Chris McGrath

Kentucky Value Sires 2020, Part V: First 3-Year-Olds

After surveying the four intakes since, each still safely immune from judgement on the track itself, today we finally reach the first group of stallions who have actually tested their ability to replicate the talent that first earned them--however marginally, in some cases--a place at stud. Their first juveniles, last year, at least permitted some initial response to any erosion of their reputations, through the notoriously jittery and impressionable consensus of the yearling market. Yet there are few more instructive indices of the odds against them than the contrast between...

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Kentucky Value Sires 2020, Part III: First Yearlings

We've taken a breather in this series during the January Sale, where I shared many conversations on themes raised in its first two parts--notably the market's addiction to unproven stallions. Time after time, it was the same story. A shrug of the shoulders, a helpless spreading of the hands: "Yes, we know it's nuts. But we have to make the game pay." Fair enough. It's a bit like the individual who asks why he or she should make a massively inconvenient personal sacrifice, with regard to the climate crisis, when...

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The Factors of His Success

Reviewing the 2019 sires' championship, it was striking to observe such consistent correlation between fees and performance. Almost without exception, the top of the table was dominated by the most expensive stallions in the business. The big guns, in other words, had all found their range. Of the top 20 sires in Kentucky, in fact, only one is still standing for less than $40,000. Yet he is also younger than all bar one of that elite. (Uncle Mo is also just 12.) Those two distinctions are hardly unrelated, of course....

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Latest Star Shows Turf Legend Undervalued in Europe Too

It's hard to know quite what Kitten's Joy has to do in order to gain a commercial standing commensurate with his achievements. As it is, the champion North American sire of 2018 once again proved unable to crack the top 30 sires ranked by the average value of their yearlings in 2019. Not that he should take it personally. We all know that the American industry talks a good game about the growing importance of the turf program, but won't follow through when young stallions as well-bred and accomplished as...

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This Side Up: How Reliable a Signpost is the Yearling Market?

If there's anything as groundless as the commercial market's obsession with new stallions, it's the haste with which they then tend to be abandoned. We all know that drawing definitive conclusions even from first runners can be premature. Some great stallion careers have been built on apparently thin foundations, while conversely many a prolific rookie has sunk without trace. Galileo (Ire) started out with 13 juvenile winners, less than half the "star" of his intake in Europe, Bertolini. On both sides of the ocean, many of those stallions to have...

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Was this the Best Juvenile of Breeders’ Cup Weekend?

Though a constellation of three unbeaten 2-year-olds did emerge glittering from the Breeders' Cup, the GI Juvenile itself appeared only to send meteors careering out of their projected orbit. Obviously there's plenty of time for these burnouts to renew their lustre next year. Dennis' Moment (Tiznow) didn't have a prayer after genuflecting as he exited the gate; while Eight Rings (Empire Maker) must be a city block better than he ran, for his trainer to have encouraged clients as important as Coolmore to invest in breeding rights in the days...

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8.2 Million Reasons to Spread Genetic Credit

Nice to see that the people who count--the ones who actually spend the dough, that is, as opposed to impudent bystanders who tell them how much better we could do it--don't have time for that glib prejudice against older producers, whether mares or stallions. In making the daughter of a 23-year-old mare the most expensive yearling filly in Keeneland September history, however, they set a far more significant challenge to assumptions that are shared a good deal more widely. In fact, you might say that the $8.2 million paid for...

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Follow the Brick Road to B.C. Classic

Race by race, Bricks and Mortar (Giant's Causeway) is building a formidable rampart against any rival that might yet emerge from the flux of summer to batter his (or her) way into Horse of the Year contention. But we all know how those green stains on his shoes will tend to weaken his cause, in that theater no less than when he retires to stud. In fact, with the yearling market still only paying lip service to the "growing importance" of turf racing in the U.S., Bricks and Mortar has...

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Break Even Looks a ‘Day’ to Remember

Everyone in this business understands that each day of joy tends to be earned by a month of strife. Seldom, however, do horses spin us between extremes at quite the giddy rate experienced by Richard Klein this summer. Klein, whose stable builds on long groundwork by his late parents Bert and Elaine, had been struggling to draw attention to his homebred stallion Country Day (Speightstown). It was tough going for him at Crestwood, competing with all those big Kentucky farms, and this year Klein took the decision to transfer the...

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