By Bill Oppenheim
APEX (Annual Progeny Earnings indeX) ratings are based on the percentage of runners which achieve certain earnings thresholds, which means sires with the highest number of runners are usually at a disadvantage when evaluated by this type of measurement. So the enormity of the achievement by Coolmore's flagship sire, Galileo, in scoring the highest A Runner Index (4.09) for a North American or European sire with 200+ year-starters, and for the second year running, cannot be overstated. With 1,945 year-starters in the seven-year period 2009-2015, he is second in that category only to fellow Coolmore sire Giant's Causeway, who has 2,143 year-starters in that period–over 300 a year.
Three sires–Galileo (4.09), Spendthrift's Into Mischief (4.07), and Claiborne's War Front (3.89)–broke away from the pack among 448 North American and European sires which had 200 or more year-starters in the seven-year period 2009-2015. Yes, I said Into Mischief. With just 140 foals in his first four crops he had five A Runners last year, three of them GSW. He has about as many 2-year-olds of 2016 as in his first four crops combined, so it will be a big challenge for him to sustain these figures, but if he's anywhere close as his crops size quadruple he'll be even bigger news.
One striking aspect of this year's figures is the falling number of sires which qualify for APEX ratings. From 2007-2012 there were between 1,043–1,156 sires which stood in North America, Europe, or Japan which qualified for ratings. No doubt as a result of the World Financial Crash of 2008, combined with a contraction in the number of sires and further concentration on sires with bigger books, the number of APEX sires fell to exactly 1,000 in 2013, and has fallen a further 18%, to just 820 APEX sires in 2015 (key criterion: 10+ 3-year-olds of 2012); that's a total drop of almost 30% in the number of APEX sires since 2007. Of the 820 qualifying APEX sires, just 448 North American and European sires had 200 or more year-starters (a horse is counted as one year-starter each year it starts, up to seven) in 2009-2015.
Of those 448, a total of 51 sires (11%) finished 2015 with A Runner Index ratings of 2.00 or higher, of which 10 scored 3.00 or higher. An A Runner Index of 4.00 equals 8.00% A Runners from year-starters; 3.00 equals 6.00% A Runners/year-starters; and 2.00 equals 4.00% A Runners/year-starters. Of the 10, two died in 2012, Monsun (3.50) and Dynaformer (3.03). Of the eight active sires with 200+ year-starters 2009-2015 and 3.00+ A Runner indexes, five stand in Kentucky; the number one sire, Galileo, is of course based in Ireland; and two, Darley's Dubawi (3.16) and Juddmonte's Dansili (3.07), stand in England. The Kentucky-based sires, besides numbers two-three Into Mischief and War Front, are: Adena Springs' Ghostzapper (3.36); Darley's Medaglia d'Oro (3.31); and WinStar's Speightstown (3.30). APEX ratings, as we regularly emphasize, pinpoint stallions which most consistently sire top-2% runners.
As you'll remember (and see 'Bullet Points'), besides the top 2% A Runners, we also calculate 'next 2%' (B Runners), 'next 4%' (C Runners), and 'top 8%' (ABC Runners combined), which we also describe as 'break-even-or-better' runners (see Earnings Thresholds). Older sires have a natural advantage when we tally the number of A Runners and ABC Runners. Galileo and Giant's Causeway are one-two both in number of A Runners (an astronomical 159 for Galileo, 106 for Giant's Causeway) and number of ABC Runners (Galileo 369, Giant's Causeway 330). F2006 sires Tapit (98), Gainesway's two-time record-breaking Leading North American Sire by progeny earnings, Speightstown (96), and Medaglia d'Oro (95) are three-four-five by number of 2009-2015 A Runners, followed by Juddmonte veterans Dansili (88) and Oasis Dream (85), and Lane's End's Smart Strike (83), who died last year. Speightstown (276) and Tapit (273) are three-four by number of ABC Runners, followed by WinStar's esteemed Distorted Humor (265), Oasis Dream (252), Medaglia d'Oro (250), and Smart Strike (246).
As we've discussed in the past, Ontario sires in particular benefit from high earnings during long, synthetic track-enabled seasons, and Niigon (2.69), a son of Unbridled who stood in Ontario, but died young in 2012, tops the list by ABC Index. The leading living sire by ABC Index is Kentucky-based Ghostzapper, with a 2.40 ABC Runner Index, which equals 19.20% of year-starters. Galileo and Speightstown are tied for third at 2.37 each, followed by War Front (2.23), veteran California sire Unusual Heat (2.19), Medaglia d'Oro (2.18), Into Mischief (2.15), Dubawi (2.12), and Distorted Humor (2.11). Former Lane's End sire Curlin, now at Hill 'n'Dale, is just outside the top 10 with a 2.10 ABC Index, and Monsun, Tapit, and Dynaformer complete the 14 sires with 200+ year-starters 2009-2015 with ABC Runner indexes of 2.00 or higher; a 2.00 ABC Index equals 16.00% of year-starters.
Please stay tuned; this is just the beginning of our reports on 2009-2015 APEX sires. As we complete our processing there will be much more to come in the next few weeks, and full details of the 820 qualifying sires will be on the TDN website, hopefully in the next few days.