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Across the Market: Stallions with First Foals

9 min read
The TDN AusNZ Market Sires series begins this week with a look at unproven sires: stallions whose first foals arrive this spring. We’ll break each sire crop down into three price categories, provide a summary of each tier and nominate one in each as the best value sire. We’ll then bring in some industry judges to get their thoughts.

Service Fee Bracket: $33,000+

Heading this group in the top fee bracket is an interesting mix of American shuttlers and top-class colonial sprinters. The most expensive horse to enter stud in Australasia last year was Coolmore’s U.S. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (USA) (Pioneerof the Nile {USA}), who covered 158 mares at $66,000.

While the Mr. Prospector line has supplied Group 1 stallions like Husson, Elusive Quality, Iffraaj and Makfi in Australia, American Pharoah’s specific Unbridled branch has not been tested enough here to know its efficacy, so it will be intriguing to see if American Pharoah’s superstar status on the dirt can translate into speedy turf performers.

It is worth remembering that in addition to his historic exploits at three, American Pharoah was a G1-winning two-year-old champion. Buyers showed enthusiasm for his first in-foal mares at the breeding stock sales in the autumn and with 13 sold from 19 offered averaging $358,077, he was certainly the breakout horse.

WATCH: American Pharoah wins the G1 Belmont Stakes to take out the Triple Crown

Also shuttling from the U.S. is Darley’s record-breaking Group 1-winning miler Frosted ($38,500). Frosted is by Tapit, who hasn’t set Australia alight with a very small sample size of runners, but it is the same sire line that brought Group 1 sire in Bernardini. His first in-foal mares didn’t receive the warmest of receptions at the sales this year, but let’s give the judges a chance to see his first models this spring.

Frosted’s Darley barnmate, the G1 Golden Rose S. winner Astern by Golden Slipper sire Medaglia d’Oro, fared much better at the sales, his 27 in-foal mares sold averaging $137,697 off a $38,500 stud fee.

The top six of this class are rounded by the Newgate speedballs Capitalist (Written Tycoon), Flying Artie (Artie Schiller) and Extreme Choice (Not A Single Doubt).

The Golden Slipper winner Capitalist, at $55,000, was Australia’s busiest stallion last year with 229 mares visiting him, so he will have plenty of representatives when that crop hits the racetrack. Capitalist was second to American Pharoah among first-crop covering sires by average at this year’s breeding stock sales, with 37 in-foal mares sold at an average of $207,405.

The G1 Coolmore Stud S. winner Flying Artie ($38,500) had 28 in-foal mares average $106,804, while Extreme Choice had a much smaller sample size: 10 of the 118 mares he covered last year went through the ring, with seven sold for an average of $102,857.

WATCH: Capitalist wins the 2016 G1 Golden Slipper S.

Service Fee Bracket: $20,000 to $33,000

The value pick of this group is Shalaa (Ire), who is co-highest priced of the bunch with fellow Arrowfield shuttler Maurice (Screen Hero) at $33,000. Shalaa was a Group 1 winner at two and twice achieved Racing Post Ratings of 120 during a six-race win streak.

He is by Invincible Spirit, who is proven to work here via his extraordinarily successful son I Am Invincible, and he was the second-busiest shuttle sire last year behind only American Pharoah, with 155 mares covered. Buyers displayed enthusiasm to snap up his in-foal mares this year, with 12 averaging $124,292 at the sales.

Maurice was a brilliant racehorse, on five occasions returning Racing Post Ratings in excess of 120 in winning Group 1s from a mile to 2000 meters. Somewhat like American Pharoah, question marks pop up in his unfamiliar pedigree, but the breeders who supported him with 121 mares will be amply rewarded if his class shines through.

A quartet enter stud at $22,000: Territories, Darley’s Group 1-winning son of Invincible Spirit; Aquis’s Caulfield Guineas-winning son of sire of sires Choisir, Divine Prophet; Vinery’s dual group winner Star Turn (Star Witness), who was just off the top colts of his generation; and Newgate’s ultra-fast Winning Rupert, a group-winning son of the champion sire Written Tycoon who was beaten just once in six starts.

Each of these youngsters possess qualities that wouldn’t leave you surprised were they to excel in the stud barn.

Tivaci is the most expensive of this sire crop in New Zealand at $20,000 and he has plenty of appeal being a fast son of the prolific Australasian shuttler High Chaparral; Tivaci won last year’s G1 All Aged S. over 1400 metres where he beat six Group 1 winners, including Redkirk Warrior, English and Divine Prophet.

Service Fee Bracket: $11,000 to $19,800

With numerous stud farms looking to capitalize on the Invincible Spirit phenomenon that is I Am Invincible, another shuttle stallion heads this group on price. That is Cable Bay ($19,800), Woodside Park’s dual group-winning sprinter. While three wins from 20 starts doesn’t look spectacular, Cable Bay was placed seven times at group level and returned Racing Post Ratings in excess of 115 at two, three and four.

European champion two-year-old Air Force Blue (War Front) returns to Coolmore this spring at $16,500. He is a very intriguing case; his Timeform rating of 128p at two puts him above not only Shalaa, Extreme Choice and Flying Artie in his sire crop, but also champion two-year-olds Sepoy and Capitalist, as well as last season’s champion second-season sire Pierro and his old archrival All Too Hard.

After winning three Group 1s at two Air Force Blue failed to train on at three. He comes from the good American family of champion mares Flanders and Surfside. The only son of War Front to have much chance thus far in Australia has been The Factor, who didn’t hit great heights, but Air Force Blue gives him a legitimate shot to be an important sire not just on each side of the Atlantic, but across the globe. Air Force Blue covered 119 mares in his debut season last year.

Air Force Blue

Locked nearly head-and-head in the ratings at three were Darley’s Group 1-winning sprinter Holler (Commands, 123) and Newhaven Park’s Xtravagant (NZ) (Pentire {GB}, 123+), who both stand for $16,500.

Holler is by Commands, who interestingly has made less of an impact as a sire of sires than fellow Danehill sires like Redoute’s Choice, Fastnet Rock, Exceed and Excel and Flying Spur. He does have Helmet’s 3/4 brother Epaulette, who made a promising start with his first two-year-olds last season, to potentially turn that around.

Xtravagant covered 116 mares at Newhaven Park in his debut year, and it is not difficult to see why. He comes from a classy pedigree, with his first and second dams by Zabeel and Centaine. After winning by eight lengths on debut at two, Xtravagant went on to win two Group 1s at three and become New Zealand’s highest-rated 3-year-old since Bonecrusher.

Speaking of class, Vadamos (Fr) has it in spades on both pedigree and race record and thus packs a lot of punch at NZ$15,000 at Rich Hill Stud. He is by Monsun (Ger), who was so prolific Down Under with three Melbourne Cup winners in the space of four years. The Group 1 winners in this Aga Khan family are almost too many to name, but those high up on the page include Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Val Royal (Fr) and Royal Ascot Queen Anne S. winner Valixir (Ire). Vadamos lived up to his pedigree on the track, on three occasions posting RPRs of 120+, including a win in the G1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp.

In a two-race Australian campaign two years ago, Vadamos finished fourth of 10 behind Winx in the 2016 Cox Plate and also fourth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths, in the G1 Emirates S. A knock on his race record would be that he did not win at pattern level until four, and did his best running at five. But those breeders with patience to wait for the progeny of the son of the Melbourne Cup sire extraordinaire could be rewarded.

Four horses standing in this sire crop between $11,000 and $12,500 are Group 1 winners, so there is plenty of intrigue right to the bottom of this price bracket, and that’s where we head for our standout value pick in this group: Widden Stud’s Stratum Star (Stratum) at $11,000.

First of all, the stud knows how to make a sire: this one’s own daddy Stratum, plus Sebring, Star Witness, Northern Meteor, and last season’s champion first-season sire, Zoustar. Stratum Star was a dual stakes-winning 3-year-old and multiple Group 1-placed before breaking through in the G1 Sir Rupert Clarke S. at four. He would go on to win the G1 Kingston Town Classic at five. With shades of Spirit of Boom, Stratum Star was maybe below the very top rung but raced with admirable consistency throughout a long career. More than a few breeders must share these thoughts, with 116 mares having visited Stratum Star in his inaugural season.

In New Zealand, Belardo (Lope de Vega {GB}) who stands at Haunui Farm, was a multiple Group 1 winner including the Dewhurst Stakes at two. He raced on to secure another Group 1 victory at four in the G1 Dewhurst S., seeing him retire with a Timeform rating of 126.

WATCH: Belardo winning the G1 Dewhurst S.

Service Fee Bracket: $4,400 to $9,900

This is the price bracket that brought us Written Tycoon in his first year, so let’s see what we can find.

Odyssey Moon (Snitzel) is the foundation stallion at Olly & Amber Tait’s Twin Hills Stud. He is one of the most affordable sons of Champion sire Snitzel at stud, and came very close to being a Group 1 winner as a two-year-old. Had he finished a length ahead of Pride of Dubai in the G1 ATC Sires’ Product S. Instead of a length behind, his service fee would have been well out of this price bracket.

Odyssey Moon at Twin Hills Stud

The beautifully bred Awesome Rock (Fastnet Rock) represents an interesting opportunity for Western Australian breeders. The G1 Emirates S. winner from the family of European Classic winners Dr Devious, Dancing Rain and Saxon Warrior covered 64 mares last year at Gold Front Racing and Breeding at a fee of $8,000.

New Zealand has a couple intriguing prospects in this sire crop. Vanbrugh, a son of sire of sires Encosta de Lago and from a family with plenty of quality black-type, was a first-out winner at two who went on to take the 2000 metre G1 Spring Champion S. at three; he stands for NZ$6,000 at Windsor Park Stud. Standing for NZ$5,000 at Westbury Stud is the Darley-bred Telperion (Street Cry {Ire}). The half-brother to this year’s G1 Randwick Guineas winner Kementari (Lonhro) bested Group 1 winner Prized Icon (More Than Ready {USA}) in a listed race at two and was fourth behind Capitalist, Yankee Rose and Flying Artie in the Slipper before finishing second in the G1 Sires’ Produce S. Telperion was rated 117 at two; by comparison, Flying Artie was a 117p at the same stage.

And the Judges Say... [swipe left]