Stallion Spotlight offers stud farm representatives a chance to address breeders and answer questions as they finalize their mating decisions for the 2020 breeding season.
In this edition, Claiborne Farm president Walker Hancock and stallion seasons and bloodstock manager Bernie Sams discuss First Samurai, the sire of Grade 1 winners Lea, Justin Phillip, and Executiveprivilege.
Ch. h., 2003, Giant's Causeway x Freddie Frisson, by Dixieland Band
Race Record: 8-5-1-1; $915,075
Notable Wins: G1 Champagne Stakes, G1 Hopeful Stakes, G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes
Advertised Fee: $15,000
1) What is First Samurai's strongest selling point as a stallion?
Bernie Sams: If you're trying to get a mare off to a good start, he's the horse to do it. In the price range that he is, you can't beat him. He's consistent. He gets a lot of runners, a lot of winners. He can get a good Saturday afternoon horse.
Walker Hancock: He gets you colts or fillies. We breed a lot of our young maiden mares to him, just to give them a proven stallion because we'll be able to find out real quick if the mare is going to be talented [as a broodmare]. If she has a good foal, she's probably going to be alright.
2) We recently lost First Samurai's sire, Giant's Causeway. What traits do you see in First Samurai and his foals that are a clear link to Giant's Causeway?
Hancock: Versatility. Giant's Causeway seemed to do it on both surfaces, long, short, any age group. It seems like First Samurai can do the same.
3) What can a breeder expect from a First Samurai foal as a weanling? As a yearling?
Hancock: Usually good body, plenty of bone. They're strong, athletic. He's a heavier type of horse, and he'll throw that. If you've got a light mare, I think it's a good cross to breed with him from a physical standpoint.
4) Now that we've seen First Samurai foals reach maturity, what's your read on what a fully-grown First Samurai runner looks like?
Hancock: I think a lot of people expected them to be early, precocious types because that's what he was, but they really seem like they're getting better as they get older. Lea is a great example. Last Gunfighter won stakes races at five, too.
5) What crosses – either physical or pedigree – seem to be the most consistent in producing winners from First Samurai, and which ones do you think might have potential to grow in that category?
Hancock: We've started breeding some young War Front mares to him that seem like they might be okay. Pulpit and A.P. Indy mares have worked out fine. I don't think there's a particular stallion that he really hits it out of the park with, but from a physical standpoint, it's the lighter mares that he can really lay down some substance in the offspring.
6) First Samurai has had Grade 1 winners at two and against older foes, and he had a runner in last year's Kentucky Derby. Was the longevity that some of his top runners have shown a surprise to you, considering the sire himself was such a precocious 2-year-old?
Sams: Probably not. Giant's Causeway's runners are good early, but they've always gotten better as they've gotten older, too. Everybody expected them to be 2-year-olds because he was a good 2-year-old, but that hasn't necessarily been the case.
7) What's something about First Samurai that you think goes overlooked?
Hancock: That he's had so many millionaires and Grade 1 winners. I think people kind of forget that.
Sams: If he had Executiveprivilege out of his first crop, it would have been a whole different story.
8) What makes First Samurai a value in his price bracket?
Hancock: He's such a proven horse. People forget how proven he is, and when you look at other stallions standing at that number, you'll be hard-pressed to find one more proven than he is. He has honest, hard-knocking horses.
To learn more about First Samurai, click here.
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