As the year winds down quietly, the clear freshman sire champion is Uncle Mo, who leads the nearly completed annual list with the kind of dominance that he showed during his own juvenile campaign. The Ashford Stud stallion by deceased Indian Charlie has more than $3.6 million in progeny earnings to this point, $2.5 million more than second-placed Twirling Candy (by Candy Ride), who has $1.1 million.
The results of the freshmen sires futurity are not surprising in general terms because the well-supported stallions with big books earned most of the attention and most of the silver. Uncle Mo, not surprisingly, was the leader in numbers of foals with 138, followed by Cape Blanco (Ashford, 133 foals, 16th on the freshmen sires list) and Archarcharch (Spendthrift, 104, 4th). Those were the only freshmen with 100 or more foals of 2013, but they were closely followed by Paddy O'Prado (Spendthrift, 91, 7th) and Wilburn (Spendthrift, 90, 12th).
That group of five were the only ones with 90 or more foals, but only one stallion who placed in the top 10 freshmen sires had fewer than 50 foals. That was the New York-based Giant Surprise (Giant's Causeway), who had 19 foals in his freshman crop and currently ranks 8th on the freshman list. From his initial crop, Giant Surprise has 11 starters and four winners, and of those four, a pair became stakes winners in the lucrative New York-bred breeding and racing program.
Giant Surprise stands at Rockridge Stud near Hudson, NY, and he is advertised for 2016 at $5,000 live foal. The stallion's stakes winner Sudden Surprise won the Bertram Bongard Stakes for NY-breds on Sept. 27 at Belmont Park, and on Nov. 21, he won the Notebook Stakes at Aqueduct. The sire's other stakes winner is the filly Super Surprise, who won the Maid of the Mist at Belmont on Oct. 24, and Giant Surprise also has the stakes-placed Taken by Surprise and Surprise Cameo.
Ranking only a bit lower on the list at Number 11 comes another stallion with even fewer foals, Society's Chairman (Not Impossible), who had 16 foals and seven starters, with three winners. However, each of those winners won a stakes. That pushed the stallion's percentages to 18 percent stakes winners to foals with first-crop progeny earnings of $555,365.
Those three foals are Caren (Princess Elizabeth, Victorian Queen), Sparkles' Girl (Ontario Lassie), and Code Warrior (Golden Gate Debutante, Golden Nugget). All are fillies, and the first two won their stakes at Canada's highly competitive Woodbine Racecourse.
Both of these little-known stallions showed some significant holes in their resumes when they came to stud. Giant Surprise won his only race, a maiden special at Saratoga, but lots of horses do that. Society's Chairman didn't even get to the races until he was five, but he made up for the dilatory beginning by winning a stakes that year and also at six and seven, becoming a G3 stakes winner of $772,775, with three G1 placings.
Although he possessed a respectable race record, Society's Chairman did not possess a commercially appealing pedigree, being by the unraced Sadler's Wells stallion Not Impossible out of a winning daughter of Olympio.
A full brother to Canadian champion Perfect Soul, Not Impossible sired 43 foals, most of them for his breeder Charles Fipke. The breeder got Queen's Plate winner Not Bourbon from Not Impossible, as well as Impossible Time, and both won Sovereign Awards as champions in Canada.
Society's Chairman was one of the few by Not Impossible that Fipke didn't breed, but he raced the horse in partnership with George Waud. When it came time to send Society's Chairman to stud, what should the owners do?
That worldly observer of the breeding scene, Sid Fernando, reported recently that Fipke “sold the horse for stud duty for a dollar but kept 10 lifetime breeding rights in him, because, well, you never know.”
Ain't that the truth.
Last year, Not Impossible's son Not Bourbon was the leading freshman sire in Canada and is the leading 2nd-crop sire there in 2015. And this year, Not Impossible's son Society's Chairman ranks 11th among all North American sires with results from a whopping crop of 16.
One moral of the story is that good stallions can come from less commercial backgrounds, and they will express their genetic potential if only given half a chance. Clearly, we are losing some of these stallions with the emphasis on breeding larger and larger books to fewer and fewer stallions.
Giant Surprise and Society's Chairman offer a pleasant Christmas reminder that allowing more stallions an opportunity to prove themselves can pay off all round.
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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