The May 11 announcement that New York stallion Honorable Dillon had been sold to continue his stud career in Uruguay made sense on paper, considering the heavy South American presence in his female family. However, his stateside resume should make him feel just as comfortable among the country's stallion roster.
Of the country's 302 active stallions, 33 were born in the U.S., according to the Uruguay Stud Book.
Though it's a small share of the overall stallion population, it was a disproportionately busy group. U.S.-born stallions covered 45 percent of Uruguay's active mares in 2019, and held nine spots in the top ten by mares bred.
Carlos S.E. Moore, the bloodstock agent who brokered the deal to send Honorable Dillon to Uruguay, said the primary reason for the popularity of American stallions rests in what sits below the South American country's own program.
“Lately, the American stallions have been very successful down there, and I'd say right now about 90 percent of their racing is still on dirt, so they're buying for dirt stallions,” he said. “That is their specialty, and although they've started a turf program, they still go for the dirt.”
Uruguay's two primary tracks both reside in the capital city of Montevideo: Maronas Racetrack and Las Piedras Racetrack. Maronas has only recently installed a turf course and launched a dedicated program for the surface, meaning the breeding program is still firmly rooted in the dirt.
As a destination for shuttle stallions, Uruguay is perhaps best known in recent memory as the summer home of dual classic winner Smarty Jones, who spent several seasons in the country and sired the champion Bamba Y Bamba.
The country's busiest stallion last year was Grade 1-winning shuttler Overanalyze, who bred 91 Southern Hemisphere mares. Overanalyze, a son of Dixie Union, was North America's leading freshman sire of 2017 by earnings, and stood this Northern Hemisphere seasons at WinStar Farm until 2020 when he was sold to stand in Korea. The transaction makes him an unlikely candidate to return to South America.
Overanalyze was brought to Uruguay through a joint effort by the Purebred Horse Breeders Association of Uruguay and the national government's General Directorate of Casinos. Moore said the level of cooperation between Uruguay's government and the racing industry has helped the breed grow by leaps and bounds over the past decade.
“The last few years, the Uruguayan breeders have had very good support from the government,” he said. “In the past 10 years, they've gone from 600 to 800 foals to over 3,000 foals. They are growing every years by leaps and bounds.
“It's one of the few success stories that's going around in world racing right now; how they've improved from almost disappearing from the face of the earth because their main racetrack was closed for many years, due to the government not caring about it,” Moore continued. “The local jockey club went bankrupt, but thanks to investors and people willing to take over the racetrack, the whole thing has changed. They have educated the legislature and the general public on the importance of the racing industry. This year for the first time, a Uruguayan-bred won a stakes race in Dubai.”
The stakes winner in Dubai was Bella Fever, who took the Meydan Classic Trial in January. She is a daughter of Texas Fever, a son of Victory Gallop whose 60 mares bred last year was the fifth-most in the country. Texas Fever won the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Stakes at Turfway Park during his on-track career, and he has developed into a prominent sire in Uruguay, also siring Sir Fever, winner of the country's Triple Crown.
Overanalyze was by far Uruguay's most popular sire of 2019 by a margin of 20 mares, but the gap between second and third was also significant.
The Leopard, a Grade 3-winning son of Storm Cat and $2.5-million juvenile, covered 71 mares to take the runner-up spot. Following him with 64 mares bred was Vineyard Haven, a three-time Grade 1 winner who began his stud career in Florida.
A pair of champion sprinters, Kodiak Kowboy and Trinniberg, call Uruguay home year-round.
Kodiak Kowboy, the Eclipse Award winner in 2009, was visited last year by 49 mares. A son of fellow U.S.-to-Uruguay export Posse, Kodiak Kowboy previously shuttled to Brazil for the Southern Hemisphere season before he was relocated full-time to Uruguay.
Trinniberg, who secured championship honors in 2012, stood his first season in Uruguay last year, seeing 28 mares. Prior to the move, he stood at Rockridge Stud in New York.
Moore, who has purchased about 100 mares and 10 stallions on behalf of Uruguayan connections, said Honorable Dillon fit into the country's program not only for his on-track credentials – which includes a win in the G2 Hutcheson Stakes – but for his sire line.
He noted that the A.P. Indy line has become popular in the country, and as a great grandson of A.P. Indy through sire Tapit and grandsire Pulpit, Honorable Dillon fits the bill. The sire line is represented in last year's report of mares bred through Pulpit (Unitarian [62 mares bred]), Tapit (Matterhorn  and Tap It Rich ), and Mineshaft (Discreetly Mine ), as well as A.P. Indy himself (A. P. Cardinal ). A.P. Indy is also the broodmare sire of Sloane Avenue (45) and Storm Warning (19).
Though he was not born in the U.S., Hall of Famer Invasor made an impact stateside as the 2006 Horse of the Year and Breeders' Cup Classic winner. However, before shipping north to race, the son of Candy Stripes made his name as the winner of the 2005 Uruguayan Triple Crown, and he remained a prominent figure in the country after retiring to stud in Kentucky. He began shuttling to Uruguay for the 2015 Southern Hemisphere season, and he now resides there full-time, covering 37 mares last year.
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 © 2020 Paulick Report.