Kentucky Value Sires, Part VI: Third-Crop Sires

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Fed Biz | Louise Reinagel

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So now we come to a group who will typically, at this stage of their careers, find themselves clinging by their fingertips to the commercial precipice–even as the agents and pinhookers press down ruthlessly with their boots.

Yes, any breeder using these stallions this spring will at least have some valid evidence with which to evaluate what tends, in many cases, to be a dwindling fee: a first group of sophomores in 2019, backed up by the most precocious juveniles of their second crop. These, nonetheless, should by any sensible measure still be viewed as pretty early days.

Even so, several have already been banished from Kentucky, either to regional or overseas service. Take Verrazano (More Than Ready), granted 185 and 180 covers in his first two books, but down to 18 last year and now in Brazil. That’s where you’ll also find Can the Man (Into Mischief), who entertained 321 mares across his first three years but covered just 26 mares last year.

As it happens, Can the Man has meanwhile made a very respectable start on the track: as many as 46 winners from 78 starters in 2019. The problem is that nearly all the sires in this group, almost regardless of the merit or otherwise of their developing track record, have shared some kind of plunge in the value of their third yearling crop. That engenders a vicious cycle of neglect: as commercial breeders run away screaming, so they lock in a numerical decline on the track. And while a champion can always still emerge from a third or fourth crop, by that stage you might have to track down his sire to Korea.

Even the proven paragons of this intake, Cairo Prince and Goldencents, cannot quite maintain the advantages they enjoyed as unproven sires.

Cairo Prince has been a sensational sales performer from the outset, his first three crops finishing second, second and first in the yearling averages. As we’ll see in a moment, moreover, he has vindicated market enthusiasm with his very solid results on the track so far. Yet even as he translates potential into achievement, the average value of Cairo Prince yearling has come down from $150,786 to $110,100 to $46,784.

The first two crops of Goldencents, meanwhile, both elevated him to top of the league by winners, while also finishing second and then first by prize money. Yet last year he saw his average slip back from $47,956 to $34,830. So you can just imagine how giddy a collapse has been registered in the indices of stallions who have made a quieter start.

We all know where the money’s going instead. It’s going to the latest round of newcomers–the majority of whom, of course, will very soon be stung by the same ostracism. Yet how many of them will do anything like as well as FED BIZ (Giant’s Causeway—Spunoutacontrol by Wild Again) from their opening opportunity?

His 13 black-type performers last year represented 11% of his starters, the highest of the class; his five stakes winners, meanwhile, were matched in Kentucky only by Cairo Prince, but it was the WinStar stallion who, again, produced them at the better ratio. The only thing he’s still lacking is a graded stakes success, but he has amply demonstrated his eligibility to redress that omission, given the chance.

Yet what a price he has paid. It seems that a graded-stakes headline is the one and only shortcut through the laziness and inattention of those ostensibly professional horsemen who determine the self-fulfilling vogues of the marketplace. If your most talented foal randomly emerges from your first or second crop, you have a chance; any later, and you’re in trouble. Simply a case of timing; and therefore luck.

That’s the only reason why some who started alongside Fed Biz have been able to protect their commercial reputations, despite being unable to match his consistent reproduction of stakes merit. As it is, the average Fed Biz yearling in 2019 did not quite cover its 2017 conception fee of $10,000. He was down to 35 mares last spring, from no fewer than 169 the year before, and now retails at $7,500. Yet few, if any, of those who have been able to protect their fees and books, by dint of a gaudy newsmaker or two, can match his overall appeal.

Because he has the lot: performance, as a multiple Grade II winner (including a seven-furlong track-record defeat of Goldencents) who was only denied his Grade I by the neck of champion Shared Belief (Candy Ride {Arg}); physique, as a $950,000 yearling; and above all, pedigree, out of a half-sister to a dual Group 1 winner in Europe, and to a GI King’s Bishop winner in the U.S., as well as to the dam of Johannesburg (Hennessy). Their dam, in turn, is sister to the mother of Pulpit; and his fifth dam is sister to Round Table.

Some versatile influences there, and sure enough Fed Biz himself showed his form on three surfaces. Transparently, then, he represents excellent value at his new fee, certainly in terms of the odds of getting a runner. But the more imaginative commercial breeder might also think about catching a returning tide: his next two crops of juveniles will graduate from no fewer than 326 covers, ample to produce the breakthrough talent he needs for some overdue respect.

Still, if you had to name one in this intake who’s here to stay, you would probably go with CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof the Nile—Holy Bubbette by Holy Bull) to extend his seamless rise. It’s a rare stallion who gets two fee increases before he has even had a runner, up to $25,000 from an opening $10,000; and a rarer one yet who can promptly justify that with his stock on the track.

But that’s essentially what the Airdrie bombshell has done in joining the race to fill the tragic void left by his sire. As noted, he shared five stakes winners in 2019 with Fed Biz, who is the only one to and surpass his dozen black-type operators overall. But Cairo Prince went that crucial next step with a class-high four graded stakes performers, including Grade II winners Royal Charlotte and New and Improved.

He had more juvenile winners in his second crop than his first; and, under the exemplary management of the Airdrie team, covered another 300 mares across the past two years. He is a Grade I breakout winner away from sealing his place as a top stallion.

Mind you, there’s no denying that GOLDENCENTS (Into Mischief—Golden Works by Banker’s Gold) has built very sustainably on his fast start. The Spendthrift model can’t work for every addition to their industrial roster, but here is one who has played up his winnings to the extent that he covered 239 mares last year, just two fewer than his stellar sire. Mr. Money, one of 29 juvenile winners in his first crop, proceeded to four Grade III wins as a sophomore, becoming the most aptly named of millionaires.

Goldencents has been given a second consecutive hike, to $25,000, now standing at double his fee two years ago. Obviously he’s still far less expensive than dad, while likewise majoring in speed. And if nobody could pretend that he has an aristocratic maternal family, then you have to admire his hardiness: better than ever in retaining the GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at four. He’s certainly caught such commercial wind as is around for stallions at this stage of their careers.

His studmate CROSS TRAFFIC (Unbridled’s Song—Stop Traffic by Cure The Blues) likewise consolidated a flying start, mustering 188 mares last year (having slipped to 60 in 2018) after producing champion Jaywalk from his first crop. But that filly’s GIII Delaware Oaks success proved to be his solitary graded stakes success in 2019, and Spendthrift responded with a no-nonsense cut to $15,000 from $25,000.

In fairness, he again achieved a very respectable black-type footprint, and while he is another to introduce some pretty arcane influences to his bottom line, he is out of a dual Grade I winner. Though he burned as briefly as he did brightly, on the track, only a very natural runner could dig in the way he did when nailed on the line in the GI Met Mile on just his fourth start (he won the GI Whitney next time).

WILL TAKE CHARGE (Unbridled’s Song—Take Charge Lady by Dehere) was viewed as the more obvious heir to their sire, having retired to Three Chimneys at $30,000, the highest fee of the intake. That has been halved, however, after he dropped from 130 to 56 mares last year, his first juveniles having made only a steady start on the track (albeit as many as six of his 15 freshman winners promptly earned black type).

Though both his opening two crops had topped the yearling averages, his third suffered the usual, ludicrously abrupt loss of momentum. Only Cairo Prince, after all, could match his four graded stakes performers in 2019; and his page looks more spectacular than ever after the emergence of his half-sister’s son Omaha Beach (War Front).

I love the way he parlayed his genes not just into class (Horse of the Year finalist) but also into toughness, bouncing back from a nose defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to add the Clark H. to his initial Grade I success in the Travers. That was his 11th start of a sophomore campaign that had opened in January.

Will Take Charge took the full package to stud and the market’s impatience has given more far-sighted breeders real value.

But perhaps none of this group has punched his (considerable) weight quite so effectively as the horse who beat him at the Breeders’ Cup. From 108 named foals (compared with 234 for Goldencents, 216 for Cairo Prince, 199 for Will Take Charge etc), MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno—Ponche De Leona by Ponche) has now put a Grade I seal on his excellent ratios (42 winners, including four at the black-type level, from 74 starters in 2019) with the success of Mucho Gusto in the Pegasus. As a Grade II winner on turf, moreover, his daughter Mucho Unusual has shown his versatility as an influence, beaten just half a length for a Grade I herself.

Mucho Gusto was a $625,000 2-year-old, an early sign of the natural running flair his sire could impart despite maturing into his big frame to win the Classic at five. In fairness, Mucho Macho Man had been a pretty accomplished juvenile who also made the frame in the Derby, while both his parents were precocious. His pedigree is exotic but he looks value, held at $10,000 by Adena Springs—presumably a reflection on the small crop of juveniles taking up the baton next. He had just 35 mares in his third book, but is since back up to 96 and 86, even before his impressive results last year–proof, if any were still needed, of how flimsy are the fads of the market.

We said earlier that timing is everything for a young stallion, and by producing a dirt runner as accomplished as Code Of Honor from his first crop, NOBLE MISSION (GB) (Galileo (Ire)—Kind (Ire) by Danehill) has given himself the chance to become quite an important stallion in North America. Admittedly the GI Travers winner was one of just two stakes performers for his sire in 2019, but proved sufficient for Noble Mission to buck the general trend by actually moving up his average at the yearling sales.

As turf royalty, of course, the Lane’s End stallion has made a pretty stunning statement with his dirt flagbearer. But remember how both Noble Mission and his noble brother Frankel majored in the dirt trademark, carrying speed, as opposed to the push-button acceleration we more typically associate with European grass champions.

Rather like his studmate Liam’s Map, Noble Mission has not wasted his limited black-type ammunition. Spanish Mission, his other big shot in 2019, was a Group 3 winner in Britain who then plundered the Jockey Club Derby Invitational at Belmont. And it was certainly a remarkable distinction to have members of his first crop line up for both the Kentucky Derby and the Epsom original, Code Of Honor finishing runner-up (promoted) and Humanitarian a creditable seventh.

One way or another, Noble Mission has now earned himself some gratifying commercial respect, his third crop of yearlings barely cents behind Cairo Prince at the top of the averages. That got him a hike back up to $20,000, from $15,000. And while he has to ride out a bump in the road, his second book having been interrupted by a bout of colic, that still looks a fair price for such precious blood.

The experience of STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow—Clear Mandate by Deputy Minister) has been in bleak contrast. Lacking a trailblazer, he suffered the standard plunge in the value of his third crop, which averaged around a quarter of the $84,553 realized by his first (excellent yield for a $10,000 fee).

He’s now down to $5,000 at Three Chimneys, and was barely still in the game last spring, which is a real pity because his first three dams are all Grade I winners, and the first of them is by the distaff titan Deputy Minister. Their genes had plainly not missed, judged on a 9 3/4-length win in the GI Hopeful, and anyone brave enough to make a stand against the tide would still be perfectly entitled to get a runner.

REAL SOLUTION (Kitten’s Joy—Reachfortheheavens by Pulpit) has some nice stats at his level: no fewer than 20 winners from just 34 starters in 2019, including two in black-type company. A dual Grade I winner on turf, his fourth dam is the important Buckpasser mare Alluvial: dam of Grade I winners Slew o’ Gold (Seattle Slew) and Coastal (Majestic Prince), second dam of Aptitude (A.P. Indy). Those attributes are justly prized at Calumet, and priced at $7,500.

Chris McGrath’s Value Podium
Gold: Fed Biz, $7,500 WinStar
A perfectly good start and retains tons of potential

Silver: Mucho Macho Man, $10,000 Adena Springs
Progressive first crops can ride out a small third one

Bronze: Will Take Charge, $15,000 Three Chimneys
Every right to build on a steady start at his tempting new fee

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