Mating Plans: Flightline's Second Book

Flightline | Sarah Andrew photo

It's safe to say that no horse has retired to stud in recent memory with the fanfare of Flightline, who won all six of his starts by a combined 71 lengths, including four Grade Is. He was the world's highest-ranked racehorse of 2022, and earned triple-digit Beyers in all six of his starts. With an initial fee of $200,000, Flightline covered just over 150 mares in 2023 in his initial book, and those in-foal mares averaged $1,074,431 at the sales, the highest average for a first-crop covering sire in 15 years.

For 2024, his fee was reduced to $150,000, and he is expected to cover around the same number of mares this year. Bill Farish talked to us about his second book of mares.

“It is fascinating how evenly spread out it is with different sire lines. He's got five Dixie Union mares, five Into Mischief mares, six Candy Ride mares, six Medaglia d'Oro mares. He's got eight either by Empire Maker or Pioneerof the Nile, which is kind of interesting. He's got two La Brea winners, Fair Maiden (Street Boss) and Fun to Dream (Arrogate). Almost every one of his mares is either a graded stakes winner or has produced a graded stakes winner or is a half to a Grade I winner.

It's fun to go down and just see the people who are supporting him: Juddmonte, heavily, St. Elias; WinStar; Phipps Stable; Whisper Hill. There is quite a bit of Japanese participation. And we've got 10 (Lane's End) mares going to him.

He'll be right at 150 again this year. We bred him to 152 last year, just because we had a couple of people we couldn't say no to. But the goal was always to keep him right around 150.

He really is kind of funny. Last year, he walked right off the van and sort of took a look around and let the other guys know that he was there and then he really never had turned another hair. It's incredible. From the first time he was turned out to the way he handles himself in the breeding shed, he's just a very smart, very relaxed horse. I wish they were all this way. He is a very good breeder, very fertile and he's certainly one that if we wanted to go to these huge books that other people are breeding, he certainly could. I mean, he does it all, does it all very, very easily and kind of on demand.

It's really becoming the norm to drop a stallion's fee in the second year. With these larger books going to the first-year horses, they're taking so many mares out of the market that they might normally go to these types of stallions. And they're also taking, I think, a lot of mares that would go to made stallions. There's such a bonus in the yearling market when you go to sell a first-year stallion that people are opting for the lower fee and a first-year horse than the proven stallion that probably has a much better chance of getting him a runner.

But look at Into Mischief and others. It's not all about how good their book is, it's how good they are as stallions and the good ones, no matter how they start out, are going to rise to the top. I think that right now, there are fewer mares in that top-end category and more stallions in that category. So the combination of those two things, with many mares that have been bought and taken overseas that might be in that category, definitely hurts these higher price tags, the made ones.

For his second book, going down the list, we have Reunited (Dixie Union), who is the dam of Code of Honor, who won the Travers. Royal Flag (Candy Ride {Arg}), who won the Beldame and is a half-sister to Catalina Cruiser and a full-sister to Eagle (who won the GIII Ben Ali S. and was runner-up in the GI Stephen Foster) and she's a Candy Ride mare that we're breeding to him.

I think he fits a lot of mares physically because he's not a overly big horse or a small horse. He is a real kind of ideal-size stallion, so you wouldn't hesitate to breed a smaller mare to him and you also wouldn't mind breeding a larger mare to him. So physically, he fits a lot of different mares. He's got great length and conformationally, he's awfully ideal.

From a physical standpoint, I think he's open to a lot of mares. Pedigree-wise, not it's not unique to us, but with a young stallion, you want to try a lot of different things. Dirt, turf, European mares, and just all sorts of different sire lines. So, he has Ghostzapper mares, Lemon Drop Kid mares, quite a few Into Mischief Mares. And the breeders are pretty savvy about what they're breeding to them, so it's not something we really have to overly manage.

Technical Analysis (Ire) (Kingman {GB}), for instance, who won the GII Ballston Spa, GII Lake Placid, and the GIII Gallorette and was ssecond in the GI Diana and Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup, is owned by the JS Company, Japanese interests, and she's going to him. Defining Purpose (Cross Traffic), who won the Ashland, she's owned by Northern Racing, and she'll go to him. Midnight Lucky (Midnight Lute) won the GI Acorn, and she's going to him. She's Juddmonte breeding. Mexican Gold is a Medaglia d'Oro mare. She's a group three winner, and she's a half-sister to Announce who won the Romanet.

Juddmonte's also breeding Sun Path (Munnings). She's a full-sister to Bonnie South who won the Fair Grounds Oaks. WinStar is breeding So Darn Hot (Ghostzapper), who's the half-sister to Come Dancing who won the Ballerina.

He's also covering one of the exciting kind of older mares, Justwhistledixie (Dixie Union), who's the dam of New Year's Day and Mohaymen.

We've got the GI Jaipur winner that Team Valor is breeding. She's by Animal Kingdom, and a very different kind of mare for him.

Her name is Oleksandra. We have A Song of Mine, another Ghostzapper mare who is a half-sister to Songbird.

As I said, Lane's End has 10 mares going to him, who are either ours or who we own in partnership. Among them are Salty As Can Be (Into Mischief), a full-sister to Salty.

We have Finding Fame (Empire Maker), who is a full-sister to multiple stakes winner Mei Ling.

We are breeding High Opinion (Lemon Drop Kid), who was second in the GII Ballston Spa. She is a stakes winter, and multiple graded placed. And then we're breeding a Blame mare named Acting Out who's a Listed stakes winner and graded placed. We also have a Kitten's Joy mare named Adorable Miss, who is the dam of the Battle of Normandy. There's Exotic West, a Hard Spun mare who's a stakes winner and graded placed. And there are the older mares, like Lemons Forever (Lemon Drop Kid) who won the Kentucky Oaks and who is the dam of Unbridled Forever and Forever Unbridled. And Forever Unbridled (Unbridled's Song) herself is also coming too. She was the (2017) Champion Older Dirt Female.

 

 

 

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