As the racing season starts to ramp up, eyes are turning to last year’s First-Crop sires to see if their runners can continue on as 3-year-olds. There are over 300 stallions listed on Blood-Horse as having their first 3-year-olds this year but here are six in North America that the racing industry should have an eye on in 2016.
While Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) set records in 2015 as the leading First-Crop sire and has the most 3-year-olds nominated to the Triple Crown of any sire, there are skeptics about how his 3-year-olds will train on this year. While the doubts make sense as a number of good first year sires haven’t had a lot of success in subsequent years and Uncle Mo wasn’t as brilliant as a 3-year-old as he was at 2, I personally don’t see any reason why his horses won’t step up this year. While not as brilliant as he was at 2 Uncle Mo himself was a good 3-year-old, even with his illness knocking him out for a decent chunk of the year, winning the Grade 2 Kelso and being only a nose away from winning a Grade 1 in his return to the track. As of Feb. 8, Uncle Mo leads the Second-Crop standings by earnings with $527,029, over $200,00 more than his nearest competitor, and is tied with Twirling Candy by winners with nine. In 2016, he took a large stud fee jump to $75,000 (approx. €66,844/£52,001).
Twirling Candy (Candy Ride) was one of the hot sires at the 2-year-old sales last year with an $186,000 average from 18 sold including a $630,000 filly and $500,000 colt, according to Thoroughbred Daily News. While he couldn’t keep up with Uncle Mo in the earnings department, $2.5-million behind that sire in progeny earnings, he did have only three less winners with 28 less runners so he held his own in that category. Twirling Candy did miss out on an important win category with zero stakes winners, the only stallion in the top nine not to have any stakes winners. In 2016, Twirling Candy is tied with Uncle Mo with nine winners as of Feb. 8 and has taken a $5,000 jump to a $15,000 (approx. €13,368/£10,400) stud fee for this year.
Somewhat of a surprising stallion in last year’s first crop rankings was Girolamo (A.P. Indy), who proved that he is a promising sire. The stallion, who spent his first two seasons at stud in New York, finished No. 3 on that list and had 19 winners from 44 runners (43.2 percent) with a stakes winner (who also finished third in a Grade 1) and four other stakes horses. Girolamo is a full brother to graded stakes winners Daydreaming and Accelerator and Supercharger, the dam of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. This year Girolamo has 150 foals of racing age with 63 2-year-olds of which 18 sold last year for an average of $68,728 and median of $67,560. That average was up over $20,000 and the median over $50,000 from his 29 yearlings sold in 2014. Girolamo stands for a stud fee of $15,000 in 2016, a $10,000 rise from his 2015 fee.
The sire of Kentucky Derby hopeful Cherry Wine, Paddy O’Prado (El Prado) had 15 winners in his first crop. Of that, three horses win or placed in stakes races led by Above Fashion. Paddy O’Prado himself didn’t win at two (although he did place in the Grade 2 With Anticipation) but won four graded stakes at three including a Grade 1 so it won’t be surprising to see his runners performing better this year. Paddy O’Prado has had large crops in his first two years with 106 2-year-olds last year and 123 this year so he definitely has the numbers to support him in his first years at stud. He’s standing for $5,000 (approx. €4,456/£3,466) in 2016, a drop from the $9,500 (approx. €8,467/£6,586) he was at in 2015.
A Grade 1 winner by Speightstown, Haynesfield had 11 winners last year with one of his runners winning three stakes races. While not putting up flashy numbers in 2015, the stallion is off to a solid start early this year with seven of his 24 runners (29 percent) already winning at least one race as of Feb. 8. As with all of the stallions Airdrie Stud stands, Haynesfield has the farm’s powerful broodmare band behind him to give him added support. While Haynesfield won a stakes race at 2, his best running arguably started late in his 3-year-old year and with the stallion winning his first graded stakes in late November and getting a Grade 1 win as a 4-year-old. If that’s any indication of his runners’ path of progression, the best is yet to come for him. He stands for $10,000 (approx. €8,912/£6,933) this year, the same fee he’s stood at since he retired.
A dark horse this year may be Florida’s Big Drama (Montbrook), the winner of the 2010 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. A stakes winner every year of his career, from limited foals to race he seems to be succeeding in this avenue too. Last year he finished seventh in the First-Crop rankings with 13 winners from 35 runners for $797,010 in earnings including Affirmed Stakes winner Tribal Drama. He was ranked No. 18 on both the Florida and Southeast lists and this year sits 13th on both lists as of Feb. 8. Even though the stallion only had one stakes winner last year, he had five other horses place in stakes races, giving him 15.4 percent blacktype earners from starters. He is off to a slow start this year with just one winner from 22 starters but has 41 2-year-olds revving up for their first starts later this year. At a fee of $15,000, he is currently the most expensive stallion in Florida.