If the rich get richer in human affairs, then the best stallions get bester. And few have enjoyed as good a 2015 as leading sire Medaglia d'Oro (by El Prado), who has at least nine stakes winners in the last six weeks.
On Feb. 14, Golden Lad won the Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park, defeating classics-placed Ride on Curlin (Curlin), and Swinger's Party finished third in the Wayward Lass Stakes at Tampa Bay. The next day, Gold Medal Dancer was third in the Bayakoa Stakes at Oaklawn.
On Feb. 7, Mshawish won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on the same day that Valid won the G3 Fred Hooper.
That quintet are all 5-year-olds, and durability is one of the excellent traits that Medaglia d'Oro inherited from his sire El Prado, the most important son of Sadler's Wells on this side of the pond. In addition, Medaglia d'Oro is known for the class and progressive quality of his offspring.
Many are good-sized, like their sire, and whatever their talent at 2, they become almost uniformly better at 3 and tend to continue showing progress with age.
Of Medaglia d'Oro's nine stakes winners this year, five are 5-year-olds, and a pair each are 4 and 3. Two are Southern Hemisphere performers from the stallion's matings at Darley's stud in Australia.
The 2010 crop is especially interesting because they are the first runners conceived after Medaglia d'Oro had proven himself a notable sire with his first crop of runners, which came to the track as juveniles in 2008.
The stallion's first-crop leader was none other than champion Rachel Alexandra, winner of the Preakness Stakes and Kentucky Oaks in 2009. Other important performers from Medaglia d'Oro's first crop include G1 winners Warrior's Reward (Carter), Gabby's Golden Gal (Acorn), and C.S. Silk (Just a Game).
The second crop included another Acorn Stakes winner, Champagne d'Oro, and the stallion got his second Kentucky Oaks winner, Plum Pretty, from his third crop. Also in Medaglia d'Oro's third crop was Marketing Mix, who won a pair of G1 races and earned more than $2 million, second only to Rachel Alexandra among the sire's leading earners.
The stallion's highest-profile racers initially were fillies, and as frequently happens, there was a lot of talk about Medaglia d'Oro being a “filly sire.” He certainly is in the sense that his fillies are really good. But … so are his colts.
There is now almost exact parity between the sire's colts and his fillies in terms of stakes winners, and at the sales, the colts average a bit more than the fillies.
The only “problem” is that Medaglia d'Oro hasn't sired a colt that has proven as much as Rachel Alexandra. Not many other stallions have either.
To date, with seven crops racing that are age 3 or older (none of the 2-year-olds have started), Medaglia d'Oro has 66 stakes winners, 43 stakes-placed runners, and earners of more than $52 million from 859 foals. Those are some of the better stallion stats available in these days of stallion books teetering toward 200 mares. Medaglia d'Oro has had five crops with more than 100 foals from his first seven, with a high of 156 in 2010 (fifth crop) and a low of 83 the preceding year.
Had Rachel Alexandra and her first-crop siblings not come along bright, beautiful, and fast, breeders would have abandoned Medaglia d'Oro like a smelly sock. The stallion hit the brass ring repeatedly, however, and breeders swamped him.
After beginning his stud career at Hill 'n' Dale, where Rachel Alexandra and others were conceived, Medaglia d'Oro moved to Stonewall Stud, and in June 2009, Darley bought the majority interest in the stallion and moved him to Jonabell, where he remains when not shuttling to the Southern Hemisphere.
The stallion's stud fee has risen notably with the success of his runners and today stands at $125,000 live foal, due when the foal stands and nurses. That makes him one of a handful of sires standing for six figures in America, and two factors could launch the stallion into a higher orbit.
One would be to sire a winner of the Kentucky Derby. Yes, it's only one race, but it is the race, and getting a winner of the great event makes a lot of difference to a stallion at any level.
The other factor that could notably elevate Medaglia d'Oro's status is getting a son that makes the grade as a sire. Few stallions do so, and when one does, especially with a good-looking early-crop son, the demand ramps up for his other offspring.
Last summer, Medaglia d'Oro had one of the hottest young sires in Spendthrift's Warrior's Reward, whose first runners popped out of the gates and won impressively. Warrior's Reward has 18 winners to date, and if his offspring prove able to stretch out and improve with maturity, he may become a force in the stallion ranks.
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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