Cairo Prince
Kentucky Sires for 2021: Fifth-Crop Stallions
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Today we come to a final group of stallions whose development we're treating separately, before wrapping up our series with a look at those survivors who made it across the highwire and can be grouped together as “Established Sires.” (After which we'll also be taking a tour of regional stallions.) In the last couple of instalments, we've observed the Kentucky talent pool in each intake rapidly drying up, so that our review of third- and fourth-crop options respectively encompassed 18 and just six stallions. And we are left with a similar rump among those about to launch a fifth crop of juveniles, with only eight still advertising a fee in Kentucky. No need, by this stage, to reprise yet again the familiar traps of the commercial model. Suffice to turn back the clock to 2016, not so long ago, when Orb (Malibu Moon–Lady Liberty, by Unbridled)–a Kentucky Derby winner from the family of Ruffian, standing for $25,000 on an exemplary, historic farm; one sagely resistant to the inundation of the market by more industrial rivals–dominated this group with a $148,318 average for his first yearlings. Unusually, moreover, he actually managed to elevate his second crop to a still higher yield at $184,006, when selling no fewer than 66 of 77 into the ring. The world was at his feet. In 2021 Orb is still clinging on at Claiborne, but listed as “private” after receiving a grand total of seven mares last spring. Nobody's fault, and there are parallels on every farm. Conceivably Orb could yet pull a champion out of his hat. But such is the terrifying commercial vortex that consumes a young stallion who does not make an adequately purposeful start. Nor, on the other hand, does even the briskest of beginnings guarantee lasting momentum. The champion freshman of this group was Overanalyze, whose 2018 book at WinStar promptly soared to 195. The following season, however, he had plummeted to 43 mares and last spring he was exported to Korea. Shanghai Bobby was on his way to Japan within the year of finishing third in the freshmen championship–despite having meanwhile produced a Royal Ascot winner from his second crop, which also turned out to include elite sprinter Shancelot. A year later Japan would also summon Animal Kingdom, who had finished fourth in the freshman table. Yet this is also the intake that includes New Year's Day. Having been reduced to a couple of dozen mares at $5,000 in 2018, he was sold to Brazil four months before an upgraded claiming horse named Maximum Security gave him a first graded stakes success. The rest is history, and New Year's Day has since been given a fresh start in Japan. What a chaotic environment, then, shaped more by luck than judgement, has been heroically negotiated by the handful in this class who have established a viable niche in the Kentucky market. Violence | Sarah Andrew As it happens, far and away their most consistent achiever has been a horse who was worn down in the GII Fountain of Youth S., which turned out to be his final start, by none other than Orb. Their fortunes have diverged in their new careers, with Violence (Medaglia d'Oro–Violent Beauty, by Gone West) at Hill 'n' Dale dominating on cumulative results by virtually all indices. He only missed Overanalyze by cents as a freshman, and has since maintained output for 21 black-type winners. True, he had a quieter year in 2019, prompting an immediate reversal–back to $25,000 from $40,000–of the fee hike he had earned with his across-the-board second-crop championship, on the back of which he had sold his yearlings (conceived at $15,000) for a knockout average of $133,600. But his 2020 campaign has the look of a turning point, crowned not just by a first domestic Grade I winner but by three of them, from consecutive crops: Volatile in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt H., No Parole in the Woody Stephens, and Dr. Schivel in the Del Mar Futurity. Behind Speightstown's four elite scorers, only Into Mischief, More Than Ready and War Front shared this distinction in 2020. The focus on speed in his elite trio is an interesting development. Violence's own sire, though by an avowed turf influence in El Prado (Ire), operated on dirt and has divided his impact, at stud, not only between surfaces but also between disciplines. And an aristocratic maternal family features a series of crossover influences: second dam by Storm Cat out of Hall of Famer Sky Beauty (Blushing Groom); third a half-sister to the flying Dayjur (Danzig); fourth by Nijinsky out of champion sprinter Gold Beauty (Mr. Prospector). There will be no break in the traffic for Violence, whose sales performance reflects something of his own exceptional physique. The group of juveniles he is about to launch, indeed, graduate from a book of 214 mares and he only lost momentum after that quiet 2019, with 86 mares last year. You can bet that numbers will be back up now. After sliding to a yearling average of $44,649 with his 2019 blip, this time round Violence rallied to $72,128 for 66 yearlings sold of 88 offered–an especially good performance, of course, in the teeth of the pandemic economy. I love that Violence's first two dams are both by sires, in Gone West and Storm Cat, out of daughters of Secretariat–whose half-brother Sir Gaylord is responsible for the damsire of El Prado. One way or another, Violence now has all bases covered and can keep consolidating. Paynter | WinStar If Violence has always seemed regal, his nearest pursuer in this group has seemed more like the plucky fellow fighting to earn his stripes. Doubtless that partly reflects the grave health challenges overcome by Paynter (Awesome Again–Tizso, by Cee's Tizzy) before he could resume at a high level as an older horse. But we should remind ourselves that he actually started out at WinStar off a higher fee ($25,000) than Violence. For 2021, he has taken his fourth fee cut to just $7,500–pretty astonishing, really, when he had just been saluted as sire of the fastest miler in Keeneland's history. Now, of course, Knicks Go has followed up his GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile track record in the GI Pegasus World Cup, reiterating his ability to kick again from the front. But this dazzling renewal for the Brad Cox barn is actually the second time that Maryland-bred Knicks Go, whose family is seeded by some pretty exotic names, has demanded a fresh look at his sire. With three-figure books across his first four seasons, Paynter had been given a solid base and his first yearlings were well supported. They made a fairly quiet start on the track the following year, however, reducing his next book to just 34 mares at half his opening fee. Neither Paynter himself nor his sire had raced at two, so it's hard to know quite what breeders were expecting. But then Knicks Go emerged from his second crop, first as shock winner of the GI Breeders' Futurity and then beating all bar Game Winner (Candy Ride Arg) in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile. That revived momentum for Paynter, who received 97 and 71 mares in the two years since, and the second coming of Knicks Go will surely repeat the dose at such a low fee. Because actually Paynter has a solid spread of talent behind his flagship. Knicks Go, remember, sat out most of 2020 and his $608,440 earnings represented only 10 cents in every dollar banked by Paynter in overhauling even Violence, with his three Grade I winners, to top the fourth-crop sires table. Though we've seen that only a handful of elite stallions could match the icing on Violence's cake, their performance otherwise was very similar: Paynter had 222 starters, Violence 225; he had nine black-type winners, against eight for Violence; 18 black-type performers played 15; each had three graded stakes winners and six graded stakes horses; and they respectively notched 115 and 116 winners overall. The gap between them, of course, remains the one that divides Knicks Go from the rest of Paynter's best stock. Graded stakes winner Harpers First Ride is doing his best, ten-for-18 overall after finishing tailed off in the Pegasus, but Paynter doesn't want Knicks Go to seem so freakish as to become as much of a burden as a benefit. That's why we should respect the breadth of his output, putting him in some pretty august company in the general sires list (among the top 20 active stallions last year). Paynter's fee cut looks a sensible response to his virtual disappearance as a commercial force with his latest yearlings, processing a handful for a four-figure average. But he can turn that round, too, as people absorb the supporting cast behind his headline act. Either way he certainly looks attractively priced for anyone who might want to breed a runner. And remember his deeds all have an obvious genetic base: he's out of a full-sister to his farm's pensioned legend Tiznow. Take Charge Indy | Louise Reinagel This group contains one stallion who has actually managed to reverse the usual tide, Take Charge Indy (A.P. Indy–Take Charge Lady, by Dehere) having last year returned to WinStar after a three-year stint in Korea. He had been exported after a tepid reception for his first yearlings in 2016, leggy and immature as they often were, an average of $40,422 representing a limited yield for a rookie who had started out at $20,000. The three crops he left behind, however, turned out to include the likes of GII Rebel S. winner Long Range Toddy, GII Louisiana Derby winner Noble Indy and GI Preakness S. runner-up Everfast. In 2018, Take Charge Indy finished runner-up in the second-crop table; and the following year he edged out Paynter to top the third-crop championship with five black-type winners. He only mustered one of those last year, but obviously had no juvenile input in play. He was welcomed back by 144 mares last spring, at $17,500, and a mild trim to $15,000 suggests confidence that breeders will be following through on a pedigree that unites a breed-shaping stallion with a top-class runner who has since become a Broodmare of the Year (also responsible, of course, for Three Chimneys sire Will Take Charge). As with Violence, we get a double dose of Secretariat's daughters through Weekend Surprise, the dam of A.P. Indy, and Sister Dot, who gave us Take Charge Lady's sire Dehere. Indeed, the whole page is saturated with Classic influences and, if his GI Florida Derby success could not disguise the reality that he raced one peg below the very best, then Take Charge Indy could well become one of those whose genes make him eligible to produce runners still better than himself. That remains to be seen. Strictly, Take Charge Indy still needs his big horse–but the bottom line is that his black-type winners and performers have come at a clip slightly better than both Violence and Paynter. Obviously he has a problem in that there will be few if any headlines coming off the track for a couple years now, so he may need the market to invest his relaunch with something of the glamour generally reserved for total newcomers. But he should be treated with more respect than those, having already demonstrated his competence in the role. And the Classic complexion of his overall pedigree should especially appeal to anyone prepared to retain a filly. Point of Entry | Adena The same is true of Point of Entry (Dynaformer–Matlacha Pass, by Seeking the Gold), who represents the same aristocratic family as Violence and has the additional distinction of representing a venerable sire who was 23 by the time he was foaled. This stallion offers as wholesome a corrective as you can hope to find in North America today to the flimsy commercial vices of the breed: not just with his size and bone, but on the page. His Majesty, the damsire of…
Kentucky Sires for 2021: Fourth-Crop Stallions
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What a tough game this is. You only get to show the first card in your hand before virtually the whole pile of chips is distributed. One or two players gather up their winnings, whooping triumphantly, and suddenly your own hopes of staying in the game–your hopes of a viable stud career in Kentucky–depend exorbitantly on the next card. Generally speaking, it doesn't matter if you turn out to have had a whole sheaf of aces farther into your hand. By the time you can turn those over, there will be nothing left on the table but empty glasses and a full ashtray. We noted in the previous instalment that a third crop of juveniles, alongside a first crop of 4-year-olds, typically represents a final chance. Sure enough, compared with 18 Bluegrass stallions approaching that crossroads, we find just six left to review today from the preceding intake. But whatever sympathy we feel for those meanwhile driven into regional or overseas programs, the nature of the business today means that they have actually delivered as legible and legitimate a sample of their work as we are ever going to get. So many stallions nowadays cover 500 mares across their first three seasons, only to find themselves reduced to a dozen or two within a couple of years. If anything, then, their embarrassment now should prompt us to revisit the vogue they enjoyed when first going to market–and perhaps the contrast might even make us hesitate before rushing to the next lot of rookies off the carousel. In this group, however, there are a couple who have done something beyond almost all young stallions and created a sustainable niche in the market. Having made a brisk start with his first juveniles in 2018, in fact, GOLDENCENTS (Into Mischief–Golden Works, by Banker's Gold) entertained no fewer than 239 mares at Spendthrift the following spring and another 204 last year–taking him to an aggregate 1,133 through his first six years. And he will presumably maintain the traffic, his farm having taken such a purposeful lead on fee cuts in the pandemic marketplace: for 2021 he's back down to his original fee of $15,000, from $25,000 last year. Goldencents topped the third-crop championship in 2020 by nearly all indices, having previously been champion freshman by winners (second to studmate Cross Traffic by prize money) and then headed the second-crop table. Given his fairly industrial output, however, he is nothing like so dominant in percentage terms. It would be pushing things, certainly, to describe nine black-type winners and three graded stakes winners from 255 starters as a wildly exciting yield. By My Standards has been a standard-bearer for Goldencents | Coady But then Goldencents, having been one of the first to demonstrate his sire's capacity to upgrade mares, has also been in the vanguard in terms of testing whether that prowess will be recycled by his sons. He was just a $5,500 yearling, remember, out of a $7,000 mare by a stallion who ended up in Cyprus. The family did bring hardiness (next two dams respectively 18-for-45 and 13-for-46), but somehow Into Mischief ignited a spark of quality in Goldencents that burned up consecutive editions of the GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. And while his sire was still available at $35,000 when Goldencents joined him at Spendthrift, his relative affordability has obviously been at a growing premium ever since. Goldencents was blessed that his own first crop produced a couple who did much the same service, in promoting their sire, as he had himself performed for Into Mischief. In fact, By My Standards and Mr. Money remain far and away his biggest earners to date. And while neither has quite broken the Grade I ice, By My Standards certainly neared the top of the handicap division in his third season and has helped to keep his sire's names in lights all the way through. Arguably it's about time Goldencents produced a new star, but that's precisely what he can hope to do after getting that reboot from his prolific first crop. In the meantime, admittedly, he has been treading water somewhat at the sales: while one daughter did bring $300,000, he averaged a steady $29,069 with his 2020 yearlings, for 52 sold of 68 offered. That yield, and all the rest cited here, must of course be placed in the context of an exceptionally challenging market. Be that as it may, we will pretty soon have to cease doing what we're doing today–comparing these survivors against other stallions at the same stage of their career–and instead start measuring them against all those established operators who, having shed the commercial allure of novelty, have already chiselled a lasting foothold in the market. Cairo Prince | Sarah Andrew Sticking to this group, however, you couldn't ask for a more instructive foil to Goldencents than CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof the Nile–Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull). They have reached this point absolutely in tandem: Goldencents has 384 named foals, Cairo Prince 380; Goldencents has had 256 starters, Cairo Prince 249; Goldencents has 158 winners, Cairo Prince 156; they both, moreover, have 26 black-type horses. Sure enough, they stand for the same fee. But it's the Airdrie stallion who has a slight but consistent edge at the top end: by stakes winners (13 plays nine), graded stakes winners (five plays three) and graded stakes horses (ten plays seven). Moreover Cairo Prince is one of those rare stallions whose initial market reception was way out of line with the ranking implied by his opening fee. We've seen, throughout this series, how that seldom guarantees anything–whether for better or worse. In this case, however, it has turned out that Cairo Prince was quite rightly “found” as a $10,000 start-up. His stock was received with such enthusiasm that he actually earned two fee hikes before he had a single runner, an extremely rare accolade. And if he, too, has now required a trim from $25,000, then the buzz he generated with his sales debut in 2017–when he achieved a staggering average yield of 15 times his fee–will only now start to tell in the improved quality of his mares. True, commercial opportunism tends to be finite wherever it occurs in the cycle, and Cairo Prince dropped to 87 mares last spring after being basically fully subscribed to that point. But it's a confident bet that the juveniles heading to the track this year, conceived after that remarkable sales debut, will give fresh commercial kudos to the foals he breeds this time round. In the meantime, Cairo Prince continues to impress with his sales stock, averaging $47,601 for 57 sold of 78 offered in 2020, confirming him far and away the most resilient and productive sales sire in this group. He just needs his big horse, now, but he's having an excellent winter on the track (three new stakes winners over the past month) and, nationally, only Into Mischief, Tapiture, Not This Time and American Pharoah had more juvenile winners last year. And it certainly does no harm that he now has another productive young stallion so close up, his Grade I-placed half-sister having gained new celebrity as dam of WinStar's thriving rookie Outwork (Uncle Mo). Mucho Macho Man | EquiSport Photos In 2020, however, the star turn in this group was MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno–Ponche de Leona, by Ponche), who inserted himself between Goldencents and Cairo Prince in the third-crop prize money table with two Grade I winners. In previous years, of course, Mucho Gusto's success in the Pegasus World Cup would have been still more lucrative. Moreover that horse was unfortunate to be sidelined after his trip to the desert and only resurfaced when fourth behind Cairo Prince's latest graded stakes winner, Kiss Today Goodbye, in the GII San Antonio S. at Christmas. Anyhow his sire followed through with an elite success on turf, as well, Rodeo Drive S. winner Mucho Unusual having meanwhile added another two graded stakes even since Christmas. In fact, with a total 51 winners from just 77 starters in 2020, Mucho Macho Man topped the national field last year in earnings-per-foal–and, importantly, we know that his stock is just going to keep thriving. Though precocious enough to contest all three legs of the Triple Crown before his third birthday, he kept filling that great rangy frame of his to win the GI Breeders' Cup Classic at five. These results are barely filtering through to the commercial market, as he averaged $24,883 for 21 yearling sales of 28 offered, but then he only stands for $7,500. And he goes well at the juvenile sales (Mucho Gusto made no less than $625,000!) just as we should expect of a stallion who relies on deeds not hype. He's a mad outcross but is quietly earning his stripes and hopefully people are beginning to pay attention. His third book had dwindled to just 35, but he has since welcomed 96, 86 and 77 guests to Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa. Lot of horse for the money, in every way. Will Take Charge | Louise Reinagel The rival Mucho Macho Man nosed out for his greatest success was a barely less imposing creature, but now finds himself on a rather less encouraging tangent. It seems a long time, certainly, since WILL TAKE CHARGE (Unbridled's Song–Take Charge Lady, by Dehere) set out at $30,000 and duly dominated this lot in their sales debut with a $169,190 average. This time round he cashed out 37 of 41 for just $13,712, and he's down to a bargain $5,000 at Three Chimneys after being reduced to a very small book last spring. Will Take Charge has mustered a handful of stakes winners, notably Grade I-placed sprinter Manny Wah, and maybe he will just prove a slow burner, as will sometimes happen with such a scopey horse. His was an especially fine constitution by the standards of his sire, highlighted by an 11-start sophomore campaign that started in January and ended, 26 days after his huge run at the Breeders' Cup, with success in the GI Clark H. His maternal family, meanwhile, has only become more aristocratic with the rise of Omaha Beach (War Front). Everything seemed to be in place so it would be a mystery, as well as a pity, if he can't turn things round. Cross Traffic | Sarah Andrew CROSS TRAFFIC (Unbridled's Song–Stop Traffic, by Cure the Blues) is by the same sire and made a stronger start in contesting the succession, helped to the freshman's title by Breeders' Cup champion Jaywalk but also topping the class by overall stakes winners/ performers. He has not quite maintained that flying start and Spendthrift, who briefly rewarded his freshman title with a hike to $25,000, will be hoping for a reset after halving him from $15,000 to $7,500 this time round. But there are solid grounds for optimism. For a start, Cross Traffic is no longer dining out simply on Jaywalk. Among his second crop, Ny Traffic carried his standard very valiantly–never more conspicuously than when running Authentic (Into Mischief) himself to a head in the GI Haskell, while he was previously only beaten a length by Maxfield in the GIII Matt Winn S. And Cross Traffic can soon expect a healthy spike in the graph, with his post-freshman, 2019 book having soared to 188 mares from 60. True, he promptly sank to 59 last year, but that's how fecklessly the commercial market works nowadays. The thing to remember now is that he will have that big crop of juveniles next year, so he's another who can hope that foals conceived this spring may ride fresh headlines on the track. True, Cross Traffic stands in need of that revival after averaging just $11,630 for the 16 yearlings of 17 sent into the pandemic market, but at least he has exactly that chance brewing. Let's not forget how naturally talented he was, nailed only on the line in the stallion-making GI Met Mile just four months…