Taking Stock

Taking Stock: Street Sense Poised for Big Years

"He's technically full," said Darley America sales manager Darren Fox the other day, discussing Gl Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense (Street Cry {Ire}), who's standing this year for $60,000, down from $75,000 in 2020. "If you had a nice mare, there's a couple of spots that mares haven't been named yet. We keep him at around 140 mares. He was very hard to manage the demand, especially last year at 75, and he's 60 now, but that's because of overall market conditions. It wasn't a reflection of cooling off on...

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Taking Stock: Midnight Bourbon's American Lines

Throughout time, American bloodstock has been continually infused with new blood from other countries, just as a long history of immigration has made this country a melting pot of cultures. But these things come at some cost, don't they? What of the more or less original American sire and dam lines that have been subverted by the newer arrivals? Who's looking out for their interests as they get forgotten and cast aside? The Tiznow colt Midnight Bourbon, who is on the Gl Kentucky Derby trail after winning the Glll Lecomte...

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Fletcher Jones's Unusual Racing Legacy

Warmed by the fireplace, or perhaps by sipping yet another glass of a Santa Ynez vineyard's rich and full-bodied red, I was contemplating the new year and how it needs to be better than the fiasco that was 2020. The wine, by the way, was issued by a label called Westerly and named Fletcher's Red, and it happens to be the namesake of a man who burned a short but bright trajectory through horseracing. He's also had a positive impact on young people's lives in ways in which he could...

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Taking Stock: Performance vs. Stud Fee for the Small Owner-Breeder

By the time a stallion has established himself at stud, his fee is usually determined by performance, not the hype that surrounds new horses when they first enter stud. There are, of course, many ways to measure performance, including progeny earnings (which determines placement on the General Sires list), percent of black-type winners to named foals, quality of runners, number of Grade l winners, etc. There are seven thoroughly proven stallions that will stand for $150,000 or more in North America in 2021, and these elite horses--Into Mischief ($225,000), Tapit...

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Taking Stock: Fifth-Year Stallions and Brody's Cause

Much has been made lately in Kentucky on farms reducing stud fees in response to the blighted economy, but there's a group of stallions whose fees would have mostly dropped as a matter of course even in booming times. These are second- through fifth-year stallions; frequently, fees for horses entering their fifth season at stud as their first-crop runners turn three show particularly pronounced drops from their initial fees. A small commercial breeder contacted me the other day to discuss the reduced 2021 stud fee for a stallion whose first...

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Taking Stock: Keeneland Numbers Are Troubling

With a pandemic that's led to the loss of 200,000 lives, the loss of jobs, and overall economic instability that's affected most people except for the super wealthy that are heavily invested in the stock market, no one expected the Keeneland September yearling sale to be anything but down by gross and average versus last year. This was as predictable as saying that an egg dropped on concrete from six feet would break. So, what's the damage? Through the first 10 sessions that ended with Book 5 on Wednesday, 2,129...

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Taking Stock: Nyquist Off the Grade I Mark

Spendthrift purchased the breeding rights to Authentic before the Grade l Santa Anita Derby, and the $9 million kicker it agreed to pay Authentic's former ownership group for winning the Gl Kentucky Derby is indicative of the premium that's placed on a stallion prospect with North America's most prestigious Classic on his resume. A front-running colt, Authentic has the right type of sire behind him as well. He's by Spendthrift's flagship stallion Into Mischief (Harlan's Holiday), who cranks out graded stakes winners like nobody's business, particularly sprinters and milers that...

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Taking Stock: Race Records and Stallion Prospects

Sackatoga Stable's Tiz the Law (Constitution) was a Grade l winner at two, won the Grade l Florida Derby this year, and goes for the first Classic of the season as the favorite in the Gl Belmont S. on Saturday. His breeding rights have been tied up for months, and if he does nothing from here on in--highly unlikely as that is--he'll still have a place at stud at a prominent farm. Tiz the Law's racetrack future is bright. After the Belmont, he'll likely contest the Gl Travers at Saratoga...

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Taking Stock: Arrogate Death a Blow

The unexpected death of Arrogate (Unbridled's Song) on Tuesday was a devastating blow to his connections at Juddmonte and to the industry at large. He was the horse that Juddmonte had expected to base its boutique North American stallion operation around and he was the last great hope that his late sire would deliver a top-of-the-line stallion, something Unbridled's Song has been unable to do yet during an illustrious career as an excellent sire of racehorses, including 22 Grade l winners, and an outstanding sire of broodmares. Those expectations have...

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Taking Stock: TJC Applies a Band-Aid

Let's cut to the chase. The recent dictum from The Jockey Club (TJC) that North American stallions born in 2020 and forward will be limited to covering 140 mares in a calendar year is an attempt to divert mares from popular stallions to others not as in demand. It's a simplistic approach to a complex issue, and it's akin to applying a Band-Aid to a cut that requires stitches. These days, stallions that need help the most are third- and fourth-year horses and proven mid-priced bread-and-butter stallions with some age...

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Taking Stock: The Art of the Mating

Responding to the global coronavirus pandemic, people and organizations within this industry from around the world have stepped up to generate goodwill gestures every week it seems, whether it's owner-breeder Chuck Fipke offering no-fee breedings to his stallions, Finger Lakes HBPA and track management distributing $827,000 in the form of "stimulus checks" to local trainers and owners, or an Irish lawyer galvanizing interest in more than 350 housebound fans and industry participants in "The Art of the Mating," a hypothetical exercise in stallion selection for some famous mares. Jack Cantillon...

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Taking Stock: Fear Index and Foal Crops

Aside from the threats to life and health, the global coronavirus pandemic has created massive economic and socio-political turmoil and fear over a short time span. In times like this--there haven't been many quite like this in recent years, except for the economic meltdown of 2008 and the crash of 1987 (Black Monday)--it's difficult to see the forest for the trees, but the worry some people have that things have changed for the worse is clear and real. Dr. Anthony Fauci said so himself. The Director of the National Institute...

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