With the overpowering dominance of the Kentucky stallion market, it is an uphill battle for regional stallion markets to compete for the better stallions. And, when a regional stallion makes a national impact, the big Kentucky dollars usually win out. While has been a particularly big problem for Florida dating all the way back to the days of Mr. Prospector, no state has been immune.
Nevertheless, regional markets do give stallions a chance to flourish when they would probably never have gotten the opportunity in Kentucky. Like “horses for courses,” it’s pretty clear that there are “stallions for regions.” These are stallions whose produce progeny excel in particular racing environment for a variety of reasons, everything from climate to track surfaces. Examples include Vice Regent and Bold Ruckus in Canada; Knights Choice and Slewdledo in Washington; Flying Paster and Pirate’s Bounty in California; Smarten and Caveat in Maryland; Valid Appeal and Baldski in Florida; and Talc and Cormorant in New York.
So, who might be New York’s next Talc or Cormorant? A review of New York’s leading active sires by progeny earnings for 2007 might give us a clue. The current leader as well as leading New York sire in 2006 is Catienus, Unfortunately for New York breeders, Catienus is now headed back to Kentucky for the 2008 breeding season.
Ranked No. 2 is Golden Missile, who has moved from Adena Springs Kentucky to Milfer Farm for the 2008 breeding season. With all of the A.P. Indy’s at stud in Kentucky, Golden Missile may have gotten lost in the shuffle. At $7,500, he looks to be good value for New York breeders when you consider he’s sired seven stakes winners from his first four crops, including G1 winner In the Gold, G2 winner Cobalt Blue, and G3 winner Inspiring. In addition, he is averaging $36,819 per starter.
Ranked No. 3 in 2007 is another Kentucky transplant — Empire Stud’s Chief Seattle. After standing his first four years at Spendthrift Farm, Chief Seattle moved to Empire Stud in 2006, with his first New York crop running in 2009. With three crops to race, Chief Seattle sired nine stakes winners, including G2 winner Seafree, and G3 winner Shillelagh Slew. With average earnings per starter a healthy $38,892, he looks like a good bet for New York breeders at $5,000.
Currently ranked No. 4 after finishing third in 2006 is yet another Kentucky transplant, Artax. With five crops to race, Artax has sired six stakes winners, one of them being NYRA G1 winner Friendly Michelle. And, his progeny are getting average earnings of $40,904 per starter. Unfortunately, Artax has been a bit of vagabond, standing first at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky, then Metropolitan Stud in Pine Plains, NY, and most recently at Keane Stud in Armenia, NY.
Both Golden Missile and Chief Seattle have no New York crops running yet so it remains to be seen how they will do in New York, but their stats to date are very encouraging. In the case of Artax, it’s a mute point as his connections are moving him again to parts unknown.
Sequel Stallions’ Freud is ranked No. 5 in 2007, after coming in No. 10 in 2006. Freud is the top-ranked stallion this year among those who have actually stood their entire careers in New York.
As a full brother to Giant’s Causeway, Freud has impeccable credentials from a pedigree standpoint. While he did not live up to his big brother on the racetrack, he did manage to become a G2-placed winner.
With just three crops racing, Freud’s No. 5 ranking is even more impressive, especially considering his three crops total just 127 registered foals. He has four stakes winners to date plus another 17 stakes-placed winners, giving him an amazing 16.5% stakes horses from foals! Couple that with average earnings per starter of $45,420 (highest of the top five-ranked New York stallions), and Freud appears to be a serious contender to become New York’s next Talc or Cormorant.
Ranked No. 6 in 2007 is Highcliff Farm’s Western Expression. Like Freud, has stood his entire career in New York and has four crops racing. His pedigree is outstanding. He’s by Gone West, who is making a reputation for himself as a sire of sires with the likes of Mr. Greeley, Elusive Quality, Grand Slam, Proud Citizen, etc. in Kentucky. and Zafonic and Zamindar in Europe. His bottom side isn’t bad either – he’s out of a daughter of Con Game, making her a half sister to Seeking the Gold.
His runners are proving to be hard-knocking’ and competitive. They’ve averaged $39,345 per starter, third-best among the top six New York stallions. With three stakes winners and eight stakes-placed winners to date from four relatively small crops, Western Expression looks to be poised to become a force among the New York stallion ranks.
Currently No. 7 in 2007 after ranking No. 5 in 2006 is venerable old-timer Regal Classic, who has already proven to be one of New York’s finest. Standing first in Canada and then Kentucky, he took up residence at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in 2002, where he has been a mainstay at or near the top of the New York stallion ranks ever since. With 15 crops to race, his stats are amazing – 81% starters, 62% winners to foals, average earnings per starter of $61,228, 50 stakes winners, 48 stakes-placed winners, and three champions. Enough said!
Ranked No. 8 is Eltish. Eltish stood his first five seasons in Florida before moving to Saratoga Glen Farm and relocating to Keene Stud for 2008. He was a versatile runner, winning on the dirt and turf, long and short. Though his sire Cox’s Ridge has not excelled as a sire of sires, both Eltish and Out of Place, also by Cox’s Ridge, have proven to be solid sires. With seven crops to race, Eltish has sired 74% starters, 55% winners to foals, average earnings per runner of $42,968, 10 stakes winners, and nine stakes-placed winners. His first New York-bred crop will race in 2010, and he certainly looks like good value at $3,500 based on his runners to date.
Ranked No. 9 is Prime Timber. Coincidentally, he is a grandson of Cox’s Ridge. He retired to Sez Who Thoroughbreds North in Stillwater, NY in 2002. He’s off to a strong start with three crops to race – 85 starters from 120 registered foals (71%) of racing age, 57 winners (48%), three stakes winners and four stakes-placed winners, and average earnings per starter of $40,645.
Rounding out the top ten active New York stallions is Sugar Maple Farm’s A. P Jet. He now has eight crops to race and they are all New York-breds, which is probably why he is No. 1 among the top ten with average earnings per runner of $50,710 His other numbers aren’t bad either – 77% starters, 55% winners to foals, 11 stakes winners and 14 stakes-placed winners. A. P Jet’s average earnings per runner underscore the financial benefits of racing New York-breds.
There are several other young stallions to keep an eye. Sequel Stallions Hook and Ladder has his first crop are racing in 2007 they’re off to an eye-catching start. Two of his seven winners to date are stakes winners and another is G3-placed. All of this is good enough to have him ranked No. 22 among New York’s active leading sires while just having two-year-olds running!
Another freshman sire to watch is McMahon of Saratoga’s Desert Warrior. A multiple stakes-placed winner, Desert Warrior is by sire of sires Deputy Minister out of a Secretariat mare (as is A.P. Indy, Storm Cat, and Gone West) who is a full sister to Terlingua, the dam of Storm Cat. What a stallion prospect! He’s had four juvenile winners to date and I expect to see him highly ranked among New York stallions in the not too distant future.
Among the New York stallions with first runners in 2008, there are two in particularly I like. The first is Questroyal Stud’s Roaring Fever, a stakes winner and multiple graded stakes-placed winner of over $219.000. He’s by leading sire of sires Storm Cat and out of the Seattle Slew mare Pennant Fever, dam of three Storm Cat stakes winners. He’s a full brother to the successful young stallion Stormin Fever, standing at Airdrie Stud in Kentucky, who’s had 14 stakes winners, including two G1 winners, from five crops to race. Best of all for New York breeders, he is reasonably priced at $5,000.
The other is Sequel Stallions Read the Footnotes. He had a short but brilliant racing career, winning five of eight lifetime starts, including the G2 Remsen Stakes and G3 Nashua Stakes at two. At three, he won the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes before an injury ended his racing career. He stood his first two seasons at Sequel Stallions Florida division, before moving to New York for the 2007 breeding season. He excelled at the New York tracks and I suspect his progeny will do the same.
Who will follow in the footsteps of Talc and Cormorant? It’s almost impossible to predict. It is difficult enough just to predict the leading sires of the future, let alone knowing if they will stay put should they succeed. Having said that, if I had a gun at my head and had to chose, I’d probably go with Freud, Hook and Ladder, Roaring Fever, and Desert Warrior, with Prime Timber as my dark-horse.