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Genetics, Stud Fees and Luck

The major news outlets seem to be filling space while waiting for tonight’s Preakness draw (and that’s no bad thing, given that it highlights the sport beyond the Triple Crown to some extent). The New York Times profiles Nicanor (pictured), the full brother to Barbaro, who has recently arrived (video here) at Fair Hill to begin working toward a probable fall debut.

Bill Finley points out that sibling relationships don’t often count for much in horse racing, and uses the example of Smarty Jones’ full sister who has yet to win a maiden race. Indeed, his half bother Speedy Jones is also some way from his elder sibling’s fame – he has so far earned his connections $3320 in 3 starts, so he still has some way to go to make up for his $120,000 purchase price.

There is no guarantee that Barbaro’s brothers will shine on the track either; his 4-year-old half-brother, Man in Havana, is unraced (and is now a gelding) and his elder half-brother, Holy Ground, won a few stakes races, but nothing outstanding (although you can still breed to him for $3,500, if you are so inclined – I actually like his pedigree, but he’s not going to win any beauty contests).

By the same token, some mares just keep producing top offspring. Hasili is still the classic modern example, with Cacique, Heat Haze, Banks Hill, Intercontinental, Dansili and her current US-based runner, Champs Elysees. Her 3-year-old, Raise the Flag (by the recently-pensioned Sadler’s Wells), has one start so far, and she has a yearling Storm Cat filly (apparently, one of the last of his as well). Andrew Caulfield was impressed upon meeting the mare:

While Hasili still has a bit of work to do to match Fall Aspen (eight group/graded winners, including four Grade I winners) and Courtly Dee (seven graded winners, headed by three Grade I scorers), this extraordinary mare has a near-faultless record. Thanks to Champs Elysees‘s stylish victory in the GII San Marcos S., her first six foals have all scored at Grade I or Grade II levels, with four of them achieving Grade I-winner status. It took the great Dahlia 11 foals to come up with four Grade I winners and a pair of Grade II scorers.

I suspect Champs Elysees, just nosed out last weekend in the G2 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap, will nab a G1 win as well at some point.

Fall Aspen‘s details note that only four North American-based mares have been lucky enough to produce as many as four G1 winners (Dahlia, Toussaud, Hasili and Fall Aspen herself); one wonders if it would still be possible to get away with naming a horse Hamas, like Fall Aspen’s 1989 colt who has been a useful sire, these days.

I expect this topic to come up not infrequently as we head toward the Belmont and Casino Drive‘s chance to make it a hat-trick for his dam, Better Than Honour – not to mention the anticipation around Nicanor’s first start, which will likely be one of the most-watched maiden races in recent memory.

Finally, let’s focus for a moment on the major stallion retirements mentioned above. Sadler’s Wells made an impact on the turf before his great influence at stud – he won or placed in six Group 1 events in England, Ireland and France and was the 1984 Champion Miler in France before heading off to stud duty (and, now, a well-deserved retirement). His statistics (so far) show 272 stakes winners, including 71 G1 winners. His top offspring include Montjeu, Galileo, Alexandrova, High Chaparral and Refuse to Bend, among many others. It would seem that some want to overlook his American origins to some extent:

Such is his standing in the Northern Hemisphere, respected TDN columnist Bill Oppenheim was moved to write yesterday that Sadler’s Wells “singlehandedly restored the reputation of Europe as a place where you could stand world-class stallions after European stallion ranks had been decimated by the Americans in the 1970s and 1980s. “

By contrast, Storm Cat was less successful on the track – he only won one notable race (although his runner-up performance in the second Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was memorable) before an injury forced his retirement. Among his best foals are Giant’s Causeway, Storm Flag Flying and the notorious Tabasco Cat. Here are his statistics at this point – Storm Cat has sired 160 stakes winners, with 98 graded stakes winners (and one could argue that both stallions have been even more useful as broodmare sires).

The great success at stud of both stallions, coming at a time when numbers of mares bred to a given stallion increased exponentially (along with auction prices and stud fees), has had a definite impact on the breed; whether it’s been a positive, negative or mixed one is debatable, but there can be no argument that they’ve certainly made their respective marks. Here’s hoping they can both enjoy healthy retirements.

3 comments to Genetics, Stud Fees and Luck

  • Valerie

    I was trying to calculate just how much moola Storm Cat raked in per year for Overbrook Farm. Assuming the $500,000 fee was based on live foal, in 2002 they made $33.5 million (67 named foals); in 2003, $44 million (88 foals); in 2004, $43.5 million (87 foals); in 2005, $38.5 million (77 foals)….HOLY COW! That’s $159.5 million in just four years!!!

  • Anonymous

    Speedy Jones is also some way from his elder sibling’s fame – he has so far earned his connections $3320 in 3 starts, so he still has some way to go to make up for his $120,000 purchase price.

    Old data from Pedigree Query
    he raced once more and earned $4,160 still a maiden, nothing on the board.

  • telefonsex

    good Job!: )

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