By Bill Oppenheim
KENTUCKY VALUE SIRES:
The group of sires which went to stud in the U.S. in 2011 and had their first foals in 2012 (so we abbreviate as F2012) has been a very interesting group to follow, with as many as a dozen sires–maybe more–which have been jockeying for position at every signpost. While there are no 'breakthrough' six-figure sires yet, last week we included the group's one-two by both 2016 and cumulative progeny earnings, Lane's End's Quality Road ($35,000 for 2017) and Coolmore Ashford's Munnings ($25,000, both unchanged from 2016) among our 'value' sire recommendations for 2017 standing for $25k-$40k. Click here to see the 2016 table of North American third-crop sires by worldwide progeny earnings, and click here to see the cumulative table; keep them open, too, because we're going to be adding three F2012 Kentucky sires standing for $10k-$20k to our Value Sire list. Let's take them in 2017 stud fee order.
It's quite amazing that Ashford's Lookin At Lucky has not yet sired a Grade I winner, because he's now had six horses place in Grade I races, four of them (4-year-olds Money Multiplier and Breaking Lucky; 3-year-old Accelerate; and 2-year-old Lookin At Lee) since the end of August. He ranks third among North American third-crop sires behind Quality Road and Munnings in 2016 progeny earnings and (reversed, Munnings, then Quality Road) cumulative progeny earnings ($9.7-million); he's the leading North American third-crop sire by number of Grade I horses (six) and is tied for the lead by number of Black-Type Horses overall (24, tied with Darley's Midshipman, who will be on next week's list, and ahead of Munnings 23, Quality Road and Kantharos 21); and he was the leading North American and European third-crop sire both by A Runner Index (2.78) and number of A Runners (13) when we did our mid-year APEX run in July (next run: year-end 2016, will appear the week of the Keeneland January Sale). In other words, Lookin At Lucky, who was Champion 2-Year-Old and Champion 3-Year-Old of his years and who will stand for $17,500 (down from $20,000) in 2017, has a lot going for him, not least a ton of useful horses. He is poised for a breakthrough year in 2017, and in any case, he sure gets his share of runners.
Last year we rightly called Kantharos, a son of Lion Heart who won all three of his starts as a 2-year-old, including the GII Saratoga Special by seven lengths, but was injured and retired to Ocala Stud in Florida as a 3-year-old, “the best value sire on the planet” at $5,000 in 2016. He relinquishes that title this year to another sire who won all three of his starts, including the Saratoga Special, and who drops from $7,500 to $5,000 for 2017 (spoiler alert: Run Away And Hide, at Darby Dan; tune in next week), but it's a move up for Kantharos, who moves to Hill 'n' Dale in Kentucky and will be standing for $15,000. He absolutely deserves it, and brings serious precocity as well as speed and class to Kentucky breeders. He was already moving mares up massively and this year, with his first 4-year-olds racing, he has sired the earners of over $4-million (ranking him sixth NA third-crop sire at the moment) and actually leads all North American third-crop sires with 17 Black-Type Horses this year. In our mid-year APEX run he was number three F2012 sire by A Runner Index (2.63), number one by ABC Runner Index (2.16), and had a 2.86 ABC Index for 2-year-olds. He's done this with smallish crops (average 40) of Florida mares. Every breeder who could use a dose of rocket 2-year-old speed and precocity should be breeding to Kantharos in 2017.
But last weekend's story among North American F2012 sires is Spendthrift's Temple City, who was the subject of Andrew Caulfield's column yesterday (click here), by virtue of having a Grade I double at Del Mar when the 3-year-old Annals of Time, trained by Chad Brown (a 'mortal' for his first Eclipse Award this year), won the GI Hollywood Derby on Saturday to become Temple City's second Grade I winner, while his first Grade I winner, the 4-year-old filly Miss Temple City, won her third Grade I on Sunday in the GI Matriarch S. There is a good deal of grumbling about Spendthrift's approach to standing sires, but the proof is in the results, and Temple City follows F2010 Into Mischief as the second world-class sire Spendthrift has produced in the last five years. But Into Mischief kicked off at $12,500, whereas Temple City, whose only graded race win came in the GIII Cougar H. at 1 1/2m. on the all-weather at Hollywood Park, started out at $5,000. Temple City is by Dynaformer, so no surprise about the mile and a half, but he is also out of a Danzig half-sister to Malibu Moon, and that combination has clearly 'shortened him up'; Miss Temple City is a miler. Temple City stood for $12,500 in 2015 and The Jockey Club reports he had 152 foals of 2016; he stood for $15,000 in 2016 and covered 172 mares this year, as Andrew mentioned yesterday. The wily Spendthrift team then dropped him to $10,000 for next year; I don't know how many bookings they had before the weekend, but it's a good bet they have a lot more now. Like Classic Empire did for Pioneerof the Nile, Annals of Time proves Temple City is no kind of one-hit wonder. He is definitely the best $10,000 buy in the thoroughbred universe for 2017; Merry Christmas from Mr. Hughes and the team at Spendthrift.
Like the F2012 group, the North American Freshman Sires (F2014), with their first foals 2-year-olds this year, are a group still very much in development, but the top two, Darby Dan's 2011 GI Florida Derby winner Dialed In (Mineshaft), and Lane's End's GI Champagne S. and 2012 GI Belmont S. winner Union Rags (Dixie Union) stand out. Dialed In holds a $30,000 lead over Union Rags at this writing, compliments of Gunnevera's $600,000 payday in the $1-million GIII Delta Downs Jackpot, added to his win in the GII Saratoga Special, but Dialed In also has a total of 18 winners, at least half of them in good maiden company in New York, California, Kentucky, and Florida. Union Rags, who leads North American F2014 sires with three black-type winners, including two Grade I-winning fillies, is Book Full and then some at $50,000, and deserves to be; but that does illustrate the point that Dialed In is himself very good value at just $15,000 next year. In all but a few cases, like those cited above, proven sires are expensive sires, which is why so many unproven sires are offered at attractive prices in this price range. The standout commercial play, hands down, has to be Airdrie's Cairo Prince (Pioneerof The Nile), who ranked second only to Three Chimneys' Will Take Charge (Unbridled's Song) by weanling average at the recent November sales. Cairo Prince had 20 sell from 24 offered (83%, in itself a tip), for an average of $87,850, and a median of $80,000–which was eight times his initial 2015 stud fee of $10,000, and still 5.3 times his 2016-2017 stud fee of $15,000. They sold like that because they looked the part, and it was such a strong showing that we consider the newest 'market darling', Cairo Prince, likely to transcend just winning beauty contests, and make a sire. Another horse who had his first weanlings sell who we have a lot of time for is Ashford's Verrazano (More Than Ready), just because we always thought he was a seriously good horse. He wasn't so much a market darling (22/38, $75,318), but he was a really good-looking 3-year-old who won his first four starts going into the GI Kentucky Derby, including the GI Wood Memorial, and after not really getting the trip in the Derby, came back after a freshening to win his next two, including the GI Haskell by nearly 10 lengths, running a Beyer 116 on a fast track. He was even tried in Europe as a 4-year-old, finishing third in the G1 Lockinge S. and a good second to Toronado in the G1 Queen Anne S. at Royal Ascot, when trained at Ballydoyle. He has edged down to $17,500 for his third season.
Curlin has of course now gone beyond recall, especially now that Connect has become his seventh Grade I winner, but his first good son, Palace Malice, makes a lot of appeal in his second season at Three Chimneys, at $20,000. He was for a good while Curlin's only Grade I winner, in fact until 2015. Palace Malice won the GI Belmont S. as a 3-year-old, defeating Oxbow and Orb in what looked like an above-average renewal of the race (though the Beyer figure, typical of American horses running a mile and a half, was only a 98), but what really clinched his reputation were four straight wins in the first half of his 4-year-old year in 2014, culminating in the GI Met Mile, in which he defeated two-time GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents; in the last three of those wins, Palace Malice ran Beyers of 112-114-112. Also standing his second season, at Gainesway, is Karakontie, by Bernstein out of a Sunday Silence mare, and whose second dam is a three-quarter sister to Kingmambo. I am avowedly heavily biased toward Karakontie, but he was a three-time Group 1 winner for trainer Jonathan Pease, winning the G1 Lagardere to be named Champion 2-Year-Old in France in 2013; the G1 Poule D'Essai des Poulains –French 2000 Guineas (in France his form was very tied up with Ectot, who defeated Flintshire in the G1 Joe Hirsch this fall); and the 2014 G1 Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita. There are increasing signals that more Europeans now realize America is still in the World Top Two for breeding horses (along with Western Europe), especially when you have years like 2016, when Scat Daddy was represented by Caravaggio and Lady Aurelia in Europe. More Europeans should be looking for Kentucky sires whose runners they can take back to Europe, and Karakontie, at a very reasonable $15,000 fee, fits that profile.
BEST VALUE OF ALL: Well, it has to be Temple City, doesn't it–an absolute steal at $10,000. I'll bet they run out of those pretty soon, though.
And–bonus coverage–Emily Plant's pick:
Although superstar Uncle Mo dominates the NA cumulative second-crop sire list, leading Twirling Candy in second place by over $11M in earnings, I think there's a lot to like about this 'second-fiddle' son of Candy Ride. It's true that he has no Grade I winners, and Danzing Candy is his only Grade II winner, but he has plenty in the pipeline to give hope–for example his runners with stakes form in November include 3-year-old fillies Finley'sluckycharm, who won the Dream Supreme S. at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25, and Gianna's Dream, who placed third in the Nov. 25 Winter Memories S. at Aqueduct. The 2-year-old filly Candycoated Dame was third in the Smart Halo S. Nov. 19, and the 2-year-old colt Sweetontheladies won the Juvenile Sprint S. at Gulfstream Park West Nov. 12.
He has eight black-type winners and 17 black-type horses–but he does need to go ahead and convert some of these black-type horses into graded stakes performers. However, at $20k for 2017, I think he's a great value. His Mid-Year APEX age-rating figures were excellent, 3.11 for 2-year-olds and 2.90 for 3-year-olds, and based on his sire's profile, we'd expect that Twirling Candy will have good older runners, too.
EUROPEAN VALUE SIRES:
One difference between the European and American stallion populations is that the European population, combined, is a lot smaller, which tends to put more of a premium on proven stallions, especially the few true up-and-coming, affordable European stallions not named Frankel. This year there are four stallions debuting in Kentucky at fees of $30,000+ (Frosted, Nyquist, California Chrome and Exaggerator), while in Europe the two highest-priced retirements are Shalaa (Invincible Spirit, €27,500 at Bouquetot in France) and The Gurkha (€25,000 at Coolmore).
There is a strong corps of new stallions, including these six which will be standing for €10,000-€20,000 (five in Ireland, Bobby's Kitten in England): Ireland's Ballylinch Stud has two good prospects, Juddmonte-bred and -raced New Bay (Dubawi), reportedly done in a similar partnership scenario to Juddmonte's Flintshire to Hill 'n' Dale in Kentucky; and Newton Anner Farm's Fascinating Rock, a multiple Group 1 winner from the first Northern Hemisphere crop by Fastnet Rock. New Bay ran second to Make Believe (Makfi), also a Ballylinch stallion, in last year's G1 Poule D'Essai des Poulains – French 2000 Guineas, then racked up three straight wins in the G1 Prix du Jockey-Club – French Derby, the G2 Guillaume D'Ornano at Deauville, and the G2 Prix Niel before running third to Golden Horn in the 2015 G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. He didn't really get the rub of the green this year, but he proved his point at three, and breeders will love having a Dubawi they can breed to who is not already, as is Night of Thunder, out of a Galileo mare. He'll stand for €20,000. Fascinating Rock, who was trained by Dermot Weld for his owner-breeder, was a dual Group 1 winner at around 10 furlongs (the British Champion S. and the Tattersalls Gold Cup), defeating Found both times, and both times on ground with some cut in it. He was a very tough customer and deserves to be well supported at just €10,000; his owner has reportedly been buying mares to help support him, so this horse might have more commercial support than one might think at first glance.
Dermot Weld also trained the dual G1 Epsom and Irish Derby winner Harzand (Sea The Stars), who retires to his owner-breeder The Aga Khan's Gilltown Stud in Ireland at the eminently reasonable price of €15,000. He won four races, including two Derbies, in three months between the end of March and the end of June, and not without some well-publicized training dramas along the way. But when he was right he was good enough to win two Derbies, convincingly. Because he didn't come back and win big races in the autumn there's a chance he'll be commercially underrated, and he shouldn't be.
New Bay and Fascinating Rock were 10-furlong horses, and Harzand a 12-furlong dual Classic winner. Here are three at the other end of the spectrum. I would not be an expert on Australian horses, but people I respect rave about a horse who is reverse shuttling to Coolmore; ironically, he's called Pride of Dubai, and he's by Street Cry. He won Group 1's at six and seven furlongs as a 2-year-old in Australia, and his dam is a full sister to Kodiac and three-quarter sister to Invincible Spirit, plus he's said to be gorgeous; he's €15,000. Kirsten Rausing has landed another interesting horse for Lanwades, in England: Bobby's Kitten, a son of Kitten's Joy who got up to beat No Nay Never (we'll come back to him in a minute) in the 2014 GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita. After a so-so 4-year-old year in 2015 the Ramseys sent Bobby's Kitten to–who else?–Dermot Weld, in their continuing quest to make Kitten's Joy in Europe. He actually only ran once in 2016, in a listed race at six furlongs in heavy ground at Cork at the end of March; he won easily but never ran again. The little-known fact about his form is that when trainer Chad Brown dropped him in to the Turf Sprint as a 3-year-old, Bobby's Kitten had actually never run shorter than a mile. He'd been showing speed and running out of gas around two turns, but in the Turf Sprint he lagged behind and came from the clouds to nail No Nay Never. I suspect that is really good form. Bobby's Kitten will stand for £12,500.
Our sixth 'good value' European retiring stallion in this price range is Tally-Ho Stud's Mehmas, a son of Acclamation trained by Richard Hannon for Al Shaqab Racing, who will stand for €12,500. I'm not a big fan of the current fashion of retiring horses after their 2-year-old year to cash in on them standing at stud at three instead of racing. It's one thing if it's forced upon them, like Kantharos and Run Away And Hide in America (through injury), or Teofilo in Europe, and some do quite well– but it has got to be a bit of a fashion since Dark Angel became the poster boy for retiring them on purpose after their 2-year-old year. Interestingly, Mehmas is bred very similarly to Dark Angel, as he is also by Acclamation out of a Machiavellian mare. Dark Angel was a Group 1 winner (the Middle Park), whereas Mehmas is not; but arguably, Mehmas's form is nearly just as good. He was second to Caravaggio in the G2 Coventry S. at Royal Ascot, then won the G2 July S. at Newmarket and the G2 Richmond S. at Goodwood before running second to Churchill in the G1 National S. over seven furlongs at the Curragh. He was beaten by The Last Lion in the G1 Middle Park S. in his final career start, but Mehmas's form had been established, and his reputation made, long before that blip. We like him.
Now, we return to No Nay Never, the first Scat Daddy that Wesley Ward unleashed as a Royal Ascot 2-year-old, when he scorched home in the G2 Norfolk S. over five furlongs at Royal Ascot in 2013. Ward brought him back to Europe in August, when he won the G1 Prix Morny at Deauville. Sparingly raced thereafter, No Nay Never was made favourite for the 2014 GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, and would have won it, too, had it not been for Bobby's Kitten. Especially after Caravaggio came along this year as a second rocket 2-year-old Scat Daddy, No Nay Never is quietly gaining admirers; don't be surprised if he becomes a kind of 'buzz horse' at the yearling sales next year. He stands for €17,500 at Coolmore.
I can't claim to be unbiased in the case of the Gestut Fahrhof stallion Maxios either, but it must be conceded that Fahrhof, and all those connected with the horse, have done a fantastic job in making him probably the first commercially viable horse ever to stand in Germany. From the time they had the brilliant idea to bring him to Newmarket and show him off at the 2014 December Sale, they have given him a real shot to succeed. As a son of Monsun who is a half-brother to 'Arc' winner Bago, out of a Nureyev daughter of champion Coup de Genie, herself a full sister to Machiavellian, he has a great pedigree, and he was a group winner at two and arguably best at a mile. He remains at €10,000 for 2017.
Finally, among European second-crop sires the standouts are Ballylinch's Dream Ahead, who drops to €12,500 for 2017; Almanzor's sire, Haras d'Etreham's Wootton Bassett; and Coolmore's Zoffany. Dream Ahead ranks third among this group, both by 2016 and by cumulative progeny earnings, and what does look good is his nine black-type horses, seven of them graded, this year. Look for his name to be more in the news in 2017.
Wootton Bassett, as everyone now knows, sired Almanzor, who is not only Europe's top 3-year-old but just about a superstar, from a crop of only 18 foals. Those days are over. Etreham has priced him right at €20,000 and all serious breeders are going to be signing up for the sire of Almanzor at that price.