Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Looking at Dubai World Cup Winner California Chrome

California Chrome
One of only three Kentucky Derby winners this century to race past his 4-year-old season, California Chrome became the all-time highest earner outside of Japan on Saturday when he won the $6-million winner’s share of the Dubai World Cup purse and boosted his earnings to $12,532,650.

The winner of 12 of 21 races, the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit was under the radar as a 2-year-old, winning only three of his seven starts but has quickly risen to be one of the most popular active racehorses in the world after dominating the Kentucky Derby trail in 2014 and winning two legs of the Triple Crown.

California Chrome was only a neck short of adding the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic to his resume at the end of that year, finishing third to Bayern (Offlee Wild) before closing the season with a Grade 1 win on turf in the Hollywood Derby. His 2015 seasons was derailed a bit when, after a pair of seconds including the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, he went on an ambitious campaign to England but never started due to an abscess. Shipping back to North America and aiming at the Arlington Million, it was discovered that he had bone bruising before he could make another start.

The colt rested for the rest of the year at Taylor Made Farm, who had bought into him that summer with an eye on a 2016 campaign.

California Chrome returned to the races on January 9 of this year, his first start since last year’s Dubai World Cup, and looked like he was in top form when winning the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths. He shipped to Dubai in late January for a prep race in the desert and won that easily on Feb. 25. Looking to avenge his loss from the previous year, California Chrome’s winning run looked nearly effortless as he pulled away from the field in the final furlong and a half to win by a comfortable 3 ¼ lengths over Mubtaahij (Dubawi) even with his girth turning into a flank strap near the end of the race.

California Chrome will be sent to Taylor Made for a freshening after he clears quarantine later this week before gearing up for a late 2016 campaign. At the end of the year, California Chrome will retire to Taylor Made and begin his stud career where he’ll be joined by fellow Dubai World Cup runner Mshawish (Medaglia d’Oro).

California Chrome brings an interesting pedigree to Kentucky for breeders in 2017.

He is by the stallion Lucky Pulpit, who showed promise throughout his career but was never able to fully live up to it due to a variety of issues. While the stallion never won a graded stakes, he was a stakes winner at five furlongs on the turf and hit the board in two graded stakes during his career.

Lucky Pulpit is predictably by Pulpit who has turned into a good sire himself. Pulpit is the sire of 71 stakes winners as of March 27, according to Equineline and is the sire of record-breaking leading sire Tapit, so it’s hard for any other son to compare to him but there is hope from many that the Tapit success will carry to other sons as well. It definitely doesn’t hurt that one generation behind Pulpit is A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) who is one of the most influential sires in North America in recent times.

A.P. Indy on March 17, 2016
Lucky Pulpit’s dam is out of the multiple graded stakes winner Lucky Spell (Lucky Mel), who has 16 stakes winners under her name on his page. One of those names is extremely familiar to Taylor Made as it is their late leading sire Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled). Unbridled’s Song was a cornerstone of the farm’s stallion program before dying in mid-2013. Ironically, California Chrome was stalled across the aisle from Unbridled Song’s son Graydar when he was at Taylor Made last summer.
California Chrome’s dam Love the Chase is by Not For Love (Mr. Prospector), a cornerstone of Maryland's breeding program. A stakes placed stallion, the 26-year-old Not for Love was pensioned last year as Maryland’s leading sire by lifetime progeny earnings and juvenile earnings and was also the highest ranked non-Kentucky stallion on the general sires list for many years.

While Not For Love’s family was always strong as is expected from a Phipps family horse, it has had even more success in the last decade.

Not For Love is out of Grade 1 winner Dance Number (Northern Dancer), who produced multiple successes by Mr. Prospector including champion 2-year-old colt Rhythm (Mr. Prospector). Her biggest success may have been the Mr. Prospector filly Get Lucky, who won a Grade 3 then became the matriarch of a family that includes 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver (Maria’s Mon) and Grade 1 winners Imagining (Giant’s Causeway), Girolamo (A.P. Indy), Callback (Street Sense), Got Lucky (A.P. Indy) and Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat). 

Got Lucky winning the 2015 Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster
Not For Love's branch of the family tree may bring the most class of California Chrome’s bottom side but the female family is that most looked at and the horse has a decent amount of class there too.

California Chrome is the first foal for Love the Chase with her only other horse to race being California Chrome’s 3-year-old half-sister Hope’s Love, who placed on debut. Love the Chase’s dam Chase It Down (Polish Numbers) had three winners herself while California Chrome’s third dam is where one can find the first non-Chrome blacktype.

That third dam is the Sir Ivor filly Chase the Dream, who won multiple stakes races during her career. She went on to produce the multiple stakes winning filly Amourette (El Gran Senor), who herself has produced the stakes winning Lemon Drop Kid filly Alette. Two of Amourette’s other foals are also stakes placed with the Lemon Drop Kid gelding Lemonade Kid finishing second in a Grade 2.

California Chrome’s fourth dam is a half-sister to the champion Cascapedia (Chieftain) and two other stakes winners with seven winners on her produce record. While California Chrome’s branch is by far the most successful of the family, another of her daughters also produced the stakes placed Mister Deux (Mister Jolie).

California Chrome isn’t the only California-bred stallion Taylor Made has had an interest in. The farm is partners with WinStar Farm on two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow (Cee’s Tizzy). Like California Chrome, Tiznow didn’t come to Kentucky with a familiar or extremely deep pedigree at the time but he has turned into a leading sire in Kentucky.

Taylor Made is doing everything it can to give California Chrome support to become a strong sire including a deal where both it and co-owner Perry Martin sold small percentages of the horse to multiple breeders to help his chance of getting more support. According to Blood-Horse, one mare who is already planning on visiting California Chrome’s court in 2017 is the undefeated mare Pepper’s Pride who most recently checked in foal to American Pharoah.

But before California Chrome can worry about breeding, he still has a racing career to finish. Daily Racing Form reported after the Dubai World Cup that California Chrome’s next target may be the Pacific Classic in August with the ultimate goal for the year being another tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

If California Chrome can win that race, he’ll be one of six horse to complete the Kentucky Derby-Breeders’ Cup Classic since the race started in 1984. Ten Kentucky Derby winners have run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at some point in their careers with a handful of others running in Breeders’ Cup races before or after the run for the roses.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Large Mix of Pedigrees on Display in Dubai

Tapit is represented by three horses
Perhaps the most international event of the year in horse racing, Dubai World Cup night brings together horses from all sides of the world from Australia to England and Ireland to Hong Kong with nearly everything in between.

Of course with a large group of horses running from different parts of the world also comes a wide range of sires and broodmare sires. At this year’s festival, 58 different sires and 68 different broodmare sires are represented in a variety of races from a six furlong dirt sprint to a two-mile turf race. Showing the versatility of some of the bloodlines represented, some sires and damsires can be seen in both sprint and route races.

Meydan has been Dubawi’s (Dubai Millennium) personal playground the last few years and Saturday will be no different for the Darley stallion.

The 14-year-old holds the most entries of any sire on the night with six ranging from the six furlong Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News to the 1 ½ mile Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic Presented by Longines with two runners in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline as well. Dubawi earned a large chunk of his 2015 progeny earnings during the 2015 Winter Carnival and Dubai World Cup night to lead all North American and European sires at the end of the year according to Thoroughbred Daily News and he has a chance to get a headstart on the rankings again this year.

Oasis Dream (Green Desert) seems to appear everywhere in race entries and Dubai World Cup night is no different. The stallion has four entries on the card with three of those coming in the five furlong turf Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored by Meydan Hotels and Hospitality. Sticking to his sprinting roots, he also has one horse making a start a race later in the six furlong Dubai Golden Shaheen on the dirt.

Behind those two European-based stallions are two Americans along with two Europeans who have three horses entered. North America’s leading sire Tapit (Pulpit) is looking to make a big splash in the desert with three entries, including one on turf while fellow North American Hard Spun (Danzig) has two in the Group 1 Dubai Turf Sponsored by DP World with one other running on the dirt in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile Sponsored by Meydan Sobha. 

Hard Spun
But Hard Spun’s Maftool will have to battle it out with the group of Pivotal (Polar Falcon) sons in the race if he wants to take home the winner’s share of $1-million.

The 23-year-old Pivotal stands at Cheveley Park Stud in England so it may seem bit weird to see the stallion’s only representation in Dubai coming on the dirt, but he has had quite a bit of success in Meydan on no-turf surfaces. His son African Story won the 2014 Dubai World Cup on the synthetic surface but also won the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 Sponsored by Emirates Airline last year on the new dirt surface. Two of his three sons running in the race have won on the dirt surface this year as well so Pivotal has proven his offspring love the surface at this track.

Behind the above stallions are nine stallions who have two horses running on the card but the award for most versatility goes to Haafhd (Alhaarth). 

Sires with more than one horse running on Dubai World Cup night
While both his runners in Dubai come on the turf, they also come in both the shortest and longest races of the night. The stallion’s first runner comes in the two mile Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup Sponsored by Al Tayer Motors with Haafaguinea coming into the race off of two wins early in the festival and two on-the-board finishes in his last two starts. Two races later, his son Fityaan runs 11 furlongs shorter in the five furlong Al Quoz Sprint. Fityaan has run at shorter distances all meet with a win in his last start and one other on-the-board finish since late January.

Much like Dubawi in the sire ranks, Danehill (Danzig) rules the roost in the broodmare sire ranks this weekend.

A leading sire in multiple countries around the world and a leading broodmare sire in North America, Danehill’s impact will be felt in five different World Cup night races from the Golden Shaheen to the Dubai Gold Cup with two entries in the Dubai Turf. Showing his dominance, he is represented by three more horses than any other broodmare sire. Like Haafhd he also has a horse entered in the Al Quoz Sprint in addition to the Gold Cup.

Broodmare sires with more than one horse running on Dubai World Cup night
Another Danzig son in Anabaa also has multiple entries with runners out of his daughters entered in the Al Quoz Sprint, the Dubai Turf and the Dubai World Cup. He is tied with two Mr. Prospector-lined stallions in Timber Country (Woodman) and Seeking the Gold (Mr. Prospector) both also represented by three runners.

Overall, of the 11 damsires to have more than one horse in the Dubai World Cup festival five are from the Northern Dancer sire line and three are from the Mr. Prospector line.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sires To Watch: Europe's First Crop Stallions

Frankly Speaking, a 2-year-old colt by Frankel
Every spring as racing ramps up in the Northern Hemisphere, trainers prepare 2-year-olds for their new careers as racehorses. For some of those 2-year-olds, they aren’t just carrying the hopes of what they may become on their backs, they are also carrying the hopes of breeders who took a chance on their sires in their first year at stud

This year, expectations will be high for those first-crop sires with a lot of big names having their foals hit the track. Here are five stallions in Europe who we may see battling it out at the top of the First-Crop Sire list in the coming months.

One of two Juddmonte stallions with first foals hitting the track this year, Bated Breath (Dansili) is a Group 2 winning half-brother to Group 1 winner Cityscape (Selkirk). As normal for Juddmonte horses, he has family class behind him for generations with his fourth dam also the dam of champion Xaar (Zafonic). Bated Breath didn’t hit the track until he was three and didn’t win his first stakes race until he was four but as a sprinter, his foals who make it to the track early should have some early speed with Bated Breath winning stakes races at five and six furlongs. He received some of the nicest families in the stud book in his first year at stud, headlined by champion Kingman’s (Invincible Spirit) dam in 2013 and according to Weatherbys, he has 104 2-year-olds in 2016. Bated Breath stands for £10,000 (approx. €12,835/$14,462) at Banstead Manor Stud in England.

Blood doesn’t get much more royal than that which runs through Born to Sea’s veins. Born to Sea is the final foal out of the great Urban Sea (Miswaki) and by ultra hot sire Invincible Spirit (Green Desert). While he didn’t live up to what some of his siblings did on the track, he was good enough to earn a classic race placing in 2012. Born to Sea started his career at Rathasker Stud before moving to Gilltown Stud to stand beside his half-brother Sea the Stars (Cape Cross) last year. Nearly every one of Urban Sea’s foals has produced stakes horses, both sons and daughters, and Born to Sea shouldn’t be any different. He has 87 2-year-olds this year and stands for €10,000 (approx. £7,791/$11,268) in Ireland.

You can never count out Coolmore freshman stallions and Excelebration (Exceed and Excel) is no exception. Well received at European sales as yearlings, Excelebration’s 103 2-year-olds have the advantage of their sire being precocious at two and winning two of his three starts that year. Excelebration also got better with age, named champion 3-year-old in Germany in 2011 and champion older horse in Ireland in 2012. Excelebration’s biggest problem on the track was a horse named Frankel (Galileo), who he faced five times with four seconds and one third. Excelebration stands for €15,000 (approx. £11,684/$16,902) at Coolmore in Ireland.
Andariel, a 2-year-old filly by Excelebration
Arguably the most anticipated 2-year-olds in the world to hit the track this year are those by the above-mentioned, undefeated Frankel. A perfect 14-for-14 in his career, including 10 Group 1 events, Frankel was a champion every year he raced. Predictably, Frankel had luck in the sales ring with his first crop and his 2-year-olds are some of the bluest of blue bloods. According to Racing Post, The mares he bred in 2013 included 38 Group or Grade 1 winners, 26 dams of Group or Grade 1 winners and 92 stakes horses with 52 dams of stakes winners. According to Weatherbys, Frankel has 111 2-year-olds ready to hit the track. Frankel stands for £125,000 (approx. €160,467/$180,815) at Banstead Manor Stud in England.

Group 2 winner Harbour Watch (Acclamation) was extremely popular in his first season at stud, enough so that he has 131 2-year-olds this year. He was undefeated in his three career starts at two and is the half-brother to a multiple South African Group 1 winner in the Rock of Gibraltar filly Europa Point. Under his third dam, there are six champions including U.S. champion Timber Country (Woodman) and European champion Dubai Millennium. Harbour Watch’s early success bodes well for his 2-year-olds while his foaling numbers give him an advantage in the 2-year-old sire rankings. He stands at Tweenhills in England for a stud fee of £7,500 (approx. €9,619/$10,848).

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Observations from OBS March

The late Scat Daddy was represented by a $535,000 filly.
With over 300 2-year-olds finding new homes at the two-day Ocala Breeders’Co March Sale of 2-year-olds in training, there was much to take in at the second major 2-year-old sale of the season. 

While not as many horses caused the $1-million mark fireworks seen at Fasig-Tipton’s Florida Sale, there was still enough to keep buyers entertained throughout the sale.

Here are a few observations from the sale on stallions, buyers, and fairy tale purchases.

Farewell to Smart Strike – Buyers still have a few more years before they are faced with trying to purchase horses from the final Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector) crop but his farewell tour was well underway at OBS March. His only yearling to sell at Fasig-Tipton Florida earlier this month sold for $200,000 but he bested that by more than $1-million with a colt out of Grade 2-placed Glamorista selling for $1.7-million to top the sale. Overall, the former leading sire had a good few days with all four of his offerings finding new homes (one as a private sale) at prices from $125,000 to $1.7-million. Smart Strike has 97 2-year-olds, according to Equineline, so don’t be surprised if he has a few more standouts in upcoming sales.
Smart Strike
Young Sires – While not as many of the most expensive horses were by young stallions as Fasig-Tipton, the up-and-comers were still represented at OBS. Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) had Tuesday’s session topper with Repole Stable and M.V. Magnier partnering to buy a $1.3-million colt and overall, the second-crop sire had six horses sell for over $200,000. Twirling Candy (Candy Ride) hit it out of the park with the third and fourth highest priced horses of the sale with an $850,000 colt and $825,000 filly adding to a week that started when Danzing Candy put himself on the Derby trail with a win in the San Felipe Stakes on Saturday.
Uncle Mo
Variety Abound – While all the expected stallions names were represented at the top of the list, 17 stallions made up the top 20 priced horses with only Uncle Mo, Twirling Candy and Curlin (Smart Strike) having more than one horse in the group with two each. Nearly every 2013 stud fee price range was represented in the group with some “oldies but goodies” in there like Tapit (Pulpit), War Front (Danzig), Smart Strike, Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy) and Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat) in addition to newer stallions such as Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday), Curlin, Bodemeister (Empire Maker) and the aforementioned Uncle Mo and Twirling Candy all making their presence as emerging sires known.

Partnerships – Seeing major racing stables combine to buy at sales isn’t a new thing but it seemed to be all the rage here. Of the 22 most expensive horses, six were bought by partnerships with WinStar and China Horse Club partnering on four of those. The $850,000 Twirling Candy colt was one of those horses with the duo also adding Al Shaqab Racing to the group on that purchase. The partnerships definitely weren’t only put together for expensive horses with some of those big stables pairing up to buy horses in the lower six digits as well. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues at a high scale at future sales and what it means for consignors when they don’t have as many people bidding against each other for big ticket horses.

Pinhooking Success – We all hear how hard it is to make money with horses, and that is a very valid observation. Sales prep, especially for 2-year-old sales, is not cheap and it can be hard to make money on pinhooking purchases. But it also can turn out really well in some instances. For the second time in as many sales, Cary Frommer was an example of this. At Fasig-Tipton two weeks ago, she sold an Uncle Mo colt for $1-million after purchasing him as a yearling in October for $90,000. This week, Frommer came close to topping the sale with another Uncle Mo colt when one she bought for $150,000 in September sold for $1.3-million. Another success story was the Twirling Candy filly mentioned a few paragraphs above. She was bought for $50,000 as a weanling by Carrie Brogden of Machmer Hall, scratched from a yearling sale last year, came back this year to breeze a bullet last week and sell for $825,000 to be the highest priced filly of the sale.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sires to Watch: Interesting OBS March Stallions

Candy Ride
Tuesday marks the start of the second major 2-year-old sale of the year and with 521 2-year-olds slated to go through the ring at OBS's March Sale as of Sunday morning, buyers have a variety of horses to choose from. While buyers have long been doing their homework for this sale, they got their first glimpse of the potential the horses show on the track last week when the 2-year-olds put in their only public breeze before going through the ring at the breeze show. 

With bullets of :9.3 for a furlong and :20.2 over a quarter mile, the 2-year-olds were motoring over the synthetic surface at OBS with 48 horses working under 10 seconds during the three-day preview last week. While buyers can always expect stallions like Tapit (Pulpit), Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) and War Front (Danzig) to be popular, the breeze show highlighted a few others that may be worth a second look before they enter the ring over the next few days. 

Here are eight stallions whose 2-year-olds caught my eye going into this sale.

It’s no surprise that the Bodemeister (Empire Maker) 2-year-olds are horses to watch. He’s been the most hyped horse of the 2013 freshman sires crop since he retired and if he didn’t get the best book of mares of any of the new stallions in North America that year, it was close. Bodemeister’s highest priced horse at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale two weeks ago was a $650,000 colt and at OBS he had two fillies work in :9.4 with a pair of colts hitting the :10.0 mark as well. His horses didn’t work as well at a quarter mile but that can be semi-forgiven in many cases at a sale this early since a lot of horses aren’t ready for that distance. Overall, Bodemeister currently has 12 horses left in this sale with his first horse through the ring being Hip 27. At Fasig-Tipton, Bodemeister was beat out by Union Rags (Dixie Union) as the sire to throw the the highest priced first-crop sire 2-year-old and they may battle it out again here but Union Rags’ fastest workers went :10.0, which may give Bodemeister an advantage.

There may not be a hotter stallion out there not named Tapit or Uncle Mo for American buyers than Candy Ride (Ride the Rails) right now. It seems like everywhere you look, Candy Ride is in the news and this is buyers’ first opportunity to get their hands on one of his 2-year-olds. He didn’t have any horse break that magical :10.0 mark but between his reputation and having multiple horses go :10.1 and :10.2 with none going slower than :10.4, it won’t be surprising to see some of his 2-year-olds bringing enough money to put him near the top of the leaderboard.

Candy Ride
Talk about a consistent group of horses for Gemologist (Tiznow). He had one 2-year-old go just a tick off the :9.3 bullet and seven of his 14 others to breeze a furlong went in :10.0 with four others going in :10.1. He’s one of those first crop sires who leaves a little mystery as to what he’s going to throw racehorse-wise but his breezes look promising so far. He didn’t have much luck at the Fasig-Tipton sale with both his horses RNAing but there seems to be a lot more talk about him this week, which should bode well for him. As of right now, he has 16 horses still scheduled to go through the ring.

Sent to South Korea after just one year at stud, Hansen (Tapit) will only have one U.S.-bred crop unless his first crop of 2-year-olds hit the track running and earn him a ticket back to Kentucky. Obviously breeze shows aren’t a promise that a sire’s horses will blow up the track when they get into a competitive situation but it does show that the horses have at least some speed and talent. It seems like Hansen definitely gave his foals some speed as two of them worked in :9.4 with his three others to work a furlong going in :10.0 and :10.1 (two of them), respectively. Hansen did well at the Fasig-Tipton sale a few weeks ago with his only horse selling for $225,000, which makes it look like this will be a promising sale for him as well.

Hansen winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile
There’s not much to say about Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday) that hasn’t been said before. The stallion has surprised almost everyone with the early success he’s had with 13 of his 147 foals winning stakes races and another six placing in stakes according to Equineline. The crop of 2-year-olds hitting the track this year may be his best so far with 166 just waiting for 2-year-old races to start. Of those 166, 18 are entered in this sale and they’re showing that this may be a banner crop for the stallion. Five of his 2-year-olds to breeze last week worked in :9.4 with a further six working in :10.0 and no one working slower than :10.2. His three to work a quarter weren’t standouts but like mentioned earlier, a lot of these horses just aren’t ready to go that far. Into Mischief had a bit of a tough sale at Fasig-Tipton but I expect him to have a solid, if not great, sale this week.

A stallion whose horses came out running at the breeze show was Mineshaft (A.P. Indy). The stallion's two offerings who worked a furlong went in :9.4, putting him firmly in the top group of stallions at this sale. Mineshaft is the sire of one champion, 15 graded stakes winners and 36 stakes winners from 488 starters but his median for 2-year-olds last year was $65,000 so it’s hard to predict exactly how this will go (especially without knowing how the horses are vetting). However, his only horse to go through the ring at the Fasig-Tipton sale brought $600,000 at the beginning of the month so buyers are obviously receptive to him.
After last year’s 2-year-old sales, Twirling Candy (Candy Ride) was the talk of the town. The stallion’s first crop did well with 25 winners but he didn’t get that all important stakes winner and his reputation was was penalized a bit for it. But it turns out his foals just needed to turn three to really start running with the sire have 15 winners and three stakes winners so far this year. His two foals to work a furlong didn’t break the 10 second barrier but his filly who worked a quarter went in a bullet of :20.2 and one of his furlong workers did stop the clock in :10.1 so it should be a good sale for him. Combine the bullet work at a quarter with him having a Kentucky Derby contender in last weekend’s Grade 2 San Felipe winner Danzing Candy and you couldn’t find a much better time to sell the three he has going through the ring this week.

A dominant sire in Florida in the early 2010s, the death of Wildcat Heir (Forest Wildcat) early last year was a big loss to the Florida breeding industry. The stallion’s penultimate crop will be going through the ring at OBS this week and it looks like it will be a good sale for him. In addition to being at a location where there are a lot of Florida buyers in attendance (all of his horses in the sale are Florida-breds), he also had two offerings work :9.4 and another handful work :10.0 and :10.1 with his slowest at the distance going :10.2 (he also had one work a quarter in :21.3). Wildcat Heir probably won’t bring the flashy numbers of some of the other stallions but the sale is in the perfect location to capitalize on the big works from his horses in the breeze show. 

Honorable mentions needs to go out to two other Florida stallions in Adios Charlie (Indian Charlie) and Kantharos (Lion Heart). Last year, Adios Charlie had a colt and a filly sell for $600,000 or more and this year had a horse breeze the co-bullet at a furlong. Kantharos has had a lot of luck with his first three crops and shares the bullet with Adios Charlie and popular Kentucky sire City Zip (Carson City). Both stand at Ocala Stud for $5,000 or less and as long as their bullet workers vet, they should bring a decent amount over the stud fee. New York stallion Frost Giant (Giant’s Causeway) also held his own at the top of the quarter mile works with his filly sharing the :20.2 bullet with The Factor (War Front) and Twirling Candy.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

New Stallion: War Front Son Due Diligence

The only son of top sire War Front at stud in England and only one of two standing in Europe, Due Diligence is poised for a big first year at stud in 2016. Standing at Whitsbury Manor Stud, Due Diligence raced for the Coolmore partnership with that group still keeping partial ownership of the horse when he retired to England late last year.

A $190,000 yearling at the 2012 Keeneland September Sale, Due Diligence won his debut at Saratoga by 7 ½ lengths for the ownership group of Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence and trainer Chad Brown. But when he returned to the track for his second start in the Grade 3 Pilgram Stakes at Belmont two months later, his ownership had changed to Coolmore with Todd Pletcher getting the call as trainer.

However, Pletcher didn’t have him in the barn long as Due Diligence was sent to Coolmore’s regular trainer, Aidan O’Brien, in Ireland after that start for his 3-year-old season. 

His first start in the country came at Dundalk on the all-weather surface where he finished third in the Patton Stakes, but a month later he was back in the winner’s circle when he won the listed Lacken Stakes at Naas over six furlongs on yielding-to-soft turf by 1 ½ lengths to get a valuable stakes victory.

Due Diligence’s connections thought so highly of him that they sent him to Royal Ascot for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in what may have been the best run of his career. Racing on the near side, he led part of the field on that side with a separate group on the far side of the track. While he wasn’t able to pass multiple group stakes winner Slade Power (Dutch Art), he finished second by a diminishing 1 ½ lengths. 

It came out after the race that Due Diligence had suffered a pelvis injury and was to be off for the rest of the year. However, though he only started four times, he was the top rated 3-year-old sprinter in Ireland in 2014.

Returning at four, Due Diligence wasn’t able to live up to the promise he’d showed before the injury with his best finish being a fifth in the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup in September. He was retired shortly after with three wins and two other on the board finishes in 10 starts for £205,818 (approx. €266,198 /$343,241US) in earnings.

Due Diligence is by young sire Kentucky War Front (Danzig), who has been a huge hit in Europe as the sire of last year’s champion 2-year-old Air Force Blue, multiple Group 1 winner Declaration of War and Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes winner War Command, among others. As of March 8, War Front has two champions, 21 graded or group stakes winners and 40 stakes winners overall from 399 foals 3 years and older.

War Front
From a nice female family, War Front is making his case as the best son of Danzig in North America and stands for $200,000 (approx. £140,815/€182,165) in 2016. It remains to be seen if War Front can become a sire-of-sires with his first son retiring in 2013. According to Blood-Horse and Weatherby’s, War Front has 11 sons standing at stud in 2016.

Due Diligence’s dam Bema (Pulpit) won three races during her career, including the ungraded Busher Stakes going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt at Aqueduct. She has seven foals aged three or up with Due Diligence as her only stakes winners. However, all six of her foals to race have won at least once and his half-brother Ocasta (Cherokee Run) hit the board in the 2010 Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes. Bema’s last foal is an unnamed 2-year-old gelding by Exchange Rate (Danzig).

Bema is out of the multiple stakes winning mare Dhaka (Icecapade), who had 11 foals. Of those 11, seven were winners including stakes winner Deodar (Woodman) and Grade 3-placed Morada Key (Carson City). Dhaka’s daughters have proven to have some producing talent with her winning daughter In Love Again (Awesome Again) producing stakes winner Little Widow Maker (Orientate), two other daughters producing stakes placed runners and her most successful daughter, Mayan Milagra (Menifee), producing Grade 2 winner Dancinginherdreams (Tapit) and stakes winner Doubled (Exchange Rate).

Other horses who can be found farther back in Due Diligence’s family are New Zealand champion stayer Sangster (Savabeel) and multiple Grade 1 winner Both Ends Burning.

With War Front’s sons so young, we don’t have much of an idea of what crosses well with them but looking at War Front can give breeders a good idea of what to try with Due Diligence. Of War Front's 21 group or graded stakes winners, Forty Niner (Mr. Prospector), Pulpit (A.P. Indy) and Rahy (Blushing Groom) are the damsires of two apiece with Forty Niner’s son Coronado’s Quest also the damsire of one. Not surprisingly, Mr. Prospector is seen a lot in the damsire’s sireline, showing up as either the damsire’s sire or grandsire on six pedigrees, on one other group stakes winner he can be found farther back in the pedigree. Roberto also makes two appearance as a damsire’s sire or damsire through two different sons (Arch and Red Ransom).

As said above, Pulpit has been successful with War Front but as the damsire of Due Diligence, that removes his daughters from being able to repeat the cross. However, breeding daughters of Tapit to Due Diligence moves Pulpit to the third generation on both sides if breeders still want to get some Pulpit blood in resulting foals. 

Standing in Europe gives Due Diligence a chance to try some other lines that his sire doesn’t have as easy of access to by standing in North America. Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) mares carrying War Front foals have been really popular in North American sales with the first major wave of that cross hitting the track this year and it is a cross that will probably be seen in Due Diligence foals in coming years with Coolmore still supporting him. Luckily for both father and son, War Front already has a group stakes winner out of a Sadler’s Wells daughter so it seems that the cross is at least a semi-successful one.

Due Diligence stands for £6,500 (approx. €8,396/$9,231US), about £5,000 less than fellow European War Front son War Command who has first foals arriving in Ireland this year.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Observations from The Florida Sale

With the first 2-year-old sale in the books, fireworks lit up the Gulfstream Park paddock on Wednesday night with four horses selling for $1-million or more. Here are some quick observations made about this year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale and the stallions represented in it.
Tapit continued his reign as the king of North America: While Tapit only had three horses go through the ring and two RNAed (for $145,000 and $520,000, respectively), one was all he needed to take over the leader board. Buyers weren’t willing to go over $1-million for any horse until the colt out of a half-sister to Hard Spun (Danzig) walked into the ring and hammered $1.8-million to Woodford Racing, Lane’s End and Robert LaPenta, $800,000 more than the three second most expensive horses. He was a $1.2-million RNA last year as a yearling so even though it may have seemed a little crazy to let go of that money then, his owners obviously knew they had something special on their hands.

It’s good to be a young stallion: Of the top seven most expensive horses, all but the Tapit colt were by sires who have five or fewer crops. Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker), Curlin (Smart Strike) and Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) were obvious hard hitters going into this sale but even hot first-crop sires Union Rags (Dixie Union) and Bodemeister (Empire Maker) and second-crop sire Tapizar (Tapit) hit it big. The list of stallions who had 2-year-olds sell for $500,000 or more also included a group of familiar names with Candy Ride (Ride the Rails), Hard Spun (Danzig), Mineshaft (A.P. Indy) and the late Scat Daddy (Johannesburg) all included.

Empire Maker
Great timing for Empire Maker: While Empire Maker (Unbridled) won’t have any U.S.-bred 2-year-olds in these sale for three more years, his sons are making sure that his name sticks in peoples’ minds. Both Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister had a good night with Bodemeister represented twice in the top 15 prices. In addition, one of Empire Maker’s daughters had a filly hammer at $485,000 but she was an RNA. With those results plus American Pharoah’s success last year Gainesway and Don Alberto have hit a home run bringing Empire Maker back to the U.S., even if the stallion himself will be quiet in the sales ring for a while.

Let’s talk about Broken Vow: Broken Vow (Unbridled) is one of those stallions that keeps ticking under the radar. He stands for $25,000, has four champions and 21 graded stakes winners but always seems like the forgotten stallion in Kentucky. He’s not a flashy stallion like those at the top of the rankings but his average earnings per starter is nearly three times his stud fee and almost 15 percent of his starters are stakes horses. Tonight was a good night for the 19-year-old stallion however as both his offerings went for $450,000 apiece, which would have been his second most expensive offerings behind a $950,000 colt if they would have sold in 2015 and his most expensive in both 2013 and 2014.

Hansen winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile
Hansen: Unless he’s brought back to the U.S. before his stud career is over (hopefully in 20 years or so), buyers only have one crop of U.S.-bred Hansen (Tapit) foals to get their hands on. Tonight they had one chance and it went pretty well for the stallion with his colt out of the daughter of champion Katies (Nonoalco), who is also a half-sister to champion Japanese runner Hishi Amazon (Theatrical) going for $225,000. Dr. Kendall Hansen’s big goal is to bring his champion 2-year-old back from South Korea and if the Hansens race like this one breezed, he has a decent shot.

Harlan's Holiday in 2013
Last crop sires: Both Harlan’s Holiday (Harlan) and Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled) were represented by their final 2-year-olds at this sale with three and four horses going through the ring, respectively. Harlan’s Holiday’s big hitter was a filly out of a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Albert the Great (Go for Gin), who sold to John McCormack for $300,000. Of his other two offerings, a colt sold for $145,000 while a filly RNAed for the same price. Four others by the sire were cataloged but were all outs. Unbridled’s Song fared about the same with his most expensive being a $300,000 colt out of Rhys (Storm Cat) with a $195,000 RNA and a $125,000 private sale.

Overall impressions: This year, fewer horses went through the ring but instead of the 47 strong consignment Adena Springs sent through last year, they only send four which probably played a pretty sizable part in how many went through the ring tonight. While raw numbers don’t tell the whole story, nearly all of them were up at tonight’s sale compared to last year with 66 horses selling for $21,690,000, an average of $327,121 compared to last year’s average of $225,792 from 89 sold.  The median saw a jump to $250,000 from $130,000 last year but again that is helped by the smaller catalog. 

While this was a smaller sale, which helps brings higher prices it seemed like it was steady with just a handful of horses bringing less than $100,000 and all price ranges above that pretty well represented. The results of last year’s sale (horses like Nyquist and Mor Spirit came from here) and the overall quality of the catalog probably helped loosen wallets with only one horse going for over $1-million (a $1.4-million Scat Daddy colt) last year with four hitting the mark this year. It should be noted that the $1-million Florida Derby bonus that Fasig-Tipton offered last year is still in play this year, giving those looking for classic running colts an extra incentive to buy from this sale.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Closer Look at Final Crop Sire Unbridled's Song

Last fall All Equine All the Time took a look at Unbridled’s Song as his last yearlings went through the ring, today I dig a little deeper into the late stallion’s impact as his final 2-year-olds get ready to go through the ring in the first major 2-year-old sale of the year. 

Taylor Made photo
Buyers hoping to get their hands on 2-year-old from the final crop of Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled) will get their first chance of the year on Wednesday when four of his colts go through the make-shift sales ring in the paddock at Gulfstream Park during Fasig-Tipton’s Florida Sale.

Unbridled’s Song was originally slated to have five of his final foals go through the ring this week but a colt out of a half-sister to Hansen’s dam Stormy Sunday (Sir Cat) was scratched before the sales week started. But while Hansen gave that colt’s page a nice set of blacktype, the colt had the weakest pedigree of the Unbridled’s Songs so his scratch still leaves buyers with a lot of options.

The strongest page of the quartet on offer may be Hip 40, consigned by William B. Harrigan as agent. 

Out of stakes placed Malibu Legacy (Malibu Moon), the bay colt’s only sibling to race was a $360,000 yearling who has one win and six placings in 11 starts. Malibu Legacy is a half-sister to stakes winner Shameful (Flying Chevron) who produced two-time champion Indian Blessing (Indian Charlie) and Grade 3 winner Roman Threat (Roman Ruler). Shameful takes up so much room under the second dam that there is barely any room for the third dam. 

That third dam is a half-sister to the granddam of Japanese Horse of the Year Zenno Rob Roy (Sunday Silence) and one of the second dam’s foals is a winner in Japan so this guy may be of interest to any Japanese buyers who are at the sale this week. One thing that may hurt this colt is that he worked an eighth of a mile in :11.0, which tied with five others (including another Unbridled’s Song) as the second slowest of the day. However, the breeze came in the middle of the second set as the track seemed to be slowing down and visually it didn’t look like a bad breeze so it may not hurt him as much as if he worked in the first set.


Unbridled’s Song’s other three offerings are by no means slouches in the pedigree department, however.

Hip 11 is out of the Grade 2 winner Golden Dawn (Hennessy) who herself is out of a Grade 2 winner. The chestnut worked in :10.2, setting him just a tick off the 10 horses who worked the bullet :10.0 on Monday.

Hip 18’s first two dams are both winners but the third dam is the first one to bring in black type with that dam being a stakes winner in addition to producing two. Hip 18’s dam has two other foals of racing age but neither have started yet.

The final Unbridled’s Song to go through the ring on Wednesday night is Hip 74, a dark bay out of a winning Storm Cat mare. His half-sister is a winner in Japan and his second dam is stakes placed. He comes from the family of multiple Grade 1 winner Rock Hard Ten (Kris S.) and Puerto Rico champion Mi Amigo Guelo (Dehere). 

Last year Unbridled’s Song had 14 of his 18 2-year-olds sell for an average of $166,071 according to Thoroughbred Daily News with his 2014 average of 13 sold at $225,000 and his 2013 average from 17 sold at $221,764. All four colts on offer this week went through the sales ring as yearlings with three of them selling and helping his yearling average of $243,725 last year.

A multiple Grade 1 winner himself, Unbridled’s Song is the sire of 17 crops with 80 live foals born in his final crop with Equineline listing 75 current 2-year-olds. The stallion has 1550 foals with 53 winning graded stakes and 100 stakes winners overall with three champions and 19 Grade 1 winners. Eighty-seven of his other runners have placed in stakes while 741 other horses have won at least one race as of Feb. 28. 

Through the first two months this year, he is currently sitting 12th on Blood-Horse’s Leading Sire rankings with 18 winners from 76 runners and three graded stakes winners led by Forever Unbridled. The three graded stakes winners ties him at the top of the list with Tapit (Pulpit) and Bernardini (A.P. Indy).

In the 2000s, Unbridled’s Song was a top 10 sire by earnings twice with many years spent in the top 15. He’s sired four Breeders’ Cup winners with the latest coming last year when Liam’s Map won the Grade 1 Las Vegas Dirt Mile but is missing an American classic winner on his resume, although he still has two batches of 3-year-olds to right that gap.

Liam's Map winning the Breeders' Cup Mile
As a stallion who produced racehorses at the top level, it isn’t a surprise that Unbridled’s Song has many sons at stud. Seventy-one sons of Unbridled’s Song are listed on Blood-Horse’s Stallion Register with a mix of proven and unproven sons.

Songandaprayer is one of the older stallions by Unbridled’s Song at stud with 14 crops on the ground. His progeny have earned over $44.2-million with two champions, seven graded stakes winners and 34 stakes winners. Standing in Louisiana, he has constantly ranked near the top of the state’s general sires list and was the top sire in the state from 2012 to 2014. The stallion was unseated last year by another Unbridled’s Song son in Half Ours with the two stallions sitting in the top four in the state's standings for 2016 right now.

In Kentucky, Unbridled’s Song is represented by multiple established sires with Even the Score siring two champions and multiple Grade 1 winner Dullahan; First Defence siring champion Close Hatches; and young son Midshipman siring Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint runner-up Lady Shipman in his first crop. Until recently, Unbridled’s Song also had the 10-year-old Old Fashioned standing in Kentucky but he was sold to South Korea earlier this year.

Close Hatches
As for young sons, Unbridled’s Song has an exciting line-up representing him in breeding sheds around the country. His son Mission Impazible, who stands in New York and has his first 2-year-olds this year, had his only 2-year-old in the Florida Sale work a bullet on Monday. The yearling sales market will also have a strong offering of first crops from Unbridled’s Song with New York-based Emcee, Florida-based Winslow Homer and Kentucky-based stallions Graydar and Keep Up all having their first yearlings.

Perhaps the most exciting Unbridled’s Song son to retire in recent years is champion Will Take Charge, out of Take Charge Lady. He leads the charge of Unbridled’s Song sons with first foals on the ground this year and is joined by Canada stallion Rookie Sensation and fellow Kentucky stallion Cross Traffic. The most recent big name Unbridled’s Song son to retire is Breeders’ Cup winner Liam’s Map who started his breeding career earlier this month at Lane's End in Kentucky.
A Will Take Charge colt out of a graded stakes placed mare
The last, but definitely not least, of Unbridled’s Song’s producing talents is as a broodmare sire. 

Much like his best stallions hitting the sheds recently, Unbridled’s Song has also come on strong as a broodmare sire in recent years. This year, the stallion already has two stakes winners out of his daughters and is ranked ninth in the Broodmare Sire rankings with nearly $1.5-million in 2016 earnings. Last year, the stallion was second only to A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) in the broodmare sire rankings with 291 winners and 23 stakes winners led by Grade 1 winner Carpe Diem (Giant’s Causeway) and earned his first top 10 spot in 2014 after making his first top 50 appearance on the list in 2010.
Carpe Diem winning the 2014 Breeders' Futurity
Among the horses produced from Unbridled’s Song daughters are Grade 1 winners General Quarters, The Lumber Guy, Unbridled Command and Carpe Diem with many other graded stakes winners helping to carve out the latest path of Unbridled’s Song’s legacy.

While there are still a few months until Unbridled’s Song’s final crop hits the track, industry insiders will be getting a sneak peek of the talent they hold in upcoming sales with a good number set to go through the ring at upcoming 2-year-old sales around the country after Fasig-Tipton’s Florida Sale.