Oppenheim: First Foals 2009-2012

Street Sense at the Darley open house | Brittlan Wall


Tracking the progress of young sires is obviously one of the most important aspects of the APEX (Annual Progeny Earnings indeX) ratings. Usually we focus on the two most recent sire crops rated, which in this case would be F2011 (third-crop sires of 2015) and F2012 (second-crop) sires. In order to provide a little context for commenting on these two rather small crops of North American and European sires (76 F2011 sires, 69 F2012 sires, no doubt a direct consequence of the financial crash of 2008), this time we are also reviewing 82 F2009 sires (first foals 6-year-olds of 2015, five crops racing) and 81 F2010 sires (first foals 5-year-olds of 2015, four crops racing). So these four crops constitute 308 of the 820 APEX sires at year-end 2015.

The reason why the F2009 crop is so relevant is that there is a wide spread of successful sires among this group. Darley had spent an estimated $200-million in acquiring top stallion prospects in 2006-07, especially including most of the available top 3-year-olds of 2007. Three of those Darley sires rank among the top five NA-EU F2009 sires: Darley Kentucky sires Street Sense and Hard Spun, and Darley Kildangan (Ireland) sire Teofilo. The other two top F2009 sires are Ireland's Morristown Lattin Stud's Dark Angel and Coolmore Ashford's Scat Daddy, who was due to stand for a crop-leading $100,000 in 2016 but most unfortunately died late in 2015.

Looking at the four key tables for sire groups–A Runner (top 2% earners) and ABC Runner (top 8% earners) Indexes, and the number of A Runners and ABC Runners–there is not one sire who dominates proceedings, as is sometimes the case. Dark Angel (2.64) is the leading F2009 sire by the most important measurement, the A Runner Index, and also ranks among the top five F2009 sires in the other three categories. Scat Daddy (2.52) is second by A Runner Index, and tied with Teofilo as the leading sire of A Runners, with 37 each; keep in mind that an individual horse by an F2009 sire could be counted as many as five year-starters and five A Runners, depending on how many years the horse raced and what earnings level it achieved in each of those years.

The 2007 GI Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense didn't top any of the four categories, but ranks second by ABC Index (1.87, which is 15% of runners), and second by number of ABC Runners (109). Hard Spun (117) is the leading F2009 sire by number of ABC Runners, while Teofilo, besides tying Scat Daddy for the lead by number of A Runners, also ranks among the top six F2009 sires in all four categories.

At least four other F2009 sires receive honorable mention. The French sire Kendargent, who stands at the Haras de Colleville, is the leading F2009 NA-EU sire by ABC Runner Index (2.05), and also ranks number seven in the sire crop by A Runner Index (2.12); he has a seriously good 2.94 rating for 2-year-olds by ABC Index, as well as a very strong 2.36 ABC Index for 3-year-olds. Calumet's English Channel (2.49) ranks fourth by A Runner Index, and ranks among the group's top 10 in the other three categories. The English sire Dutch Art, who stands at Cheveley Park Stud, ranks between seventh and 11th in all four categories, while another Darley Kentucky sire, Discreet Cat, has a 2.07 A Runner Index (eighth among F2009 sires) and ranks among the top 10 F2009 sires by number of both A Runners and ABC Runners. Click here for the entire F2009 table.



Spendthrift's Into Mischief has been a total revelation from four small crops averaging 35 foals and ranks second among 448 NA-EU sires with an A Runner Index of 4.07, second only to the mighty Galileo (4.09). With as many 2-year-olds of 2016 as in his first four crops combined it will be difficult for him to sustain such a high rating, but he has sure risen from obscurity to rate as a serious sire, and these bigger crops will also certainly improve his chances of really becoming a major sire. He also leads F2010 sires by ABC Runner Index (2.15).

Curlin, in whom a 20% interest was reportedly sold for over $6-million, triggering a move to Hill 'n' Dale from Lane's End and a big jump in stud fee from $35,000 to $100,000, is another of the four F2010 NA-EU sires with an A Runner Index over 2.00, and one of three with an ABC Runner Index over 2.00; those figures are 2.12 A Index, and 2.10 ABC Index. He tops F2010 sires with 22 A Runners, and is miles ahead by number of ABC Runners, with 87; Darley's New Approach is a distant second in that category, with 56. Into Mischief's 4.07 A Index, and Curlin's 87 ABC Runners, are both very striking performances in the context of the entire population of North American and European sires.

Also over 2.00 A Runner Index among NA-EU F2010 sires are New York's Keane Stud's Frost Giant (2.61) and Hill 'n' Dale's Midnight Lute (2.27). Frost Giant also has a 2.12 ABC Runner Index, though the rich New York-bred program undoubtedly helps his figures. In terms of A Runners, as mentioned Curlin leads the group with 22; Midnight Lute is tied with former Spendthrift sire Tiz Wonderful, now in Korea, with 18 each. Into Mischief has 17, with Darley's New Approach on 16. In terms of ABC Runners, Curlin 87, New Approach 56, as mentioned; Tiz Wonderful has sired 53 ABC Runners, Midnight Lute 50. Click here for the F2010 table.



The reverberations of the world financial crash of 2008 saw prices in the Thoroughbred business plunge for almost exactly 12 months to the day, from the end of the Keeneland September Sale of 2008 to the end of the Keeneland September Sale of 2009. For the next three years prices crawled along the bottom, until the big recovery in prices in 2013. In 2010, though, there was little temptation to pitch the prices for entering stallions too high. Sea The Stars, widely considered the best racehorse seen in Europe since Sea-Bird, and the best racehorse seen anywhere since Secretariat, went to stud at a price of €85,000 at Gilltown Stud in Ireland, but even that was a steep discount from what his price would have been the year before. In Kentucky, the highest entering stud fee was $25,000 for Zensational, at Hill 'n' Dale; this was the lowest 'highest entering stud fee' in Kentucky for at least 20 years.

By the end of 2015, the first crops by sires which retired in 2010, and had their first foals in 2011, had finished racing as 4-year-olds, so we have a pretty good idea of which sires are making the grade. Among the major sires (those with 200+ year-starters through the end of 2015), four European sires plus American Pharoah's sire, WinStar's Pioneerof the Nile, each has more than 10 A Runners thus far. These are, in order of number of A Runners (keep in mind for F2011 sires it is possible that one horse could count as three A Runners if it had raced all three years and its earnings were above the A Runner threshold for each of those years in whichever jurisdiction it competed): Sea The Stars (17); Coolmore Ireland's Mastercraftsman (15); Aussie import Fastnet Rock (first Northern Hemisphere foals 2011 but a champion sire in Australia), another Coolmore sire, and Pioneerof the Nile (13 each); and France's Le Havre (11), who stands at the Haras de la Cauviniere, and has become France's most expensive sire, at €35,000 for 2016. Sea The Stars is also the leading F2011 NA-EU sire by number of ABC Runners (40), ahead of Pioneerof the Nile (35), Mastercraftsman (34), Le Havre (28), and Fastnet Rock (24), who is tied for fifth in this category with WinStar's Colonel John (24).

However, the two leading F2011 NA-EU sires by both A Runner and ABC Runner indexes are both 'provincial' sires with fewer than half the year-starters of the five leaders by number of successful runners (we used 80 year-starters as the cutoff point for these sires to be rated for these tables). These are Adena Springs North's Giant Gizmo (3.97 A Index) and Paul Reddam's California sire Square Eddie (3.54). Giant Gizmo is one of a number of sons of Giant's Causeway making a name for himself, as are two other young sons of Giant's Causeway who stand in New York, Frost Giant and Giant Surprise (1st 2-year-olds 2015). Square Eddie, who has virtually been a private stallion for leading California owner Paul Reddam, took his rating to a higher level when Ralis came east to win the GI Champagne S., at Belmont Park. These two are also the leading sires by ABC Runner Index, though in reverse order: Square Eddie (2.10) just edges Giant Gizmo (2.08) in that category. Click here for the entire F2011 table.



If the sires with first foals 2011 mark a low point in terms of strength in depth in a sire crop, the opposite might be the case with the F2012's. Of the top 10 NA-EU F2012 sires by A Runner Index (60+ year-starters), six stand in Kentucky and three in Europe. But the overall F2012 NA-EU leader by both A Runner and ABC Runner Index is none other than Florida's Ocala Stud's Kantharos, who we recently called “the best value sire on the planet.” These figures illustrate why: 3.47 A Runner Index, 2.26 ABC Runner Index. But this does look like quite a promising group of sires: Ashford's Lookin At Lucky (3.42) and Munnings (2.23) rank among the leaders in this category, along with Spendthrift's Line of David (2.60) and Temple City (2.36). Both Darley's Midshipman (2.25) and Airdrie's Majesticperfection (2.20) also make the top 10 by A Runner Index. The three Europeans, one each in France, England, and Ireland, are: the Haras de Bonneval's Siyouni (2.40); England's Whitsbury Manor Stud's Showcasing (2.19); and Ireland's Ballylinch Stud's Lope de Vega (1.95). That's a pretty impressive roster, and doesn't even include Super Saver (1.69, and possibly the best sire of the lot with three GI and two GII winners), Blame (1.67), and Eskendereya (1.66). Lookin At Lucky leads the group with nine A Runners, followed by Munnings and Showcasing (seven each), and four sires with six each.

Given that he ranks 14th by A Runner Index (1.32), it's interesting that Lane's End's Quality Road is the leading F2012 NA-EU sire by ABC Runners (22), and also ranks second to Kantharos by ABC Index (1.82). Munnings (20) edges out Lope de Vega (19) and Eskendereya (18) for second spot by number of ABC Runners. Overall, you'd really have to say this is a group which displays great promise, though whether we can predict who will be the 'breakthrough' sires in another 12 month's time is open to debate. There are at least a dozen to be watching, the most expensive of which is Super Saver, at $65,000 (and good value at that, I'll wager). Click here for the entire F2012 table.

Bill Oppenheim may be contacted at [email protected] (please cc TDN management at [email protected]). Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/billoppenheim.

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