By Bill Oppenheim
Beginning next Monday, the eyes of the Thoroughbred breeding and auction sales world focus on Keeneland for the best part of two weeks, although France's Osarus sale, in the southwest, is next week, and Tattersalls Ireland's Fairyhouse sale clashes the following week. But, with 4,479 yearlings catalogued over 13 days of selling, we forecast the sale should gross about $250-million (down from around $280-million the last three years), which still means everybody involved in the Thoroughbred auction marketplace will be paying attention.
Last year's three-day Book 1 grossed $134-million, and the last two years, Book 1 has averaged right around $300,000. With a 16% reduction in the number of yearlings catalogued in Book 1 this year, if the sale again averages plus or minus $300,000, we'd expect Book 1 next week to gross $112-million. There's a chance that could happen, too, as the four sires with the most yearlings catalogued in Book 1 are Tapit (45), Medaglia d'Oro (40), Scat Daddy (35), and War Front (31). The yearlings by these four sires figure to gross plus or minus $40-million alone.
In fact, Book 1 is pretty much the exclusive domain of proven sires this year. Of the 4,479 yearlings catalogued for the sale, 52%, or 2,322 of them, are by younger sires, meaning the four sire crops whose first foals are 4-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 2-year-olds, or yearlings. Though they are the sires of 52% of the yearlings catalogued throughout the whole 13 days, they are the sires of only 18% of the yearlings in Book 1–just 109 of the 607 yearlings catalogued in Book 1. Only eight sires from these four crops have more than four yearlings in Book 1: F2012 Blame (8) and Super Saver (5); F2013 Uncle Mo (13); F2014 Union Rags (12) and Bodemeister (10); and F2015 (first yearlings) Orb (11), Animal Kingdom (9), and Declaration of War (9). As much as people grumble about their yearlings being in Book 1, it has averaged $300,000 the last two years; a Book 1 yearling is still the most valuable.
But it's the young sires where there is clearly going to be the most upside for buyers, because 95% of their 2,322 yearlings are not in Book 1. Let's look at the three crops with runners by sire crop, beginning with the 19 F2012 sires with first 4-year-olds 2016, so this is their fourth crop of yearlings. Two sires have pulled clear from the rest of this group thus far this year, with 2016 earnings (as of Tuesday) over $3-million: Lane's End's Quality Road, who got his second Grade I winner of 2016 (and third overall) when Klimt won Monday's GI Del Mar Futurity, and is leading 2016 North American third-crop sire, with worldwide progeny earnings over $4.419-million (click here); and Coolmore Ashford's Munnings, whose Free Rose was his second GII Del Mar Derby winner from two crops of 3-year-olds, and has 2016 progeny earnings of $3.768 million. Munnings, who leads NA 3rd-crop sires with 16 cumulative Black-Type Winners, is also still the #1 North American 3rd-crop sire by cumulative worldwide progeny earnings, with Quality Road second. Quality Road has one yearling catalogued in Book 1, and 45 in Books 2-6, for 46 total at Keeneland September; Munnings has 29 catalogued, all in the 'back books'.
WinStar's Super Saver, who is having a lower-key year, so typical of many young sires who make a great start (Super Saver is the only other North American/European third-crop sire with three Grade I winners), has the highest number of yearlings catalogued by a third-crop sire, with 64, of which five are in Book 1. Claiborne's Blame has 50 catalogued (eight in Book 1); Quality Road and Eskendereya, who was sold from Taylor Made to Japan last year, each has 46 catalogued. Eskendereya, who has two in Book 1, would rank third on the 2016 NA 3rd-crop Sire List ($3.206-million) if the TDN list still counted him as North American; barring him, Ashford's Lookin At Lucky ranks third ($2.990-million), ahead of Ocala Stud's Kantharos ($2.935-million), Blame ($2.909-million), and Darley's Midshipman ($2.885-million). Lookin At Lucky has 22 yearlings at Keeneland (1+21), Kantharos has none, Midshipman 12 (all Books 2-6). Besides those mentioned, third-crop sires Warrior's Reward (0+39), Majesticperfection (1+27), Tale of Ekati (0+20), and Temple City (0+18) have the highest representation.
A total of 28 North American second-crop sires (first foals 2013, or F2013) are represented by 393 yearlings at Keeneland September (F2012 sires have 417 catalogued), and of course it is all about Ashford's superstar Uncle Mo, now the sire of 18 Black-Type Winners, 11 Graded, including three Grade I winners (click here), and whose midyear APEX A Runner Index was a whopping 5.75. He's sired the earners of over $9.959-million worldwide in 2016 (Northern Hemisphere crops; click here), so he should be through the $10-million mark for 2016 by next week. There are a total of 16 yearlings by all second-crop sires in Book 1 next week, and 13 of them are by Uncle Mo. He has another 46 in Books 2-6, for 59 total, highest among second-crop sires.
Lane's End's Twirling Candy ($2.375-million), Claiborne's Trappe Shot ($1.985-million), Spendthrift's Paddy O' Prado ($1.952-million), and Castleton Lyons's late-running Gio Ponti ($1.940-million) make up the rest of the top five among NA second-crop sires by 2016 worldwide progeny earnings, and they are all well represented at Keeneland September. Twirling Candy (1+27) is the only one of the four with a Book 1 yearling; the others, then, all in Books 2-6, are Trappe Shot (46), Paddy O' Prado (19), and Gio Ponti (33). Other second-crop sires with the highest representation: former Ashford (now Japanese) sire Cape Blanco (26); Airdrie's Haynesfield (1+24); Spendthrift's Archarcharch (23), as well as WinStar's Sidney's Candy (23) and Spendthrift's Tizway (23); Darley Kentucky's (now back in Australia after a reasonably successful stint) Lonhro (21); and WinStar's Drosselmeyer (19).
There are 37 North American 'Freshman' (first 2-year-olds, second crop of yearlings) sires represented, of which 13 have 18 or more yearlings catalogued. After a particularly active Labor Day weekend in which a lot of positions changed, there are nine North American Freshman sires with progeny earnings over $300,000 (click here)–including three of the top five, who all stood for $7,500 or under in 2016! These are: Darby Dan's #1 Dialed In ($478,108), who stood for $7,500 and is sire of GII Saratoga Special winner Gunnevera, and has 29 yearlings (all Books 2-6) at Keeneland; Spendthrift's #4 Dominus ($427,252), an 8 1/2-furlong Grade II winner on dirt (at three) and turf (at four) by Smart Strike out of a Lord At War mare, who stood for $3,500 and is the sire of the $350,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile S. winner All Right and Monday's GI Del Mar Futurity second, Straight Fire; and the $6,500 Hill 'n' Dale stallion #5 Maclean's Music ($420,119), he of the 114 Beyer in his one and only start, now sire of 11 winners including Monday's Monmouth's Sorority S. winner, Made Me Shiver.
Lane's End's #2 Union Rags ($470,313) is the sire of GI Del Mar Debutante S. winner Union Strike, who beat American Pharoah's full sister, American Cleopatra. Gainesway's Tapizar ($438,215) ranks #3, including Tip Tap Tapizar, who was second to Gunnevera in the Saratoga Special and came back to win Monmouth's Sapling S. over the weekend; and WinStar's Bodemeister ($396,315) currently ranks #6, including GI Hopeful second, Royal Copy. Rounding out the nine North American Freshman Sires with current progeny earnings over $300,000 were: #7 Stay Thirsty (12 winners, $378k); #8 Creative Cause ($344k); and #9 Mission Impazible ($330k). But there are plenty of others who are showing plenty of promise in the second 10 as well.
In terms of yearlings catalogued, Bodemeister (74, 10 in Book 1), Union Rags (69, twelve in Book 1) and another Lane's End stallion, The Factor (67, three in Book 1) lead the way. Tapizar has 45 (all 2-6), while WinStar's Gemologist has 43 and Creative Cause 42. Darby Dan's Shackleford has 34 catalogued, Gainesway's To Honor And Serve 33. Dialed In has 29 in the back books; Claiborne's Algorithms has 28. Taylor Made's Astrology and Maclean's Music have 24 each; and a third Darby Dan stallion, Jersey Town, has 18.
One other horse deserves a big mention: Spendthrift's Into Mischief. He has as many 2-year-olds this year–around 140–as in his four previous crops combined. Through yesterday he'd had 57 2-year-old starters, which is downright amazing, and his 13 winners so far include Monday's GI Hopeful S. winner Practical Joke. He now ranks #3 on the North American 2-Year-Old Sire List (click here), behind only War Front (now has six BTW 2-year-olds, four Graded SW) and Scat Daddy (sire of Caravaggio and Lady Aurelia), and inches ahead of Kantharos and Tapit. Into Mischief has 69 yearlings catalogued at Keeneland September, seven in Book 1.
NEXT COLUMN: Thursday, September 15, after Book 1.