Keeneland presents American Graded Stakes Standings: Coolmore, Darley and Their Young Guns
While the ongoing business feud between international bloodstock empires Coolmore and Darley has cooled somewhat in the past year, a new duel has developed between the two when it comes to young stallions standing in the U.S.
Last year, the top freshman sires – by a wide margin – were Scat Daddy, who stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky, and Darley’s Kentucky-based Hard Spun. Both young stallions collected more than $1.3 million in North American earnings, with Scat Daddy holding a slight edge of about $50,000. They were well clear of Lawyer Ron, who ranked third at $861,320.
So far this year, Hard Spun and Scat Daddy remain one-two in their class, with Hard Spun on top, and they’ve been joined by Darley’s Street Sense, who sits in third with nearly $1.4 million in 2012 earnings. Add in Darley’s Discreet Cat, who ranks just behind Lane’s End’s English Channel, and Coolmore/Darley claim four of the top five spots among second-crop sires in North American earnings.
In American graded stakes, Darley has collected a Grade 3 win each for Hard Spun and Street Sense, thanks to Hierro and Castaway, respectively, plus a pair of graded stakes wins for Discreet Cat (Mamma Kimbo and Out of Bounds). Scat Daddy’s Daddy Nose Best captured two Grade 3 victories on the way to a 10th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, while Lady of Shamrock chalked up another Scat Daddy win in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita.
Although Coolmore has maintained a presence near the top of the freshman sire lists for more than a decade, Darley fired its first shot in 2006 with Street Cry. Street Cry, the father of Street Sense, led that freshman class, and Ashford’s Johannesburg – yes, the sire of Scat Daddy – finished second.
In 2008, Coolmore got the best of the budding freshman sire rivalry with Lion Heart and Chapel Royal both taking spots in the top five.
Darley shot back in 2009 with leading North American first-crop sire Offlee Wild, whose daughter, She Be Wild, won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Darley kept its edge the following year with Bernardini and Rockport Harbor both cracking the freshman sire top ten. Bernardini rocketed to the top of that class in 2011, thanks in part to Stay Thirsty’s 3-year-old campaign. Bernardini dominated in his second-crop year with more than $5.2 million in North American earnings and a resume of four graded stakes victories. In 2012, Bernardini’s stud fee doubled to $150,000, and he again leads his class in earnings and graded stakes wins, thanks to victories by Algorithms, Alpha and To Honor and Serve.
Darley’s recent major investment in stallion prospects has clearly paid off so far and has helped spark a rivalry that is getting passed down from fathers to sons.
While it’s far too early to predict who might be at the top the newest freshman sire class, Coolmore and Darley both have potential contenders. Street Boss, another son of Street Cry, helps represent Darley, while Ashford-based Henrythenavigator and Majestic Warrior send out their first racing crops for Coolmore. Of course, all three of those young stallions will also be taking on the likes of Three Chimneys’ Big Brown and Curlin at Lane’s End.
No doubt, it’ll be an enticing battle to watch.