Without question, Storm Cat and A.P. Indy currently stand alone as America’s two most successful active stallions. A.P. Indy will be 18 for the next breeding season and probably has seven or eight years left for the breeding shed. Storm Cat, on the other hand, will be 24 in 2007, so he’s probably got three or four years left for covering mares. This begs the question “Who’s going to fill the vacuum created when one of these two is eventually pensioned?” There are several worthy candidates waiting in the wings such as Distorted Humor (1994) and Unbridled’s Song (1993), but my pick is 2006’s current leading sire of unrestricted SWs, Ashford Stud’s Giant’s Causeway (1997).
With just his third crop going to the races this year, Giant’s Causeway has already sired 19 unrestricted SWs, including 12 GSWs. Five of those are G1 winners, including Champion Shamardal, Two Thousand Guineas winner Footstepsinthesand, and Coronation Stakes winner Maids Causeway from his first crop!
Giant’s Causeway has been a commercial success as well with 34 yearlings selling this year for an average of $352,919 and a medium of $240,000, impressive considering that these yearlings were bred on a $75,000 stud fee. In fact, he covered a book in 2006 at $300,000 live foal. These numbers are consistent with his 55 yearlings that sold in 2005 for an average of $410,049 and a medium of $336,212, while being bred on a $125,000 stud fee. In 2006, he covered a full book of mares at $300,000 live foal.
In addition to a world-class race record and outstanding pedigree, my most compelling reason for selecting Giant’s Causeway is the fact that he has a pedigree free of Mr. Prospector. This makes him an outcross for much of the top-end of the broodmare population in the U.S. Throughout the majority of Mr. Prospector’s stud career he was bred to the very best mares available so its not surprising that many his daughters would become major producers. The stats bear this out. Mr. Prospector was the leading broodmare sire in the U.S. in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, and is the current leader in 2006. (He was 2nd to Dixieland Band in 2004).
Consequently, a son or grandson of Mr. Prospector today doesn’t really have the option of covering daughters or granddaughters of Mr. Prospector, as this would create risky tail-male line inbreeding to Mr. Prospector, either 2×2, 2×3, or 3×2. While breeding a grandson of Mr. Prospector to a granddaughter would make the inbreeding to a little more acceptable at 3×3, this hasn’t shown much success to date.
When you add to the mix that Mr. Prospector has proven to be an exceptionally strong nick with Storm Cat and Rahy (Giant’s Causeway’s broodmare sire), Mr. Prospector-line mares appear to be ideal mates for Giant’s Causeway. To date, his most successful runners confirm this. Of his 19 SWs, 12 of them are out of Mr. Prospector-line mares (Crafty Prospector, Fappiano, Forty Niner, Gone West, Kingmambo, Lycius, Machiavellian, Miswaki, Seeking the Gold, Zafonic, and two Mr. Prospector’s). That’s a whopping 63%!
Argument can be made Giant’s Causeway’s ascension to the top of the U.S. stallion ranks might be compromised by the “grass factor.” He won all of his races on the turf (although he only lost the Breeders’ Cup Classic by a neck). And, 14 of his 19 SWs have won on the turf. But we must not forget that he stood his first season at Coolmore Stud in Ireland, so you most of his entire first crop had no opportunity to run on the dirt nor was he even bred to anything other than turf mares. Plus, polytrack is coming and I believe this well level the dirt sire/turf sire playing field. It is, in my opinion, too soon makes assumptions regarding him being a turf sire only, and I believe his progeny will excel on both surfaces. One oddity I’ve noticed is that 13 of Giant’s Causeway’s 19 SWs are fillies but four of his five G1 winners are colts.
Well, that’s my case and time will tell.