With a solid success in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Saturday, International Star proved that he is consistent and game. Only once the favorite in his eight starts, International Star has nonetheless won half of them, including the Lecomte Stakes in January and the Grey Stakes last October, both G3 events.
His sire, Fusaichi Pegasus (by Mr. Prospector), won the 2000 Kentucky Derby with such style that the racing press nearly boxed and mailed him the Triple Crown trophy. They weren't the only ones mesmerized by the grand-looking bay.
As a yearling, Fusao Sekiguchi had paid $4 million for the brawny son of Mr. Prospector and the Danzig mare Angel Fever. Coolmore had been the underbidder for the colt, and the international breeding and racing giant came back after the Derby and bought the stallion rights in Fusaichi Pegasus for a gazillion dollars. Er, variously, the purchase price was unofficially reported as $50 to $60 million, with Sekiguchi reportedly retaining a minority share.
Whatever the exact figure in that range, the sale made Fusaichi Pegasus the most expensive Thoroughbred sales transaction. Ever.
Nothing has come close to his price since.
Was the feisty, independent, notably talented horse worth it? Not as a racehorse, it proved, because Fusaichi Pegasus finished second in the Preakness, never won a second G1 stakes, and in fact, added nothing more than the G2 Jerome Stakes to his resume later in the year.
With the giant stallion price hanging over his head, Fusaichi Pegasus went to stud at the end of the 2000 racing season and has since been industriously trying to recoup Coolmore's investment. He's done a fair enough job of that, I'd say.
From 12 crops of racing age, the horse has sired 1,237 foals, including 37 2-year-olds. If Coolmore earned $10,000 per foal, and some of those seasons brought in a great deal more than that, Fusaichi Pegasus would have yielded about $12.4 million for those innings at stud, but that is a very low average price per season.
Then there are the Southern Hemisphere matings, which have totaled 707 foals from 10 crops of racing age, and with upwards of 2,000 foals from the stallion, the break-even point on Fusaichi Pegasus's purchase for Coolmore would be around $25,000 per foal.
The horse has quite probably done a bit better than that. And ponder for a moment what Coolmore would have made if the horse had been a resounding success.
Fusaichi Pegasus has sired some good horses before International Star, who is now the leading nominee for this year's Kentucky Derby on points, but the sire has not gotten enough performers like this colt to remain in the ranks of elite sires, which he promised to do with his first crop.
Fusaichi Pegasus had his most success as a sire with his first crop, foals of 2002, which included Roman Ruler (Haskell and Norfolk Stakes) and Bandini (Blue Grass Stakes) among 11 stakes winners from that crop. With 12 percent stakes winners from that crop, Fusaichi Pegasus would have been a very serious sire if only he had managed to maintain that trajectory.
He did not, however, and today the burly bay stands for $7,500 live foal at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky.
Conceived at Ashford, International Star was bred in New York by Katharine Voss and Robert Manfuso.
Voss explained the mating decision for their mare Parlez (French Deputy), the dam of International Star: “Although he's not overly popular in the commercial market, FuPeg made a lot of sense for the mare. He was good value, had good stats, and has been successful internationally.”
Longtime Maryland breeders and owners, Voss and Manfuso “send everything we breed through the ring,” and that played an important role in their choice of where to foal Parlez. “We were going through some tough times here,” Voss said, “and we thought a New York-bred FuPeg would be worth more than a Maryland-bred FuPeg.” They were right, and when International Star went through the ring at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic's September yearling sale in 2013, he sold for $85,000 to Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
In addition to practical marketing, Voss and Manfuso liked the Darley stallion Girolamo, a G1 winner by A.P. Indy who was entering stud in New York in 2012. So Voss and Manfuso sent Parlez to New York to foal International Star on March 14, and the following year got a Girolamo filly who is now a 2-year-old.
Parlez returned to Maryland and has a yearling colt by Not for Love, was barren to that stallion for 2015, and was bred to Fusaichi Pegasus on Feb. 22.
Now the dam of three stakes winners, Parlez is a granddaughter of the renowned producer Halory (Halo), who was the dam of five graded stakes winners, including Blue Grass Stakes winner Halory Hunter.
Commercially, it would be a bit better if Parlez produced a colt to her cover with Fusaichi Pegasus, but Voss noted that “we'd be perfectly happy with a filly, especially if International Star keeps on going like this.”
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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