In the hyper-competitive world of managing and standing commercial stallions, the higher-end horses get a chance, frequently a superb chance, to prove whether they have the genetic and phenotypic qualities to make a successful sire.
The economic stress of the undertaking, however, means there is a pivot-point in the pricing of stallions, a point at which the market for stallion seasons balances, then goes down. That price point currently seems to be at about $15,000 for a live-foal nomination.
And among the 2020 crop of entering sire prospects, there is one stallion at that price: World of Trouble.
The 4-year-old son of Kantharos (Lion Heart) is the second stakes winner out of the Valid Expectations (Valid Appeal) mare Meets Expectations. She is a half-sister to major stakes winner Bucchero and he is also by Kantharos.
That chestnut son of G1 winner and Kentucky Derby second Lion Heart is a key to World of Trouble finding his way to John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farm because Kantharos came to Hill 'n' Dale from Florida, “where he made it on his own,” Sikura said, “and he's a horse on the rise that I believe is going to be a sire of the highest merit.”
From one of the Kantharos crops bred in Florida, World of Trouble also was one of the fastest horses in the world, maybe the fastest. From five to seven furlongs, World of Trouble won eight stakes at 3 and 4, and the only sprint he didn't win in that span was the G1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint that he lost to Stormy Liberal (Stormy Atlantic). He won all four of his starts in 2019, including the G1 Carter on dirt and the G1 Jaipur on turf. In the latter, World of Trouble outran Belvoir Bay and Om, who were first and second in the G1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita last month.
Sikura summarized: “World of Trouble is an accomplished, elite racehorse. Hard to find a horse who's accomplished on both surfaces, especially at the G1 level. He had a world of talent. And physically, World of Trouble is a lovely horse, medium-sized, but very well made, and I guess that's the reason he stayed so sound. You could breed a bigger, leggier mare to him or go type to type and have a beautiful prospect. Moves very well, very correct. He has added flesh since he came to the farm and is turning into a masculine, beautiful horse.”
From discerning breeders, more is expected than simply good looks and G1 victories on a stallion prospect's race record. Talent that transcends the generations is the image in the mist of Thoroughbred breeding.
Sikura said, “You can't predict who will be a leading sire, but history has shown that the 'freak racehorse' when he reproduces himself, can be a major force at stud. And World of Trouble had freak speed. So, I'm definitely sending mares to the horse. We own a majority interest and have syndicated him.”
Whereas World of Trouble had so much speed he could beat the gate, joining him among the ranks of stallions at Hill 'n' Dale is a lesser-known racer who earned high praise from his internationally known trainer, Aidan O'Brien.
This is the 4-year-old War Front (Danzig) horse Lost Treasure. An Irish-bred from one of Coolmore's best families and from a dam by the wondrous classic sire Montjeu (Sadler's Wells), Lost Treasure combines the two most vibrant strains of Northern Dancer.
Priced at $5,000 live foal, Lost Treasure is priced among the lower tier of new stallions and is bucking the trend of the contemporary market. Sikura explained why he was attracted to the horse: “I saw him race in Ireland, and he is a beautiful, fast, masculine horse of great energy. Aidan thought the world of the horse, and as a 2-year-old, he was narrowly beaten in a G1 race in France. [O'Brien] told me that 'this is a horse with world-class talent, but I never got the best out of him.'”
Sikura continued, “I know there will be doubters saying that he didn't win a Grade 1, but being a student of history, I know that there have been sires like Vice Regent (son of Northern Dancer whose career was abbreviated and who never won a stakes), who sired a champion in Deputy Minister and became an important sire on his own. I don't know whether Lost Treasure can rise to that level, but we're prepared to help him try. We're going to send mares, and the Coolmore team are going to send mares. We'll see how that works out.
“Coolmore was going to stand Lost Treasure themselves,” Sikura said, “but I managed to persuade them to allow me to buy in and bring him over here. I'm going to follow my conviction and breed 15 to 20 mares of my own. They will do the same, and other smart people will work it out and send him some mares.”
There is some contrarian pragmatism in Sikura's thinking, and he said that “with a shrinking foal crop and the incentive opportunities elsewhere, a lot of horses don't come to Kentucky, and when you're trying to make a new horse, that situation makes it tougher. It also makes you more accountable [due to the potential losses in the market]. So you have to sharpen your eye in getting a horse and backing him extensively.”
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 chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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