Keeneland presents American Graded Stakes Standings: Top-Producing Farms Never Rest
I'd like to say it was my idea, but it actually came from Sharon Metz, who compiles something called the “BizList” for a Central Kentucky publication called Business Lexington. Metz, with only limited knowledge of the Thoroughbred industry asked if it would make sense to compile a “BizList” demonstrating which Bluegrass farms produced the most American Graded Stakes winners of 2010.
It made sense to me, and I was even a bit disappointed I hadn't come up with this type of list before, so I gladly assisted her in looking at the American Graded Stakes results for 2010 and ranking the list of leaders by farms. For the purposes of the ranking, a farm was given credit for producing a Graded Stakes winner if the winning horse was sired by a stallion which, at the time of conception, stood at that farm.
So, without further adieu, here are the top 10 American Graded Stakes producing farms for the 2010 racing season:
1. Lane's End, 26
2. Ashford, 19
3. WinStar, 16
4. Adena Springs, 14
4. Hill ‘n' Dale, 14
6. Airdrie Stud, 13
6. Three Chimneys, 13
8. Claiborne Farm, 11
8. Darley, 11
10. Gainesway, 10
One of the things all of these farms have in common, is the need to keep bringing in new stallions. No farm can afford to sit on its laurels, or rely on the hope that last year's new stallion acquisition is going to be a success. It is a difficult business where perhaps only one in 20 new stallions are ultimately considered successful.
That's why it wasn't at all shocking to learn that Uncle Mo will be retiring to Coolmore's Ashford Stud when his racing career ends, most likely after this year's Breeders' Cup. When a deal for a male horse's stud career is done, it's very hard to financially justify keeping that horse in training another year. Considerations include 1) the cost of mortality insurance; 2) the income that would be lost by skipping the upcoming breeding seasons; and 3) potential for downgrading the value of the horse if, for some reason, he does not perform to expectations on the racetrack.
There are very few exceptions to the rule that say a horse is retired for the next breeding season when a stallion deal is completed.
But Ashford is not the only stud farm looking to add to its roster, and at this time of year, with Breeders' Cup fast approaching, negotiations are fast and furious for stud farms to line up new stallions for the upcoming year. I'm sure the announcement regarding Uncle Mo will only be the first of many.