Chris McGrath

Kentucky Sires for 2021: Third-Crop Sires, Part II

This is the second half of the latest instalment in our ongoing series examining stallion options for the new breeding season, featuring sires about to launch their third crop of juveniles. The first part, dealing with the likes of American Pharoah and Constitution, can be read here.  We wrapped up yesterday with the first two of three horses retired to Lane's End after filling the frame in an epic race for the GI Whitney S. in 2015. The third, Tonalist (Tapit--Settling Mist, by Pleasant Colony), has somehow always seemed to...

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Kentucky Sires for 2021: Third-Crop Sires, Part I

It's now or never, guys! The deeper we go into our survey of Kentucky covering options for 2021, the fewer stallions remain standing. And those we reach today, about to launch a third crop of juveniles, have entered a decisive stage of their climb. Two or three are ascending confidently toward the next ridge; a handful are clinging tenaciously to a ledge; but many are now slithering unhappily down through the scree. Several have already disappeared into regional or overseas programs. For now, the leading Bluegrass farms are persevering with...

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This Side Up: Manners Maketh Mandaloun

How ironic, that a man with a nearly anguished instinct for self-effacement should have left so indelible an impression on our walk of life--one he strolled so quietly that he insisted on registering his silks, with The Jockey Club in Britain, simply in the name of Mr. K. Abdullah. How many others who covet the Turf's great prizes, in contrast, elbow their way through the crowd in preening advertisement of their wealth and acuity? If we learn much about such people from their presumption of some deeper dignity, from a...

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Kentucky Sires for 2021: First Sophomores–Part II

This is the second half of the latest instalment in our ongoing survey of covering options for the new breeding season. The first part can be read here. UPSTART (Flatter--Party Silks, by Touch Gold) was cleverly named and I think him a very plausible type, likely to rise pretty quickly through the ranks. Certainly there were more than enough "nouveaux riches" among his first juveniles--only Not This Time exceeded his 19 winners (from 54 starters)--for him to be pegged at $10,000 by Airdrie. His principal earner was Reinvestment Risk, who...

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This Side Up: A Channel of American Merit

It doesn't make me mad anymore. Maybe it's just the idealism of youth ebbing away. But I have also begun to understand the virtue of markets. If people want to breed to unproven stallions, that's their prerogative. I can always buy a mare, send her to a sire of runners, and see y'all in the starting gate. If I'm right, the odds are in my favor; I get value from the market. And if I'm wrong, well, no need to be angry. Even in setting all that aside, however, it's...

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Kentucky Sires for 2021: First Juveniles–Part I

And so we come to the group standing on the brink. The group facing the moment of truth, when their most precocious stock enters the gate and offers some initial indication as to their competence for the task for which, ostensibly at least, they were bred. As such, this should perhaps be the moment we double down. That's what we would do, at any rate, if we had real faith in the choices we have made for our mares. If we have selected their mates well, then people will be...

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This Side Up: John Keeps Bob Honest In Sham

We all trust that life must be better in 2021. But the immediate question is whether it will be 'Good' or maybe 'Sweet'? Right now, I'd settle for either. But it certainly looks an auspicious coincidence that the first race to sharpen focus on the Triple Crown trail--the opening leg of an adventure that reliably sustains us year in, year out--should include, among just five runners, one colt named Life Is Good and another out of Life Is Sweet (Storm Cat). Their respective trainers, Bob Baffert and John Shirreffs, dominate...

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Life Only Gets Better for Mischief

Call it the year of authentication. After sealing his giddy rise with a first sires' championship last year, Into Mischief has retained his title in 2020 with spectacular ease. Indeed, while several of his predecessors have required a single outstanding earner to elevate them above their rivals, this most remarkable of stallions would have secured the laurels even without the $7.17 million banked by a son on the point of formal anointment as Horse of the Year. As it is, we can instead treat his latest champion, Authentic, as immediate...

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Kentucky Sires for 2021, First Yearlings: Part II

Thursday, Chris McGrath covered the first half of the Kentucky stallions with first yearlings. Click here to read about Justify, City of Light, West Coast, Mendelssohn, Good Magic, Bolt d'Oro, and Always Dreaming. The second part appears below. ACCELERATE (Lookin At Lucky--Issues, by Awesome Again) has also been trimmed to $17,500, at Lane's End, having already been our "gold" value pick of the intake at an opening $20,000. Whatever made him attractive then has scarcely diminished in the meantime, given that he was never going to appeal to those fast-buck...

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Kentucky Sires for 2021, First Yearlings: Part I

As we all know, the more a stallion has to prove, the more the market indulges him. As each intake shows more of its hand, however, breeders become progressively more nervous of young sires disproving judgements that are themselves typically more concerned with the anticipation of demand at the sales, than of any potency they may (or may not) be able to recycle on the track. In this third instalment of our survey, then, we begin our descent of the slippery slope with the first group to offer a hint...

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KY Value Sires For 2021: First Foals Due: Part I

What an interesting crossroads we reach with the next group of young stallions in our survey. On the one hand, you have this new dynamic in the marketplace, with Spendthrift increasingly welcoming blue-chip prospects to build on its blue-collar successes. Yes, these may be looking to build more conventional, fee-based careers, as opposed to relying on the type of innovative promotions that helped Into Mischief evolve from a source of cheap commercial speed into the champion sire of a Kentucky Derby winner (who has himself now joined the roster, of...

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This Side Up: The Elusive Lesson of 'Can't Miss' Sires

He has trademarked the move, his name reliably invoked whenever a horse picks off his rivals with the kind of flair that luminously separates him from the herd. Yet just about the only time I ever saw one glide through an elite field with quite the same extraterrestrial contempt as Arazi (Blushing Groom {Fr}) in the 1991 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile was the following May, at the same track, when that nimbus-among-the-shadows exhibition was reprised along the backstretch by a horse called... Arazi. His discovery of mortal limitations, both in...

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