakes company in North America to be assigned a weight with The Jockey Club listing all horses weighted at 100 or above.

Nyquist was given a weight of 126 as the highest weighted 2-year-old on the list, beating out highweighted filly Songbird (Medaglia d’Oro) by one point. Overall, Uncle Mo had four of the top 50 horses on the Experimental Free Handicap, including the seventh highest rated filly in Gomo.

The only stallion to have more than one horse in the Top 10 was Bernardini (A.P. Indy), whose Greenpointcrusader and Rachel’s Valentina were both rated 120. Rachel Valentina’s 120 rating made her the second highest weighted filly in the rankings. Notably, Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado) is the sire of the highest weighted filly in the rankings and the damsire of the second highest weighted filly.

Birdstone’s (Grindstone) Swipe gave his sire the third highest weighted horse when he came in with a 124. Swipe finished second to Nyquist in four graded stakes, including three consecutive Grade 1 races, in 2015. Another notable name with a smaller stud fee in the top 10 was Colonel John (Tiznow), whose multiple graded stakes winner Airoforce was rated 120. After those two stallions, who stand for $5,000 and $7,500 respectively, the next cheapest is Uncle Mo himself.

One-hundred and nineteen sires were represented on the list of 213 2-year-olds with the average advertised 2016 stud fee of all of those stallions sitting at $31,538. The highest stud fee on the list was Tapit’s (Pulpit) at $300,000 and the lowest Cashel Castle (Silver Ghost) at $1,000. The stallions represented on the list stand in 10 states and 12 different countries in 2016 with the 2-year-olds bred in 13 different states and four different countries.

Overall, 23 sires have at least one 2-year-old weighted in the Top 30 on the list.

Behind Uncle Mo, Tapit and the late Scat Daddy (Johannesburg) are tied for the second-most 2-year-olds on the list with eight each. Tapit’s highest rated is the Eclipse 2-year-old colt finalist Mohaymen at 119 while Scat Daddy’s is the filly Nickname at 118.

Tapit’s 2-year-olds were mostly within nine points of each other in the weights with all but one of his 2-year-olds between 110 and 119, with two each at 114 and 115. The outlier was Areolite, who was stakes placed in the June 27 Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs, making her eligible for the list with a weight of 100. All but three of Tapit’s weighted horses were fillies with Tap to It being his highest rated female.

Behind Nickname, Scat Daddy had a diverse group rated with his horses weighted from 105 (Arabian Leopard) to 118. While his two highest weighted 2-year-olds were fillies, he had a pretty even breakdown of colts and fillies with four of each. His highest weighted colts were Grade 2 winner Azar, who earned a ranking of 114 to tie with Grade 2 winner Conquest Daddyo.

Scat Daddy
Other stallions with five or more horses rated on the list were Sky Mesa (Pulpit) with seven and Bernardini with six. Forty-four stallions had at least two horses weighted at 100 or more on the Experimental Free Handicap.

While there were quite a few names listed as broodmare sires for those weighted, Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled) was responsible for the most with seven of his daughters having a 2-year-old on the list. The stallion, who died in 2013, only sired one weighted horse with Unbridled Outlaw getting a weight of of 105. However, his highest rated as a damsire is the Distorted Humor filly Lucky Folie who won the Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar for a rating of 109. Those listed with Unbridled’s Song as their damsires have a diverse listing of sires with seven different sires represented.

The top 20 weighted horses
Behind Unbridled’s Song, Carson City (Mr. Prospector), Dixie Union (Dixieland Band), Elusive Quality (Gone West) and Pulpit (A.P. Indy) are all represented by five horses on the list. Only Elusive Quality shows an obvious nick with certain sires as two of his weighted 2-year-olds are by Hat Trick (Sunday Silence) with another two by Uncle Mo.  Everyone else has five different sires responsible for their weighted horses.

Only 49 horses were listed on the European Two-Year-Old Rankings a few weeks ago but that didn’t stop there from being some crossover on the two lists.

The Irish-based Dark Angel (Acclamation), Exceed and Excel (Danehill), Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) and Zoffany (Dansili) and England-based Showcasing (Oasis Dream) all make appearances on both lists with U.S. stallions Kitten’s Joy (El Prado), More Than Ready (who has Nemoralia rated on both lists), Scat Daddy and War Front (Danzig) joining them.

As for what being at the top of the list means for Nyquist and Uncle Mo … seven of the Triple Crown winners have led the Experimental Free Handicap as 2-year-olds and Nyquist ties five of them with his 126 weight, including last year’s Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile).

Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Stallion Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem
Bought by Stonestreet Stables for $1.6-million (approx. €1.48-million/£1.1-million) as a 2-year-old, Carpe Diem's career led to a successful partnership between the farm and WinStar in 2014 and 2015. This year, the pair teams up again to support him off the track in his first season at stud. 

By top sire Giant’s Causeway, Carpe Diem won his debut at Saratoga in September of 2014 by 2 ¼ lengths. From there, trainer Todd Pletcher sent him to Keeneland for the track’s fall meet.

The colt relished the Bluegrass track’s dirt in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, cruising to a 6 ¼ length victory at odds of 2.40-to-1, beating a field that included future Grade 1 winner Keen Ice (Curlin) and propelling him into talk as one of the best 2-year-olds of the year.

Carpe Diem made his first, and only, start in California in the Grade 1 Sentient Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when he showed another dimension to his running style. While he had went wire-to-wire in his maiden and raced close to the pace in the Breeders’ Futurity, in the Juvenile, he was second last at the first call. At the stretch call, he was still in seventh but closed well on most of the field to finish second by 6 ½ lengths to Texas Red (Afleet Alex).

Carpe Diem took the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby route for his first start of his 3-year-old year, a move that proved to be a big confidence booster for the colt. He was never more than two lengths off the pacesetting Divining Rod (Tapit) and when John Velazquez swung him wide in the turn, he took over the lead. In the stretch, it was just a matter of pulling away and Carpe Diem crossed the wire five lengths ahead of second placed Ami’s Flatter (Flatter). 

Returning to a track his connections knew he was familiar with, Carpe Diem entered the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland for his final Kentucky Derby prep. While Carpe Diem didn’t win as impressively as he did in the Breeders’ Futurity, he still made it look easy when he won by three lengths over Danzig Moon (Malibu Moon).

Carpe Diem working at Keeneland before the Kentucky Derby
Carpe Diem finished midpack in the Kentucky Derby and didn’t race again, retiring to WinStar in July.

“In the Kentucky Derby, we were in perfect position, but when he switched leads going into the far turn I felt something wasn’t right,” said Elliott Walden, WinStar President and CEO in Carpe Diem's retirement press release. “After missing the Belmont, we brought him home to evaluate him and try to get him back for the Haskell. However, a chip finally revealed itself in the lower joint of his right knee, and that can be problematic. I believe his raw ability puts him among the top of this talented group of 3-year-olds, which is probably the best group of runners we’ve had in years. It’s unfortunate, but given where we’re at in the season and what would be in front of him, Mrs. Banke [owner of Stonestreet], John Moynihan, and I just felt like retirement was the best option.”

By European Horse of the Year and leading sire Giant’s Causeway, Carpe Diem is one of 79 northern hemisphere graded stakes winners for the stallion. Giant’s Causeway is also the sire of champions Shamardal, Take Charge Brandi, Man of Ireland, Irish Mission, Dalhala and Primary. 
Giant's Causeway
Giant’s Causeway himself was the winner of six Group 1 races and placed in four others in addition to winning two other group stakes races. His family doesn’t need much introduction these days with his dam Mariah’s Storm producing group stakes winner You’resothrilling who is the dam of classic winners Gleneagles (Galileo) and Marvellous (Galileo) in addition to Group 3 winner Coolmore (Galileo). Giant’s Causeway has four other stakes placed siblings and two of his non-stakes placed sisters are the dams of stakes winners or placers.

Carpe Diem’s dam Rebridled Dreams (Unbridled’s Song) was a stakes winner who also placed third in the Grade 2 Silverbulletday as a 3-year-old. 

Carpe Diem gave Rebridled Dreams a Breeders’ Futurity double as she is also the dam of 2010 Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity winner J.B.’s Thunder (Thunder Gulch), who won the race by four lengths. Carpe Diem is also a half-brother to the stakes winning and multiple group placed colt Doncaster Rover (War Chant).

His second dam is the multiple stakes winner Key Cents (Iroquois), who also produced the stakes placed Stormin Brigade (Gen Stormin’norman) in addition to Rebridled Dreams. Two generations farther back is the winning Best Turn mare Penny One, who produced Philmont winner Onproviso (Wajima) and stakes-placed Fiesty Gal (Rock Talk), who produced another stakes placed filly in Fiesty Baba (El Baba).
Carpe Diem at WinStar
Carpe Diem’s sire Giant’s Causeway has crossed with a number of different sirelines but 18 of his Grade 1 winners damsires are Mr. Prospector or his sons or grandsons. As Carpe Diem is free of Mr. Prospector in his first four generations, that cross may work well with him as well. Northern Dancer sons and grandsons also appear as damsires of six of Giant’s Causeway’s Grade 1 winners. 

Giant’s Causeway just has one strain of Northern Dancer through his sire Storm Cat but Carpe Diem has two strains (4 x 5). However, the Northern Dancer in Carpe Diem’s pedigree will move to 5 x 6 on his foals, so adding another strain or two through a mare he is mated to shouldn’t be a big deal.

Carpe Diem stands for $25,000 (approx. €23,151/£17,522), joining fellow WinStar stallion Constitution (Tapit) and Lane’s End’s Liam’s Map (Unbridled’s Song) as new U.S. stallions in the range of $25,000-$30,000.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Impact of El Prado

When El Prado (Sadler’s Wells) was imported to the United States after being purchased from Coolmore by Frank Stronach in the early 1990s, very few breeders were willing to give El Prado a shot. 

"No one wanted a son of Sadler’s Wells in America,” Dermot Carty, who bought the horse for Stronach, told Blood-Horse when the stallion died. “Everyone saw him as just a grass horse, but now he’s a broodmare sire, a sire of sires, and he’s made history. It was a gamble … to buy a son of Sadler’s Wells was a major move, but it paid off."

But over 20 years later, El Prado has made a major impact on the breed in North America.

El Prado started his breeding career at Airdrie Stud in Kentucky for Stronach, who didn’t have a stallion operation at the time. Within a few years, Stronach’s opened up Adena Springs stallion facility and El Prado became one of the cornerstones of the operation.

Video courtesy of Thoroughbred Horses in Kentucky

"He put us on the map," Carty told Daily Racing Form when the stallion died in 2009. "There's no ifs, ands, or buts about that. He moved his mares up right off the bat. It was a privilege to have him."

From 1997 on (the first year that The Jockey Club lists the number of mares bred on its website), El Prado bred around 100 mares a year with a high of 126 in 1999. That number dropped to 61 in 2009 with 18 foals born in that final crop.

While never having huge crops of foals, El Prado did well. He was the leading sire in 2002 and ranked second in 2003 and 2004 with top 10 rankings in 2005 and 2009. Among his top foals were champion Kitten’s Joy, Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller and multiple Grade 1 winners Medaglia d’Oro, Borrego and Winter Memories.
Artie Schiller
But racetracks weren't the only place El Prado foals shined with the stallion quickly turning into a sire-of-sires. In 2015, his sons Medaglia d’Oro and Kitten’s Joy both produced U.S. champions in Songbird and Big Blue Kitten but this isn’t the first year those stallions have been at the top of the sport. 

Medaglia d’Oro was ranked fourth behind Tapit (Pulpit) in 2008 on the First-Crop Sire list and led the Second-Crop Sire list in 2009 in addition to finishing eighth on the General Sires list thanks in part to that year’s Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. The following year, Medaglia d’Oro was again fourth on the Third-Crop Sires list while also ranked in the top 20 ahead of horses like Arch (Kris S.), Tiznow (Cee’s Tizzy), City Zip (Carson City) and even his own sire on the General Sires list.

While making appearances in the top five on the top 2-year-old sires list, Medaglia d’Oro’s specialty has definitely been Blood-Horse’s General Sires list. The stallion was ranked in the top 10 in 2011 and 2014 and runner up in 2015 to Tapit.

Other than Rachel Alexandra, Medaglia d’Oro is the sire of 13 Grade or Group 1 winners including Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, multiple Grade 1 winner Marketing Mix, Australian champion Vancouver and Grade 1 winner Mshawish.
Medaglia d'Oro
The stallion also looks like he may pass on his sire’s skill as a sire-of-sires. While his many young sires who have retired in the last three years have been well received by breeders, his son Warrior’s Reward had 65 winners and four stakes winners last year with two crops on the track.

Kitten’s Joy has been mostly a turf influence for his sire’s line but has done very for himself in that realm.

A top five freshman sire, Kitten’s Joy led the standings as a Third-Crop Sire in 2011 when Stephanie’s Kitten won the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, also giving him a top 10 spot on the General Sires list that year. While only being ranked 19th in 2012, Kitten’s Joy had a breakout year in 2013 when he had six Grade 1 winners to lead all stallions by earnings and Grade 1 winners.

Kitten’s Joy had his second Breeders’ Cup winner in 2014 with Bobby’s Kitten in the Grade 1 Turf Sprint and had two other Grade 1 winners that year to finish third on the list behind Tapit and Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat). Stephanie’s Kitten gave him a third Breeders’ Cup victory in 2015, helping him rank fourth on the General Sires list. Each of the past three years, Kitten’s Joy has also been the highest ranked turf sire in North America. It is too early to tell how Kitten’s Joy will be as a sire with each of his sons advertised in the Blood-Horse Stallion Register retiring in 2014 or later.

Stephanie's Kitten after her 2015 Breeders' Cup victory
While not consistently near the top of the rankings in North America like the two stallions above, El Prado’s sons Artie Schiller and Fort Prado have been solid sires for the breed-to-race crowd.  

Artie Schiller is the sire of six graded stakes winners in the northern hemisphere and six others in the southern hemisphere with 28 stakes winners overall in addition to 25 other stakes horses. His highest earner in the northern hemisphere is multiple Grade 2 winner Mr. Commons with Grade 1 winner We Miss Artie following close behind. Standing at a fee of $10,000, Artie Schiller’s northern hemisphere runners have averaged $58,384 per starter.

Illinois Horse of the Year Fort Prado has one graded stakes winner and one stakes winner in addition to three other stakes horses from his three crops to race. His highest earner is the multiple stakes placed Prado U while his Grade 3 Regret Stakes winner Prado’s Sweet Ride has provided him with the all-important graded stakes winner. Standing for $5,000, Fort Prado’s average earnings per starter currently sit at $30,842 (as of Jan. 20), over six times his fee.

A younger stallion for his sire, Paddy O’Prado performed on both dirt and turf and had his first 2-year-olds run in 2015. His 15 winners were good enough to rank him seventh by winners and eighth by earnings. Paddy O’Prado looks to be El Prado’s last Grade 1 winning son entering the breeding shed with El Prado’s final crop turning six this year. 
Paddy O'Prado
It isn’t just El Prado’s sons that are keeping the line alive with the stallion making his first appearance on the Leading Broodmare Sires list in 2010 when he ranked 88th with 110 winners and five stakes winners from 226 runners (a 49 percent win rate). The following year he rose to 66th with 112 winners and seven stakes winners from 250 runners.

In 2012, El Prado rose to 34th on the Broodmare Sires list when he was the damsire of Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can (Proud Citizen) in addition to five other stakes winners for over $6-million in earnings from just 168 dams. The following year saw him in the same position with Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Outstrip (Exceed and Excel) leading his eight stakes winners. A drop to 38th in 2014 was followed by a spot in the 42nd position in 2015. Overall, El Prado’s daughters have produced 41 stakes winners from 1,431 foals as of the end of 2015 according to Stallion Register. 
Believe You Can and her 2015 Tapit colt
Another notable landmark for the El Prado line happened in 2015 when his son Medaglia d’Oro made his first appearance on the broodmare sire listed. Ranked 145th, Medaglia d’Oro’s daughters were responsible for 39 winners including six stakes winners led by Eclipse finalist Rock Fall. The ranking came with Medaglia d’Oro having only 74 runners as a broodmare sire in 2015.

While El Prado's stud fee started at $7,500,  the stallion commanded a fee of $75,000 in his final year at stud. There’s little doubt that looking back now, that introductory fee was one of the best deals in racing with the changes El Prado has made and continues to make in racing today.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Europe's Champion Second-Crop Sire Siyouni

A Group 1 winner at 2 years of age and multiple Group 1 placed at 3, Siyouni (Pivotal) retired at the end of 2010 to the Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval for €7,000 (approx. $7,571US/£5,277).

His first crop came out running in 2014 with 12 of his 2-year-olds winning at least one race, according to Racing Post. That group was led by 2-year-old Group 3 winners Ervedya, Souvenir Delondres and Bourree who would go on to make an even bigger impact on their sire's resume in 2015.

Video courtesy of France Sire

When Siyouni’s 93 horses of racing age hit the track last year, they built on his first year success with 45 winners giving him a 48.39 percent win rate. By the end of the year, he had 75 wins with five stakes winners and nine stakes wins to lead all European Second-Crop sires by earnings on Racing Post’s rankings with £1,737,065 (approx. $2,493,035US/€2,304,105).

His group 3 winning 2-year-old Ervedya bettered that result in 2015 when she went four-for-five in her starts, winning three Group 1 events and finishing second in one other. Those wins included a victory in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (France’s version of the 1,000 Guineas) before shipping to England for the first time to win the Group 1 Coronation Cup during Royal Ascot’s meet.

Ervedya led Siyouni’s five stakes winners for the year with Bourree adding to his group stakes count and undefeated (now) 3-year-old filly Trixia joining the stakes count with a Group 3 win to end the year. In all, Siyouni’s five stakes winners ranked him second in the standings by stakes winners behind Lope de Vega (Shamardal) but first in the number of stakes wins those horses gave him.

Courtesy of Racing Post
Looking at his pedigree, it isn’t a surprise that Siyouni is making a good go of it at stud with early starters.

His sire Pivotal (Polar Falcon) won two sprint races at two and stepped up to group stakes competition in his 3-year-old debut at Royal Ascot. The stallion won the Group 2 King’s Stand Stakes and two starts later took home the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes in his career finale.

Since his first crop hit the track in 2000, Pivotal has sired 124 stakes winners with 69 of those winning group stakes. That count includes 25 Group 1 winners including multiple group 1 winners African Story, Farhh, Golden Apples, Halfway to Heaven, Immortal Verse, Izzi Top, Megahertz, Peeress, Regal Parade, Sariska and Somunus.

Siyouni’s dam Sichilla (Danehill) was a stakes winner herself and is on her way to making her mark as a broodmare. Siyouni was the mare’s first foal and he was followed by multiple Group/Graded stakes winner Siyouma (Medicean). Siyouma won races at the highest level on both sides of the ocean, taking home the Group 1 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket before shipping to Woodbine to win the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes.

The next foal out of Sichilla was the Azamour mare Siyenica, who won a listed stakes a 3 years of age and placed in two group stakes that same year. Sichilla has a 4-year-old winning filly by Galileo, and an unraced 2-year-old colt named Sikandari (Sea the Stars).
Siyouni’s second dam, stakes placed Slipstream Queen (Conquistador Cielo), is also the dam of Europe’s 2001 champion older mile and Italy’s champion older horse Slickly (Linamix) in addition to Grade 2 winner No Slip (Exit to Nowhere) and three stakes placed horses.

His third dam is 1979 Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Invitational winner Country Queen (Explodent) who won six graded stakes in her career. That mare produced the stakes winner River Char (Riverman) in addition to three other stakes placed horses. One more generation back, Country Queen’s dam Carrie’s Rough (Rough’n Tumble) also produced the mare With Distinction (Distinctive) who is the dam of the Mr. Prospector stallion multiple Group/Grade 1 winner Procida. Overall, there are 16 stakes winners from branches other than Country Queen’s family listed under Carrie’s Rough on Weatherbys.

The combination of Siyouni’s talent on the track, his bloodlines and the success of his first runners caught the eye of breeders over the last few months and when three shares to the stallion were offered in auctions they were snapped up. The first two sold to Hesmonds Stud and Merriebelle Stable for €355,000 (approx. $384,323US/£268,145) each but it was the third share that put Siyoni in the record books.

Fourteen bidders were at their computers in early January to try and secure the third share in the auction. Six of those bidders were involved during the “extra time” period, which had the auction closing 45 minutes after its original planned time. When all was said and done, Mick Flanagan won the 1/50th share in the stallion for China Horse Club by bidding a record-breaking €360,000 (approx. $389,736US/£271,922).

"He's a young upcoming sire and when you consider that his most expensive yearling sold for 320,000gns last year, I'm comfortable with the price [of the share],” Flanagan told Racing Post. "There is every reason to think he will keep going the right way and this investment will prove money well spent. The China Horse Club owns a select group of mares, some of which are actually on their way to France at the moment. The Club has expressed a strong commitment to the French racing and breeding industry via its purchases at Arqana and the horses that are in training in Chantilly."

The move to secure the share for that price seemed to have been a smart one with Siyouni’s fee rising to €30,000 (approx. $32,430US/£22,660) in 2016 after going from €7,000 (approx. $7,571US/£5,277) to €20,000 (approx. $21,620US/£15,105) in 2015. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

North America's Champion Second-Crop Sire: Munnings

When Coolmore’s Demi O’Byrne paid $1.7-million for Munnings as an early 2-year-old, expectation were high for the chestnut son of Speightstown. After winning three graded stakes races and finishing on the board in six others, Munnings retired to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud for $12,500 (approx. €11,523/£8,792) in 2011. That crop produced 109 live foals with 53 of those making it to the track as 2-year-olds.

Twenty-seven of those first 2-year-olds went to the winner’s circle with three stakes winners and one graded stakes winner in 2014, allowing Munnings to finish fourth by earnings behind Quality Road (Elusive Quality) on the Leading First-Crop Sires list.  Munnings also finished second behind fellow Ashford Stud Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike) by winners and stakes winners (Super Saver (Maria’s Mon) tied with Lookin at Lucky at the top of the stakes winners list).

But with 108 runners representing the stallion in 2015, the odds swung in his favor.

Munnings had 32 2-year-olds join his 3-year-olds on the track last year with 47 percent of that that generation making it to the winner’s circle. His 2-year-olds were led by the Oklahoma-bred gelding Bring It On Dude, who won two stakes races at Remington Park with Never Gone South and Barkley also giving Munnings 2-year-old stakes wins.

Munnings was ranked 27th by 2-year-old winners and 40th by 2-year-old earnings in 2015 but his 2-year-old stakes horses (horses who hit the board in stakes races) helped the stallion tie for ninth in the category.

Showing that his foals continue to perform after their 2-year-old season, Munnings had nine 3-year-old stakes winners in 2015.

Three of those were graded stakes winners led by multiple graded stakes winner and Eclipse finalist I’m a Chatterbox whose biggest win of the year came in the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes in the middle of September. Another Munnings who won multiple graded stakes was Om, winning three different Grade 2 events in California. Om also had the distinction in 2014 of winning American Pharoah’s debut when breaking his own maiden. Munnings’ third graded stakes winner was the filly Ben’s Duchess who upset a field that included Taris (Flatter) in the Grade 3 L.A. Woman Stakes.

I'm a Chatterbox
Overall last year, Munnings made a clean sweep of the Second-Crop Sires list on Blood-Horse’s Stallion Register, leading every category but the amount of runners he had on the track. All of the stallion’s second-crop runners saw 64 percent winners to runners and 16 percent stakes winners to race winners. Those percentages put him above the highly regarded second-crop sire Super Saver (Maria’s Mon) and top five general sires Tapit (Pulpit), Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker), Kitten’s Joy (El Prado) and Candy Ride (Ride The Rails).

Munnings is off to a fast start in 2016 with 32 horses already making at least one start and two winning at the stakes level with one other hitting the board in a stakes race as of Jan. 20.  Not surprisingly, all of this year’s stakes winners and stakes placed horses have been at sprint distances but he has proven that his foals can go longer with I’m a Chatterbox winning at 1 1/16 miles and finishing second in a 1 ¼ mile Grade 1 event last year. Om is another example of Munnings’ offspring being able to go farther than sprint distances, winning a 1 1/8 mile Grade 2.
While Munnings never had his big Grade 1 victory, he did place in six Grade 1 events from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles with the chestnut racing past seven furlongs just four times in his 14 start career.

Munnings sire Speightstown is known more as a sprint sire but his son Force the Pass won a Grade 1 going 1 ¼ miles last year with Speightstown having other Grade 1 victors from six furlongs to 1 ¼ miles.

Speightstown himself was a sprinter, winning the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2004 and being named champion sprinter but his sire Gone West (Mr. Prospector) also produced routers including 2000 Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner Commendable and 2003 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Johar. So it isn’t surprising that Speightstown is a versatile sire and looks to be passing that to Munnings.

On his dam’s side, Munnings is out of the Holy Bull mare La Comete. The mare was never raced but Holy Bull adds another dose of speed and stamina with a 2-year-old Grade 1 win at seven furlongs and a Grade 1 Travers win at 1 ¼ miles (with many other Grade 1 wins in between).

La Comete’s dam La Gueriere (Lord at War) made 20 starts over three years and won two graded stakes, including the 1991 Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on the turf. She is also the dam of graded stakes winners Lasting Approval (With Approval) and Icon Project (Empire Maker) in addition to two other stakes placed horses.

Looking back one more generation you find Secretariat’s daughter Lady Winborne who was stakes placed as a racehorse. In addition to producing La Gueriere, the mare is the dam of the Grade 1 winning router Al Mamoon (Believe It) and graded stakes winning router Lost Soldier (Danzig) in addition to Australia’s 1995 top rated 3-year-old from 11 to 14 furlongs Born Wild (Wild Again). 

In addition to La Gueriere’s branch of the family, Land Winborne’s daughters produced Grade 1 winner Honor In War (Lord At War) and Master Command (A.P. Indy) among others.

Master Command winning the 2007 New Orleans Handicap

Looking at his family, it makes more sense that Munnings was versatile enough to win at sprint distances while still placing in Grade 1 races over a route of ground. While early indications are that Munnings will continue to pass along the versatility multiple generations of his sire line have shown, it remains to be seen if he will be able to pass on enough stamina for one of his racehorses to add a Kentucky Derby or Breeders’ Cup Classic win to his resume.

Like many stallions, many of the damsires of Munnings’ stakes horses trace back to Northern Dancer (he has Northern Dancer in the fifth generation) and Mr. Prospector (in his third generation).

However, he seems to be having a lot of luck with the Sadler’s Wells branch of Northern Dancer’s line with stakes winners out of dams by Borrego, Medaglia d’Oro, and Perfect Soul. Sadler’s Wells himself is also found as the damsire of the stakes placed Zia. Not letting Sadler’s Wells have all the glory, Storm Cat is also well represented with his sons Tabasco Cat and Freud on the list of broodmare sires. Interestingly, I’m a Chatterbox is out of a Lost Soldier mare, giving her a 4 x 3 cross to Lady Winborne.

Standing for $10,000 (approx. €9,220/£7,036) in 2015 and attracting 196 mares, Munnings’ fee has been raised to $25,000 (approx. €23,052/£17,692) for 2016.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Europe 2-Year-Old Rankings Showcases Diverse Group of Sires

Breeders' Cup winner Hit It a Bomb was rated 116
When the European Two-Year-Old Rankings were released yesterday at the World’s Best Horse presentation in London, the diversity of stallions represented may have been surprising.

It was no surprise that Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) led the group of sires represented on it with six 2-year-olds, all owned by the Coolmore partners, ranked. That group included Europe’s champion 2-year-old filly Minding, rated 120, who was the first filly to be rated above 119 since Six Perfections in 2002.

“Minding is a very worthy favorite for the (one-mile) 1,000 Guineas,” said said Matthew Tester, the BHA Senior Handicapper. “Lumiere (a Shamardal filly rated 116) and Acapulco (a Scat Daddy filly rated 115) might have too much speed for a mile to be perfect for them, but Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup is again shaping up as an exciting contest with Shalaa (an Invincible Spirit colt rated 121) looking likely to take them on”.

Overall, 33 stallions had at least one horse on the list with their 2016 stud fee ranging from €3,500 (approx. $3,817US/£2,768) to €185,000 (approx. $201,807US/£142,331). Four stallions on the list have private stud fees with a farther three no longer breeding.

Showing how strong the breeding programs in multiple countries are, four had representatives on the list with Ireland leading that charge at 17 stallions standing in that country. In addition to the United Kingdom and France, the United States is also represented by multiple sires with War Front (Danzig) having two horses listed (including the top ranked horse in Air Force Blue), the aforementioned Scat Daddy (Hennessey)  and More Than Ready’s (Southern Halo) Nemoralia rated 112.

The horse with the most ranked 2-year-olds after Galileo was Dark Angel (Acclamation), whose stud fee was advertised at €12,500 (approx. $13,653US/£9,636) in 2012 when the 2-year-olds were conceived. His first foals were 3 year olds that year and since then he has made a big name for himself with his first crop multiple Group 1 winner Lethal Force and last year’s Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes winner Mecca’s Angel leading his 13 group winners.

Joining Mecca’s Angel on their sire’s stakes performers list, 2-year-olds Gutaifan (rated 115) and Birchwood (rated 114) won Group 2 races and his two other rated 2-year-olds were a stakes winner and a Grade 1-placed horse. Those four were only a small part of his 26 stakes horses in 2015 so it is no surprise that in 2016, Dark Angel’s fee has been raised to €60,000 (approx. $65,532US/£46,262).

With the season that Zoffany (Dansili) had with his first crop of 2-year-olds it isn’t much of a surprise that last year’s Champion First-Crop Sire had the third most 2-year-olds on the list. Zoffany’s filly Illuminate was the highest rated of the three 2-year-olds by the sire with a 115 ranking, Royal Ascot winner Washington DC earning a 113 and Foundation rounding them out with a 111.

Behind Zoffany, six stallions had two 2-year-olds on the list with 24 others represented by one of the 49 horses rated for the season with just nine stallions represented by more than one horse.

The 2015 rankings also saw a changing of the guard in with Zoffany, Canford Cliffs (Tagula) and Dream Ahead (Diktat) all having at least one horse listed, joining pensioned or deceased stallions Danehill Dancer (pensioned), Bahamian Bounty (pensioned) and Scat Daddy (deceased) on the list.

“[The ranked 2-year-olds] are very different sorts of horses,” said Tester. “Shalaa’s great gift was his amazing cruising speed whilst Air Force Blue (a War Front so who won three Group 1s in 2015) has much more the profile of a Guineas horse. In remembering Johannesburg’s (Hennessy) three Group 1 wins one must bear in mind that he never won as a three-year-old, but there is every reason to think that Air Force Blue will measure up in the coming year.”

As is his tradition, Tester named a dark horse who wasn’t rated as a horse to follow next year. That 2-year-old, Royal Artillery, was one of multiple impressive War Front sons to race in Europe last year. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sires to Watch: Europe's New Fathers

In 2015 a strong group of colts retired to breeding sheds around Europe, giving breeders an embarrassment of riches to choose from. In 2016, breeders will learn if they made the right choices for their mares when foals by the new stallions arrive in foaling barns around the world.

Here are only some of the popular new stallions in Europe who will be looking to prove their worth in the coming months and years as their first foals are born, hit the sales ring and ultimately the race track in 2018 and beyond.

A full brother to three-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Goldikova, Anodin (Anabaa) nearly won his own Mile in 2014 when finishing second to Karakontie (Bernstein). Anodin only crossed the line first in a Group 3 event but he was second or third in five Group or Grade 1 events in his career in three different countries. In 2016, Anodin will stand for €7,500 (approx. $8,168US/£5,731) in France for the second consecutive year.

Touted as one of the best horses to ever come through Coolmore’s Ballydoyle training center, Australia is bred to be a sire. The Galileo son is out of champion mare Ouija Board and won both the Group 1 British and Irish Derbys, the Group 1 Juddmonte International and finishing second in the Group 1 QIPCO 2,000 Guineas and Group 1 Irish Champions Stakes. Australia was bred to 178 mares in 2015 at a fee of €50,000 (approx. $54,432US/£38,206) and will stand for the same price in 2016.

A group stakes winner in France, Australia and Hong Kong and Group 1-placed in England, Dunaden (Nicobar) provided breeders with an internationally proven racehorse in 2015. Dunaden won the 2011 Group 1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase, Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup and 2012 Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup during his career in addition to finishing second in the Group 1 Investec Coronation Cup and Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in 2014. Dunaden covered 99 mares in 2015 at a fee of £3,000 (approx. $4,274US/€3,926) with 62 percent of the mares winning at least one race. He stands for the same fee in 2016.

Video courtesy of Tomjamo72

Named Europe’s Cartier Horse of the Year in addition to being named champion 3-year-old colt in 2014, Kingman (Invincible Spirit) won both his races at two before coming alive at three. The bay won four Group 1s include the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas, Group 1 P. Fresnay le Buffard Jacques Le Marois and Group 1 St. James Palace against some of the best milers on the track at the time in addition to finishing second in the Group 1 QIPCO 2,000 Guineas. Out of a Group 1 winning half-sister to champion Oasis Dream (Green Desert) and from the family of Beat Hollow (Sadler’s Wells), Kingman had the full support of Juddmonte behind him with Frankel’s dam Kind (Danehill) leading the 143 mares he bred last year at a fee of £55,000 (approx. $78,356US/€71,976), the same he’ll be at in 2016.

The busiest stallion in Europe in 2015, Cartier champion stayer Leading Light (Montjeu) was added to Coolmore’s National Hunt roster where he bred 320 mares at a fee of €4,500 (approx. $4,898US/£3,438). Leading Light proved to be a superb route horse, breaking his maiden at nine furlongs in Oct. of his 2-year-old year and following that up with two 10 furlong victories before moving up to longer distance races. Leading Light won Group 1 races at 14.5 furlongs (the Ladbrokes St. Leger), 20 furlongs (the Ascot Gold Cup) and finishing second in a 14 furlong Group 1 (the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger), cementing himself a spot on the National Hunt roster. In 2016, Leading Light will be standing for the same fee as 2015.

While Morpheus (Oasis Dream) was the black sheep of Kind’s sons in his racing career, never running in a group stakes race, that didn’t stop breeders to flocking to Frankel’s half-brother in 2015. The full brother to multiple Grade 3-placed Joyeuse attracted 142 mares in his first season at stud in Ireland at a fee of €6,000 (approx. $6,531US/£4,584) with 18 of them at least placing in stakes races. In 2016, Morpheus has a slight fee drop to €5,000 (approx. $5,443US/£3,820).

A Group 2 winner at 4, Mukhadram (Shamardal) beat horses like Grade 1 winner Wigmore Hall (High Chaparral) and U.S. champion Main Sequence (Aldebaran) that year while finishing close behind Al Kazeem (Dubawi) in two Group 1 races. But 2014 was the year Mukhadram finally got that elusive Group 1 win, beating Trading Leather (Teofilo) in the Coral Eclipse Stakes after finishing second to African Story (Pivotal) in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup. A month later, he added another Group 1 placing to his resume when finishing third in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes to Taghrooda (Sea the Stars). In 2015 he bred 118 mares at a fee of £7,000 (approx. $78,356US/€9,160), the same fee he stands for in 2016.

A Group/Graded stakes winner in Europe and the United States No Nay Never looks like he’s the most likely successor to his sire Scat Daddy, who died at the end of 2015. No Nay Never was named champion 2-year-old in France in 2013 after winning the Group 1 Darley Prix Morney, the same year he won the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. Based in the United States throughout his career, No Nay Never tried conventional dirt for the first time at Gulfstream Park in the Group 2 Swale Stakes in his 3-year-old debut, finishing second. After a lengthy break, he won his first graded stakes in the country when taking the Grade 3 Keeneland Woodford Stakes as a prep for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, where he finished second to Bobby’s Kitten (Kitten’s Joy). No Nay Never covered 146 mares at a fee of €20,000 (approx. $21,772US/£15,282) in 2015 with his fee dropping to €17,500 (approx. $19,051US/£13,372) in 2016.
No Nay Never
A two-time champion, Olympic Glory (Choisir) won four Group 1 races in his three-year career with those wins spread between France and England. Also included on his resume were wins in three other group stakes affairs for eight victories in 15 starts and five other on-the-board finishes, including three Group 1 races for over  €1.85-million ($2-million/£1.4-million) in earnings. He will be standing for €15,000 (approx. $16,329US/£11,462) in 2016.

The 2013 Group 1 Investec Derby winner, Ruler of the World (Galileo) won four of his 11 starts while finishing on-the-board in two others, including a third place finish in the Group 1 QIPCO Champion Stakes. In addition to the Derby, Ruler of the World won a Group 3 during his 3-year-old season and added a Group 2 win to his resume as a 4-year-old when winning the Qatar Prix Foy in France, defeating Flintshire (Dansili) in the process. A breeding shed injury interrupted Ruler of the World’s first season at stud, ultimately leading to him covering 80 mares at a stud fee of €15,000 (approx. $16,329US/£11,462) but he has fully recovered and will be standing for €10,000 (approx. $10,886US/£7,641) this year.

A dual champion in Germany, Sea the Moon (Sea the Stars) was an impressive winner of the Group 1 IDEE Deutsches Derby (German Derby) in 2014 in addition to two other group stakes races in his five race career cut short by injury. Sea the Moon was undefeated until his final start when he finished second in a Group 1 while reinjuring himself, which forced him out of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and into retirement. Standing in England, Sea the Moon stood for €15,000 (approx. $16,329US/£11,462) in 2015 and covered 132 mares. He will be standing for the same fee in 2016.

Attracting one of the best books of any of the new stallions in 2015 of the 148 mares Slade Power (Dutch Art) bred, 91 are stakes winners or daughters, dams or siblings of stakes winners. Slade Power won two listed stakes races at three but at four and five took over the European sprinting scene when winning the Group 1 Darley July Cup, the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes, the Group 2 QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes and two group 3 events in addition to placing in three other group stakes events. Standing at Darley Stud’s Kildangan Stud in Ireland, the 2014 champion sprinter stood for €20,000 (approx. $21,772US/£15,282) in 2015 and returns at that fee in 2016.

Named Europe’s joint champion 3-year-old colt and 3-year-old miler in 2013, Toronado is a four time group stakes winner by High Chaparral. The stallion won some of the most prestigious Group 1 races in his career, including the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot against Verrazano (More Than Ready) and Anodin and the 2013 QIPCO Sussex Stakes against Dawn Approach (New Approach) and Declaration of War (War Front). Toronado finished on-the-board in four other races, including three Group 1 races to retire at a stud fee of £15,000 (approx. $21,370US/€19,630). Attracting 152 mares in 2015, Toronado returns for the same fee in 2016.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Stallion Series: Karakontie

The first of two straight Bernstein horses to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Karakontie retires to Gainesway in Lexington, Ky. for 2016.

A horse with truly international ties, Karakonite is a Japanese-bred stallion out of a Japanese-bred mare and by a U.S.-bred stallion who was based in Kentucky until his death. To make his resume even more international, Karakonite primarily raced in France but also shipped to the United States for the Breeders’ Cup on two occasions.

Karakontie started his career in July of his 2-year-old season, winning a seven furlong race over very soft turf against a field that included future Group 1 winner Ectot (Hurricane Run). After a close second in his next start, Karakontie ended his season with two group stakes victories including a Group 1 in the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere over a field that included multiple Grade 1 winner Charm Spirit (Invincible Spirit).

Coming back in April of the following season, Karakontie was bested by Ectot in their second career meeting by a neck in the Group 3 Prix de Fontainbleau. But that race just knocked the rust off Karakontie for his next start, the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains.

Racing in midpack until the stretch, Karakontie and Prestige Vendome (Orpen) split the leader as the field straightened up. Karakontie held the advantage after that move but wasn’t able to pull away from Prestige Vendome, winning by only a neck with Pornichet (Vespone) 1 ¼ lengths back in third. The victory gave Karakontie a classic win and encouraged his connections to try and stretch him out.

That move didn’t work for Karakontie, who finished midpack in the 10.5 furlong Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club behind The Grey Gatsby (Mastercraftsman). Given the summer off, Karakontie returned in the seven furlong Grade 1 Qatar Prix de la Foret on Oct. 5 but put in his first bad performance at a mile or less when he finished fourth from last.

However, that set his backers up well for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Going off at odds of 30-to-1, Karakontie raced between seven and a half and five lengths off the pacesetter Obviously (Choisir) during the first four calls. But as Obviously tired on the front end coming into the stretch, Karakontie flew past the few horses between him and the leader and pulled away from him by a few lengths as they neared the wire. Anodin (Anabaa), the full brother to three-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Goldikova, closed late to finish a length behind Karakontie for a French exacta.

In 2015, Karakontie returned for three more starts but two of those starts were off-the-board finishes. Sandwiched between those two performances was a glimpse of the old Karakontie when he finished third in the Group 1 Qatar Prix du Moulin de Longchamp two lengths behind the winning Ervedya (Siyouni).

After an unsuccessful bid to repeat his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Karakontie retired to Gainesway where he’ll stand for a fee of $15,000 (approx. €12,789/£10,409) in 2016.

Karakontie is by the Storm Cat stallion Bernstein, who won four races including two Irish Group 3 events. Bernstein retired to Buck Pond Farm in Lexington, Ky. before moving to Castleton-Lyons where he was euthanized in 2011 at 14 years old due to complications from colic.

From 11 crops, Bernstein had 817 foals of which 649 made it to the track with 517 of those winning at least one race. That group includes five percent stakes winners (44) and 40 horses who have hit the board in stakes races for over $49-million in progeny earnings as of Jan. 13.

Other than Karakontie, Bernstein has sired 18 Grade or Group 1 winners including last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile winner and probable champion Tepin, Argentina Group 1 winners Savoir Bien and Storm Mayor, and Grade 1 winner and Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies’ placed Dream Empress.

While there are five stallions by Bernstein standing in North America, Karakontie is the only Bernstein son standing for more than $2,500 in 2016. However, it is very unlikely that any other son of Bernstein has a female family as strong as Karakontie.

Karakontie was bred and owned by Flaxman Holdings, promising that he’d have a strong family behind him from the start. His dam Sun Is Up was bred in Japan and by the country’s breed shaping stallion, 1989 U.S. Horse of the Year Sunday Silence.

Karakontie in 2015
She raced in France at 2- and 3 years old before going to the United States where she spent seven seasons being bred to U.S.-based sires. Of the foals born from those matings, she produced the Mineshaft colt Bottega in 2007, who won 13 races including a listed stakes and placed 28 times. She also produced the Lemon Drop Kid colt Sunday Sunrise, who won the Veteran Stakes at Zia Park.

After being bred to Bernstein, she returned to Japan in late 2010. Sun Is Up had an unraced colt by Bago named Altitudes in 2012 and was bred to King Kamehameha in 2013 and 2015 but didn’t have a foal in either year.

Sun Is Up’s dam Moon Is Up is a daughter of the bluehen and great racemare Miesque.

By Woodman, Moon Is Up won a stakes race and placed third in a Group 3 before joining the broodmare band. She produced seven winners from nine named foals according to JBIS. Her best was the Pivotal mare Amanee, who won the Group 1 Thekwini Stakes and Group 2 Korea Racing Authority Fillies Guineas, both in South Africa. Another Sunday Silence daughter of Moon Is Up to produce a stakes horse was Seven Moons, who is the dam of Group 3 runner Dona Niarchos. Moon Is Up’s final foal listed on JBIS is the Fastnet Rock horse Jadeer, who was born in 2012.

Going on to Karakontie’s third dam, breeders see one of the best mares in the stud book in Miesque (Nureyev).

Miseque was a multiple Group 1 winner who was named champion in Europe twice and won two Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Miles during her career. It would be hard to imagine a mare with Miesque’s resume becoming a better producer than racehorse but that’s exactly what she did.

The mare is the dam of influential sire and classic winner Kingmambo (Mr. Prospector), who won three Group 1 races in his career. His half-sister East of the Moon (Private Account) was also a French classic winner, winning two of the filly classics in the country before producing winners as a broodmare including the Group 3 winner Moon Driver (Mr. Prospector). Miseque had two other group stakes winners but other than Kingmambo, the best producer out of the mare may be Monevassia (Mr. Prospector). 

Monevassia’s 2003 filly Rumplestiltskin (Danehill) was named Europe’s champion 2-year-old filly in 2005 and was a Group 1 winner in two countries. Rumplestiltskin’s daughter Tapestry (Galileo) kept the championships coming when she was named Ireland’s 2014 champion 3-year-old filly after winning the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks and finishing second in the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks that year. Tapestry was also a Group 2 winner as two and second in a Group 2 in 2015 at 4. Another notable filly from Monevassia’s line is her daughter I Am Beautiful (Rip Van Winkle), who won the Group 3 Balanchine Stakes in Ireland in 2014.

Other notable names from the other lines of Miesque’s daughters are listed stakes winner and classic placed Wild Wind (Danehill Dancer) and Group 3 winner and classic placed Real Steel (Deep Impact).

Karakontie is the latest in a large group of European-based racehorses who have come to Kentucky for stud in recent years. He is also continuing the tradition of Gainesway importing stallions from Europe. In past decades, Gainesway stood influential sires Blushing Groom (Red God), Vaguely Noble (Vienna) and Riverman (Never Bend) among others who were imported from Europe and helped change the American Thoroughbred.

One of two new stallions in Kentucky standing for $15,000 in addition to outside breeders, Karakontie will be supported by both Gainesway and the Niarchos family in 2016, an opportunity that will help him get a strong crop of first foals for both the sales ring and the racetrack in coming years.