Irish-based Coolmore’s Ashford division in Kentucky began collecting domestic 2-year-old champions with Lookin at Lucky (2009 champ), followed by Uncle Mo (2010), Hansen (2011), Shanghai Bobby (2012), and most recently American Pharoah (2014) — with whom they hit the bonanza at 3, too. The only other juvenile champ during these range of years was the late Shared Belief (2013), but he was a gelding.
Last year Lookin at Lucky’s first crop put him at No. 3 on the first-crop sire leaderboard, and those 2-year-olds made the transition to 3 in 2015 nicely, though not with pizazz. It’s for this reason that his stud fee is $25,000 in 2016, which, by the way, is excellent value.
There’s a better story with Uncle Mo this year. The stallion began his career at $35,000 but was down to $25,000 this spring. But, as the runaway first-crop leader in 2015, he’ll be $75,000 next year, and that may well translate to value if his 2-year-olds maintain the momentum at 3 and beyond. He certainly gives every indication of this with seven stakes winners, including two G1 winners. There’s plenty of pizazz in Uncle Mo, from his own physicality and race record to the performances of his stakes horses, headed by BC Juvenile winner Nyquist.
Time, of course, is the test, and a stroll through first-crop sire standings (since 2008 for this piece) tells the story of how difficult it is to make it as a stallion, how fleeting first-crop success can be, and how occasionally a stallion without initial success can still roll from back of the pack.
Let’s take a look, year by year, through the list at bloodhorse.com.
A vintage year for stallions. Tapit led the list, and today he’s one of the best in the world. Lion Heart, for Ashford, was No. 2, but he’s now in Turkey. However, 3, 4, and 5 comprise the major trifecta of Candy Ride, Medaglia d’Oro, and Speightstown, respectively. Not much else to write home about after that. Note: Smarty Jones was No. 32, and his subsequent career reflected his initial readings.
Not a great year. Offlee Wild, sire of Bayern, led the list and he’s now in Turkey. Kitten’s Joy, at 5, was the best sire on the list. Afleet Alex was 7. Ghostzapper, who’d began at a $200,000 fee, was 21 and was slated to serve mares in 2010 for $30,000. His is a story of remarkable redemption, however, and he is now a very good stallion.
Congrats, starting off in Florida, led the list. He’s since moved to Kentucky and gone a bit quiet but he’s still viable at the $20,000 fee he’ll command in 2016. Bernardini was No. 3 and War Front 4. And get this: War Front’s 2011 fee was set at $15,000, a far cry from the $200,000 advertised fee he commands now (if you can get into his book at a farm price). Of the others, First Samurai was 15, and he’s a solid stallion at Claiborne with War Front, but Bluegrass Cat at 2 and at $25,000 for 2011 is now in California for $6,500 in 2016.
Ashford’s Scat Daddy led the list from Darley’s Hard Spun. Enough said on the pair. Of others of note, Street Sense was 10, and he’s turned out nicely. English Channel, such a good sire of turf/distance horses, was 12. Invasor was 48, a fairly good indicator for what he subsequently did.
Ashford won the crown again. This time, the champ was Henrythenavigator, whose success came with European runners in the main. Not surprisingly, he now stands at headquarters in Ireland. Ashford also had Majestic Warrior at No. 4, but he’ll be in Japan next year. Spring at Last at No. 2 is now in Saudi Arabia. Into Mischief was 3, Midnight Lute was 7, Tiz Wonderful, now in Korea, was 8, and Curlin was 9. Big Brown was 11, and he’s now in New York.
Ashford’s third consecutive leader, this time Dunkirk. Remember him? He’s in Japan now. At No. 2 was Pioneerof the Nile, who was advertised for $20,000 in 2014 but is in six figs for 2016, thanks to American Pharoah. Colonel John was 3, but here’s the rest of the top 10: Diabolical at 4, Two Step Salsa at 5, Kodiak Kowboy 6, Zensational 7, Giant Gizmo 8, Cowboy Cal 9, and Square Eddie 10. Not exactly vintage.
Quality Road led, but he hasn’t been quite as effective this year. No. 2, however, was Super Saver, a top sire in the making. As mentioned earlier, Ashford’s Lookin at Lucky was 3, followed by the same farm’s Munnings at 4. Blame was 12, and Eskendereya, recently sold to Japan and just represented by his first G1 winner, was 14.
As noted, Uncle Mo will give Ashford its fourth first-crop champion sire in the last five consecutive years, quite an accomplishment. Twirling Candy is at No. 2 on the list, and First Dude from Florida is 3, followed by Archarcharch at 4. Society’s Chairman, who I profiled in my last post, is at 11 — and he’s No. 1 in Canada. Claiborne’s Trappe Shot, whose yearlings sold extremely well last year, is at 14, while Cape Blanco, now in Japan, is at 16. Drosselmeyer is 26, and based on history at this position, he’s got his work cut out for him.