Friday, July 15, 2016

Keeping It In the Family: Northern Dancer Rules Irish Oaks

Northern Dancer (WikiMedia Commons photo)
On July 16, attention turns to fillies in Ireland when the 2016 Darley Irish Oaks takes place at the Curragh. Twelve fillies from seven different barns will line up to join a winner’s list that has seen names such as Ouija Board, Alexandrova, Peeping Fawn, Snow Fairy, Blue Bunting and Chicquita join it in recent years.

International breeders will be paying close attention to this race as during the 2016 season, the eight sires represented in the entries stood in three different countries (Ireland, France, Germany) with no grandsire represented by more than one son. Not surprisingly, Galileo leads all sires by the number of runners with four in addition to being the grandsire of the Teofilo daughter Ajman Princess.

As has been on prominent display in 2016, Galileo is turning into just as important a broodmare sire as a sire and he has two chances to pick up another classic win in that category here (Red Stars and Turret Rocks).

While Galileo has continuously shown to be a top sire, Fastnet Rock has been a revelation of sorts in the northern hemisphere the last few years. The stallion shuttled from Coolmore’s Australia base to Ireland for the first time in 2010, spent five seasons on the shuttle rotation then was kept in Australia last year after covering 85 mares in 2014, down from 193 the previous year.

His vacation from shuttling didn’t last long with a standout season last year, where his daughter Qualify won the Investec Oaks, Fascinating Rock won the Champion Stakes and Diamondandrubies won the Pretty Polly, saw Fastnet Rock back in Ireland this year. If his classic presence in the northern hemisphere this year is any indication, we’ll continue seeing the 15-year-old shuttle in coming years as he has two fillies (Somehow and Turret Rocks) in this race.

Fastnet Rock is the only son of Danehill with runners in here but he’s far from the only one representing the line.

Three stallions with Oaks entries come from the Danehill sireline. Both Zoffany and Mastercraftsman are grandsons of the influential sire with Zoffany by Dansili and Mastercraftsman by Danehill Dancer. On the broodmare side, one other runner is out of a Danehill daughter. Not surprisingly, that runner is from the magical Galileo/Sadler’s Wells over Danehill (and family) cross.

Mastercraftsman’s runner Even Song is from the cross as well, with her dam by Sadler’s Wells. Fastnet Rock’s two runners are also out of mares by the father/son duo of Sadler’s Wells and Galileo. In fact, the only Danehill son or grandson whose runner isn’t from the cross is Zoffany’s. Zoffany’s filly is out of a Fasliyev mare.

Sadler’s Wells and Danehill make up the extended family of five of the eight stallions with runners here but there are some who stray away from those sires.

Canford Cliffs, who has first 3-year-olds this year, provides an outcross to the aforementioned stallions. By Tagula, who is a great-grandson of Hail to Reason, Canford Cliffs’s top side is free of any inbreeding with his 4 x 5 cross to Northern Dancer coming on his dam’s side. On the stallion roster with Galileo and his sons, Canford Cliffs provides Coolmore and others with a nice option for both Danehill (and sons) mares and those by Sadler’s Wells sons.

Mr. Prospector (Wikimedia Commons photo)
Another Coolmore stallion here is Thewayyouare. While he is definitely not an outcross like Canford Cliffs with his dam by Sadler’s Wells, he is by an outcross sireline with his sire Kingmambo by Mr. Prospector.

Northern Dancer again controls the broodmare sire lines in this race but Mr. Prospector is also seen through one line there with his grandson Mr. Greeley siring the dam of An Cailin Orga (dual classic winner Finsceal Beo).

Since 2000, 12 of the winners of the Irish Oaks were sired by stallions tracing back to Northern Dancer, with five winners’ broodmare sires coming from the line. Joining Northern Dancer as stallons with more than one winner are Mill Reef and Roberto with two winners each. Northern Dancer doesn’t have as big of a hold on the winner’s list broodmare sires with only five of the winners since 2000 tracing to him. Mill Reef and Alleged both make appearances close up in broodmare sirelines with two of Alleged’s sons producing the dams of Irish Oaks winners. One Mill Reef son and one grandson are also the broodmare sires of Oaks winners.

This year, three of the nine broodmare sires with entries don’t come from the Northern Dancer line, the same number of sires who don’t trace their sireline back to him.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Observations From the Fasig-Tipton July Sale

Donegal Moon
The first yearling sale of the season is behind us with the Fasig-Tipton holding a two day sale on Monday and Tuesday that kicked off with a special evening session for a Horses of Racing Age sale with the yearling session the following day. After taking a day to dive into the sales results, here are a few observations from the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Sale.

Testing the waters with Donegal Moon – Every year a handful of stallion prospects who still have some racing left to do go through the ring. But not many go through the ring in July of their 3-year-old year off a victory that makes it look like they can make a lot of noise the second half of this year. It was unknown how a type like Donegal Moon would go over in the ring but he proved that there is money out there for types like him if owners want to take it. He drew a final bid of $1.6-million, which wasn’t enough to get him sold but does open doors for this sale in the future if they want to try and recruit more like him.

Southern hemisphere buyers – Mostly a sale that attracts domestic buyers, it became more international on Monday night when Stormy Lucy was bought for southern hemisphere breeding duties. Granted the buyer, SF Bloodstock, has horses all around the world and it isn’t unusual to see them on results sheets but SF’s Tom Ryan told Blood-Horse that Stormy Lucy was purchased for Australian stallion Capitalist when the horse retires in 2017. With a year before Capitalist retires, Stormy Lucy’s first breeding will be to Frankel later this summer for a southern hemisphere cover. The early July date of this sale provides the perfect opportunity for southern hemisphere breeders to pick up some mares right before their breeding season so I won’t be surprised to see more of them taking the opportunity to get some U.S. mares in coming years if the offerings are strong enough.

Stormy Lucy
Overall lower numbers – It’s not a great thing to talk about but it needs to be noted that numbers for the yearling session of the sale was down. The yearling sale topping $475,000 Curlin colt was the cheapest sales topper since 2013 and 183 of 293 yearlings offered sold for a total of $15,756,500, down 21 percent from 2015. The average also dropped 12 percent to $86,101 from $97,585 with the median falling 22 percent to $60,000 from $77,000 in 2015. The HORA sale had the benefit of a dispersal getting more horses sold but on a good note, even without the dispersal horses the buyback rate improved by four percent. The session didn’t get away scotch free however, the median of the sale took a 13 percent drop from $48,000 in 2015 to $42,000.

The good news – During the yearling session 17 horses fetched $200,000 or more this year, just one less than 2015. The Horses of Racing Ages session did even better with 14 horses selling for $100,000 or more compared to 11 in 2015. While she was a private purchase, session topping Stormy Lucy brought $225,000 more than last year’s topper Temper Mint Patty.

Variety – While this isn’t as flashy a sale as the Saratoga Select Sale or Keeneland September it still had many big name sires, both young and old. Obviously only two Tapits and no War Fronts probably helped things along but the 17 yearlings to sell for over $200,000 were sired by 12 different stallions with their 2016 stud fees ranging between $10,000 and $300,000. As has been talked about throughout the year, the young stallions are making a big move into the limelight with 12 of the yearlings by stallions with three crops of racing age or less. Only Uncle Mo had more than two yearlings sell for $200,000 with stalwart More Than Ready and first-crop sire Violence each having two each.

Violence – While the Violence foals I saw last year were nice, I didn’t expect him to make such a big splash at his first yearling sale. Violence was the only stallion to have two of the top 10 most expensive yearlings and topped all first-crop sires by prices with a $335,000 colt. If his yearlings at the next few sales grab as much attention as these first ones did, it’s going to be a good year for the Hill ‘n’ Dale stallion.
Violence's most expensive offering, a colt out of Frolic's Dream
First-Crop Sires- Violence led all the first crop sires but he wasn’t the only one in that generation who did well on Tuesday. Oxbow joined him in the $200,000 Club with a $220,000 yearling as did Graydar with a $200,000 yearling. Other first-crop stallions who had yearlings sell for $100,000 or more were Orb ($190,000), Paynter ($185,000), Shanghai Bobby ($170,000), Animal Kingdom ($145,000), Point of Entry ($135,000), New Year’s Day ($25,000), Fort Larned ($117,000), Corfu ($110,0000), Soldat ($100,0000) and Liaison ($100,0000).

Snappy Halo's colt
Calumet First-Crop Sires – Oxbow was obviously the star of the show for Calumet with four of his yearlings selling for $100,000 or more but a few of the farms other young sires had credible showings too even if their yearlings didn’t sell. Snapy Halo was imported to the United States to stand at Calumet and had 22 foals in 2015 including this half-brother to Brushed By a Star, consigned by Darby Dan as agent. The only yearling at the sale but Snapy Halo, the colt hammered for $97,000, not bad for a first crop sire heavily supported by his owner. Snapy Halo’s barnmate Raison d’Ete has a better known pedigree being by A.P. Indy and out of Sightseek so he garnered more support with breeders in 2015 but during his first season he covered 25 mares for 19 live foals.  His lone offering in this sale again had a strong page as a granddaughter of champion mare Gourmet Girl and brought a final bid of $97,000 when consigned through Paramount Sales as agent, but she also returned home after not selling.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Five to Watch: Fasig-Tipton July Sale Sires

An Animal Kingdom filly at Keeneland January
The first major yearling sale in the United States every year, this year’s Fasig Tipton July Sale has 347 yearlings by 115 sires entered before outs. Sires with first yearlings are in the spotlight here with 32 freshmen represented but they aren’t the only stars people will be watching on July 12. Here are five sires (or group of sires in one case), both new and old, to be aware of when you flip through the catalog this week.

Animal Kingdom - Of the 12 Animal Kingdom weanlings who went through the ring last year in the U.S., 11 sold with his most expensive being a $210,000 filly out of a daughter of multiple Grade 1 winner Precious Kitten and his most expensive colt being a $180,000 half-brother to Grade 1 winner Ice Box. Animal Kingdom started his stud career in Australia for the 2013 southern hemisphere season before shuttling to Darley America in 2014. His first yearlings in Australia hit the sales earlier this year with 46 of the 52 offered selling in the ring according to Australia’s Animal Kingdom only has two entered here so it won’t be a huge preview of what this summer and fall will bring for the stallion but it will give everyone a chance to get their first look at how his yearlings are developing with age.

Curlin – This may be a breakout year for Curlin in terms of yearling sales. The stallion has been on fire at the track and had nearly 100 more foals in 2015 than 2014 with 112 born in 2015 compared to 39 in 2014. Curlin had 13 yearlings sell last year for a median of $120,000 with nine selling for six digits. This year the stallion comes into the yearling season with a Grade 1 winner last weekend in Off the Tracks in addition to this year’s Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator and Grade 1 La Troienne winner Curalina. It took Curlin a bit to heat up but with a fee of $100,000 in 2016 and recent results, it’s more than likely he’ll hit some home runs at this year's sale. Of his four cataloged in this sale, two are out of half-sisters to graded stakes winners, one is a half to two stakes winners and the other’s third dam is the bluehen Lassie Dear. It’s definitely not a bad group of yearlings to represent him in the first major yearling sale of the year.

This colt was Tapit's most expensive U.S.-sold
yearling last year, bringing $2.1-million.
Tapit – The King of North American racing is looking to set off some fireworks on Tuesday with his two offerings. The first Tapit in the ring will be Hip 263, a colt out of a stakes placed mare whose Tapit daughter Sweet Loretta ran away with her debut when winning by seven lengths in June. Sold as a weanling, Sweet Loretta brought $750,000 at Keeneland November. Also in the family is Grade 3 winner Spring in the Air, who is a half-sister to this colt’s dam; multiple graded stakes winner Tejano Run; and Group 1 winner Palace Episode. But for as enticing as that colt looks, Hip 283 may light up the ring even more. That colt is out of Grade 1 Prioress winner Lighthouse Bay, who brought $1.2-million when selling with this colt in utero. While there is a lot more that goes into how much a buyer will pay than just what their pedigree looks like, if they are well put together and vet well they should be near the top of the results page if they find new owners on Tuesday.

Uncle Mo – Uncle Mo has been hot at yearling sales since his first crop hit the ring in 2014 but this sale is the first time we’ll get to see how his yearlings are received since his first crop really started heating up. If his 2-year-old results are any indication (Uncle Mo has three $1-million 2-year-olds this year), Uncle Mo may be lighting some fireworks in Lexington, Ky. on Tuesday. Before outs, Uncle Mo has nine entries in the Fasig-Tipton July sale with one being a half sibling to a Grade 2 winner, one being a full-sister to a stakes placed colt and two others being out of half-sisters to graded stakes winners.

War Front sons – This isn’t one stallion as much as a group of young ones. War Front doesn’t have any horses entered here but is represented by sons and daughters. He is the damsire of one colt (Hip 71), who is out of a full sister to Group 3-placed Royal Navy Ship but this sale is a coming out of sorts for War Front sons. In addition to The Factor, whose first foals are two, both freshman sires Data Link and Soldat have entries here. Data Link is represented by three yearlings with two being out of half-sisters to graded stakes winners (in Hip 306’s case, a Grade 1 winner) and one is a half-sister to a stakes winner. Soldat has five entered with four of those being Florida-breds and all having blacktype in their first two generations. Interestingly, Hip 62 is a half-sister to the dam of Hip 226 with the sisters out of Grade 2 winner Storm Mesa (Sky Mesa). The market hasn’t really seen War Front sons much with only The Factor having yearlings thus far so it will be interesting to see how having three of them in one sale goes.
The Factor's first foals were the first the market saw from War Front sons