By Bill Oppenheim
APEX Ratings, as you know, do not consist of just one or even a few indexes–there are 17 different APEX indexes, ranging from class (A Runners, B, C, ABC Runners) to region (NA, EU, JP) to age (2yo, 3yo, 4yo, 5yo+), all developed with the aim of assisting racehorse owners and breeders in their decision-making process. Today we complete our review of the various APEX angles by discussing the age indices. As developed by The Jockey Club Information Systems (TJCIS) to our specifications, the age indexes rate each sire for ABC Runners (top 8% earners in each of the last seven years) as 2-year-olds; 3-year-olds; 4-year-olds; and 5-year-olds and up. Knowledge of this data is useful in several ways. For example, if you are going to a 2-year-old sale with the thought of buying a horse who will run early, you might be looking for runners by Exchange Rate (2.04 2yo ABC Index) or Harlan’s Holiday (1.92). But it wouldn’t necessarily be the smartest move to be looking to claim horses by them as, say, late 3-year-olds: Exchange Rate’s age indexes read: 2.04 – 1.28 – 1.06 – 1.06; Harlan’s Holiday’s read 1.92 – 1.69 – 1.03 – 0.89. On the whole, they are best early and do not improve with age. On the other hand, you might be looking to claim 3-year-olds by Medaglia d’Oro (0.87 – 1.96 – 2.12 – 2.64) or Giant’s Causeway (1.32 – 1.66 – 1.67 – 2.23), whose runners generally do improve with age.
As with any of the APEX Index figures, some obscure sires are going to poke their heads up among the leaders in each grouping by age index, especially as we are measuring ABC Runners, so inevitably obscure sires with say lots of C Runners are going to look good. That’s ok; it’s very useful for breeders to know about these sires, particularly in their respective regions. So let’s look at the leaders in each age group, from the 616 North American and European sires with 80+ year-starters 2010-2016.
2-year-old ABC Index: Paul Reddam’s California wunderkind Square Eddie, who checks in with a 3.01 A Runner Index and ranks as the #3 sire by B Runner Index (3.83), hits the ‘3’ mark again with a 3.87 2yo ABC Index, leading all 616 NA-EU sires with 80+ year-starters. He has been some kind of sire for Reddam’s operation. These index lists are always divided between the top sires we know and the obscure ones we’ve often barely heard of. Germany’s Soldier Hollow (GB) (3.82) surprisingly ranks second, since Germany is known more for Melbourne Cup winners than for 2-year-olds, but his rating no doubt does benefit from limited 2-year-old racing in Germany. Still. War Front (3.47) ranks #3–the Grade II winner at four who turned out to basically be Danzig reincarnated. The former New York (now Saudi) sire Roaring Fever (3.17) ranks fourth, ahead of the top F2013 sire Uncle Mo (2.96), himself of course a champion 2-year-old. F2013 #2 Twirling Candy (2.79) is only two slots back in #7 and actually lays up quite close to Uncle Mo for 3-year-olds as well, as we’ll see. The remainder of the top 10 are all regional sires: Canada’s Old Forester (2.84) is #6, and the top 10 is completed by: #8 Too Much Bling (2.70, Texas); #9 Great Notion (2.66, MD); and, tied for #10 at 2.61, California’s Vronsky, New York’s Frost Giant and Florida’s Hear No Evil. New Mexico sires occupy three of the next six spots.
3-year-old ABC Index: Niigon, the son of Unbridled who stood in Ontario but died before anybody knew he was any good, is the leading sire by 3-year-old index (2.79) for the second consecutive year, an honor usually reserved for higher-profile celebrities. Uncle Mo (2.65) and Twirling Candy (2.54) finished two-three with their first crop of 3-year-olds, followed by another useful regional California sire, Grazen (2.50), who is by Benchmark, a son of Alydar. Canada’s Silent Name (Jpn) (2.45) is next, followed by a tie for sixth between the obscure Virginia stallion Rebellion (2.26) and Curlin (2.26), who is now proving a very effective sire of 3-year-olds and up. The next few are familiar names: Galileo (Ire) (2.22), Kantharos (2.20), Dubawi (Ire) (2.19), War Front (2.12), Ghostzapper (2.07), and Lope de Vega (Ire) (2.03). A far higher proportion of each foal crop runs at three and four, as opposed to 2-year-olds or 5-year-olds and up.
4-year-old ABC Index: Shadwell’s Daaher, a son of Awesome Again who won the GI Cigar Mile, adds another statue to his collection: last week he was the top sire by B Runner Index (4.49), and this week he is the top sire by 4-year-old ABC Index (2.65). Darley’s Midshipman (2.53) completes a Maktoum one-two in this category–he’s turned out to be a really useful sire, particularly for speed, and his numbers say he’s one of the bigger bargains of the year at $8,500. Ontario’s Giant Gizmo (2.51), one of a number of useful regional sire sons of Giant’s Causeway, comes next, ahead of a three-way tie between Dubawi, Kantharos and Grazen (2.31). The mighty Sea The Stars (Ire) (2.24) is proving a good sire of 4-year-olds, as are Curlin (2.10), the veteran California star sire Unusual Heat (2.18) and Medaglia d’Oro (2.12).
5-year-olds+ ABC Index: We can’t guarantee that there aren’t some random older runners from Southern Hemisphere crops included for him, but in any case Fastnet Rock (Aus) (5.82) looks very good for 5-year-olds (his first Northern Hemisphere crop were 5-year-olds of 2016) and up, including dual Group 1 winner Fascinating Rock. Juddmonte’s Cacique (Ire) (4.65), a full-brother to Dansili and Champs Elysees, has been on and off the list of sires due to low fertility, and has now been officially retired, but he would have been a very good sire, no doubt. The Pennsylvania sire Weigelia (3.42) is good, but not very well known. Dark Angel (Ire) (3.34) you have heard of, and he has sustained his admirable record of siring good older horses as well as early 2-year-olds. Next is the Ohio sire of older C Runners who got a mention last week, Indy Wind (3.32). The top 10 is rounded out by some more familiar names: Speightstown (3.26), Le Havre (Ire) (1st 5-year-olds, 3.21), Shamardal (3.21), New Approach (Ire) (3.14), War Front (3.02).
One really striking feature of these age ratings is the similarity of the numbers between three-time champion North American sire Tapit and the French sire Kendargent (Fr). Have a look at this:
Sure, Tapit is better for 4-year-olds, but those figures are some compliment to Kendargent!
This concludes our review of the year-end 2016 APEX figures (sighs of relief all round). We’ll be on holiday for the next couple of weeks; the column returns Mar. 8. We’ll talk then.