The horses entering stud in Kentucky for 2018 with fees below $20,000 live foal include some fairly well-known young prospects, as well as others that are flying below the radar.
Among the stallion prospects this year, the pair at the top of this sector of the market are Astern (by Medaglia d'Oro) and Bal a Bali (Put It Back), both at $15,000. Standing at Darley's Jonabell Farm, Astern is an Australian-bred bay who won stakes at 2 and 3, including the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes at seven furlongs as a 3-year-old.
Astern showed his best form at distances from five-and-a-half to seven furlongs, more along the lines of progeny by broodmare sire Exceed and Excel, a very fast son of leading sire Danehill. Astern is a half-brother to G1 winner Alizee (Sepoy), and his next three dams are all stakes winners, including fourth dam Triscay, who was champion of her division at 2 and 3.
Standing at Calumet, Bal a Bali is a Brazilian-bred dark brown in the type of In Reality: medium-sized, lengthy, and athletic. This neatly made 8-year-old was a four-time G1 winner in his homeland at 3, when he was champion of his division and Horse of the Year. Brought to the States for racing, the horse developed health issues, including a bout of laminitis, but trainer Dick Mandella brought him round on the racetrack to win twice at the G1 level at age 7 in the Shoemaker Mile and Kilroe Mile.
With 15 victories from 26 starts in six seasons of racing, Bal a Bali possesses a level of hardiness and racing aptitude that are atypical in contemporary American racing. His sire Put It Back, a great-grandson of In Reality and useful sire in Florida, has been a revelation in South America since his export, where he has sired champion after champion.
A half-step below these two in price are sons by two of America's most in-demand sires: Tapit and Pioneerof the Nile. The Tapit horse is Cupid, who enters stud at Ashford for $12,500 after a career in which he won five stakes, including the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, earning more than $1.7 million. A $900,000 yearling of good size and scope, Cupid is a half-brother to graded stakes winners Heart Ashley (Lion Heart) and Ashley's Kitty (Tale of the Cat). Another expensive Tapit yearling who enters stud in 2018 is Mohaymen, who will stand at Shadwell for $7,500. Sold for $2.2 million as a yearling, Mohaymen is typical of his sire: medium-sized, neatly made, and good-looking. A one-time favored prospect for the 2016 classics, Mohaymen won four times at the G2 level (Nashua, Remsen, Holy Bull, and Fountain of Youth).
In addition to siring Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Pioneerof the Nile got the wildly popular young sire Cairo Prince, whose first foals just turned 2. But his first-crop yearlings were so appealing and so strongly supported at the sales, there was even greater demand for 'Pioneer' sons at stud. And Midnight Storm enters stud at Taylor Made for $12,500. A stakes winner from 3 through 6, Midnight Storm earned more than $1.7 million. His only victory at the top level was the G1 Shoemaker Mile in 2016, but the horse is a five-time winner of G2 stakes and showed his best form when striding freely on the lead like his broodmare sire Bertrando.
Among the stallions at $10,000 is the Pulpit son American Freedom, who is a big and substantially made horse in the mold of grandsire A.P. Indy. Standing at Airdrie, American Freedom won the G3 Iowa Derby but earned his street cred with seconds in the G1 Travers to Arrogate and in the G1 Haskell to Exaggerator.
Also at $10,000 is the Malibu Moon horse Gormley, winner of the 2017 Santa Anita Derby and the 2016 Frontrunner, both at the G1 level, and a winner of more than $1 million. Standing at Spendthrift alongside his famous sire, Gormley is one of two well-regarded sons of the big, bay son of A.P. Indy who enter stud for 2018. The other is the two years older Mr. Z, a contemporary of American Pharoah and Dortmund who was in the frame with the latter when third in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity. Mr. Z won the Ohio Derby and earned more than $1.1 million. The handsome chestnut stands for $7,500 at Calumet.
Another entering stallion at the $10,000 level is the Quality Road 4-year-old Klimt, winner of the G1 Del Mar Futurity and second in the Frontrunner to Gormley at 2. Klimt was second to West Coast in the Los Alamitos Derby and third to Battle of Midway in the Shared Belief Stakes in his only two starts at 3. A very handsome specimen, Klimt stands at Darby Dan for $10,000. Klimt had the precocious speed to run a quarter at the OBS March sale in :20 4/5 and sold for $435,000.
Another son of the immensely popular young sire Quality Road is that stallion's first-crop horse Hootenanny. Entering stud at Buck Pond Farm, Hootenanny won the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in 2014, when he also won the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot and was second in the G1 Prix Morny. Hootenanny did not recapture that form but placed in stakes at 4 and 5, will stand for $5,000 live foal.
The final stallion for $10,000 is the Candy Ride bay Unified, a winner of the G2 Peter Pan at 3 and the G3 Gulfstream Park Sprint over Mind Your Biscuits at 4. Standing at Lane's End along with his sire and the prosperous young stallion Twirling Candy, Unified is out of stakes-placed Union City, a daughter of Dixie Union like the dams of Mohaymen and Klimt. Unified is a strongly made horse, typical of his sire, and one with the speed to win at sprints and carry his form up to nine furlongs.
Another strong muscled animal is the Buck Pond sire Wildcat Red (D'Wildcat), standing for $7,500. A progressive 3-year-old of 2014, Wildcat Red won the G2 Fountain of Youth and was second in the G1 Florida Derby. Altogether, this horse of the very masculine, Storm Cat type won six races, four stakes, and earned $1.1 million.
There is a son of More Than Ready going to stud for $6,000 at Spendthrift, and he is Tom's Ready, winner of the G2 Woody Stephens, as well as the G3 Bold Ruler and Ack Ack. A quick-actioned horse with speed, Tom's Ready earned more than $1 million.
The remaining prospects are all at $5,000. There are a pair at Calumet: Behesht (Sea the Stars), a listed winner at 12 furlongs in France; and Producer (Dutch Art), winner of the G2 Topkapi Trophy in Istanbul and a pair of G3 stakes in England.
The Chilean-bred Tu Brutus enters stud at Crestwood. A winner of two stakes in his homeland, this chestnut son of Scat Daddy was brought to the U.S., where he won the Flat Out Stakes and ran third in the G2 Brooklyn Handicap.
The last horse is Bird Song, a gray son of Unbridled's Song, like the horse who began this survey, Arrogate. Being the “other” son of Unbridled's Song to enter stud in 2018 is far from the worst coincidence, and Bird Song won the G2 Alysheba Stakes and G3 Fred Hooper in a racing career with earnings of more than a half-million. Out of champion filly Bird Town (Cape Town), Bird Song traces back through a splendid female family. The scopy gray has good bone and balance, and his presence and ease with his surroundings are a positive reminder of his kinsman across town at Juddmonte Farm.
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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