Kentucky: 42 Value Sires at $25K and Under

The Factor | Mathea Kelley


You know the Terms and Conditions by now: the opinions expressed herein are solely my own; we hope the data included is accurate but can't guarantee it; definitely can't guarantee there are seasons available in stallions we tout; we are most definitely fallible; and if anybody feels their horse or a horse they like should be mentioned, Nominations From The Floor are now open.

We're dividing the sires into three groups: those standing for $20,000-$25,000; those standing for >$10,000 but <$20,000; and those standing for $10,000 and under. We've reviewed them by oldest first within each group, and they are listed alphabetically in the accompanying table. So here we go:

KENTUCKY SIRES $20,000-$25,000

English Channel doesn't get the ink or rate as high at Kitten's Joy, but he's a second example of a champion American turf horse who's making a sire; 15 black-type horses this year. Midnight Lute had a huge bump up in number and class of mare in 2014, and has 128 foals of 2015 out of his best mares ever. He's a good bet to be back in the news. Blame (1st 3-year-olds) has been knocking on the door. He is reportedly full at $25k; the market is treating him like his sire, Arch–giving them a chance. Sure enough, trainer Chad Brown stepped the 3-year-old March, winner of the GII Woody Stephens at seven furlongs on the dirt on Belmont S. day, up to nine furlongs on the grass, and he got beat a head in the GI Hollywood Derby. Just like Arch would have done; never ran on the grass himself, but they handle it, maybe even move up on it; Roberto.

Three North American F2012 sires (1st 3-year-olds) have cumulative progeny earnings above $5-million. WinStar's Super Saver, who has three Grade I and two Grade II winners and whose stud fee has justifiably (yes, that's what I said) leapt to $65,000, actually splits the other two in cumulative progeny earnings (click here), the Ashford duo of Munnings and Lookin At Lucky. Munnings leads all F2012 NA sires with 76 winners, and also leads the group with 13 black-type winners and 19 black-type horses, including Grade I winner I'm A Chatterbox. Lookin At Lucky is third by number of winners (70, Spendthrift's Warrior's Reward second with 71), of which six are BTW and 14 BTH. Both the Ashford horses have two Grade I-placed horses as well.

The hoof prints of the Fappiano sire line are all over American breeding these days: Tapit, Bernardini, and War Front are all out of Fappiano-line mares; Empire Maker, Pioneerof the Nile, American Pharoah represent the sire line via Unbridled. Shackleford, winner of the 2011 GI Preakness and 2012 GI Met Mile, is by Forestry out of an Unbridled mare. To our eye, he looks pretty Unbridled, throws pretty Unbridled; interesting. The Factor busted out with some big-figure sales at Saratoga and Keeneland, and finished up second on yearling average only to Bodemeister among North American first-crop sires of yearlings; 70 yearlings by The Factor averaged $143,099, with a $97,500 median–an impressive 6 1/2 times his original $15,000 stud fee. Market Darling: he's up to $25,000, and reportedly oversubscribed. The 2013 GI Kentucky Derby winner, Orb, is by Malibu Moon and is another out of an Unbridled mare, and again looks and throws that Unbridled/Fappiano scope. He had 16 weanlings sell from his first crop this year, for an average of $120,312 and a median of $120,000. He seems to be throwing good and uniform individuals; people like what they're seeing. Verrazano won the 2013 GI Wood Memorial and GI Haskell–the latter in an off-the-graph Beyer 116. His first mares in foal sold for an average of $93,307. I'd say I'm not alone in thinking Verrazano could be a real top prospect. Among sires who will be covering their first mares, Liam's Map finished off with Beyers of 113-114-114 when just caught by Honor Code in this year's GI Whitney, then winning decisively in the GI Woodward and GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Palace Malice got Curlin off to a good start by winning the GI Belmont S., then came back at four to run Beyers of 112-114-112, culminating in an impressive win over Goldencents in the 2014 GI Met Mile. He's getting a lot of support at his $20,000 entering fee.

KENTUCKY SIRES >$10,000 & <$20,000

We've already mentioned why we think Afleet Alex is great value for 2016. If you don't remember what we said from the Gainesway ad, it was:

The value pick among proven sires under $15,000 might still be available: that's Afleet Alex, still a bargain $12,500 at

Gainesway. His 2015 crop of 3-year-olds includes three Grade I

winners: Texas Red, Materiality, and Sharla Rae. I'd say that's a

mighty strong performance for a $12,500 stallion.”

First Samurai has looked good value all along, and still is, at $15,000. Having had 46 foals total in this year's 3-year-old and 2-year-old crops combined, he has 80 2-year-olds of 2016, 84 foals this year, covered 99 mares this year, and is going to have a lot more chances to get back in the news. Street Boss has always gotten a lot of winners, and has had a Grade I or Grade II-winning 3-year-old in each of his first three crops: Capo Bastone (GI King's Bishop) in 2013, Danza (GI Arkansas Derby) in 2014, and Holy Boss (GII Amsterdam, 3rd GI King's Bishop) this year. He's said to be pretty full at Darley.

Among sires with their first 3-year-olds in this price range, Temple City has had three Grade I-placed 3-year-olds from his first crop this year, including the very good filly Miss Temple City, who ran second to Lady Eli in the GIII Appalachian at Keeneland this spring and shipped over to Royal Ascot, where she ran a bang-up fourth at 50-1 to Ervedya, Found, and Lucida in the G1 Coronation S. That's tip-top form. Temple City is by Dynaformer out of a Danzig half-sister to Malibu Moon, so the pedigree is there too.

Two Kentucky Freshman Sires (first 2-year-olds) who land in this price range are number two and four on the North American Freshman Sire List (click here): Twirling Candy and Girolamo. Twirling Candy, who ranks second only to Uncle Mo, has 23 winners and no fewer than seven black-type horses; if they progress as 3-year-olds he could be a big name this time next year. Girolamo, a beautifully-bred son of A.P. Indy–his dam is a full-sister to the dams of Super Saver and Bluegrass Cat–won the GI Vosburgh, and ranks fourth on the NA Freshman Sire List with 19 winners for his first, New York-sired crop, including the black-type winner and GI Frizette third, She's All Ready. He's staying in Kentucky for 2016.

Among sires in this price range with their first 2-year-olds in 2016, Creative Cause has great form lines: beat I'll Have Another in the GII Best Pal, won the GI Norfolk, and ran third to Hansen and Union Rags in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile as a 2-year-old; beat Bodemeister in the GII San Felipe, got beat a nose by I'll Have Another in the GI Santa Anita Derby, finished three lengths fifth in the GI Kentucky Derby and third in the GI Preakness, in both races to I'll Have Another and Bodemeister running one-two. He had 37 yearlings from his first crop average $67,405 at this year's sales, one place behind Shackleford ($68,614). Tapizar ranked fourth among North American first-year sires of yearlings, with 55 yearlings averaging $95,727, with a median of $90,000, six times his entering fee. Tapit and his sons Trappe Shot and Tapizar all have in common that their first crops significantly outperformed expectations commercially, signaling well above average individuals.

Among North American sires with their first foals in 2015, Graydar has always punched above his weight commercially. We commented last November that his owners had found a lot of commercially viable mares to breed to him. His covering sire average was $83,227 last year, for 22 mares sold in foal, and 16 weanlings from his first crop have averaged $93,812, with a median 5.5 times his stud fee, at $77,500. Of the sires in this price range which have covered their first mares in 2015, Cairo Prince was the overall leader by covering sire average, with eight mares in foal averaging $231,437. But the dam of Runhappy sold for $1.6-million in foal to him, which means the other seven mares grossed $241,500 total. Notwithstanding that small statistical oddity, Cairo Prince proved so popular that his fee for 2016 has been raised, from $10,000 to $15,000. Dual GI Breeders Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents, from the first crop by Into Mischief, also goes up to $15,000, in his case from $12,500. According to The Jockey Club's Report of Mares Bred, Cairo Prince covered 148 mares this year; Goldencents covered 179.

Of the sires retiring to Kentucky in this price range, there are three I'd particularly like to mention: Bayern, Karakontie, and Lea. Bayern won the GII Woody Stephens on Belmont S. day last June (2014) but then went on to win the GI Haskell and the GI Breeders' Cup Classic. He's reported to be a seriously good-looking horse from some of those who have seen him. Karakontie, who is by Bernstein out of a Sunday Silence mare, and whose second dam was a three-quarter sister to Kingmambo, won the G1 Lagardere as a 2-year-old, and the G1 Poule D'Essai Des Poulains–French 2000 Guineas–and the GI Breeders' Cup Mile as a 3-year-old in 2014. I couldn't claim to be unbiased in his case, but I am certain he was a very high-class miler. For his part, Lea won the GI Donn H. at Gulfstream Park last year and was second in no fewer than four Grade I races in 2015. He joins his sire, First Samurai, at Claiborne Farm. His toughness and consistency at the highest class levels of racing definitely enhance his appeal.


Discreet Cat battles away, and the $7,500 stud fee at which he's stood the last couple of years still looks very good value. He's now in the top 20 on the North American 2-year-old sire list, with three juvenile black-type winners this year, and is listed in The Jockey Club Online Fact Book as having 79 foals of 2015 and covering 128 mares this year. Keep the faith. Hat Trick had just 20 foals each in his 2011 and 2012 crops; his first Gainesway crop (80 foals) are 2-year-olds this year. He ranks in the NA 2-year-old top 30 himself, with 17 juvenile winners, two black-type winners, including Dressed in Hermes, winner of a competitive-looking GIII Cecil DeMille (1m, turf) at Del Mar late last month. He looks a very good bet at $7,500. Istan has been almost a private stallion–not by choice–for Brereton Jones and Airdrie, though he did cover a record (for him) 55 mares this year. His early returns are quite impressive. Same for Run Away And Hide, a son of City Zip who showed all his sire's precocity by winning all three of his starts at two, including the GII Saratoga Special, after which he was injured and retired, covering his first crop at Darby Dan at three. That crop includes Are You Kidding Me, winner of three Grade II races in Canada this year at 8 1/2f on the all-weather and nine furlongs on turf. Like his own sire, Run Away And Hide is proving a big over-achiever.

Among sires with their first 3-year-olds this year, Spendthrift's Line of David remains at a bargain-basement $3,500 fee for 2016, though he has six black-type horses from his first crop of 54 foals, including Grade III winner and GI Kentucky Derby second Firing Line. He ended up covering 166 mares last year and surely breeders will flock to him again at that price. Midshipman has six BTW, including the Grade I-placed rocket sprinting filly Lady Shipman, and 14 black-type horses overall. He ranks sixth on the North American cumulative second-crop sire list by progeny earnings, and looks seriously good value to us.

Among sires with their first 2-year-olds this year, Spendthrift has no fewer than five 2016 Kentucky stallions among the top 20 North American Freshman Sires of 2015, including fifth-ranked Archarcharch, sire of Toews On Ice, winner of three black-type races in California, including the GIII Bob Hope S.; eighth-ranked Paddy O'Prado, sire of 12 winners, his three black-type horses including last weekend's GI Startlet S. third Sutton's Smile; and Tizway, who has two black-type horses at Woodbine (one BTW, one twice black-type placed), plus another black-type winner at Laurel. Archarcharch and Paddy O'Prado are standing for $5,000; Tizway is $10,000 for 2016. Another to keep an eye on is Airdrie's Haynesfield, who has a three-time black-type winner at Hastings Park in Vancouver, but also a couple of pretty promising maiden winners who look like they'll be better as 3-year-olds.

The GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile has been won by Tapizar, Goldencents (twice), and Liam's Map in the last four years; the 2011 edition was won by Caleb's Posse, defeating Shackleford. Caleb's Posse had previously won the GI King's Bishop at Saratoga, and as a 4-year-old dropped a nose decision to Shackleford in the 2012 GI Met Mile in what proved to be his final career start. Considering we give Shackleford a real shot at $20,000, we have to give Caleb's Posse a shot at $5,000. Besides Shackleford, another Darby Dan sire with his first 2-year-olds next year is Jersey Town, whose 17 yearlings sold for an average of $90,382, including a $500,000 half-sister to Tonalist at Saratoga and a colt and a filly who each brought $250,000-plus at Keeneland September.

Upon reading that the Nominations From the Floor were open, we immediately received one for I Want Revenge, who will be standing for $5,000 next year at Millennium Farms, and had his first foals this year. It isn't really there in the numbers, conceded our subscriber, but he detected some good judges in the neighborhood. Keep an eye out. Among sires which covered their first seasons in 2015, Ashford's Magician might be a little bit of a forgotten man commercially. He was a dual Group 1 winner at three in the Irish 2000 Guineas and the Breeders' Cup Turf, and is by the world's best sire, Galileo. Those are some big credentials for a sire who'll be standing for $10,000 next year.

Finally, some interesting sires going to stud next year for $10,000 or under, including two good turf milers by War Front: Jack Milton was a graded SW at three, four, and five, including the GI Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland this year; he goes to Crestwood for $6,500. Summer Front, who goes to Airdrie for $10,000, mixed it with the best, was a Grade II winner and was three times Grade I-placed. Lane's End gets the 2014 GI Belmont Derby winner Mr. Speaker, who is by Pulpit out of an Unbridled mare – the same cross as Tapit.

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