By Ben Massam
No matter how you slice it, March is a busy time in Ocala. While an outside observer might surmise that the week before the OBS March Sale represents a calm before the storm of sorts, a quick chat with any consignor of 2-year-olds quickly sets the record straight that it is anything but that. During a brief break in the action last week, perennial leading consignors Niall Brennan, Nick de Meric and Eddie Woods sat down with the TDN to discuss a topic at the forefront of many discussions on the sales grounds: first-crop sires. The trio weighed in on the stallions who made waves at the yearling sales in 2017, but also offered their thoughts on lower profile freshman sires with the potential to make their mark in 2018, all set against the backdrop of a seemingly top-heavy market that saw record-setting returns one year prior.
Top of Mind…
When asked to identify potential standout members of the 2018 first-crop stallion class, Brennan, de Meric and Woods were quick to make note of Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) and Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile), who led all first-crop sires of yearlings by average in 2017.
Watch the consignors discuss which first crop sires are standing out ahead of OBS March:
WILL TAKE CHARGE (Unbridled’s Song), Three Chimneys
de Meric: We’ve got two fabulous Will Take Charge fillies here in [the March] consignment. They’ve been training lights out at home…This is a young sire that’s showing all the right kind of promise with his 2-year-olds. If the two that we have here are representative of his first crop, I think there’s an awful lot to look forward to with this young sire. He’s throwing very much an Unbridled’s Song type–beautiful body types with enough leg and scope to look like they’ll train on, too.
Woods: Will Take Charge gets a nice horse, a big scopey horse. At the moment, they move well and you really couldn’t say a bad thing about them.
Brennan: I don’t have any two alike. They’re different colors, different shapes, different sizes…But I do like the way they train. Obviously, he was a very good horse himself, and he was a big horse. He was sound. But I’ve got them all across the board right now.
VERRAZANO (More Than Ready), Coolmore America
Woods: The Verrazano ones across the board are very consistent horses. They train well, they’re good-natured and they’re good movers. I think Verrazano is a big horse–I don’t really know, I’ve never seen him–but they lean towards the More Than Ready deal, which is kind of a neater, more compact horse with a good bit of body on them, and they train well.
de Meric: We have a couple of very nice Verrazanos selling in April. We actually bought a lovely Verrazano filly in November as a weanling–he seems to be getting a very attractive, balanced type, very much in the More Than Ready physical mold. We are excited about those.
CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof the Nile), Airdrie
Brennan: I think there will be high expectations on Cairo Prince for the 2-year-old sales. Of the ones I have, there are several I like, but I do think they’ll definitely be route horses, which is a good sign. They’re going to be better as they go down the road. They’re not limited or, by any means, sprinty-type horses. I think they’ve got bigger strides–they’re scopey. They act like they might have a little speed, but I think they’ll stretch out. And you may not see the best of them really early on.
de Meric: He attracted a great deal of attention [at the yearling sales], and with good reason. We have a couple of super examples of Cairo Prince. We have one here in this [March] consignment and one that we’ll sell hopefully in April–a filly. He’s another sire who looks like he’s throwing exceptionally athletic individuals that are handling the early training well mentally and physically. They seem to be running to their looks, or at least training to their looks, based on what we thought of them as yearlings.
FED BIZ (Giant’s Causeway), WinStar
de Meric: Fed Biz would definitely be among those who have our attention. I think we’ve got six…and they’ve all, in their different ways, come to their early spring training showing a lot of promise on the racetrack. They’re tough-minded horses, they’re good movers. They’re athletic and they seem to be sound and aggressive under tack–but not in a bad way. We’re very pleased with the way the Fed Bizes have come into the sale and the way that they’ve handled the pressure.
Woods: We have some by Fed Biz, and they’re nice horses. They’re good-moving horses, good-natured. I’m not quite sure how speedy they’ll be, but they do have a lot of style and there’s a lot to like about them.
GOLDENCENTS (Into Mischief), Spendthrift
Brennan: I have a Goldencents colt that I’m very high on that’s in the OBS March sale, but he’s the only one I have by the sire. Obviously, he’s the first crop of a son of Into Mischief, who’s very popular. And Goldencents was a very good miler himself, so I’m interested to see how they come around–but I certainly like the one we have. He’s very, very athletic–a great mind and he’s been training super all winter, so I think he’s got a special talent to him.
de Meric: We’ve just got the one Goldencents this year, but we vetted probably three or four at the yearling sales. We weren’t able to buy most of them, but the one we did get we’re very happy with. And I think he’s a stallion to keep an eye on, too–and from a great sire line that’s been very good to us over the years.
Under the Radar…
Brennan, de Meric and Woods each went in different directions when asked about first-crop stallions who have made a favorable impression while maintaining a relatively low profile in the early stages of their careers. Brennan and de Meric spoke about their respective affinities for Revolutionary (War Pass)– and Central Banker (Speightstown)–among others, and Woods highlighted a pair of sons of Tapit who could make noise with their first 2-year-olds in 2018.
Watch the consignors discuss which first-crop sires may be flying under the radar as 2-year-old sales season begins:
While the buzz around first-crop sires provides many of the talking points around the sales grounds in the days leading up to the March Sale, all three consignors agreed that, ultimately, there is no better way for a stallion to prove his worth than through performance on the racetrack.
Watch to see what the consignors have to say about the market in general ahead of the March Sale:
Woods: There are some promising horses that go through the breeze show here. Some of them will handle it well, and I have a couple of horses I think that are not particularly gung-ho quick that will be really nice horses down the road. That’s just the way it is, more two-turn kind of horses, you know, but big, good- moving, sound horses, so we’ll see where that leads to.
de Meric: I think in many ways the good horses take care of themselves, and the thing about selling 2-year olds as we do here is that when your horse walks in the ring, you have provided an awful lot of information about that animal…I think both this sale and the April sale have a broad enough spectrum of pedigrees and stallions that it’s a great opportunity for young stallions to showcase their first crop…[For example] Violence is one that we were kind of high on last year, and he’s certainly vindicated our confidence in him, I think.
Brennan: At the 2-year-old sales, it’s about performance. And it becomes about consistency. It’s a tell-all situation. If there are many of a first-crop sire, they go out there, and they’re not impressing on the racetrack, then he could certainly get very cold quickly in the marketplace. And conversely, if there are a rash of them by a first-season sire that are breezing super-fast, everybody jumps on the bandwagon–right or wrong. There is no “proven,” there is no track record. But people take that gamble, and that’s what the horse business is: just a gamble. And it’s about opinions–everyone has their own opinion. But the freshman sires get a great boost at the 2-year-old sales because you can make or break them by their performance on the racetrack.