The first crop from Triple Crown winner American Pharoah set an incredible pace during their time in the auction ring, beginning with weanlings of 2017, and they've quickly taken their sire to the head of the class in the freshman sire standings.
Many young stallions struggle to keep that momentum going into their second crops, owing to breeders and buyers moving on to the next new horse on the block. It'll be a tough pace to keep, but the second class from American Pharoah looks physically equipped to tackle the challenge, according to the people who have sold yearlings from each of his first two crops.
From a population standpoint, American Pharoah's first two crops are nearly identical. His debut season at stud produced 163 registered Northern Hemisphere foals, while his yearlings of 2019 feature 159 registered foals. His 2018 crop was the fourth-largest among North American stallions, trailing only Into Mischief (201), Dialed In (174) and fellow Ashford Stud resident Uncle Mo (162).
Keeping with the similarities, Mark Taylor of consignor Taylor Made Sales Agency said he hadn't seen any overarching differences in physicals between American Pharoah's first two crops, indicating the quality and body types of mares the stallion saw remained consistent from book to book.
“Sometimes you do see that with horses, but I think he is a pretty prepotent stallion that stamps his offspring,” he said. “They're not all the same color, they don't all look exactly the same, but he's putting the same shape on them, and they all have this consistent, beautiful walk. I don't see a lot of difference. I think the quality is very consistent, and that's the sign of a really good stallion.”
Taylor said his consignment would handle roughly 15 American Pharoah yearlings this season, including two at this year's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale.
Taylor Made is especially well-positioned to comment on American Pharoah's progression, having consigned the son of Pioneerof the Nile at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale. With even more data than most on how the horse developed as a youngster, Taylor said he could see the parallels between the sire and his foals.
“They've got a great shoulder and he had it,” he said. “If you look at his yearling photo from when we had him up at Saratoga, it's not only the angle of his shoulder, it's the depth and three-dimensional look. Just a strong, awesome shoulder. I think that's the lynchpin of what's so consistent about him. There's some of them I see that are a fraction short in the neck, and when he was a yearling, he was just a fraction short. In hindsight, it didn't really make a lot of difference.”
Pat Costello of Paramount Sales will consign eight to ten American Pharoah yearlings this season after handling a similar number in 2018.
Costello said the similarities between the sire and his first crops goes beyond the physical traits.
“Every one I've been around has had fantastic minds,” Costello said. “They're smart horses.”
Though American Pharoah was a champion 2-year-old during his on-track career, many of the connections that bought his foals at auction appeared willing to take a patient stance with their development when commenting after the fall of the hammer. It made sense, given the stallion is best known for his standout 3-year-old season, capped off by a win at the end of the year in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Still, the average sale price for an American Pharoah yearling in 2018 was $453,273, and the initial stud fee was well into six figures. Showing early returns certainly would have been appreciated by the people that invested in the stallion, and his foals have thus far held up their end of the bargain.
“If he wasn't [starting fast], to me it wouldn't be that big a deal, because we're looking at such a small sample size of runners, all that's going to change, but he's a horse that won the Triple Crown,” Taylor said. “He can get a mile and a half, he can get a mile and a quarter, and the fact that he's throwing a certain group that are precocious enough to really go out and get it done early, that's a hallmark of what the future might hold. If they're doing this now, you'd like to think about what they're doing at this point next year.”
American Pharoah is neck-and-neck with WinStar Farm's Constitution in the race for leading freshman sire by earnings, with $404,022 through Aug. 6. He's tied for first among freshman-sired runners with 25 and tied for third by individual winners with seven. His three black type earners is also the most in his class to date.
Having that fast start with juveniles on the racetrack has, in turn, made it easier for sellers to market the crop behind them.
“He's rolling already, and it looks like the best are still to come,” Costello said. “I think it's happy days for him. He's going to be one of the top sires in the world pretty soon. He has a huge future.”
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