Bloodlines Presented By Merck Animal Health: Freshman Sire Power

by | 08.08.2017 | 12:02pm
Sunny Skies became the first stakes winner for her sire, Animal Kingdom, when she took the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs

The freshmen sires of 2017, those with their first racers breaking from the gates this season, are gaining momentum and credit. Already, there are 10 sires who have sired a stakes winner from their first crop at the races.

Ranked in order of their total earnings, the stallions with first-crop stakes winners already are Violence (by Medaglia d'Oro); Jimmy Creed (Distorted Humor); Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux), who is the only sire with two stakes winners yet; Justin Phillip (First Samurai); Morning Line (Tiznow); Declaration of War (War Front); Point of Entry (Dynaformer); Poseidon's Warrior (Speightstown); Liaison (Indian Charlie); and Big Lightning (Bernardini).

These are positive indicators for the potential success of this class of young sires, several of whom are not especially precocious in physical type or in their own performances on the racetrack.

In particular, Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and top-class turf performer Point of Entry would be rather surprising successes to find on this list because neither was notably precocious in the usual sense, and both are sizable, rangy animals that took a bit of time to come to themselves fully. Yet they have sired horses with considerable precocity.

The potential of this pair to sire quicker horses than expected was one of the features of the 2-year-old in training sales earlier this year, which also exposed some very progressing-looking and appealing specimens by Kentucky Derby winner Orb. Orb does not yet have a stakes winner, but he does have four winners and a stakes-placed horse that have placed him fifth on the freshman sires list by total earnings.

Two of the other members of this quintet – Overanalyze and Shanghai Bobby – do not yet have a stakes winner, but both those young sires have a pair of stakes-placed performers and are sure to get a winner before much longer.

Overanalyze (Dixie Union) has the most winners of any freshman sire with 11 from 29 starters. And he is leading the freshman list at this point with just less than $400,000. Overanalyze stands at WinStar Farm near Lexington for a $10,000 fee and has 88 named foals in his first crop. With more than a third of those already starting, precocity is clearly going to be a trump card with this young sire.

In second place on the list is Violence, who stands at Hill ‘n' Dale for $15,000, and he has 101 foals in his first crop. He has the second-highest number of starters (24) and ranks second by winners (9). His stock at the 2-year-old sales tended to be large, sometimes very big, and yet they are showing ability quite early.

The sire in third place after these early rounds in the stallion sweepstakes is the surprise performer Jimmy Creed, who stands at Spendthrift Farm for $5,000, the smallest stud fee among the leading freshmen. Jimmy Creed is also a son of the splendid old sire Distorted Humor like Maclean's Music, a leading freshman last year by earnings and number of winners, and he is the sire of 2017 Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing. Both sons of Distorted Humor were very fast racers themselves, and it is clear that their offspring are using that ability to great effect.

Jimmy Creed has some other distinctions. He has more stakes horses (4) than any other freshman sire, and he is co-leader for graded stakes winners (1) after the success of his daughter Spectator in the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar. Now unbeaten in two starts, Spectator is out of the Henny Hughes mare Diva's Tribute and is performing just like she should with Jimmy Creed and Henny Hughes as sire and broodmare sire.

Furthermore, the speed of Jimmy Creed has placed his offspring in the hands of good owners and trainers, and the stallion's racers have sped their sire into prominence at the top tier of the sire list.

There is, in fact, less than $50,000 difference among the top three sires on this list. It is clearly quite competitive among this group, but there is a $100,000 difference between third and fourth rankings.

The second tier, at this early stage, is led by champion juvenile colt Shanghai Bobby (Harlan's Holiday), who stands at Ashford for $25,000 and has 85 named foals in his first crop. Of those, 18 have started and 5 have won.

Shanghai Bobby has two stakes-placed runners, and his exact contemporary Orb (Malibu Moon) has one. Standing at Claiborne for $25,000, Orb has 15 starters out of a crop of 79 named foals, with four winners.

One of the fascinating elements of these comparisons is noting that among the dozen and a half freshmen sires, only two have average winning distances longer than six furlongs.

Orb has the longest average winning distance of 6.75 furlongs, and his comrade in the six-plus furlong ranking is Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

The latter has really bolted out of the gate in the freshman sire sweepstakes and already has two stakes winners, with his second coming when Continental Divide won his maiden in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar.

Although these are early furlongs in the great stallion race, it is interesting to see those who are quickest out of the gate and especially to note those, like Orb and Animal Kingdom, who are pressing early with nice young stock that seem certain to excel in time.

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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