By Frank Mitchell
As stallion prospects, horses who do not win stakes manage to succeed as sires only at a rate of less than 1 percent, and in the present state of Thoroughbred breeding, where better stallions have been receiving books in excess of 100 mares for nearly two decades, the opportunities are even more miniscule for a horse without a stakes record to make the grade as a sire.
Given these odds, the accomplishments of the outstanding A.P. Indy stallion Malibu Moon shine even brighter.
Winner of a salty maiden special as a 2-year-old at Hollywood Park in 1999 and second in his only other start, Malibu Moon went to stud the following year as a 3-year-old in Maryland at the Pons family's Country Life Farm. A big, good-looking colt when I saw him on a sunny winter afternoon in Maryland, Malibu Moon has grown into a powerful and very handsome stallion.
But beauty is as beauty does in breeding, and over the past decade, Malibu Moon has exceeded all the hopes of Wayne Hughes, who raced him, and of the syndicate members and breeders who have supported him since he was transferred to Kentucky, where he now stands at Hughes' Spendthrift Farm.
Malibu Moon moved to Kentucky because he got good horses from the beginning. Sire of a good horse in his first crop named Perfect Moon, winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Best Pal Stakes at 2, Malibu Moon sired a champion in his second: Grade 1 winner Declan's Moon.
Subsequent winners at the top level include such current stars as Devil May Care (Frizette and Mother Goose), Funny Moon (Coaching Club American Oaks), and Life at Ten (Ogden Phipps Handicap).
In Saturday's Delaware Handicap, Life at Ten won her sixth race in a row, and among her beaten competition was Funny Moon in third. On the same day and a continent's breadth away, Sweet August Moon won the A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park.
The span between his major winners on Saturday is symbolic of the versatility of the stallion's stock. He sires top 2-year-olds, older horses, fillies, colts, sprinters, and routers. He even has a good steeplechaser.
Such versatility is not common in stallions, but it is an indicator of one thing: exceptional natural athleticism.
Given the volume of natural talent and success by the offspring of Malibu Moon, the next question to be asked is whether he is getting sons.
To date, the answer is “no.” But there is a reason for that. The stallion's top three money-winning sons are all geldings!
Although he now stands for $40,000 on a live foal contract, Malibu Moon went to stud at a very modest stud fee, and his early sons' job was to race and win, not to be stallion prospects. Now that their sire is fully established, the importance of his sons as stallion prospects is much greater, and presumably some of the best will retain their bits till they have proven their class on the racetrack and then will have a chance at stud.
The most promising of the stallion's later sons is Tampa Bay Derby winner Odysseus. The grand-looking chestnut was bred in Kentucky by Haymarket and Lakemont Stable. Sold for $110,000 at the Fasig-Tipton yearling sale at Saratoga in 2008, Odysseus resold to Padua in 2009 for $250,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sales Company's March auction of 2-year-olds in training from the consignment of Nick de Meric.
Like Odysseus, the stallion's major winners this weekend also went through public auctions. Bred in Kentucky by Nickelback Farm, Life at Ten sold for $35,000 as a Keeneland September yearling in 2006. She is out of the winning Rahrahsixboombah (Rahy) and her third dam is Belle o' Reason, by Hail to Reason, and a half-sister to the important sire Relaunch.
Sweet August Moon was bred by Maple Leaf Farm in Pennsylvania, and she sold to Tony Bowling and Bobby Dodd for $50,000 at the Keeneland September sale in 2006, then resold for $400,000 as a 2-year-old in training at the Ocala Breeders Sales Company's March auction in 2007. Sweet August Moon is out of the winning Royal Academy mare Silent Academy.
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.
Copyright © 2010, Frank Mitchell
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