The Lane’s End Weekender Pedigree: Stallion prospects and the Triple Crown
Every spring at this time, a stallion manager’s thoughts turn to the glittering proposition of newly minted classic performers who should be the most attractive stallion prospects for the following year’s breeding season.
Such thoughts are rampant in times of plenty, but these are not. Furthermore, the stallion farms that have ventured into deep waters for stallion acquisitions over the past few years have had to suffer the sharp arrows of ill fortune as the world economy turned head over heels.
As a result, there is a distinctly different tenor to the thoughts of those who make stallions regarding Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another, a son of the young and relatively unproven sire Flower Alley, who is a Travers winner by perennial leading sire Distorted Humor.
As one well-known stallion manager said, “If he were by Distorted Humor, he’d be worth a ton. But I’ll Have Another is by Flower Alley. So I don’t know what the market is going to do.”
Farm owners and breeders are in unison praising the colt’s courage and athleticism, as well as his stamina and high class. But, perhaps to the relief of owner Paul Reddam, the stallion marketers are notably cooler and more conservative in their approach to this dual classic winner than they have been with many others of the recent past.
The demand for premium stallion prospects in the late 1990s and during the first decade of the new millennium pushed prices annually higher. The stallion rights to Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus sold for approximately $50 million in the feverish days after his impressive sole classic victory in 2000.
And while Fusaichi Pegasus was rather the paragon in terms of pedigree and physical appeal, winning two legs of the Triple Crown put high valuations on one young racehorse after another. Most recently, the unbeaten Smarty Jones and Big Brown were the focus of intense lobbying by stallion farms, breeders, and their representatives, and as a result of the frenzy over their prospects, they were packaged as stallion commodities before ever competing in the Belmont Stakes.
Both those horses were scooped up by the polished political prowess of Three Chimneys Farm, which also stands Flower Alley, the sire of I’ll Have Another. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner is the second G1 winner by Flower Alley. The first was Ashland Stakes winner Lilacs and Lace in 2011.
Only five years ago, Flower Alley was covering his first book of mares for a fee of $25,000 live foal, but the international economic implosion wrecked the economics of the breeding business, along with many other things. As a result, at the beginning of the 2012 breeding season, seasons to Flower Alley were advertised for $7,500 live foal and were available for less with some negotiation.
The economically wrenching point of the situation is that demand has evaporated so greatly for horses in Kentucky beneath the top 25 stallions that Flower Alley wasn’t close to having a full book at even those figures. But with the appearance of a top-class son, now a dual classic winner, the stallion’s book has swollen to upwards of 125 mares.
So despite the fact that the depressed stallion market is generating less hype around any potential syndication of I’ll Have Another, the colt’s game and good work on the racetrack is placing his sire squarely in the crosshairs of many sharp-shooting breeders around the country.
In this regard, I’ll Have Another may be more similar to Real Quiet than to some other winners of the classic double in the last 15 years or so. Both Real Quiet and I’ll Have Another sold rather poorly as yearlings but grew up well and became outstanding athletes.
As a result, their continuing performances on the racetrack made them important prospects as stallions. The stallion rights to Real Quiet, in fact, sold for about $36 million, and the deal also allowed owner Mike Pegram to continue racing his champion son of Quiet American, which he did through the horse’s 4-year-old season.
The economics of breeding, combined with the reticence of breeders, may well encourage Reddam to continue racing his classic winner through both this season and the next. Whether I’ll Have Another wins the Triple Crown or not, the prospect of his courage and class as an adornment to the sport is something for all to savor.
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