By Elaine Belval
On Feb. 5th, Teaks North, the longest shot on the board at 25-1, won the G1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap at 9F to become Northern Afleet’s latest winner at the highest level and his fourth SW of the new year. The weekend before, he’d had a banner day at the Sunshine Millions.
The Sunshine Millions was developed to showcase the best California and Florida-bred horses of the year. However, bettors could be forgiven for thinking the 2011 Sunshine Millions was “Northern Afleet Day.” This Taylor Made-based sire had three winners on the Sunshine Millions card, two at Santa Anita and one at Gulfstream Park.
His four-year-old filly Evening Jewel won the 8.5 furlong Distaff S. at Santa Anita. Trained by James Cassidy, owned by Tom and Marilyn Braly and bred by the Mabees of California, Evening Jewel was one of the better three-year-old fillies in 2010, winning the G1 Ashland S. and Del Mar Oaks.
His four-year-old filly Aegean won the Filly and Mare Sprint S. at six furlongs at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Wesley Ward, owned by Steven and Michael Bell and bred by Vegso Racing Stable (FL), Aegean has now won stakes at two, three and four.
His five-year-old gelding won the Sprint S. at six furlongs at Santa Anita. Traned by William Spawr, owned by Thomas Sanford and bred by Gregg Anderson (CA), this was the gelding’s first stakes victory. Finishing behind him was the G1 winner Cost of Freedom.
Northern Afleet was bred in Kentucky by Hermitage Farm. He was sired by Canadian Champion Afleet. Afleet started off slowly as a stallion at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky and was sold to Japan. That may have been a mistake for this son of Mr. Prospector. Afleet has more than 60 SWs lifetime, including two champions.
His son Northern Afleet won three stakes races in a four-year racing career for owners Greg Anderson and Ronald Waranch and trainer David Hofmans. He won a maiden race at Del Mar at two, placed in the G1 Malibu S. at three and won the G2 San Fernando Breeders’ Cup S. and finished third in the G1 Met Mile at four. He retired to stud at Double Diamond Farm in Florida for a modest $5,000 fee. That ultimately proved a bargain for his early investors.
In his first crop of 38 named foals, he had eight SWs (yes, folks, a whopping 21% SWs to foals!). After future classic winner Afleet Alex won the G1 Hopeful S., Northern Afleet was moved to Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky for the 2005 season, so his first Kentucky-bred two-year-olds raced in 2008. The first crop of Kentucky-breds included major winners Big City Man and Negligee.
Northern Afleet has sired the super-impressive 80% starters (not including two-year-olds of 2011), over 60% winners, and a very good 6% SWs. His progeny average over 70,000/starter. And with an Average Earnings Index of 1.62 and a Comparable Index of 1.40, Northern Afleet improves his mares 15%. And as his three victors on the Sunshine Millions card show, Northern Afleet is a most prolific sire of sprinter/milers. And as four-year-old Teaks North just demonstrated, he can sire winners at the highest level on turf, too. In short, he’s a versatile sire and underrated to boot. At present, he’s ranked third on the General Sire List by progeny earnings, behind Giant’s Causeway and Stephen Got Even.
Northern Afleet continues to stand at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky and his 2011 stud fee is a downright cheap $12,500.
(Elaine Belval is senior pedigree analyst at WTC, Inc.)