By Bill Oppenheim
Coolmore’s Galileo, who must now rank as one of the all-time great sires, now has his 11th crop of 3-year-olds racing. At a time when many sires of his age are commencing to fade, Galileo might be stronger than ever; at least that’s what the new run of the Midyear 2016 APEX figures suggest. Covering 6 1/2 years of racing in North America, ‘Europe’ (Britain [for now], Ireland, France, and Germany), and Japan, from the beginning of 2010 through July 11, Galileo has surged clear of even Claiborne’s War Front (3.64, in second) among 435 sires with first foals 2013 or earlier, at least 10 3-year-olds of 2016, and 200 year-starters since the beginning of 2010. Galileo now has a 2010-2016 APEX A Runner Index of 4.47. He has sired 175 ‘A Runners’ since 2010 (a horse is counted as a ‘year-starter’ every year it starts, and an A Runner every year it hits the A Runner earnings threshold, up to seven years–click here for an explanation of APEX ratings); Gainesway’s Tapit is second, with 107, and though Galileo has a massive 1,959 year-starters (more than any other North American or European sire except Giant’s Causeway, a Coolmore Ashford sire who has 2,060 year-starters since the beginning of 2010), Tapit himself has 1,784 (for an APEX A Runner index of exactly 3.00)–not so many fewer than Galileo.
Some statistics on the current crop of 3-year-olds from the TDN website are illuminating. If we just look at 2016 figures for NA/EU sires of current 3-year-olds’ worldwide earnings (click here), we can see that Coolmore Ashford’s new sire sensation Uncle Mo (he has a mind-blowing 5.75 A Runner Index, but with 174 year-starters does not yet qualify for inclusion on the list of 435 sires) is the leader by 3-year-old earnings in 2016, with $8,281,480. Tapit is second ($6,440,575), Galileo third ($5,892,196). But note that Galileo has 14 3-year-old Black Type Winners (BTW) this year, of which five are Grade I or Group 1 winners: colts The Gurkha (G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains-French 2000 Guineas) and Deauville (GI Belmont Derby), and fillies Minding (three Group 1’s and counting including the G1 English 1000 Guineas and G1 Epsom Oaks), Alice Springs (G1 Falmouth S.), and, last weekend, Seventh Heaven (G1 Irish Oaks). Tapit, Sea The Stars, Curlin, Kitten’s Joy, Giant’s Causeway, Twirling Candy, and Zoffany each have five 3-year-old BTW in 2016: Uncle Mo has 10, Galileo has 14.
Then, if we look at the totals, including worldwide earnings, for the entire 2013 crop to date (click here), Uncle Mo (155 foals of 2013) still tops the table, with just a hair under $12-million in crop earnings, including 14 BTW. Tapit (108 foals of 2013) is narrowly second, with $8,676,884 in crop earnings, including nine BTW from his 2013 crop; Galileo (163 foals) has 21 BTW from his 2013 crop, including 16 Graded/Group SW (GSW), and now seven Grade I/Group 1 winners from this crop, with crop earnings of $8,599,107 through Tuesday. This blockbuster current 3-year-old crop is one reason why he is streaking even further ahead of his contemporaries in the APEX ratings.
APEX figures have always been great at revealing sires who are way outperforming expectations, and we routinely use the 200 year-starter threshold for inclusion in the ‘big list’ where they’re up against the best. Usually they reveal themselves before they’re 16 years old, but Jacks or Better Farm’s Awesome Of Course, a minor Black-Type Winner from Awesome Again’s first crop who stood the 2016 season at Ocala Stud, only had his first crop of 3-year-olds with more than 10 foals last year. He had a total of 50 foals in his first seven crops, which included, among his fourth crop of six foals, 2010 champion 2-year-old filly Awesome Feather, who was back in the news only last week as the dam of the yearling sale topper at the JHRA Sale (click here). According to The Jockey Club Online Fact Book, Awesome Of Course covered 106 mares in 2012, resulting in his biggest crop of 63 foals of 2013. This crop includes GII Swale S. winner Awesome Banner and GI Florida Derby third Fellowship, and voila, above 200 year-starters for the first time, Awesome Of Course ranks #3 among 435 qualifying APEX sires with a 3.52 A Runner Index.
The last crop by the best German sire of the last 20 years, Midyear 2016 APEX sire #4 Monsun (3.45), are 3-year-olds of 2016, so this is the last year he will be counted as an APEX sire, along with other top 20 sires Montjeu (2.65) and the Canadian sire, Niigon (2.51); a son of Unbridled who died just as he was starting to look like a top sire in Ontario, Niigon is actually the leading APEX sire by ABC Runner Index (2.47), the only category of the four covered today not topped by Galileo. Niigon is not in that class, of course; Ontario stallions benefit statistically from a long all-weather season with good purses, so they do very well as sires of A Runners, but once we start to look at categories like Grade I/Grade II winners, they’re not on those lists.
Ten of the top 20 sires by Midyear 2016 A Runner Index come from the sire crops which had their first foals in 2006, 2007, or 2008. From the great North American 2006 sire class come #5 Medaglia d’Oro (3.36), #8 Speightstown (3.04), and #10 Tapit (3.00); their other running mate, Candy Ride (2.21), checks in at #32. The 2007 sire class features #6 Dubawi (3.24), #7 Ghostzapper (3.20), and #17 Kitten’s Joy (2.53); Shamardal (2.43) is tied for 24th. F2008 sires include #2 War Front (3.64), #14 Bernardini (2.87), and two Canadian sires tied for #18, Niigon and Philanthropist (each 2.51), who was sold to South Africa after making a great start and is about to have his first 2-year-olds race there; his current crop of Canadian-sired 3-year-olds are his last in North America.
The 2009 sire class was another deep one, and though none are ranked in the top 20 by A Runner Index, seven are in the top 50. Five stand or stood in major breeding centers: Irish sires Dark Angel and Teofilo are tied for #21, each with a 2.45 A Runner Index, inches ahead of the late great Scat Daddy (#23, 2.43). Calumet’s #27 English Channel (2.35) might be doing better than the market gives him credit for, and Street Sense (2.08) is one of four sires tied for #40. Canada’s #37 Silent Name (2.13) and the New Mexico sire =#46 Atilla’s Storm are ‘provincial’ F2009 sires in the top 50.
The 2010 sire class is still led Spendthrift’s Into Mischief, ranked #9 with a 3.01 A Runner Index. This is actually a bit of a dramatic fall from year-end 2015, but this reflects a huge jump in numbers in his 2014 foal crop (now 2-year-olds), which at around 140 foals is approximately the size of his previous four crops combined. This drop is neither surprising nor troubling: he’s already proven he can sire top-class horses, such as two-time GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents. Just two other F2010 sires are in the top 50: #26 Frost Giant (2.37), a son of Giant’s Causeway who is looking good in New York; and #29 Curlin (2.32). The top four F2011 APEX sires are #12 Pioneerof the Nile (2.91), #13 Sea The Stars (2.90), #38 Le Havre (2.11), one of the best, if not the best, sire in France now; and Fastnet Rock (2.08), tied for #40. And five F2012 sires, with their first 4-year-olds, make the top 50: perhaps surprisingly, Coolmore Ashford’s #15 Lookin At Lucky (2.78) is the top F2012 sire by A Runner Index. Also in the top 50 are: #31 Siyouni (2.28); #33 Temple City (2.20); =#34 Munnings (2.18); and =#44 Quality Road (2.07).
We’ve also listed the top 20 of 245 sires with APEX ratings but under 200 year-starters 2010-2016. #1 Uncle Mo (5.75) has made an unbelievable start and is surely a top five sire–though don’t expect his 2-year-olds (fewer of them, out of not as good mares) to fire quite like his first crop has. Giant’s Causeway looks a very useful sire of sires, as Giant Surprise (2.38) in New York, Giant Gizmo (3.91, maybe Canada’s top sire right now), and even Giant Oak (3.03), in Kentucky, look good, though from very limited opportunity in the cases of Giant Surprise and Giant Oak, but much better opportunities for Giant Gizmo, in Ontario, and Frost Giant, in New York. Banstead Manor’s Cacique (3.37), a full-brother to Dansili who had major fertility issues, does very well from limited opportunity, and #5 on this list is Paul Reddam’s Square Eddie (3.18), who is making a great little sire in California. He is by Smart Strike, as are ‘big list’ top 30 sires Lookin At Lucky, English Channel, and Curlin.