One of the strong currents swirling within the sales in Kentucky this month is the identity and assessment of future stars. Those peak performers are found not only in the sessions at Fasig-Tipton's one-day auction or in Book 1 of Keeneland's November sale, which runs through six books — good horses are found throughout the sales, at all price levels, with premium pedigrees and without.
Good horsemen and lucky ones alike come upon jewels on four legs, but one of the great interests for those of us observing the sales and participating in them is watching how the market responds to particular sires and sire lines.
These go in and out of fashion for a reason. Performance on the racetrack is the underlying truth behind the success of a particular sire, and the consistent ability shown by the progeny of certain lines at the track pushes them to the top of list in demand at the sales.
There is no secret that Tapit (by Pulpit) is the hottest sire in the country. He's the leading North American sire by gross progeny earnings, the sire of the top 3-year-old filly Untapable, and heir to the quality of the A.P. Indy/Seattle Slew/Bold Ruler line with performers like Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist and the versatile graded winner Ring Weekend.
Nobody knew that in 2006, when the first foals by Tapit came to the sales in November, but they made believers of many observant horsemen. Although no more than medium-sized youngsters, the first foals by Tapit were muscular and well-balanced, showed themselves nicely at a walk, and they had a ton of presence.
Overall, 18 weanlings by Tapit sold in 2006 for an average of $108,692 and for a median price of $87,000. Those were manly figures for a young sire who stood initially for $15,000. Among them were eventual graded stakes winner Hightap, graded stakes-placed Selective, stakes winner Endymion, and a couple more who earned six figures without getting black type.
The weanlings sold quite well for the progeny of a young and relatively unheralded sire. The market's reception of the horse was encouraging because Tapit, at the time, was not a household name, and his greatest success had come in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial two and a half years before the 2006 November sale.
The 2006 foal buyers were right, and we had seen the first stock by a serious sire. Such a fair-minded assessment of a stallion's first foals is important because, if well and legitimately received, the positive response will help to keep mares coming to a young horse in the third and fourth years of his start at stud.
Those are the hardest years for a stallion manager to fill a young sire's book, and highly promising weanlings give breeders a peek into the future potential of a young stallion.
It is not surprising that two first-crop sons of Tapit have received some positive attention from buyers at the sales over the past week. In addition to their sire, Hansen and Tapizar also won Breeders' Cup races (the Juvenile and the Dirt Mile, respectively).
Although his foals' commercial appeal was dampened by the horse's sale to Korea a year ago, Hansen's first crop include seven sales foals who have sold for an average of $63,571 and for a median price of $65,000. These are among the only American foals by the juvenile champion, and they have been dispersed into the hands of good horsemen.
So far, Tapizar has had a dozen of his youngsters offered, and to date, his average and median figures are practically equal at $91,000. The high prices rose to $180,000 and $190,000 for nicely shaped and progressive young athletes.
The test case for the Tapit sons is Trappe Shot because his first foals are yearlings and will race next year. Trappe Shot's second-crop weanlings found a good reception, with nine selling for an average of $59,722, with a median of $35,000. The leading lot by Trappe Shot at the November sale also was the high-priced lot at the Keeneland November sixth session on Sunday. The colt out of Irish Lullaby brought $200,000 from Baccari Bloodstock and sold out of the Four Star consignment for Glencrest Farm.
For these good prospects and all the others, the possibility seen at the sales will be tested at the racetrack, and we will be able to find out which horses are breeding on by siring significant athletes. We fans of the sport can watch it all develop, and oh, what fun it is!
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.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.