Saturday, April 30, 2016

Keeping It in the Family: Sirelines in the 2016 English 1,000 Guineas

Zoffany's Illuminate has Danzig on both sides of her family.
While Galileo took a step back and let War Front shine as the sire of the most QIPCO 2,000 Guineas entries, the stallion made sure to keep a firm hold on the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas this weekend.

The 18-year-old Sadler’s Wells (Northern Dancer) son has three daughters competing in this Sunday’s race but that is only the tip of the iceberg for the stallion with sons Sixties Icon and Teofilo also having a runner apiece. Galileo is also represented in the broodmare sire category with his daughter Beyond Compare throwing the Jim Bolger runner Turret Rocks. In all, six of the 16 runners in this fillies’ classic can find Galileo in their pedigrees. Sadler’s Wells’ sons Montjeu and Barathea also have entries in the race with Montjeu’s Motivator siring Midweek and Barathea as both a damsire and the sire of a damsire in the race.

But Sadler’s Wells family is far from the only line dominating the pedigrees of this year’s 1,000 Guineas contenders. His recently pensioned stablemate Danehill Dancer is responsible for two of the mares who produced Galileo’s runners in this race (Alice Springs and Minding) in addition to siring the dam of one of Shamardal’s two runners (Aljazzi). Danehill Dancer isn’t the sire of any of the runners in this year’s event but his son Fast Company is the sire of Jet Setting, who is out of a Johannesburg (Hennessy) mare.
Alice Springs
Danehill Dancer’s sire Danehill is part of the sireline of four of the runners and in addition to Danehill Dancer’s three daughters is the damsire of one other runner in the race. Danehill is by the influential Danzig who is found in the first four generations of sire lines in the pedigrees of 11 of the runners in the field. Fourteen of the 1,000 Guineas contenders’ sires trace back to Danzig’s sire Northern Dancer while the two contenders who don’t have that stallion in their sire’s pedigree can find him in their damsire’s line.

Giant’s Causeway, who traces back to Northern Dancer, continues his roll in major classics this year through his son Shamardal, who has two runners in this race. Giant’s Causeway is also the sire of two runners in the Kentucky Derby and the damsire of one in the Kentucky Oaks. The stallion stands at Coolmore’s American base, Ashford, but was Europe’s 2000 Horse of the Year and makes regular appearances in pedigrees of European runners. His sire, Storm Cat is also the damsire of the Galileo filly Ballydoyle.
Giant's Causeway

Another former U.S.-based stallion making a show of things with multiple runners is the late Kingmambo. The Mr. Prospector son is the sire of King’s Best, whose daughter Fading Light produced the Teofilo (Galileo) filly Fireglow, and Kingmambo’s own daughter Dubai Queen produced the lightly raced Sharja Queen (Pivotal), who is lining up in the 1,000 Guineas off of just two starts.

Since 2000, 14 different sires, 12 grandsires and 14 damsires have had 1,000 Guineas winners. Mr. Prospector and Sadler’s Wells have both sired both the dam and sire of 1,000 Guineas winners this century but no stallion has both sired a 1,000 Guineas winner and the dam of a 1,000 Guineas winner in that time.

Danehill Dancer and Kingmambo both have a chance to be the first to end that drought as Danehill Dancer has sired two 1,000 Guineas winners in this century and Kingmambo has sired one.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Keeping It In the Family: Sirelines in the 2016 English 2,000 Guineas

European Horse of the Year Giant's Causeway has a unique distinction this year
With England’s 2,000 Guineas taking place on Saturday, everyone now has a good idea who will be lining up in Newmarket with trainers entering 17 3-year-olds earlier this week. The list may get smaller in the upcoming days but one thing nearly guaranteed: some of the best pedigrees on both sides of the Atlantic will be represented in this weekend’s English classic.

Possibly the biggest surprise is that super-stallion Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) is the sire of only one horse on the current entry list. But he still won’t be forgotten in this year’s 2,000 Guineas as he is the grandsire of two entries and the damsire of two others. That of course helps his sire Sadler’s Wells, who is represented by seven horses in the race. In addition to Galileo’s contributions, Montjeu is the damsire of one run while Doyen is the other damsire on Sadler’s Wells list in this race.

War Front is a fitting name for the U.S.-based stallion who continues his European invasion in this year’s 2,000 Guineas with the stallion represented by two runners from Ballydoyle. One is race favorite Air Force Blue while the other is Group 2 placed Air Vice Marshal. Air Force Blue looks like a $490,000 yearling purchase bargain so far with his current resume while Air Vice Marshal represents the more expensive end of War Front’s auction results as a $2.2-million co-sales topper at the 2014 Keeneland September Sale. Interestingly, if Air Vice Marshal and Mohaymen run in the 2,000 Guineas and Kentucky Derby, respectively, Keeneland can boast that both their co-toppers at that sale are classic runners. Air Force Blue is also a graduate of the sale.

War Front is the only son of Danzig with runners in the race but he is far from the only representative of the influential sire. Danzig can be found in the sireline of eight of the current entries and his grandson Mozart is the damsire of one other. Danzig’s sire Northern Dancer has an even bigger hold on the race with all but four sire lines leading back to him and seven of the damsires tracing back to the 1964 Kentucky Derby winner as well. 

War Front has the most entries of any stallion with two
Going back to sires of the entries, 16 different stallions from four different northern hemisphere countries are represented in this race (multiple sires on the list shuttle as well). The list includes reliable established stallions like Galileo, Exceed and Excel (Danehill), Invincible Spirit (Green Dancer), the U.S.’s Stormy Atlantic (Storm Cat) and Include (Broad Brush) while also watching the younger sire generation rise through the ranks with stallions like Fast Company (Danehill Dancer), Teofilo (Galileo), Paco Boy (Desert Style) and Lope de Vega (Shamardal) also having runners.

2,000 Guineas entry Shogun represented Fastnet Rock in the race
Young stallion Lope de Vega gives his grandsire Giant’s Causeway a unique distinction in this race. The 19-year-old Giant’s Causeway is the only stallion to both have sired a runner (he has two) and the dam of a runner in this year’s Kentucky Derby in addition to having a horse in the 2,000 Guineas trace back to him. Giant’s Causeway is also one of two stallions to be represented in both the Kentucky Derby and 2,000 Guineas with the late Street Cry siring Derby runner Trojan Nation while also siring a dam of one of the 2,000 Guineas runners.

Street Cry
Pivotal, who has had a standout year so far, continues his roll in this race with two of his daughters producing entries. The 23-year-old stallion was the sire of the first two home in the Group 2 Meydan Sobha Godolphin Mile earlier this year on the dirt in Dubai and is the damsire of Australian Group 1 winner The United States (Galileo), who won his first Group 1 in March. Other notable racehorses out of Pivotal’s daughters are U.S. champion and classic-placed Main Sequence (Aldebaran), Group 1 Darley July Cup winner Mayson (Invincible Spirit) and Group 1 Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes winner Winsili (Dansili). In the 2,000 Guineas, he is the damsire of Zonderland (Dutch Art) and Taqdeer (Fast Company).

Since 2000, 13 different sires and 15 damsires have been represented in the winner’s enclosure with Galileo represented as a sire, damsire or grandsire in the last three. Only three other stallions have the distinction of being both a sire and a damsire of 2,000 Guineas winners in this century. 

On Saturday, the late Montjeu can join his sire and Galileo on that list if Lope de Vega’s Blue de Vega crosses the line first.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

New Stallion: Hakassan

A notable import to the stallion ranks this year is Millennium Farm’s freshman sire Hakassan, a top racehorse in Chile.

A champion in his home country he was the winner of five of his seven starts. Showing his versatility, the 7-year-old won Group 1 races in the country from eight to 11 furlongs with a Group 3 win at 7 ½ furlongs and another victory at 6 ½ furlongs just for good measure. 

Hakassan’s score in three Group 1s at Hipodromo Chile not only won him champion 3-year-old honors, but also added a Triple Crown victory to his resume. That crowning achievement caught the attention of Green Hills Farm owner Leo Liaskos who imported him to the United States in 2013.

Hakassan never raced in the United States and was retired to Millennium Farm in late January to enter his first season at stud.  While his race record was an attraction for the farm, his conformation and pedigree sealed the deal. 

“He’s a very attractive horse and obviously from the Seattle Slew and Lomond. He really kind of checks all of the boxes. He’s a multiple Grade 1 winner, he’s a Grade 1 winner at a mile, he had tactical speed, he was forwardly place, he’s really the consummate breed-to-race horse. If you’re looking at a sire that you say ‘I want a sire that I can breed to and raise a racehorse’ to us he really looks like that horse,” said J. Ted Neel, Millennium’s Business Manager. “If you print a five-cross or a six-cross and you keep going, you’ve got Sadler’s Wells and all those but you also have Buckpasser, Halo, it’s just almost a who's-who of big time stallions in decades of the industry.”

Video courtesy of  Hipicachilena

Hakassan is by Sir Cat, the sire of seven Chile champions and 36 stakes winners as of April 20, 2016. Trained by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, Sir Cat was a multiple graded stakes winner with his wins coming on both dirt and turf. The stallion stood at Gainesway for many years and shuttled to Chile for two seasons before remaining in the country after the 2005 U.S. breeding season. 

A son of leading sire Storm Cat (Storm Bird), Sir Cat is out of the unraced Private Account mare Desert Run. His dam is out of the three-time champion April Run (Run the Gantlet), who is also the granddam of multiple graded stakes winner Weekend Madness (Dance of Life).

While most of his success as a sire has come in Chile, Sir Cat may be most known in the United States for siring Stormy Sunday, the dam of 2011 champion 2-year-old Hansen (Tapit).

Hakassan’s dam is the unraced Fusaichi Pegasus mare Fusaichi’s Angel. From the Kentucky Derby winner’s second crop Fusaichi’s Angel has had a lot of success with Sir Cat with three of her four most accomplished foals coming from that sire. Overall, three of her five foals to race are winners.

Fusaichi’s Angel brings more international blood to the table with her dam the Irish-bred Sadler’s Wells mare Sand Pebbles. Only raced once, the mare produced five winners and is a full sister to Group 2 Royal Lodge winner Desert Secret. Sand Pebbles’ stakes placed dam Clandestina had an impact of the stakes results in multiple countries with branches of her family winning stakes in Chile, New Zealand, England, Australia, France, Germany and Argentina with her great-granddaughter Little Colony (New Colony) producing two-time Uruguay Horse of the Year Relento (Fahim).

Hakassan’s fourth dam will be the most familiar to U.S. breeders looking at the stallion. My Charmer (Poker) was a stakes winner who produced 1978 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew (Bold Reasoning), 2,000 Guineas winner Lomond (Northern Dancer) and multiple Group 2 winner Seattle Dancer (Nijinsky II).

Hakassan has Northern Dancer in both his fourth and fifth generations with Secretariat doubled up on both sides of his family in the fourth generation. With Storm Cat and Mr. Prospector close up in his family (in the second and third generation, respectively), the pedigree is familiar enough that breeders shouldn’t have many issues trying to figure out what may cross well with him. An extra perk to the stallion is his body type, according to Millennium’s Liam O’Rourke.

“He can work with such a wide range of phenotypes. He’s medium sized, he’s the ideal size for a stallion in that way. You can send him big mares, you can send him small mares, light mares, heavy mares. You can really send a lot of stuff to him. Like J. Ted said, he’s got such a litany of really good stallions in his pedigree,” he said. “One thing that’s kind of cool is that you look under his first three or four dams and the stakes winners come from England, Ireland, France, New Zealand, Australia, South America, United States so that kind of tells you that that pedigree is very cosmopolitan. It’s going to work hopefully with a lot of sirelines. To zone in on one particular type of mare, we probably don’t know that yet but we think he’s very useful.”

O’Rourke says that while Hakassan probably won’t be one of the busiest first year stallions in Kentucky, he has received a nice book of mares from both in house and outside breeders in 2016. Green Hills is sending the stallion Grade 1 winners with Millennium also supporting the stallion with notable mares. 

While Hakassan’s fee this year is private, it looks to be a bargain if the stallion passes his versatility on the track and good looks to his offspring.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Keeping It In the Family: Sirelines in the 2016 Kentucky Derby

Uncle Mo's Nyquist
With 18 days until the Kentucky Derby, the field is mostly set with 27 horses currently on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leader board Churchill Downs sent out on Monday vying to get into the field.

A maximum of 20 horses will enter the gate for the 2016 Kentucky Derby on May 7, with those runners representing a variety of sires and broodmare sires. Let’s take a look at some common themes seen on the pedigrees of those 27 looking to get in the Kentucky Derby.

The story of the Kentucky Derby may come down to Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) having four horses in the main body in his first crop of 3-year-olds to hit the track. With the defection of Tapit’s Cupid on Monday, Uncle Mo’s Mo Tom moved into the 20th spot and the second Uncle Mo on the also eligible list – Laoban – is now 23rd on the list. If all three horses currently in the field run, Uncle Mo will make history (along with Tapit) as the first sire since Equibase put charts online in 1991 to have more than two starters in an individual Kentucky Derby. Uncle Mo’s runners are the only representatives for the Indian Charlie branch of the Siberian Express line however, Siberian Express is also represented through the female family of a Derby contender. His granddaughter Dream of Summer (Siberian Summer) is the dam of Destin, who is No. 11 on the points list.

Dream of Summer is also helping another stallion make an impact on the list as her son Destin is by Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat)Destin is one of two Giant’s Causeway sons on the list with Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass winner Brody’s Cause also giving Giant’s Causeway his second consecutive Keeneland Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity/Blue Grass double winner a few weeks ago. Giant’s Causeway is also the only stallion who has the distinction of representation on the current points list as both a sire and a damsire. His daughter Quiet Giant produced Gun Runner, who is No. 1 on the points list. But she’s not the only Giant’s Causeway foal who has a Kentucky Derby runner as Mor Spirit is sired by Eskendreya who is, you guessed it, a son of Giant’s Causeway.
This year, Tapit (Pulpit) is looking to add a little more history to his resume in the Kentucky Derby with three contenders in the main body of the field. Uncle Mo and Tapit look to be the only sires to have more than two horses running in a Kentucky Derby since Equibase started posting charts for the race in 1991. Like the many sires before him in his sireline, Tapit is trying to make his own legacy as a sire-of-sires with his son Trappe Shot also having a runner in the race.

But possibly even more interesting than Tapit’s three runners is the number of horses representing his grandsire A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) on the points list. Overall, three of A.P. Indy’s sons and grandsons account for five of the 27 horses on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. A.P. Indy’s sire Seattle Slew is represented by seven horses overall on the list with his son, the late Vindication, as the damsire of two of the runners.
A.P. Indy
Candy Ride (Ride the Rails) is represented by more than just his son Gun Runner in the Kentucky Derby if all goes to plan. His first-crop son Twirling Candy, who has heated up this Kentucky Derby prep season has a runner in Danzing Candy while Misremembered is hoping to give his sire another boost as a sire-of-sires with Dazzling Gem sitting 24th on the list.
Candy Ride
Unbridled’s Song may not have produced any runners in this year's Derby, but his name is all over bottom half of pedigrees on the Kentucky Derby points list as the damsire or great-damsire of three horses on the points list right now. His son Songandaprayer is the damsire of Danzing Candy, who is currently 10th on the leaderboard. Unbridled’s Song’s sire Unbridled is also represented by Empire Maker, whose daughter Nonna Mia produced Grade 1 Wood Memorial winner and Derby contender Outwork (Uncle Mo).

The exported classic winner producing stallion Forestry (Storm Cat) is back in the Kentucky Derby picture this year as the grandsire of Discreetness (Discreetly Mine), who is 26th on the list right now. If Discreetness gets in the race he’ll be the second representative for Forestry, who looks to be locked in if champion Nyquist (Uncle Mo) continues on the Kentucky Derby path. Nyquist is the first foal out of Seeking Gabrielle, a 9-year-old daughter of Forestry. Forestry is the sire of 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford, who also finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

Like his sire before him, the late Dixie Union (Dixieland Band) is looking like he may make a nice broodmare sire in the coming years. The stallion had nine stakes winners as a broodmare sire last year and was the broodmare sire of 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day (Street Cry). New Year’s Day’s dam Justwhistledixie is back this year to give her sire one of two Kentucky Derby runners in Mohaymen.

Dixie Union is just one of multiple sires leading back to Northern Dancer in this year’s Kentucky Derby. To be expected, Mr. Prospector is also represented through multiple sirelines in the field.
Sires and damsires on the points list as of April 18

Thursday, April 7, 2016

New Stallion: Competitive Edge

Competitive Edge
A $750,000 2-year-old purchase, Competitive Edge hit the track running for trainer Todd Pletcher when he debuted at Saratoga in late July 2014. There was no question who was best that day with the bay colt winning by 10 ¼ lengths.

Competitive Edge was thrown to the top level of the sport from there when Pletcher entered him in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes. While the colt didn’t win as easily, jockey John Velazquez still didn’t have to ask him to give everything he had with Competitive Edge winning by 5 ¾ lengths.

A hairline fracture forced the colt to miss the rest of his 2-year-old season but he returned on March 27 the next year in the Tamarac Stakes.

The time off only seemed to make Competitive Edge even better and he led wire-to-wire to win in what the chart caller wrote was “the handiest of winners.” Next up was an assignment at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May but it came in the newly renamed Grade 3 Pat Day Mile instead of the Kentucky Derby. 

But like all his other tasks to that point, the Pat Day Mile was an easy one for him as he was second behind Hillbilly Royalty for the first three quarters of a mile before taking over and pulling away to win by 4 ½ lengths, taking his combined margin of victory for his four wins to 28 ¾ lengths.

Winning the Pat Day Mile
Competitive Edge seemed to lose form after that run with three off-the-board finishes and he retired to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in mid-October. He ended his career with four wins in seven starts for $519,280 in earnings.

Competitive Edge is one of only two stallions by Super Saver to retire for 2016 and the first to retire to Kentucky.

Super Saver won the 2009 Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes before returning to Churchill Downs the following year to win the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. In all, Super Saver won two graded stakes and hit the board in two others before retiring to WinStar Farm's breeding shed as a 4-year-old.

With only two active racing age crops, Super Saver is the sire of six graded stakes winners including Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and champion Runhappy. Fifty-one percent of his starters have won with five graded stakes winners last year to place him second on the Second-Crop Sire list behind only fellow WinStar stallion Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker).

Competitive Edge’s dam is the Cape Town mare Magdalena’s Chase. A three-time stakes placed mare, Magdalena’s Chase made 32 starts with nine wins and eight other on the board placings for $205,338 in earnings with all her wins coming from five to six and a half furlongs (the majority of her races were run at those distances). Competitive Edge is the 11-year-old mare’s first foal with her next youngest being a yearling Pioneerof the Nile colt.

Competitive Edge’s second dam is a half-sister to (at the time) Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes winner Wild Syn. Another half-sister is also the dam of Grade 2 winner Pick of the Litter (Kitten’s Joy), who set a track record at Keeneland for 1 1/8 miles.

Farther back in Competitive Edge’s family is where his pedigree gets the strongest. His fourth dam is the dam of the Timeless Moment colt All Fired Up, who won the Grade 1 Arlington-Washington Futurity in 1983. Also under that dam is Cox’s Angel (Cox’s Ridge) who is the second or third dam of Grade 1 winners Awesome Humor (Distorted Humor), Emcee (Unbridled Song) and Surfer (Distorted Humor).

While it is too early in Super Saver’s career to nail down exactly what crosses work well with him, of his top 10 earners two are out of granddaughters of Mr. Prospector with multiple others going back to that stallion through their damsires including Competitive Edge. Super Saver also has one other top 10 earner whose damsire is a son of Seattle Slew while another is out of a Sky Mesa mare, who traces back to Seattle Slew.

Competitive Edge is inbred to Mr. Prospector and Seattle Slew in his fourth generation but as that will move to the fifth generation for his progeny, they are interesting crosses to pursue since they have been successful with his sire.

Competitive Edge is one of two new sires at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud this year, standing beside American Pharoah for a fee of $12,500 (approx. €10,997/£8,885).

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sires to Watch: North America's First Crop Stallions

Perhaps the deepest crop of first crop sires North America has seen in many years, 2016’s leading first crop sire battle may be one for the ages. With multiple stand outs waiting for their chance to shine, it doesn’t look like 2016 will have an Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) type stallion to run away with the lead but instead a neck and neck stretch duel all the way around the track.

But who should you watch for at the top of the list? And who are some “smaller” stallions who may not have the number of foals needed to rock the rankings but may make some noise this year? Read below to find 10 stallions who answer at least one of the aforementioned questions.

A Florida stallion, Biondetti (Bernardini) won the Group 1 Gran Criterium at two and is a half-brother to the dam of multiple champion Royal Delta (Empire Maker). While his turf race record may have been a little iffy for a United States stallion prospect, that family helped him to attract a solid book of 108 mares with 68 live foals in 2014. Of those, one colt sold for $240,000 (approx. €210,544/£168,164) at OBS March last month to Fox Hill Farms and 12 more are consigned to OBS’ Spring Sale taking place in a few weeks. While he probably won’t get as much attention as the Kentucky stallions, he did breed a quality book of mares in 2013. He should be near the top of the Florida first crop rankings and may even make some noise on the national list later this year. He currently stands at Woodford Thoroughbreds for $4,000 (approx. €3,508/£2,801).

Possibly the most anticipated first crop sire in the United States this year, Bodemeister (Empire Maker) had 135 live foals in his first crop. The Grade 1 winning Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner-up had an $850,000 (approx. €745,679/£595,582) yearling filly and $500,000 (approx. €438,635/£350,342) yearling colt last year and a $650,000 (approx. €570,225/£455,445) 2-year-old colt this year so expectations are high for the stallion. The mares in that first book read like a who’s who of talent, giving him a big chance to lead the first crop list. Bodemeister currently stands for $30,000 (approx. €26,311/£21,015) at WinStar Farm in Kentucky.
Best known as Frankel’s pacemaker, Bullet Train (Sadler’s Wells) held his own on the track before taking up the pacemaker role for his half-brother brother later in his career. A winner of the Group 3 Derby Trial, Bullet Train has admittedly been better received in the southern hemisphere but has a strong marketing team behind him in Kentucky that helped him receive a solid amount of black type pedigrees in his 67-mare strong first book. It’s hard for a stallion who didn’t have a huge book to be extremely flashy on the first-crop sire rankings but Bullet Train should at least reward the breeders and owners of his first crop on the track with wins this year. Bullet Train currently stands for $7,500 (approx. €6,579/£5,253) at Crestwood Farm in Kentucky.
Bullet Train right after coming to the United States in 2012
One of the best 2-year-olds in 2011, Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) was a top racehorse all the way through his career. The gray won the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes at two and finished on-the-board in both the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2011 before winning the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes (beating Bodemeister) at three and hitting the board in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby and Preakness. Standing at Airdrie Farm, Creative Cause bred 118 mares for 88 live foals in 2013 and as with all the farm’s stallions you can expect that he was supported with the best of Airdrie’s broodmares. A quick look at his sales horses bred by Airdrie shows that he was bred to mares like the granddam of American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile); the dam of Grade 1 winners Include Me Out (Include) and Check the Label (Stormin Fever); the dam of champions Biofuel (Stormin Fever) and Tu Endie Wei (Johar); and Grade 1 winner No Such Word (Canadian Frontier) so the amount of success he has is definitely up to him from this point on. Creative Cause currently stands for $15,000 (approx. €13,158/£10,510).
Creative Cause 
My dark horse for this year’s First-Crop Sires list is Crestwood Farm’s Country Day (Speightsown). The Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint runner-up, the stallion has multiple stakes wins but never won at the graded level of the sport. However, he is a good physical and comes from the family of Alydar (Raise a Native) and Grand Slam (Gone West) so he ticks a few of the important boxes on the all-important list. Country Day probably won’t make a huge amount of noise at the top of the sire’s list with just 27 foals born in 2014 but he has a chance to be a really nice sire for the breed-to-race breeders out there. He currently stands for $3,500 (approx. €3,070/£2,452) at Crestwood Farm in Kentucky.
Country Day 
One stallion who has impressed at 2-year-old sales this year is Gemologist (Tiznow). The stallion has a median of $160,000 according to Thoroughbred Daily News with all but one of his 2-year-olds who have sold going for over $100,000 (approx. €87,727/£70,068). Another four have RNAed for $90,000 (approx. €78,954/£63,061) or more. While 2-year-old sale success doesn’t automatically translate to racing success, there has been a lot of buzz about the stallion and he had 118 foals born in 2014, giving him a big chance to make noise if his horses can take their talent from the breeze show to the starting gate. He currently stands for $15,000 (approx. €13,158/£10,510) at WinStar.
Gemologist in 2013
If you’re one of the 43 people who had a Mission Impazible (Unbridled’s Song) foal in 2014, you have to be feeling pretty good about his $7,500 stud fee right now. While the warning above holds true for Mission Impazible as well, his 2-year-old sale breezers have caught the eye in a big way. So far, of his three to sell (from four in the ring), none has sold for less than $120,000. He had one impressive enough to get into Fasig-Tipton’s Florida Sale and that filly sold for $290,000 (approx. €254,319/£203,198), not too shabby for a New York-based stallion. He’s another one who has a bit of an uphill battle with a smaller foal crop but those horses he does have hit the track should help him out if they live up to early year indicators. He currently stands for $7,500 (approx. €6,579/£5,253) at Sequel Stallions in New York.

You always have to pay attention to the Coolmore stallions as first year sires and this year Stay Thirsty (Bernardini) is the one to watch. A two-time Grade 1 winner, the stallion won from six to 10 furlongs and was second in a race at 12 furlongs as well. He isn’t as flashy as stablemate Uncle Mo so far but did have 93 live foals in 2014 and was second in a Grade 1 at two so he should be a factor at the top of the rankings. His 2-year-olds have brought up to $300,000 (approx. €263,204/£210,312) and all but one who sold have realized more than $100,000 (approx. €87,734/£70,104) so at least buyers seem to be liking them this year. He currently stands for $10,000 (approx. €8,769/£7,010) at Ashford Stud.
Stay Thirsty
The first major son of War Front to have runners on the track, The Factor will have many eyes on him this year. He had 102 foals born in 2014 and has a current median at the 2-year-old sales of $120,000 (approx. €105,281/£84,107) from 10 sold with a median of $97,500 (approx. €85,541/£68,337) for last year’s yearlings according to Thoroughbred Daily News so buyers must be liking what they see. The Factor was a speedball on the track, winning two Grade 1s at seven furlongs but was also able to carry his speed to 1 1/16 miles, making him an interesting mix of speed and at least a little stamina. Perhaps more important when it comes to War Front is that he won on the dirt (and all weather), giving breeders and owners the confidence that they won’t be stuck in turf races. The Factor currently stands for $25,000 at Lane’s End Farm (approx. €21,933/£17,528).
The Factor
An intriguing horse this year is Union Rags (Dixie Union). Winning the Belmont proved that he has the stamina to get a mile and a half but he was also a winner at five furlongs and won a Grade 1 at a mile as a 2-year-old. Union Rags won or hit the board in four Grade 1s during his career with six graded stakes placings overall and was well received when he retired for the 2013 season, breeding 137 mares for 108 foals. Last year his 59 yearlings sold had a median of $110,000 (approx. €96,520/£77,125) with this year’s 2-year-olds having a median of $147,500 (approx. €129,425/£103,415) including a $975,000 (approx. €857,783/£686,694) colt. Only a few strides from being named champion 2-year-old colt in 2011, Union Rags was a precocious racehorse and looks like he'll be in the hunt to give Lane’s End another leading first-crop sire this year. He currently stands at the farm for $35,000 (approx. €30,715/£24,539).
Union Rags