Bargain Sire: Congrats
Congrats had 61 2-year-olds run that first year and had 25 winners including three graded stakes winners and 12 other stakes horses. His results were good enough to top the First-Crop Sire list over a generation that included the high profile Bernardini (A.P. Indy) and future top sire War Front (Danzig). It was the first time since Valid Expectations led the First-Crop Sires list in 2001 that a stallion standing outside of Kentucky during his first season at stud led the list.
Congrats had moved to Vinery Farm’s Florida division in 2008 after Cloverleaf Farms closed at the end of 2007, which made a move to Kentucky after his first 2-year-olds’ success easier. He was transferred to Vinery’s Kentucky farm late in 2010 and his fee raised to $15,000 for 2011 from the $4,500 he had stood for in 2010.
Over the next three years, Congrats’ Florida crops continued to keep him near the top of his generation’s leading sire lists with five stakes winners in 2011 to finish fourth on the second crop sire list, and six stakes winners to finish ninth on the third crop list in 2012.
While his Florida crops yielded his best runner in $1.2-million earner Turbulent Descent and Grade 1 winners Wickedly Perfect and Emma’s Encore, he was about to take another step up when his first Kentucky-bred runners turned two in 2014.
Congrats had bred 205 mares in his first Kentucky season for 162 live foals with 72 of them making their debuts during their 2-year-old season. Eighteen of those won that year with two stakes winners including Grade 1 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Top Decile. At the end of the year Congrats beat out stallions such as Super Saver (Maria’s Mon), Kitten’s Joy (El Prado), Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), Tapit (Pulpit) and War Front (Danzig) on the 2-year-old sires list.
In 2015, Congrats’ 2-year-olds produced 16 winners from 47 starters for a 34 percent strike rate, although none of the 47 won a stakes race. However, the stallion fared better on the General Sires list with 146 winners for a 57 percent strike rate including four stakes winners. While the stallion didn’t have a big horse with his top earner being the $224,116 earner Temper Mint Patty, his runners earned $6,721,323 spreading the wealth around with average earnings of $27,153 per starter.
While Congrats has had solid results from his first few years in Kentucky this looks like it may be his banner year.
Continuing a role that started as soon as the year turned, the 16-year-old stallion is coming out of a weekend where he had three daughters win stakes races in North America. Led by the surprising 74.20-to-1 Grade 2 Twinspires.com Rachel Alexandra Stakes winner Venus Valentine, Haveyougoneaway and Cash Back each won their respective stakes races as well.
Video courtesy of TVG
Congrats’ first stakes win of 2016 came with Forever Darling in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez on Jan. 2 but February has been even better to him. Polar River proved she by far the best 3-year-old filly, and possibly best overall 3-year-old, in Dubai when she stayed undefeated in the UAE One Thousand Guineas Sponsored By Friday. Two days later, the 4-year-old filly Pangburn gave him his stakes second win of the month with Pangburn winning the Maryland Racing Media Stakes before the three aforementioned fillies won their stakes last weekend.
While we are only 54 days into the year and a lot can change, Congrats looks to shake up the General Sire standings. He’s had 32 winners overall this year for a 23 percent strike rate and at least two fillies who look like they are headed to the Grade 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks in May. The stallion also has 89 2-year-olds waiting to start later this year.
Congrats had 100 live foals in 2015 (from 137 mares bred) and bred 106 mares in 2015 so his Kentucky crops should continue to stay strong in coming years. But if that isn’t enough to sell breeders on him, his pedigree give him an extra perk.
A.P. Indy as a sire doesn’t really need any introduction when it comes to being a sire-of-sires. The stallion is the sire or grandsire of five of the top 12 stallions on the General Sire list right now including the record-breaking Tapit in addition to having four of the top 10 sires on the Leading Second-Crop Sire list. His final crop included champion Honor Code and Grade 1 winner Got Lucky among others.
But no matter how good the sire of a stallion is, the female family is just as important and Congrats also has that piece of the puzzle.
Congrats is by the winning Mr. Prospector mare Praise. Now 22 years old, Praise has produced seven winners with Congrats leading her foals. Congrats’ full brother Flatter was only graded stakes placed during his career but has also turned into a good sire in his own right, led by Grade 1 winner Flat Out and Grade 2 winner Upstart. Flatter is also the sire of recent big horses Taris and Kobe’s Back to sit 10th on the General Sires list.
Praise’s other stakes horse is the Go for Gin gelding Gigger, whose stakes placing came over the fences at Saratoga. Praise still has young horses who are able to update the page farther with a 3-year-old War Front colt named Command, a 2-year-old War Front colt named Homage and a yearling War Front colt.
Praise is out of the Northern Dancer graded stakes winner Wild Applause who has carved out her own successful line of producers. She produced Grade 1 winner Eastern Echo (Damascus) and Grade 3 winner Blare of Trumpets (Fit to Fight) during her time in Paul Mellon’s broodmare band before adding Yell (A.P. Indy) and Roar (Forty Niner) to her resume after Claiborne bought her from the Mellon dispersal.
After a racing career that earned her nearly $600,000, Yell retired to the shed for Claiborne and has her own stakes winning daughter in American Beauty winner Cherry (Distorted Humor). With all seven of her foals to race winning at least one race, she has also produced Grade 1-placed Chide (Blame) and stakes placed Shrill (Distorted Humor). But it may be Wild Applause’s winning daughter Queens Wild (Spectacular Bid) who has the most impact on the family.
Queens Wild is responsible for the A.P. Indy daughter Meghan’s Joy. A stakes placed runner herself, the mare is the producer of four graded stakes winners, one stakes winner, a Grade 3-placed runner and the dam of Grade 3 winner Onus (Blame). Two other Queens Wild daughters have also produced stakes placed horses but Meghan’s Joy is the one from the family who has consistently produced stakes winners and producers.
Wild Applause’s dam is 1993 Broodmare of the Year Glowing Tribute (Granustark). In addition to Wild Applause, the mare produced Grade 1 Kentucky Derby hero Sea Hero (Polish Navy), Grade 1 winner Hero’s Honor, Grade 2 winner Glowing Honor (Seattle Slew) and Grade 3 winners Coronation Cup (Chief’s Crown) and Mackie (Summer Squall).
Video courtesy of Kentucky Derby
Glowing Tribute is granddam of European champion sprinter Mozart (Danehill), third dam of Group 1 winner Mawingo (Tertullian) and fourth dam of Chilean champion Il Campione (Scat Daddy).
When digging farther back in Congrats’ pedigree, you find influential bluehen mare La Troienne (Teddy) in the seventh generation of his female family to complete the big picture.
Congrats has proven to be a major sire of fillies with eight of his top performers by earnings coming from the fairer sex but he can obviously throw a good colt or gelding with the gelded I’m Steppin’ It Up his second best runner by earnings. However, if trying to get a high priced yearling to sell at auction fillies are your best bet with the sire.
While his overall yearling average last year came in at $56,442 according to Blood-Horse, his fillies averaged $70,474 with his colts on over $20,000 lower at $48,364. The price difference was seen even more at 2-year-old auctions when Congrats daughters averaged $115,785 for 13 sold and the colts brought an average of $52,933 for 15 sold.
Five of Congrats’ top 10 earners have at least one thing in common with Storm Cat as their damsire’s sire (or grandsire in the case of one horse). The best damsire of this cross seems to be Forestry, who is the damsire of two of Congrats’ top 10 earners with nine winners from 15 starts coming from the cross. Another cross worth mentioning is Congrats with Mr. Prospector-lined mares as he can be found behind the damsire of two of the top 10 earners’ dams. In one case he is the sire of the runner’s damsire and in another the grandsire of the damsire.
In 2016, Congrats is standing for $20,000 at WinStar Farm with lifetime average earnings per runner sitting at $61,888 as of Feb. 21.