Effinex was in the driver's seat to be an impactful stallion in New York for years to come when he retired to Questroyal North in Stillwater, N.Y., for the 2017 breeding season.
The son of Mineshaft's Grade 1-winning resume was recognized by breeders, who filled his inaugural book with 110 mares, making him New York's second-most active stallion that year.
Unfortunately, the wave of excitement for Effinex's future at stud crashed almost as quickly as it crested. In October 2017, just a few months after he closed the book on his first season, the 6-year-old Effinex died in his stall of a pulmonary aneurysm.
Effinex left just one crop of foals before his death, which are now yearlings of 2019. Eight of them were cataloged in this year's Fasig-Tipton New York-Bred Yearlings Sale, making them the only eight foals by the stallion that will ever set foot in the auction ring during the state-bred program's signature auction.
Chris Bernhard of consignor RFHF Bloodstock has one of those foals in the sale, a filly out of the stakes-winning Wheelaway mare Margies Smile, but his ties to the stallion run far deeper than the yearling he's selling on Monday.
Effinex was born at Bernhard's Hidden Lake Farm in Stillwater for breeder Dr. Russell Cohen, before going on to race for the Tri-Bone Stables of the breeder's mother, Bernice Cohen.
Looking back on the story from the beginning, Bernhard described the arc of Effinex and his foals as a bittersweet experience.
Bernhard was then part of the group that brought Effinex back to stand at Questroyal North for his inaugural season, later relocating to McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, and he has brought up about 20 of the stallion's foals. Among them was Effinex's first foal, a filly out of the Freud mare Freuda.
“They have a lot of the same qualities as him: leg, smooth, good-moving horses,” he said. “They have good front ends to them. I don't think they're going to be fast and early, which might hurt him in certain venues with 2-year-old buyers, but if they get into the right hands, he could be an honest sire.”
Being a little slow off the mark would fit the profile of the stallion, who didn't race until February of his 3-year-old season, picked up his first win a month later, and earned his first stakes win in October of that year.
Once Effinex got rolling, though, he became one of the handicap division's top contenders. His 4-year-old campaign vaulted him into graded stakes competition, with scores in the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes and G2 Suburban Handicap before finishing the season with a second in the Breeders' Cup Classic and a win in the G1 Clark Handicap.
Effinex came back at five to defend his Suburban title and rack up an additional win in the G2 Oaklawn Handicap. He retired with nine wins in 28 career starts for $3,312,950, currently placing him fourth among all-time New York-bred earners.
“He was the best horse that ever retired to the state, in my opinion,” Bernhard said. “He had the biggest pedigree, best racehorse, big earnings, and an attractive horse. We took a shot with him when [leading freshman sire] Dialed In was doing well, another son of Mineshaft.”
While Effinex carved out an imposing resume on the racetrack, Bernhard said getting it out of him was a challenge, even before he was put under-saddle.
“He was not an easy horse,” Bernhard said. “Jimmy Jerkens did an amazing job with that horse, keeping him on the ground. He was willful.
“Jimmy's an amazing trainer,” he continued. “He's very picky about what he wants to get involved with, and with Dr. Cohen, they managed him very well.”
Two Effinex yearlings went through the ring during Sunday's opening session of the New York-Bred sale. The first, a colt out of the Soto mare Wahoo Cat, sold to Michael Dubb for $30,000, while the second was a $70,000 buyback.
Bernhard admitted the unique circumstances surrounding Effinex might work against his foals from a commercial standpoint, leaving them to prove themselves and their sire on the racetrack.
“If he can reproduce himself to a fraction of himself as a racehorse, and the soundness I believe he'll throw, there's going to be a lot of [state-bred and -sired] award money to be made, though I don't think I'm going to get rich selling them,” Bernhard said. “Unfortunately, there's a little bit of a knock when a horse passes, that there's not going to be a commercial factor because there's not that support for him now, but as individuals, they're good, athletic horses, and hopefully we can make our money in awards.”
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