By Bill Oppenheim
US: FOUR-FIGURE BARGAINS
Distorted Humor has been a great sire–TDN credits him with 130 Black-Type Winners, 52 Graded/Group Stakes Winners, and 15 Grade I/Group 1 winners in 15 crops. He hasn’t yet been a great sire of sires, but he’s got a very promising young son at Hill ‘n’ Dale in Maclean’s Music, who famously only ran once, but that was a Beyer 114, running six furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:07:2/5 in March of his 3-year-old year, and the fastest Beyer ever recorded for a maiden win. His dam, Forest Music, was herself a 6-furlong rocket by Unbridled’s Song, and that might be helping him at stud also. Maclean’s Music currently ranks eighth on the North American Freshman Sire List by progeny earnings (click here), but is the leading North American first-crop sire by number of winners (19), and number of black-type horses (7). He’s been $6,500 up until now, but is only going up to $8,500 for 2017, which still looks a very attractive proposition. Two spots behind him, 10th on the NA Freshman Sire List, is Spendthrift’s Dominus (Smart Strike), who, like Maclean’s Music was raced by Stonestreet, in his case in partnership with George Bolton. Dominus led all the way to win the GII Dwyer S. on the dirt as a 3-year-old, and led all the way to win the GII Bernard Baruch on the grass as a 4-year-old, but on the whole wasn’t very well known, and had a smallish 2014 foal crop of 48. He’s a very good-looking son of Smart Strike, a successful sire of sires, including Curlin, English Channel, and Square Eddie, and first caught people’s attention when Alex Solis II and Jason Litt bought a colt now named Straight Fire for $250,000 at the Fasig July yearling sale in 2015; Straight Fire has twice been Grade I-placed, in the GI Del Mar Futurity and the GI FrontRunner, and is one of four Black-Type Horses so far from Dominus’ first crop. He was a $3,500 stallion in 2016 (down from his original $6,500), but is up to $7,500 for next year, and by now must be just about completely sold out at the farm.
Darley Jonabell’s Midshipman is a son of Unbridled’s Song who won the Del Mar Futurity and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2008, defeating none other than Square Eddie. Midshipman was originally bred and raced by Stonerside Stable, in whose colors he won the Del Mar Futurity. Darley bought him before the Breeders’ Cup, and though he paid an instant dividend there, he didn’t win another black-type race, and by the time he retired for the 2011 season, he was a bit of a forgotten man in a very challenging environment for standing new stallions. He started out for $15,000 but was down to $7,500 in 2015-16 before edging back up to $8,500 for 2017. He’s another of this prolific group of F2012 North American sires (oldest 4-year-olds this year), and ranks as high as sixth in this group by cumulative progeny earnings (click here), and even more impressive, he is second to Munnings (16) by cumulative Black-Type Winners with 13, and his 24 Black-Type Horses ranks second only to Lookin At Lucky (25). He has nine BTW this year, tying him for the lead in that category with Kantharos, and 15 BTH. Oddly Lady Shipman is his only Graded SW, but he does have six Graded Stakes Horses (GSH).
Two sons of Tale of the Cat have each dropped to $7,500 for 2017, and both deserve a good look. Darby Dan’s Tale of Ekati is another F2012 sire and has seven BTW and 19 BTH, including Tale of Verve, second to American Pharoah in the 2015 GI Preakness S., and the Grade II-winning filly Ekati’s Phaeton, from his first crop. He also had the winner of the Louisiana Champions’ Day Juvenile S. last Saturday in breeder/owner/trainer Dallas Stewart’s Saint’s Fan; I’d say the breeder/owner/trainer is wearing his heart on his sleeve with that name. Also by Tale of the Cat, Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti won seven Grade I races on the turf and ran second to Zenyatta, on synthetic, in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic, so it’s kind of a surprise that the best horse from his first crop, 3-year-olds this year, is a dirt sprinter, namely Drefong, dual Grade I winner of the GI King’s Bishop, at Saratoga, and the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Gio Ponti himself kept improving after his 3-year-old year, and if his runners do the same he could be a very good buy at $7,500 in 2017. Another sire with his first 3-year-olds who’s been a little surprising that way is Spendthrift’s Tizway, who ranks eighth on the North American second-crop sire list this year (click here), including six BTW and 10 BTH. Tizway himself peaked as a 6-year-old on the dirt, winning the 2011 GI Met Mile (Beyer 113) and GI Whitney S. (Beyer 111) in his final two career starts. But Tizway is out of a Dayjur mare, definitely does not look like a typical Tiznow, and is siring an awful lot of grass and synthetic runners. He’s also $7,500 for 2017 and might be one of those sneaky good buys.
There are three sires in Kentucky standing for $5,000 who should interest any breeder looking for value who’s on a budget. Airdrie’s Istan (Gone West) has been on everybody’s value budget list for years, and should continue to be. He never has very big crops but always seems to have a name in the news. Gainesway’s Hat Trick (Sunday Silence) made a good start at Walmac and was re-syndicated and moved to Gainesway for the 2012 covering season. That crop of 95, which are 3-year-olds this year, includes four 2016 BTW. These two are both great buys, but the greatest buy of all for 2017 has to be Darby Dan’s Run Away And Hide, who has been dropped from $7,500 to $5,000. He’s a son of City Zip with a very similar race record to Kantharos–I mean, really similar: he ran three times at two, winning all three, culminating in the GII Saratoga Special, then was injured and had to be retired, and covered as a 3-year-old in 2009. His first two crops include seven BTW, three of them GSW and four which have made $350k or more, including Are You Kidding Me, who has made $986k. For $5,000, are you kidding me (yeah, it’s the name of the horse, I know, but it fits), at that price Run Away And Hide is the best value sire on the planet for 2017.
There are some mighty useful proven sires for mighty low four-figure stud fees for 2017 in Kentucky, which makes it tough for the new four-figure sires. But here are two who really do figure: Coolmore Ashford’s Magician, a son of Galileo who won the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas and, after a 4 1/2-month break after Royal Ascot, won the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf, as a 3-year-old in 2013. He ranked sixth among North American F2016 sires which had their first yearlings sell in November, with eight selling (of 11 offered), for an average of $53,422–quite respectable off his entering $12,500 stud fee. He’s at $7,500 for 2017, which is a whole lot of proper Group 1 form for not a whole lot of money. Also at $7,500 is Three Chimneys’ Fast Anna, by Medaglia d’Oro out of Dreaming of Anna, the Rahy mare who won the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and was Champion 2-Year-Old Filly of 2006. She wasn’t as fast as Fast Anna, though; he got the Rahy rocket gene you sometimes see. Fast Anna only won one Black-Type Race, at five furlongs on the grass, but man was he fast: he ran a half-mile in :43 and change or :44 and change six times in nine starts, and was beaten a head in the GI King’s Bishop, in his only start at seven furlongs, and in just his third lifetime start. He’s been well-managed and well promoted, and you can just see him being one of those ‘back-book’ sires everybody will hope they’ll be able to afford.
BEST VALUE (On the Planet): Run Away And Hide. He’s a gift!
European Four-Figure Bargains
The two highest-rated horses by Racing Post Ratings (RPR) by Shadwell’s Nayef, a half-brother to Nashwan and Unfuwain by Gulch, appeared in his first crop, foaled in 2005: the 2008 G1 Prix de l’Opera winner Lady Marian (RPR 123) and the 2008 G1 Prix Jean Prat and G1 Prix Jacques le Marois winner, Tamayuz (RPR 125), who was trained by Freddy Head. The vast majority of runners by Nayef have been middle-distance horses and stayers, so Tamayuz (who is out of a Nureyev mare), arguably the top French 3-year-old miler of 2008, has proved an exception. He’s also proved a pretty useful sire at Shadwell’s Irish arm, Derrinstown, where Tamayuz will be standing for a career-low €8,000 next year (Nayef himself is still at stud at Shadwell in England, for £5,000). His granddam, the Riverman mare Allez Les Trois, was a half-sister to none other than Urban Sea, dam of Galileo and Sea The Stars, so he hails from a pretty distinguished female line. Tamayuz’s first foals arrived in 2010, and he has registered very solid figures on the APEX scale: 1.56 A Runner Index, 1.49 ABC Runner Index, which qualifies him as what we call a “very useful” sire–meaning €8,000 is a very good buy. He has only one Group 1 winner, the 2014 G1 Haydock Sprint Championship winner G Force, from his second crop; but he has seven GSW, and his 17 Group Stakes Horses (GSH) represent 7.23% of his 235 named foals in five crops, tops among all European F2010 sires.
Shadwell also bred Nayef’s equal second-best colt by RPR, a real under-the-radar colt called Mustajeeb (F2017, RPR 121), who stands his second season at Overbury Stud in England for £4,000 next year, and guess what? He is from the same female family, and is thus closely related to Tamayuz. Mustajeeb’s dam, the Elusive Quality mare Riqfah, is out of Anja, an Indian Ridge half-sister to Tamayuz’s dam, Al Ishq, and herself also out of Allez Les Trois; pretty interesting that arguably the two fastest class horses by Nayef are so similarly bred. Trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld, Mustajeeb ran three times as a 2-year-old, finishing up with a second to War Command in the G2 Futurity S. In his first start at three, he defeated older horses at a mile in the G3 Amethyst S., then finished seven lengths third to none other than Kingman in the 2014 G1 Irish 2000 Guineas. Weld then dropped him back to seven furlongs for a competitive little Group 3 at Royal Ascot called the Jersey S.–just kidding, sometimes it must be the toughest Group 3 in the world–which he duly won as the 9-2 co-favorite. He ran second in the G2 Boomerang S. on Irish Champions weekend after a summer break, and finished up the year at Santa Anita, finishing under five lengths behind Karakontie and Anodin in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile. At four Weld dropped him to six furlongs, but he only ran twice, winning the G2 Greenlands S. at The Curragh, then finishing four lengths fifth to Undrafted in the G1 Diamond Jubilee. It reads pretty well for a £4,000 stallion (down from £5,000) closely related to a pretty good sire from the family of Galileo, doesn’t it? It was unfortunate for Overbury that they lost Delegator (Dansili) last week, but they’ve got a genuine ‘sleeper’ in Mustajeeb.
Shadwell sold two mares in foal to Mustajeeb at the Tattersalls July Sale earlier this year, including one bought by Cathy Grassick of Brian Grassick Bloodstock for 55,000gns; being Irish, Cathy will have known exactly who Mustajeeb is.
No such digging necessary to unearth another horse standing in England whose first foals will be arriving next year, Highclere Stud’s Cable Bay, a son of Invincible Spirit who is advertised as having covered over 150 mares in his first season this year, and will stand for £5,000 in 2017. Originally a €130,000 Goffs yearling trained by Charlie Hills, Cable Bay placed in two Group 2 races at two and ran second to War Command (second time his name has come up; winner of the G2 Coventry, G2 Futurity, and G1 Dewhurst S. as a 2-year-old, by War Front, €12,500 at Coolmore, first foals 2016) in the G1 Dewhurst. He was second in another Group 2 in an abbreviated campaign (wasn’t out until August) as a 3-year-old, but proved a tough and consistent seven-furlong horse as a 4-year-old in 2015, culminating with a good win in the G2 Challenge S. at Newmarket in October. Here’s another promising sire son of Invincible Spirit.
One other horse we must mention among four-figure sires who went to stud in 2016 is France’s Haras de Bouquetot’s The Wow Signal. He was a £50,000 2-year-old from Tattersalls Ireland’s Ascot sale who won his first start by nine lengths barely a month later for trainer John Quinn, and was then sold to Al Shaqab. He rewarded them, and put his sire Starspangledbanner on the map when he won the G2 Coventry S. at Royal Ascot in June, and followed that up two months later in the G1 Prix Morny in Deauville, in which he defeated Ascot Windsor Castle S. and subsequent GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Hootenanny. That was about it: he finished last of nine in the G1 Lagardare on ‘Arc’ day, and never ran again, although they did try and get him back as a 3-year-old. He stands at €8,000 at Bouquetot; he had brilliant 2-year-old form and is from a brilliant 2-year-old sire line, so has plenty to recommend him.
Two horses with their first foals in 2016 make particular appeal at their four-figure 2017 fees. One is Coolmore’s 2013 G1 Epsom Derby winner Ruler of The World, a half-brother to Duke of Marmalade by Galileo. Ruler of the World started out at €15,000, but is down to a tempting €8,000 for 2017. His best subsequent win was in the G2 Prix Foy as a 4-year-old, in his first start back since contesting that season’s G1 Dubai World Cup on the synthetic track. Otherwise he ran into quite a bit of soft ground, which probably didn’t suit him. He’s quite an eye-catching individual, is the consensus of a number of judges.
Our other candidate is the Haras Du Quesnay’s Anodin, by Anabaa and no less a personage than a full-brother to Goldikova. Anodin’s only group race win came in the one-mile G3 Prix Paul de Moussac as a 3-year-old, but he was second or third in no fewer than five Group 1 races, mostly at a mile, including behind Kingman, Toronado, and Karakontie, the latter, in his final career start, when the two French-trained horses ran one-two in the 2014 GI Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita. Shades of Dansili, a Group 2 winner who was second or third in six Group 1s. That all makes him look a very tempting buy at €7,500.
Most horses with runners which have become successful sires are now standing for five- or even six-figure sums, but a few of this year’s freshman sires, F2014 sires with their first 2-year-olds in 2016, have made good starts without having their fees getting out of the four-figure range. In fact they currently rank five, six and eight on the European First-Crop Sire table (click here). The Irish National Stud’s Dragon Pulse, by Kyllachy, won the G2 Futurity S. in 2011, and ran second in the G1 National S. He has 21 winners including three Group Stakes Horses (GSH), ranks fifth on the list, and has had his stud fee raised from €5,000 to €8,000 for 2017. Remaining at €8,000 is Coolmore’s Power, a son of Oasis Dream who won the G2 Coventry S. at Royal Ascot, defeated Dragon Pulse to win the G1 National S., and went on at three to win the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas. He ranks sixth on the European Freshman Sire list, with four Black-Type Winners, more than any other European freshman sire except, uh, Frankel.
Rajsaman is currently the 8th-leading first crop European sire, from the farm that brought you Le Havre, by the top French sire Linamix. He was a multiple group winner and twice Group 1-placed, defeating Siyouni, Lope de Vega and Rio de la Plata among others. He stood for €6,000 at La Cauviniere last year, and after siring 13 winners in his first crop so far, has been raised to only €8,000 in 2017. He has been bred to more than 150 mares a year in his first three years, so there’s a lot of progeny out there working for you on the racecourse, including the classic hopefuls Brametot and Prinz Hlodowig.
After being bought by Godolphin, the Brian Meehan-trained Fast Company, by Danehill Dancer, gave New Approach a fright in the 2007 G1 Dewhurst S., in which New Approach capped off an undefeated European championship 2-year-old season. Unfortunately, much like The Wow Signal a few years later, Fast Company never got back to the races. He started out at the Burns family’s Rathasker Stud in Ireland, then moved to Overbury in England for the 2016 season, but is now moving into one of the ‘main yards’ and will be standing at Kildangan, for €7,000, in 2017. His first foals were born in 2012, and he made a solid enough start, but when the filly Jet Setting, from his second crop, upset Minding in this year’s G1 Irish 1000 Guineas, all of a sudden more people got a lot more interested in him. He qualifies as very solid value. One horse I wanted to mention with his first 3-year-olds is Elusive Pimpernel, the 2010 G3 Craven S. winner by Elusive Quality who stands at the Irish National Stud for just €1,000, pay now. Why is a €1,000 stallion worthy of mention? Because he was bred and owned by Windflower Holdings, the firm that brought us Snow Fairy, who has a rising 2-year-old filly by Elusive Pimpernel, and the legendary Big Bad Bob. Elusive Pimpernel has been bred to a few Big Bad Bob mares, I believe, but what is noteworthy is he has sired four Black-Type Horses already, and they sure look like they’re going to get better as they get older. Could he be the successor to Big Bad Bob?
As we all know, there has been an explosion of Australian 2-year-olds and sprinters ‘reverse-shuttling’ to the European stallion ranks in the last few years, and horses like Helmet (Exceed And Excel) and Sepoy (Elusive Quality) have made good starts with their first European 2-year-olds this year; both are Darley horses, incidentally–Helmet has already sired a Group 1 winner in Thunder Snow–and Darley is standing a horse we’re told is a real under-the-radar sleeper at the Haras Du Logis, name of Exosphere. He’s by Lonhro and was a top six- and seven-furlong colt in Sydney in their spring of 2015, and will be standing his first season ‘up north’ for €6,000. One of our very best spies assures me that, given the exceptional French premiums, Exosphere is a very good buy. One thing we do know: they (the good sires) come from everywhere.