At the OBS 2-year-old sales last April in Ocala, the stallion who rocked buyers back on their heels was the little-heralded Two Step Salsa, a son of Petionville. After seeing just a few of them breeze and noticing the stats they were putting up, I asked myself, “Where did these guys come from?”
Although I recalled the stallion's race record from a few years before, Two Step Salsa wasn't a “name horse,” he wasn't standing for a lot of money, and yet his stock showed serious speed, good strides, and stood up well upon inspection at the barn.
So, they sold really well.
Of the 19 presented as 2-year-olds at various sales last year, only one failed to sell, and overall, the group brought an average price of $56,750, with a median price of $25,000. That comes out to gross receipts of more than $1 million from a single crop at the in-training sales, and that is why standing racehorse sires at moderate fees is good business for people who breed and raise athletes.
For a horse standing for a $5,000 fee, those are very good results, and this is one of the reasons for the success of the 2-year-old sales concept. It allows stock by relatively unheralded (not untalented) sires or dams to show athleticism and precocity and to achieve a proper valuation that way.
At the yearling sales, many buyers would have said, “What's a Two Step Salsa?” and walked on down the shedrow. But not after seeing them work on the track.
Two Step Salsa is typical of the “Florida sire” who was the backbone of the in-training sales market until about 20 years ago, when pinhookers began picking up fancier-pedigreed horses and training them up to the sales.
Prior to that, the in-training sales were the market of choice for Florida breeders who were patronizing stallions that flew under the radar by Kentucky standards. Either the sires' pedigrees or their race records were light, and more than a few stallions who did not have the stallion credentials to go to stud in Kentucky became serious players by standing in the Florida market.
As a very good son of the Seeking the Gold stallion Petionville, Two Step Salsa was not quite fancy enough for the hyper-selective Kentucky stallion market.
Whether the stallion is fancy enough today is still debatable, but on Saturday at Keeneland, Two Step Salsa's 3-year-old son Dance With Fate looked very good winning the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes.
If that didn't get pulses racing, Two Step Salsa was a very useful racehorse, full of courage and sound as a dollar. In two seasons of racing, Two Step Salsa won half of his dozen starts and earned slightly more than $1.1 million.
In the 2008 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, Two Step Salsa was a good third to Albertus Maximus, and not long thereafter, the colt's breeder, Everest Stables, sold him to Godolphin. For Godolphin, Two Step Salsa won a pair of valuable races in Dubai, including the G2 Godolphin Mile. When that international operation was winding down its 2009 season, Two Step Salsa came on the market, and Manny Andrade from Florida bought the colt.
Andrade said, “Two Step Salsa looked terrific, and I bought him for an incredible price because of the state of the industry. He was sound at the time, but I took him to my farm in Florida, and we did all the promotional stuff to get him started as a stallion.”
Even in the Florida market, a son of Petionville wasn't a big draw, but Andrade's enthusiasm for the horse and determination to make him a success paid off. He said, “We started him at Get Away Farm, which I've owned now for about 10 years and got 93 mares to him the first year. Dance With Fate was one of them, and Conquest Two Step also.”
They were the most exciting pair of juveniles by the stallion last year at OBS. Conquest Two Step, who sold to Conquest Stable for $420,000, is stakes-placed, and G1 winner Dance With Fate sold for $120,000 to Joseph Ciaglia. Dance With Fate now races for Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable, and Ciaglia Racing LLC. The colt was bred in Florida by Best a Luck Farm, which sold him at OBS April.
Andrade is getting plenty of action on the sire too. He said that Two Step Salsa “is booked full. We will have 100 mares, and we are getting calls all the time now. Due to the horse's success, [among the top five freshmen sires of 2013 and now a G1 winner], I upped his fee from $5,000 to $7,500.”
As the sole owner of a hot stallion property, Andrade now finds himself in a pleasant predicament: to sell or keep, to stand in Florida or move to Kentucky?
He said, “There's been a lot of interest from farms in Kentucky, but there's not going to be any changes in the 2014 breeding season. Later on, we will see.”
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 a private consultant to breeders on pedigrees, matings, and conformation. He 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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