The Lane’s End Weekender Pedigree: Dynaformer
Dynaformer’s heart attack on April 14 and subsequent death by humane euthanasia on April 29 put a full stop to the career of one of the breed’s most important stallions. A really big horse who tended to sire horses of similar stature, Dynaformer was one of our most important factors for mental and physical toughness, for distance racing aptitude, and for overall athletic talent.
Although never known as a sire of speed horses nor as a frequent fount of juvenile stars, Dynaformer did begin his career with a racer who nearly pulled a massive upset in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile of 1993. Blumin Affair, from his sire’s first crop, came from far back in the Juvenile to finish second to winner Brocco (by Kris S.). Among the fine horses behind them were top juvenile Dehere and the following year’s Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Tabasco Cat.
As the third-longest shot on the board, Blumin Affair was not the house horse, and some people wrote off his sterling effort as a fluke, but the result was an omen for the importance of English Derby winner Roberto as a continuing influence for stamina and sturdiness in the breed. Both the winner and second were sired by sons of Roberto, and both moved up the stallion roster to become sires of great importance in Kentucky and around the world.
That was a truly unpredictable result for both stallions because neither went to stud with great hoopla or exaggerated expectations.
In the bitter times of the great bloodstock depression of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Dynaformer had gone to stud at Nathan Fox’s Wafare Farm outside Lexington for a fee of $5,000. Bred and raced by Joseph Allen, Dynaformer had been a good horse whose best victory had come in the G2 Jersey Derby at a time when the economics of breeding meant that a lot more was required to break through as a top performer and win a place at a boutique stallion farm.
In contrast, going to Wafare meant that Dynaformer was a horseman’s horse – one that breeders with an eye for a horse and a pocketful of dreams would patronize in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.
Fox commented today that “Dynaformer was a once in a lifetime kind of horse. I was drawn to him initially because he was so closely related to a stallion that I admired at the time, Darby Creek Road. After going to see him for the first time at Monmouth, Dynaformer reminded me a great deal of old photos that I had seen of Hail to Reason. Therefore, his big, coarse appearance was a plus for me rather than a negative as it was to many others. I was very fortunate to have been associated with such a great stallion, and I am grateful to Robert Clay and everyone at Three Chimneys for caring for him and for doing such a great job in managing his stud career. Dynaformer meant a great deal to me and my family and we will never forget him.”
One of the reasons that Dynaformer meant so much to Fox and other breeders of moderate means at the time is that the sire’s first-crop performers turned out to be something special. Out of an initial crop of 47 foals, 46 raced and five won stakes. Blumin Affair carried his form forward at 3 to finish third in the Kentucky Derby, and that progression is a trait of nearly all the Dynaformers. They have some ability early, but it is a shadow to what they become at 3 and 4.
Dynaformer’s other classic-placed stock includes Brilliant Speed, third in last year’s Belmont Stakes, and Perfect Drift, who was third in the 2002 Kentucky Derby. But the brightest star of all Dynaformer’s foals was grand Barbaro, winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby and a colt of extraordinary talent.
Barbaro, like most of Dynaformer’s stock, was sired after the stallion relocated to Three Chimneys, where he began covering for the 1995 breeding season. Dynaformer spent the rest of his life there.
Case Clay of Three Chimneys said the farm “had been impressed by the success of Dynaformer’s runners sired while standing at Wafare, and he has become one of the best stallions in the breed. One of the traits about his offspring is that they just kept improving, which brought better mares, which brought more successful performers.”
Both Fox and the Clay family have enjoyed long years of success due to the sturdiness and athleticism of the Dynaformer stock, which tend to appeal a bit more to breeders who race, rather than those primarily looking to sell yearlings.
But the stallion’s success as a sire is unquestionable. From 1,185 foals that are 3 or older, Dynaformer has 1,039 starters (88 percent), 770 winners (74 percent), and 130 stakes winners (12.4 percent). Those are the hard numbers of a highly successful sire. Born on April Fool’s Day in 1985, the rangy dark brown son of Roberto out of the His Majesty mare Andover Way was 27 at the time of his death. Although the death of Barbaro prevented us from seeing what the stallion’s most talented son might have accomplished as a sire, Dynaformer has become an important sire of broodmares, with 78 stakes winners from his daughters.
But the essence of Dynaformer, from his days as a $5,000 stallion to this season, when he stood for $150,000, is that he was the working horseman’s stallion whose offspring became solid-gold performers.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is a private consultant to breeders on pedigrees, matings, and conformation. He is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank’s lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
Copyright © 2011, Frank Mitchell