Oppenheim: Batters Up!

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Keeneland September sales pavilion | Keeneland photo

By Bill Oppenheim

Beginning with the $60-million increase in gross from Keeneland September 2012 to Keeneland September 2013, the last four years of Keeneland September (2013-2016) have seen 11,100 yearlings sold for a total of $1.114-billion and an average of $100,435. So we know what the target is: somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,775 sold for a gross of $278-million, and a $100,000 average. That’s where the sale has been the last four years. But those totals are weeks away; first we have the new Fasig Turf sale this Sunday, then the all-new Keeneland Book 1 on Monday, followed by a three-day Book 2 next Tuesday-Thursday. We’ll clock in with a report Tuesday on the first two, pretty much entirely new days, and then next Saturday we’ll try and make sense of the ‘first week.’

One striking thing about this year’s catalogue, it seems to us, is the prominence of second-crop yearling sires, whose first 2-year-olds are racing this year. Most years, the sires with their first yearlings take center stage among younger sires, and those with first 2-year-olds suffer from the Yesterday’s News syndrome. But this year is a little different: 26 sires with their first yearlings are represented during the 13 days of selling, totaling 585 yearlings (13.1% of the 4,309 catalogued). There are 33 sires with their first 2-year-olds, represented by 695 yearlings (16.1% of those catalogued), and 25 sires with their first 3-year-olds, which combined have 489 yearlings (11.1%) catalogued. All together, the three youngest groups of sires include 84 sires, with 1,769 yearlings catalogued, an average of 21 yearlings per sire, and constituting 41% of the total number of yearlings catalogued over the 13 days.

For potential buyers looking at any of the 695 yearlings from the second crops of their sires, the first port of call on their bookwork will be the North American Freshman Sire List, so let’s have a look at that (click here). The top six Kentucky-based freshman sires all have more than 20 yearlings catalogued, so those will of course be of particular interest. The Leading Freshman Sire as of now is WinStar’s Overanalyze, a dual

GII winner of the Futurity S. and Remsen S. at two, and winner of the GI Arkansas Derby at three for Repole Stable; his sire, Dixie Union, is also the sire of last year’s number two Freshman Sire, Union Rags. Overanalyze is the sire of 17 winners to date, three Black-Type Horses (two Graded), and the earners of $685,617. He’s been a bit of a surprise package, to say the least: his 52 yearlings sold last year averaged just $27,437, but based on these results, he’s due for a price upgrade. That, however, won’t happen in the first week, as all 31 of his yearlings are catalogued in the second week. Same for Freshman Sire #3, Spendthrift’s Jimmy Creed, a $900,000 yearling by Distorted Humor who won the GI Malibu S. and is the sire of 11 winners, five Black-Type Horses (two Graded), including Spectator, winner of the GII Sorrento S. and third in the GI Del Mar Debutante S. last Sunday. He has 23 catalogued in the sales, all again in the second week.

Hill ‘n’ Dale’s Violence, a son of Medaglia d’Oro who was a $600,000 yearling and won three of his four starts, including the GI Cashcall Futurity, and was second to Orb in the GII Fountain of Youth S. in what turned out to be his final career start, is number two on the Freshman Sire List, with 11 winners and two Black-Type Winners, including last weekend’s Del Mar Juvenile Turf S. winner Encumbered. He’s been a very popular horse all along–last year 70 yearlings from his first crop averaged $88,736, and 19 yearlings this year have averaged $96,695–and has 47 yearlings catalogued, the first eight of them in Book 2.

The aforementioned Orb, Claiborne’s son of Malibu Moon who won the 2013 GI Kentucky Derby, currently ranks fifth on the Freshman Sire List, including last week’s Saratoga BTW Orbolution. Orb has been this crop’s commercial leader all along; he’s had 15 yearlings sell so far this year for an average of $315,584. He has 54 yearlings catalogued, one in Book 1 and 26 in Book 2, so half of his yearlings are in the first week.

Coolmore’s Ashford division stands #4 on the Freshman Sire List with the undefeated Champion North American 2-Year-Old of 2012, Shanghai Bobby, by Into Mischief’s sire, Harlan’s Holiday; and #6, Declaration of War (War Front), who won the G1 Queen Anne S. and G1 Juddmonte International, and ran a close third in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt as a 4-year-old in 2013. Shanghai Bobby has six winners, four of them Black-Type Horses, while Declaration of War also has four BTH (three GSP), including G3 winner Actress, and Olmedo, beaten a short head in the G3 Prix Des Chenes at Chantilly last Sunday. Shanghai Bobby has 54 yearlings catalogued, all but three (in Book 2) in the second week, while Declaration of War is the leading sire with first 2-year-olds by number catalogued, with 78–13 at Fasig, four in Book 1, 30 in Book 2, and 31 in the second week.

Not forgetting the first-crop sires, who will of course evince plenty of interest themselves. Ashford’s dual Grade I winner Verrazano tops the charts with 75 catalogued, and is one of seven first-year sires with more than 35 catalogued. Three Chimneys’ 2013 Champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge, who has already had 11 yearlings average $257,272 (click here–first-crop yearling sires, NA only), has 65 catalogued, while Lane’s End’s Noble Mission and Airdrie’s Cairo Prince have 58 and 54 catalogued, respectively. All four of these have double-digit representation in the first week. The top seven first-year sires by number catalogued are rounded out by WinStar’s Fed Biz (45 catalogued), Spendthrift’s dual GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents (43), and Three Chimneys’ Strong Mandate, Wayne Lukas’s previous GI Hopeful S. winner by Tiznow for owners Baker and Mack (he won it again on Monday for the same owners, by the same sire, with Sporting Chance). Strong Mandate, who has 38 catalogued, had an $825,000 filly at Saratoga, and thus ranks, at least for now, second on the first-crop sires table with six sold for an average of $222,833. While that average is sure to fall, he’s still made quite an impression for a $10,000 sire.

Contact Bill Oppenheim at [email protected] (cc [email protected]).

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