By Robert D. Fierro
Last year following the completion of the last 2-year-old sale of the season (OBS June), we looked at the potential success of the Freshmen Sires by creating a handicapping event, noting at the time that the Freshmen of 2018 were a very competitive bunch, i.e., many of them were capable of rising to the top five or so of their contemporaries after a few crops had raced.
Let's be clear about this: Our task was to lay odds on how the offspring of those sires were likely to compete over the long term, not to identify the Leading Freshmen Sires of 2018 or Leading Second-Crop Sires of 2019.
We eschewed the pedigree-only approach and instead brought to bear some digital video and biomechanical data to assist us in our prognostications and then split the 17 stallions in that group into “races” as what we deemed an unbiased Future Book.
How did our projections work out? See the link at the end of this essay. We will say right now that if we considered the 2018 bunch as “competitive,” then the Freshmen of 2019 could be described as an exceptionally competitive group with a depth of quality that might point them out eventually as one of the best to come along in the second decade of the 21st Century.
Here are the criteria we used for our handicapping:
∙ There are 33 stallions that qualified based on the more than 900 of their offspring which breezed at the seven major sales this year: OBS in March, April, and June; Fasig-Tipton in Florida, Maryland, and California; and Keeneland in April.
∙ A stallion had to have a minimum of five 2-year-olds that breezed to be considered, but we then narrowed them down further: There are 20 Kentucky sires that had a minimum of 15 that breezed, and those 20 were separated by the stud fee when the horse entered stud. There are six Kentucky stallions that did not have 15 that breezed, and they are in another group. There are five in Florida and two from New York.
∙ The major data used detailed how their offspring compared as individuals to all the other 2-year-olds which breezed. The components of this data are included in DataTrack's BreezeFigs™ service which is based on breeze time, stride length, and efficiency of angulation. Since 2006, this product has been utilized at sales by buyers and sellers, as well as being offered every day as a handicapping tool at Daily Racing Form's website.
∙ We also took into consideration the results of our stallion projection tests, which were compiled in 2016 when these horses went to stud. These profiles are based on biomechanical measurements and the probabilities of these stallions siring race efficient foals from books of biomechanically balanced mares. We also took into consideration the biomechanical profiles of more than 250 of their offspring taken at the 2019 2-year-old and the 2018 yearling sales.
The 26 Kentucky stallions are separated into four groups, three based on a minimum of 15 horses that breezed and one for those with fewer than 15. They are listed below in Future Book order with a comment or two along the way.
Group 1 (Minimum 15 breezed, Stud Fee = $20,000 Plus, Kentucky)
2-to-1 American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile)
3-to-1 Constitution (Tapit)
3-to-1 Liam's Map (Unbridled's Song)
7-to-2 Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway)
8-to-1 Honor Code (A.P. Indy)
8-to-1 Tonalist (Tapit)
10-to-1 Palace Malice (Curlin)
Comment: Yes, yes, yes, we know everyone thinks American Pharoah could walk on the Nile if asked, but the data does back him up as a potential major sire, and his sire also had Cairo Prince at the top of this group last year, which has worked out. Constitution emerged as a potential surprise last July and strengthened that impression when his kids started to breeze. Liam's Map does not get a “type,” but what he does get is a wide cross section of potential aptitudes and many of them look strong. Carpe Diem, on the other hand, does get a type, and they are very much like Giant's Causeway, whose Fed Biz got a type last year which were quite different but successful. Honor Code's way of running and his uniform stamp of his yearlings indicated that they might not be the stars at the breeze shows, but they did well enough to indicate he will be up there eventually. Tonalist and Palace Malice are likely to move up as their runners mature, patience required.
Group 2 (Minimum 15 Breezed, Stud Fee = $10,000 to $19,999 Kentucky)
6-to-5 Competitive Edge (Super Saver)
2-to-1 Daredevil (More Than Ready)
9-to-2 Summer Front (War Front)
6-to-1 Bayern (Offlee Wild)
6-to-1 Lea (First Samurai)
8-to-1 Wicked Strong (Hard Spun)
10-to-1 Mr. Speaker (Pulpit)
Comment: Last year we thought Goldencents would get lots of early winners, which he did, and Competitive Edge is likely to succeed him in that category–and the “Edge's” runners and their data indicate he might rack up blacktype early, as well. Daredevil kept sending out speedy types, and they are likely to win lots of races with that speed. The Summer Fronts may like the turf, but many will be just as likely to like the dirt, especially at a mile or more. Bayern had lots of admirers, and they will help him kick lots of goals. Lea has a decent chance to continue the Giant's Causeway line–versatile types with good data flashes at several sales. Wicked Strong and Mr. Speaker were very popular and are likely to hit some highs but will be surrounded by a very strong group.
Group 3 (Minimum 15 Breezed, Stud Fee = $5,000 to $9,999 Kentucky)
Comment: Commissioner surprised a lot of people last year with his consistent stamp, and they showed they were for real when they breezed–could be a breakout sire. Race Day's offspring showed a lot of versatility and quality. Secret Circle is one of those “who's he?” guys, but he's another from the Unbridled line that should not be overlooked. Fast Anna is already getting fast runners just like he got fast breezers, living up to half his name at least. Tapiture and Palace are likely to get a few quality runners, but they are likely to be late bloomers.
Group 4 (Fewer Than 15 Breezed, All Stud Fees, Kentucky)
Comment: This bunch is really at a disadvantage because of their relatively small representation at the sales, but each of them has a chance to shine if things break right. All are likely to be represented by a cross section of aptitudes. Note: Normandy Invasion's first crop was conceived in New York; thus, he could benefit by having a good number there and gain some notoriety therefrom.
Group 5 (Florida)
Comment: If this crowd was in Kentucky and at any stud fee level, the odds we have given them here would apply to those other groups–this is a very, very strong group of Freshmen, and they are already making noise on the charts. Pay attention.
Group 6 (New York)
6-to-5 Golden Ticket (Speightstown)
6-to-5 Majestic City (City Zip)
Comment: These two are likely to get runners that will raise eyebrows, in a positive sense.
There you go. How did we do last year? If you'd bet on Goldencents, you would be collecting big time, but otherwise we were pretty much on the mark; see the link below.
And then, place your bets!
Bob Fierro is a partner with Jay Kilgore and Frank Mitchell in DataTrack International, biomechanical consultants and developers of BreezeFigs. He can be reached at [email protected]