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KEENELAND SEPTEMBER YEARLING SALE 2013

Keeneland September Yearling Sale Day 1 - Top Filly HIP 19 Medaglia d'Oro - Flying Passage
Keeneland September Yearling Sale Day 1 - Top Filly HIP 19 Medaglia d'Oro - Flying Passage

Keeneland September Yearling Sale Day 1 - Top Filly HIP 19 Medaglia d’Oro - Flying Passage

(Image and Footage : Keeneland)

“THIRSTY TOO”

The biggest racehorse sale in the world got underway at Keenland, Kentucky, on Monday, and continued the worldwide trend of rising prices, only this time the average was up a whopping 32%. With a revised format and a Book One sale that stretches over four days, it’s not entirely comparable with last year’s figures, simply because each day sees of the order of 20% fewer horses through the ring, and an aggregate on opening day that was up 5%. However, it’s the job of gurus like Bill Oppenheim to work those numbers and divine a result which is as close to “actual” as mathematics will allow, and on the bare outcomes and Bill’s analysis, an average of 32% up sounds just about spot-on.

Improved trade in racehorses has been a feature of the thoroughbred world for the past two years now, and while there are not enough economic indicators to explain it, it certainly appears that the emergence of new powers in the Middle East and a re-invigorated Europe, are driving the bulk of the investment at the top end of the market. Horsemen will tell you that there is a trickle-down effect on the market in these circumstances, with the bigger domestic players finding it difficult to compete at the very top, and having to compete harder in the next tier, and so on.

The top lot, a very smart, well-related daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, was signed for at $1.5 million by Alan Cooper, who was a guest here with us quite recently. Alan is a son of the former BBA Ireland Chairman, Tom Cooper and a nephew of the enigmatic and brilliantly talented one-eyed horseman, Basil Cooper, who, from his old base at what is now Bruce Le Roux’s Spring Valley Farm, bred and trained the fine racehorses Speciality (second in the Durban July and a winner of the Durban Gold Cup) and another Gold Cup ace, The Malster. To this day, Lester Piggot claims The Malster was his greatest ride. Alan is the racing manager for the Niarchos family of shipbuilding fame, who are locally connected with the success of stallions Mogok and Judpot.

*(click here to see extract from Duff’s Turf Guide on Lester’s ride.).

KEENELAND SEPTEMBER YEARLING SALE

Monday 9 September 2013

TOP COLTS

Lot #

Sire

Dam

Price ($)

Purchased By

110

Unbridled’s Song

Irish Smoke

1,100,000

Regis Farms

61

War Front

Guide

1,000,000

MV Magnier

145

War Front

La Laja

875,000

Shadwell

18

Candy Ride (Arg)

Flying Dixie

700,000

Regis Farms

216

Giant’s Causeway

Mining My Own

675,000

Zayat Stables LLC

Monday 9 September 2013

TOP FILLIES

Lot #

Sire

Dam

Price ($)

Purchased By

19

Medaglia d’Oro

Flying Passage

1,500,000

Flaxman Stables Ireland

80

Malibu Moon

Hollywood Story

1,350,000

Northwest Stud

29

Tiznow

Foxy Danseur

400,000

Regis Farms

101

Tiznow

Indian Snow

400,000

Ben Glass, Agent

48

Malibu Moon

Gold Rush Queen

350,000

Woodslane Farm

72

Malibu Moon

Hidden Expression

350,000

Live Oak Plantation

Tuesday 10 September 2013

TOP COLTS

Lot #

Sire

Dam

Price ($)

Purchased By

325

Tapit

Pretty ‘n Smart

1,000,000

MV Magnier

426

Smart Strike

Serenading

1,000,000

Mike Puhich, agent

360

Distorted Humor

Ready’s Gal

850,000

Shadwell

235

Street Cry

Modification

725,000

Juddmonte Farms

353

War Front

Rag and Bone

650,000

DL O’Byrne

Tuesday 10 September 2013

TOP FILLIES

Lot #

Sire

Dam

Price ($)

Purchased By

291

Bernardini

Pacific Spell

1,300,000

Baumann Stables LLC

438

Malibu Moon

Shop Again

1,000,000

Hugo Merry Bloodstock

262

Smart Strike

Mystery Trip

500,000

Solis Bloodstock

225

Unbridled’s Song

Miss Kilroy

460,000

Borges Torrealba Holdings

394

Pulpit

Ruthian

450,000

John McCormack Bloodstock

422

War Front

Seeking Simplicity

410,000

Live Oak Plantation

Wednesday 11 September 2013

TOP COLTS

Lot #

Sire

Dam

Price ($)

Purchased By

523

Medaglia d’Oro

Supercharger

1,700,000

Spendthrift & Stonestreet Stables LLC

515

Tapit

Succcessful Outlook

1,550,000

Regis Farms & Stonestreet Stables LLC

496

Galileo

Starlight Dreams

1,400,000

MV Magnier

640

Tapit

Above Perfection

725,000

McCalmont Bloodstock, agent for Jon Kelly

479

Distorted Humor

Soul Search

600,000

Shadwell Estate Company, Ltd

Wednesday 11 September 2013

TOP FILLIES

Lot #

Sire

Dam

Price ($)

Purchased By

541

Indian Charlie

Take Charge Lady

2,200,000

Whisper Hill Farm LLC

446

Tiznow

Silken Cat

1,750,000

Borges Torrealba Holdings

463

Indian Charlie

Smart Surprise

625,000

Borges Torrealba Holdings

470

Distorted Humor

Social Page

575,000

Live Oak Plantation

554

Scat Daddy

Tempting Note

550,000

Bridlewood Farm

www.keeneland.com

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ORANGES AND LEMONS

Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs

(Photo : Athens)

“The only way you could actually see the race live over here

was on the Internet.”

Bill Oppenheim
Bill Oppenheim

Bill Oppenheim

Thoroughbred

Daily NewsLet’s begin with Orb, only the fourth Grade 1/Grade 2-winning colt in 10 crops by the amazing Malibu Moon. You bet he’s amazing, he started out at the Pons Brothers’ Country Life Farm in Maryland for a $3,000 fee, as a 3-year-old in the year 2000 (and what a great job they did with him, by the way), and look where he is now. As you might imagine, he’s now the number two sire in North America, with only G1 Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom’s sire, Leroidesanimaux, ahead of him. The gap was $1.9-million yesterday, but with 166 runners this year, compared to 49 for “Leroi”, this is only going to have one outcome. Right now Malibu Moon is a big favourite to become North America’s Leading Sire this year. He must have always shown them a lot as a racing prospect. He was bred by Spendthrift’s now-owner B. Wayne Hughes way before he acquired (and restored) Spendthrift, and made his debut for trainer Mel Stute over 4 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park in April as a 2-year-old, finishing second. He then won at five furlongs in :57 2/5 seconds in May.

But a slab fracture ended his career, and the Pons boys rolled the dice and bought half. Good call. Malibu Moon moved to Castleton Lyons in 2004, then over to Spendthrift in 2008. He’s been in the top six on the North American General Sire List the last three years (third in 2010), and all this with a 14-to-3 filly bias among his Grade 1 and Grade 2 winners (combined) through the end of 2012. It may be America’s greatest race, and the best horse did win, I’m pretty sure of that. He figured to get the trip, he handled the conditions, and won with a Beyer 104, which is at least respectable (Animal Kingdom 103, I’ll Have Another 101, before his Preakness 109), but there were some unsatisfactory aspects to the race.

First, it was run in the slop after persistent rain most of the day in Louisville, and several major contenders, including previously unbeaten Verrazano (14th) and Goldencents (17th), might just have hated the going. Second, Palace Malice more or less ran off with Mike Smith in first-time blinkers, setting a suicidal pace (45:1/5, 1:09:4/5). Everything chasing him backed up as well, setting up the race for closers. Of the first five finishers, only Normandy Invasion was closer than 15th after the first half-mile. Third, and this is really unsatisfactory, from my point of view, Churchill’s infamous hard-bargain negotiating stance meant they priced the feed so high the European racing channels couldn’t justify buying it, so the only way you could actually see the race live over here was on the Internet, and that was only because I borrowed a friend’s TwinSpires account. From reading Michael Bronzino’s letter in the TDN Monday, there were problems in Florida watching Churchill races live, too. Yeah, I get it that Churchill Downs are hard negotiators; and yeah, I get it they’re a public company and slaves only to the almighty dollar. But what I don’t get is why breeders aren’t up in arms. Churchill Downs is not their friend.

When racing was on the ropes in the early 1980s the breeders, led by John Gaines, created the Breeders’ Cup as a vehicle whereby breeders could contribute to the revival of racing, and it worked. Now it’s the breeders who are on the ropes, and don’t let anybody tell you different. North American breeders desperately need to recapture European markets, not just to sell their horses, but to generate investment to become competitive again for top stallion prospects worldwide, which presently they are not. Australia and Japan, please note, are standing the two Kentucky Derby winners before Orb, who will, presumably, stay in America, but only because the owners can afford to keep him.

Yet, prospective customers for America’s breeders cannot even watch America’s so-called greatest race in Europe, because the racetrack company really doesn’t care if it’s free to watch there, or not, just like they don’t care, as the new points system guarantees, that horses trained in Europe are virtually shut out, unless they win the UAE Derby in Dubai. How are prospective buyers going to get excited about American racing, not to mention owners who might actually have horses racing there, like jockey Ryan Moore was when he came back and told Channel 4’s Emma Spencer at Newmarket on Sunday that it was about the greatest buzz he’s ever had as a rider - when they can’t even see the race live? I know nostalgia won’t buy you a ham sandwich, and, honestly, the last thing I think of myself as is a whiner, but I’ll guarantee you one thing, there’s no way this would have happened when Warner Jones, Jrwas running the show. Churchill Downs used to work in tandem with Kentucky breeders. Now, they couldn’t care less.

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DARLEY INVESTS IN ANIMAL KINGDOM

Sheikh Mohammed - Darley Stud
Sheikh Mohammed - Darley Stud

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed

(Darley America)

ANIMAL KINGDOM

Leroidesanimaux (Brz) - Dalcia (Ger)

Darley has acquired a 29% interest in Dubai World Cup and Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, Arrowfield Stud and Team Valor International announced earlier this week.

As a result, Animal Kingdom will stand in the Northern Hemisphere at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. The son of Leroidesanimaux will stand in the Southern Hemisphere at John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud in Australia.

“Animal Kingdom is outstanding,” said Darley’s COO Oliver Tait. “Not only is he immensely talented, he has shown a rare ability to excel on turf, synthetic, and dirt, and win at a range of distances up to the mile and a quarter of the Kentucky Derby and the Dubai World Cup. His win at Meydan last Saturday was all class.”

Added Arrowfield’s chairman John Messara, “We are delighted to partner with Darley in the ownership of Animal Kingdom and management of his future international stud career. We have always had a great working relationship with Darley and have the utmost respect for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and the Darley management team. “With our unprecedented combined support, Animal Kingdom will have every opportunity to develop from a champion racehorse into a champion sire.”

Current plans call for Animal Kingdom to travel to England to race, with the Queen Anne Stakes or the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot as possible engagements.

Animal Kingdom’s majestic two-length victory in the March 30 Dubai World Cup over 2,000 meters was the first US-trained success in the race since it has been held on the synthetic Tapeta surface at Meydan. The win took his career earnings to $8.3 million.

Extract from Bloodhorse

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BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Unbridled's Song
Unbridled's Song

Unbridled’s Song (USA)

(Photo : Taylor Made Stallions)

“…they aim to persuade breeders that resting their mare is less attractive than having a May foal.”

The weekend marked a halcyon moment for an American horse.

One hundred Stakes winners remains a notable landmark in any stallion’s career, with Unbridled’s Song being the latest to reach this demanding milestone. Thanks to Graydar’s victory in the Donn Handicap (Gr.1), Unbridled’s Song became a member of this elite club at an appropriate time, just nine days before his actual 20th birthday. So writes Andrew Caulfied.

“While on the topic of birth dates, Saturday’s main events at Gulfstream Park acted as a reminder that patience is a virtue, which often reaps rich rewards. Firstly we saw Point of Entry (Dynafortmer) take the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (Gr.1)., and then a few races later came Graydar’s first Grade I victory. Point of Entry, whose bloodlines should make him a very interesting stallion prospect - was born on May 10, whereas Graydar was born on May 16. Although a late foaling date is by no means an insurmountable obstacle, the racing records of these two Grade 1 winners confirm that some patience is required. While Graydar’s birth date didn’t stop him selling for $260,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s February sale at two, he didn’t race at that age. After making his debut in April last year, his record now stands at three wins from four starts. Point of Entry, for his part, was another who made it to the races at two and he then earned less than $90,000 in eight 3-year-old starts. Fortunately, maturity and a permanent switch to the turf have changed all that, and his Gulfstream victory was his sixth in his last seven starts. It’s possible that a May foaling date is considered a greater handicap in Britain and Ireland than it is in the States, where the climate is warmer.

Consequently, the clever copywriters of Coolmore’s adverts find it necessary to stimulate interest towards the end of each season. Using a list of prominent late foals, they aim to persuade breeders that resting their mare is less attractive than having a May foal. Last year, for an article in Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder, I looked at the birthdays of the Grade or Group 1 and 2 winners in Europe and North America during July. I found that 50 individual horses were involved, of which three were born in January, 10 in February, 13 in March, 17 in April, six in May and one in June. The May sextet was especially interesting, I wrote, as they included no fewer than four Group 1 winners - Danedream (born May 7), Point of Entry (May 10), Acclamation (May 16) and Mayson (May 16). Several other Grade 1 winners had late-April birthdays, including the major 3-year-old winners Imperial Monarch and Great Heavens (both born April 28) and Aesops Fables (April 30). I also reminded everyone that quite a few colts have won the G1 Belmont Stakes not long after their actual third birthday, comparatively recent examples being Touch Gold (Deputy Minister) (May 26), Victory Gallop (Cryptoclearance) (May 30), Lemon Drop Kid (Kingmambo) (May 26), Birdstone (Grindstone) (May16) and Afleet Alex (Northern Afleet) (May 9). I mentioned too that Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno) had managed to flourish despite a June 15 birthday. He finished third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, when still about six weeks short of his actual third birthday, but again didn’t show the full extent of his talents until he was four.

Although they also include the graded winners Magnificent Song, Half Ours, Noonmark and Noble Tune, their percentage of black-type winners is lower than Unbridled’s Songs overall figure. The perceived success of this cross has also seen Unbridled’s Song cover numerous grand-daughters of Storm Cat, but so far there has been only one stakes winner among their 70 foals.

All I am saying is that blindly following promising nicks is no guarantee of success, especially if conformation is overlooked. There is also no guarantee that mares by sons of a certain stallion will work equally as well as those by the original stallion. It is often convenient to forget that the sons have 50% extra bloodlines, which may or may not prove compatible.”

Editor’s note: The late date of the Ready To Run sale has facilitated the late foaling of numbers of top horses at Summerhill. A May foaling date in the Northern Hemisphere, is the equivalent of December down here. Born on the 16th December was Champion Three-Year-Old filly, Icy Air, while Dynasty’s first vanquisher, in the Golden Horseshoe (Gr.1,) was the “Christmas baby”, Bianconi.

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BIG BIDS IN THE BREEDING INDUSTRY

Hard Spun Stallion
Hard Spun Stallion

Hard Spun (USA)

(Photo : Darley)

“Round sums thwarted as Darley winning bids exceed fees”

Racing Post - 27 January 2013

martin stevens - racing post
martin stevens - racing post

Martin Stevens

Racing PostDarley Online Auction

The first round of bidding in an online auction of nominations to three of Darley America’s leading stallions ended on Friday with the winning bids all exceeding the horses’ advertised fees this year.

The nomination to Medaglia D’Oro, sire of nine top-flight winners including Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, sold for $105,100, just over $5,000 above his fee of $100,000.

Bidding reached $68,100 for the nomination to leading second-crop sire Hard Spun. His advertised fee this year is $60,000.

Former Australian champion sire Lonhro, who is shuttling to Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Kentucky for the second time this year, achieved a price of $41,100. He stands at $30,000.

The next round of bidding, for the second of three sets of nominations to those stallions, starts tomorrow.

Darley has heralded the prices as a “strong vote of confidence from industry breeders”.

What those three winning bids ending in $100 tell me is frustrated underbidders who offered nice, round sums will have to rethink their strategy.

Singspiel

It’s fair to say that when Singspiel died in 2010 obituaries led on his glittering racing career rather than his achievements at stud.

That’s not to denigrate his breeding record. Far from it. The son of In The Wings racked up 13 individual top-flight winners, but with only two stallion sons in Britain and Ireland, Eastern Anthem and Moon Ballad, who cover at £2,000 and €2,500, it didn’t look as though he was going to be a breed-shaping stallion.

Or so I thought, until I read through our New Stallions supplement in Friday’s paper and it struck me that Singspiel was the damsire of no fewer than three new recruits this year - Caspar Netscher, Debussy and Helmet.

Then you remember that last month Singspiel’s Grade 2-winning son Lohengrin supplied the first and third home from his second crop, Logotype and Gottfried, in the Grade 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes at Nakayama. So there is hope that he will be supported by Japanese breeders this year.

For good measure Singspiel was also the damsire of another Grade 1-winning juvenile in Japan last month, Hanshin Juvenile Fillies scorer Robe Tissage.

With news this week that one of Singspiel’s last stars, Dar Re Mi, will be covered by Frankel, there is hope that Singspiel will continue to strengthen his influence on the breed.

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VINERY KENTUCKY STALLIONS RELOCATING TO WINSTAR FARM

More Than Ready Stallion
More Than Ready Stallion

More Than Ready (USA)

(Photo : Vinery)

WINSTAR FARM

Versailles, USA

Vinery Kentucky’s More Than Ready (Southern Halo) and Congrats (A.P. Indy) headline a group of five stallions who have been relocated to WinStar Farm in Versailles. Kodiak Kowboy (Posse), Pure Prize (Storm Cat) and Street Hero (Street Cry) are also headed to Kenny Troutt’s operation for the 2013 breeding season. It was announced in December that fellow Vinery stallions Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker) and Maimonides (Vindication) were also headed to WinStar.

“These are exciting times at WinStar, and we’re thrilled to be able to welcome these terrific stallions to the WinStar family as we get set to open the doors on our new state-of-the-art stallion complex,” said Elliott Walden, President and CEO at WinStar. “We’ve already enjoyed overwhelming response from breeders since adding Maimonides and Pioneerof the Nile, and we’re thankful that the shareholders of these five stallions have shown confidence in WinStar, too.”

More Than Ready, a leading sire in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, has sired 112 stakes winners worldwide, including a trio of Breeders’ Cup winners. He will stand for $60,000. Congrats, already the sire of three Grade 1 winners from his first three crops to race, will stand for $35,000.

“Vinery has done a terrific job with these stallions, and we will strive to be good stewards of all of their careers,” Walden continued. “What a great way to baptize our new stallion facility with proven horses like More Than Ready, Congrats and Pure Prize, as well as promising young stallions like Kodiak Kowboy and Street Hero. They complement our roster extremely well, and we look forward to our greatest days ahead of us.”

Vinery CEO Tom Ludt added, “With the announcement of the selling of the farm earlier this year, we knew this day would come. I am proud of what we accomplished with these stallions, and I am excited to see them continue their careers at a place like WinStar.”

www.winstarfarm.com

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News

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IN SEARCH OF A BETTER WAY

Scenes from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale

(Photos : Keeneland)

“It’s not the strongest of the species that survive,

nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

- Charles Darwin

Last week, we penned a piece about a better deal for broodmare owners. While it is so that markets for young stock in this country have stood up better than in most countries, the truth is, we can make things better, and there are lessons to be learnt from those nations that have suffered to a greater degree than we have. The extreme example of “blood-letting” resides in the United States, where, despite the outward impressions, breeders still lost more than $100million at this year’s marathon Keeneland September Sale. While in some respects the sale could be counted as a success, measured in terms of the improved percentage of horses sold, specific areas of the market which stood their ground and the fact that things seemed to be getting better, it’s a scary thought that breeders have collectively lost a half billion dollars over the last four years, which compounds the problem.

No matter how spinners spin the spin, when an already struggling industry loses a half billion dollars in the “churn” needed to re-supply the overall system, the only word that comes to mind is crisis. Now there are all sorts of things that contribute to this malaise; one is a market that has been over-traded for many years and which has suffered all of the consequences of over-pricing. For an awfully long time, the top-end of the American market thrived to a degree that stallion fees (and hence the overall cost of production) spiralled out of control. When the international economy nose-dived and the principal supporters of that market (and especially the rulers of Dubai), clipped their own wings, the overheads breeders had incurred in developing and operating their farms had reached a point of no return. Coupled with a racing industry in the US which is based almost entirely on private ownership and the need to provide a return to shareholders (there isn’t a model anywhere that works long term along these lines), you had the perfect recipe for a storm.

On the surface, this is a crisis for breeders who form the headwaters or the main tributary for the revenue stream from which many service providers drink. Below the surface, therefore, those suppliers who also depend on the revenue stream from auction sales feel the pain as well. This is obvious, because as the river shrinks the fiscal health of every other group is affected downstream. So when a half billion dollars in “churn” disappears (along with a lot of other breeders and mares), everyone needs to sit up and think. In the simplest scheme of things, basic principles of economics suggest that making things better for the breeder makes things better for stallion owners, for boarding farms, sales companies, consignors and agents, vets, feed companies, transporters, farriers, industry publications and insurers.

Like us, breeders in America are the foundation of the revenue pyramid, and the bulk of them, like us, are producers who depend upon the income of their farms to sustain themselves. Quite clearly, neither breeders in America nor anywhere else, can continue to sustain the losses they’ve had to bear in the last four years. In order to understand this, there were those who thought that the Keeneland September sale was a “good” one with a gross of $219million. Yet in 1999, the gross for the same sale was $233million, which converts roughly into $322million in today’s dollars. In order to achieve 1999’s result in 2013, breeders would have to see an increase of 40% to get back to where they were 13 years ago. What differentiates today from 1999 though, is the magnitude of cumulative losses breeders have suffered in the US, and are having to carry forward. Somewhere, surely, there is a tipping point where resilience gives way to debilitating weakness.

There is only one choice, and that is to acknowledge the crisis and to respond to the financial landscape by finding new ways to do business. There is little comfort in knowing these lessons apply mainly to markets far away from us. We are not so far removed that we are immune, and if we keep doing what we’re doing ourselves, sooner or later we’re going to get what the Americans are getting. In the end, remember what Charles Darwin had to say on the topic: “It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

The one hot topic that appears to top most slates in the United States, is the subject of stud fees. Those of you that study these columns, will know that for many years now, we’ve been encouraging our colleagues in the stallion business not to out-price the market. In the end, there are just 6 or 7 entities that control the tight number of commercial stallions in this country, and quite clearly a re-alignment of stud fees would help in keeping breeders afloat. The conundrum lies in the fact that most semen sellers are unable to drop their prices much, because we overpaid for our stallion corps in the first place, and we’re all stuck trying to protect or recoup our investments. The other thing is our fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders, which, like shareholders wherever they are, create upward pressure on the need to maintain dividends. All of these are understandable fundamentals of the economic cycle.

The limited number of stallions commanding commercial lustre or “bling” and the fact that in tough times people seek sanctuary in the tried and tested, does not help in solving the problem. In the context of stallions, horsemen appear to have an hereditary obsession with the proven horse, at the expense of all else. When you recall that Northern Guest and Foveros, Jet Master, Western Winter and Fort Wood, all had first crops, and those with a sense of adventure were the ones who cashed in, it’s difficult the grasp the concept of a singular concentration on a handful of elder statesmen, particularly in a business where we know that fashion switches from pinstripes to polka dots in a matter of months, and the older brigade inevitably lose their appeal. It even happened to Sadler’s Wells, remember, and the first signs are when mares carrying to the cover of an aging icon, fetch less than the cost of the service.

Somehow, we have to revive the memory in the minds of those that make up our market, that there is enterprise in identifying the rising freshman. That way, breeders will find a new enthusiasm for the new arrival, and that in itself will take some pressure off the established sires. The longer view of how the world will be in 2015, when the consequences of our choice of stallions this past season will become known, must surely suggest that by then we will be back on our feet. The attributes that have seen this country create more great companies than any other of its size, courage, enterprise and the pioneering spirit, will deliver up a new generation of investors with a fresh sense of where the world is headed. Those who rely more on memory than vision, are driving in the rear-view mirror.

A review of the stallion business worldwide reveals that the bulk of the best commercial stallions are held by just a few individuals or entities. They do not operate in what one might term as a genuinely free market, where widespread competition naturally creates downward pressure on fees. For want of another name, you might call it an oligopoly, a market condition that exists where there are fewer sellers. In this environment, prices generally trend upwards, because it is normally associated with a situation where demand exceeds supply, and buyers have to have the product. In this situation, whatever the long-term consequences, stallion fees are inclined to be set as high as possible, simply because those of us that control them, can.

In the context of what’s happened in America in recent years, while that may provide a better result in the short term, it can’t be smart in the long term, because in the end, it destroys your customer base. Nobody foresaw the 2008 collapse of international financial markets, and nobody anticipated the implosion of the American Thoroughbred market, nor the impact it would have on markets worldwide. The fact that there are still many breeders in business, including smaller operators, says something for their personal fortitude, though it doesn’t say much necessarily for what’s left in their kitties. And while there is some comfort in reminding ourselves that it has not been as bad in South Africa as it has been in many countries abroad, the fact is, many of our colleagues are struggling, particularly the smaller ones, and they in the end, are the bedrock of the breeding community. In the more than 30 years that we’ve been in business, we’ve seen more stud farms go than come, and increasingly, the power of production is concentrated in fewer hands. Whilst rationalisation is an imperative consequence of any downturn in any market, ours is an especially precarious one, and the balance between the number of horses we need to sustain our racing industry and the number that will fail to sustain it, is perched on a thin red line.

If you haven’t already worked it out, we guess it’s time for us to say it. Once upon a time, stallion contracts here and abroad, were universally “90 days in foal”, and the fee became payable. Then the Northern Hemisphere countries introduced a scheme whereby payment was made on the 1st September (March in our language) in the year in which the mare was bred (ie. within two or three months of the breeding season, but before the foal materialised), on the understanding that if you made timeous payment, you got a live foal guarantee. As we mentioned in a previous article, Summerhill revolutionised this concept by introducing a : “no payment” deal until the foal itself was on the ground, standing and nursing. Yet those in a position to do so saw the standard formats morph into various other forms of payment, including “upfront, no guarantee” (for the likes of Northern Dancer, Nijinsky, Danzig, Mr Prospector etc.), “live foal payable within 30 days of foaling”, then “out of sales proceeds”, and then finally, “out of proceeds with forgiveness”. With forgiveness means that, where the resultant progeny fails to make the value of the stud fee, the stallion owner receives all proceeds, whatever they may be, and simply lets the customer off for the balance. While that may relieve the broodmare owner of the liability of having to pay the full fee, it doesn’t detract from the fact that he’s saddled with whatever his other production costs are, including the keep and maintenance of the mare and yearling to that point.

As we pointed out a while back, the broodmare owner has to carry the accumulated costs of production for three consecutive foals before the first gets to the market, which means that if you have a broodmare band of even say, 10 mares, you need a small fortune in operating capital in order to fund your business, a commitment which is on-going for as long as you are in business. The risk to the broodmare owner is magnified because he and the stallion owner do not share the same timetable. Stallion owners operate annually from the 1st September to the 15th January (in Southern Hemisphere parlance), while breeders are effectively, as we’ve said, on a two and a half year calendar from the time they breed the mare to the time the yearling makes the auction, and even longer if you’re attending a later sale. In a world where lots can happen in a day, having to spin the wheel for two and a half years, particularly when the market is battling, can be daunting.

Another way stallion owners can help, and especially in South Africa where we have a relatively small market, is to limit the number of mares their stallions serve. That way, the broodmare owner has a bigger chance of recovering his expenses and in the end, because it has to be the object of the exercise, of generating a profit. By making the commodity scarcer, we improve the level of demand, and we also ensure a spread in the patronage of a broader base of stallions. In the Northern Hemisphere, where stallion books long ago soared past the 100 mark and are now, incredibly, surpassing the 200 level, breeders are not only regularly compromised in getting their mares covered by a stallion because of congestion in the line-up, but they’re also putting themselves at the mercy of an over-crowded yearling market, when that time comes.

We have thought long and hard about these issues at Summerhill, and we’re wondering whether there isn’t another and a better way to extend the life expectancy of a breeder. Perhaps the answer lies in a combination of the terms we offer and an element of relief where the yearling does not cover the value of the stud fee (provided of course that the breeder has given the horse every chance to be what it can be). There are many ways of skinning this cat, and we need to put our thinking caps on before we find ourselves in similar straits to our colleagues in the United States and elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere.

Summerhill Stud Logo
Summerhill Stud Logo

Enquiries :

Linda Norval +27 (0) 33 263 1081

or email linda@summerhill.co.za

www.summerhill.co.za

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US STALLIONS : CONFUSION REIGNS

Speightstown Stallion
Speightstown Stallion

Speightstown (USA)

(Photo : Winstar Farm)

Speightstown who, like Western Winter and our own Visionaire,

is a member of the Gone West tribe”

You’d have thought that the world’s most sophisticated economy would be “tickety boo” when it comes to their stallion logs. But that isn’t the case in America, where he who leads depends on who you read. If your point of reference is the traditional source, the Bloodhorse, then Giant’s Causeway is headed for the Championship, but if you’re anything of a purist, you’d probably choose to believe the list compiled by the Thoroughbred Daily News. Why? Because the former list includes earnings over the jumps (as it always has), while the TDN schedule is limited to earnings on the flat. In the end, the one most people will go with is bound to be the Bloodhorse list, because it’s the way it’s always been done, the probability therefore is that Giant’s Causeway has taken his third Sire’s title in the past four years. On the other hand, if you go the TDN route, the crown has been handed to first-timer, Speightstown who, like Western Winter and our own Visionaire, is a member of the Gone West tribe. Gone West of course, is responsible also for the top stallions Elusive Quality, Zaphonic and Zamindar, so this is not altogether surprising.

But when you consider the American’s aversion to later maturing stallions, and the fact that Speightstown won his first Graded Stakes race at the ripe old age of six, you’d begin to understand that he’s arrived where he has by dint of his excellence, and nothing less. He’s only now begun to serve the mares he deserves, and with 19 Black-type winners in the past season, and 35 Black-type performers, this won’t be the end of our friend. For the record, Giant’s Causeway (with some 70 runners more), has finished the season with an equal number of Black-type winners, and 36 Black-type performers, 14 of the former at Graded stakes level.

Whichever way you shake up the numbers, the horse that ranks second or third, depending on which list you prefer, Empire Maker, just goes to prove the old adage; if they die or if you sell them, you’re bound to regret it. Empire Maker now resides in Japan, simply because his first crop were a little slow in making muster.

*Editor’s Note: At the time of publishing, Empire Maker had surpassed Speightstown according to the Bloodhorse log, and is currently in second position.

THOROUGHBRED DAILY NEWS

LEADING SIRE LIST

1

SPEIGHTSTOWN

2

EMPIRE MAKER

3

GIANT’S CAUSEWAY

4

TAPIT

5

SMART STRIKE

BLOODHORSE

LEADING SIRE LIST

1

GAINT’S CAUSEWAY

2

SPEIGHTSTOWN

(now in 3rd position)

3

EMPIRE MAKER

(now in 2nd position)

4

TAPIT

5

SMART STIKE

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PULPIT DIES AGED 18

Pulpit Stallion
Pulpit Stallion

Pulpit

(Image : TheState/AFPilot)

PULPIT (USA)

A.P. Indy - Preach

1994 - 2012

Pulpit (A.P. Indy - Preach, by Mr. Prospector) died in his paddock at Claiborne Farm yesterday.

The 18-year-old stallion had shown no signs of ill health in the weeks and days prior to his death. “We are all shocked and very sad,” said farm manager Bradley Purcell. “Pulpit has meant so much to Claiborne Farm, first as a racehorse and later as a stallion. Thankfully, we know his legacy will continue on through his sons and daughters.”

Bred and raced by Claiborne, Pulpit captured the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes and Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes in 1997. He entered stud at his birthplace in 1998 and sired 11 US Grade 1 winners including successful sires Tapit and Sky Mesa. He has 38 Graded stakes winners, 63 stakes winners, and over 100 stakes horses to his credit including Corinthian, Essence of Dubai, Purge, Pyro and Hansen to mention but a few.

This year, Pulpit has been represented by Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes hero Power Broker and recent winner of the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes, Sign.

Pulpit will be buried at Claiborne Farm.

Extracts from Claiborne Farm

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PLUM PRETTY TOPS KEENELAND NOVEMBER DAY 1

Hip 96 Plum Pretty - Keeneland November
Hip 96 Plum Pretty - Keeneland November

Click above to watch the sale of Hip 96 Plum Pretty (Medaglia d’Oro)

(Image and Footage : Keeneland)

KEENELAND NOVEMBER BREEDING STOCK SALE

6 - 16 November 2012

It’s an historic daily double that at least one Kentucky family will remember for a long, long time. Roughly 18 hours after purchasing Horse of the YearHavre de Grace (Saint Liam) for $10 million from Taylor Made Sales, Whisper Hill Farm’sMandy Pope was back to secure another jewel from the Taylor brothers’ consignment: the 2011 GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Plum Pretty (Medaglia d’Oro), offered during yesterday’s opening session of Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale.

Pope and her bloodstock advisor Chris Brothers, sitting inside the pavilion, outlasted two other challengers sitting in adjacent sections to land the striking mare for $4.2million. That was easily the November opener’s top price.

“It’s been great,” said Taylor Made’s Frank Taylor. “The market’s been unbelievable, and Mandy Pope’s been unbelievable. She’s been representing America well.”

Pope returned the compliment. “Taylor Made had done a great job of presenting them,” she said.

Plum Pretty sold as hip 96 as a racing or broodmare prospect, and Pope confirmed she would be retired and bred. Breeding plans are undecided for Plum Pretty.

“Obviously we are not going to rush into anything,” said Pope. “A lot of the farms are just setting their stud fees, and I am sure a lot of them may be calling me before I call them. It is going to be very exciting.”

Keeneland November - Tuesday 6th

Top Broodmares / Broodmare Prospects

Hip

Name

Sire

Dam

Status

Price ($)

96

PLUM PRETTY

Medaglia d’Oro

Liszy (A.P. Indy)

r/b’ mare prospect

4,200,000

24

HARMONIUS

Dynaformer

Jade Tree (Storm Cat)

b’ mare prospect

2,800,000

149

ZAZU

Tapit

Rhumb Line (Mr Greeley)

b’ mare prospect

2,100,000

112

SHOTGUN GULCH

Thunder Gulch

Rosieville (Boston Harbor)

i/f Bernardini

1,600,000

76

NEGLIGEE

Northern Afleet

Naughty Notions (Relaunch)

i/f Distorted Humor

1,250,000

94

PISTE NOIRE

Diesis

Skiable (Niniski)

i/f Galileo

925,000

170

CALAIS

A.P. Indy

Flanders (Seeking The Gold)

i/f Distorted Humor

700,000

148

XS BELLE

Dynaformer

Queenie Belle (Bertrando)

i/f Unbridled’s Song

510,000

72

MY JEN

Fusaichi Pegasus

Mekko Hokte (Holy Bull)

i/f Hard Spun

485,000

162

BAY TO BAY

Sligo Bay

Bala (With Approval)

r/b mare prospect

425,000

91

PERSUADING

Broken Vow

Peaks Mill (Stalwart)

i/f Distorted Humor

425,000

Keeneland November - Tuesday 6th

Top Weanlings

Hip

Sex

Sire

Dam

Price ($)

95

Filly

Galileo

Piste Noire

625,000

176

Colt

Quality Road

Charming Tale

410,000

121

Colt

Tapit

Spice Island

310,000

144

Filly

Tapit

Will Prevail

300,000

171

Filly

Indian Charlie

Calais

280,000

7

Colt

Quality Road

Flashy Frolic

270,000

109

Colt

Giant’s Causeway

Seeking Results

260,000

142

Filly

Smart Strike

Wickedly Wise

255,000

75

Filly

Malibu Moon

Necessary Evil

190,000

www.keeneland.com

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News

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WHERE HAVE ALL THE STALLIONS GONE?

Keeneland September Yearling Sale - Top Lot 131 - Distorted Humor
Keeneland September Yearling Sale - Top Lot 131 - Distorted Humor

Top Priced Yearling - Hip 131 Distorted Humor Colt

(Photo : Keeneland)

KEENELAND SEPTEMBER YEARLING SALE

10 - 21 September 2012

While many an American breeder will take heart at the results of the recently concluded Keeneland September Sale, there is a stark reality about the numbers. The top stallion (by average), A.P. Indy, is in retirement, and he is at that stage where the commercial appeal of his progeny would ordinarily have been in decline. Yet the dearth of “big” alternative choices is such that A.P. Indy retains pole position, and while he is still such an influence in his own right, that he remains there is as much an indictment on those around him as it is a compliment to his staying power. While the names of Street Cry, Distorted Humor, Unbridled Song, Giant’s Causeway, Tapit and Smart Strike are all worthy of their own respect, they simply don’t have the pizzazz of the generation before.

Cast your minds back to the 70s and 80s and the awed silence which greeted a son of Northern Dancer as he entered the salesring; remember the great stallions contemporaries Mr. Prospector, Nijinsky, Danzig, Alydar, Lyphard, Blushing Groom, Riverman, Vaguely Noble, Raise A Native and Exclusive Native and the lesser likes of Secretariat, Sir Ivor and Caro. These stallions were the legacy of decades of investment by American breeders across the Atlantic, where they plundered the substantial larder of European bloodstock, including most of the top racehorses of the era and any emerging stallion who looked the part. The balance of power shifted to the States in what seemed like an irretrievable monopoly at the time, and studs like Claiborne, Spendthrift and Gainesway presided over a lock on European money for almost three decades. The traffic was one-way, justified by overwhelming dominance and the American conquest of a disproportionate share of the European classics.

It is the story of all empires though, that when you think things are going so well you believe you can take your foot off the juice, and that’s the story of American breeding. Complacency set in, and far from maintaining the levels of investment which had characterised the raids of Bull Hancock, John Gaines, Leslie Combs and others of earlier decades, they tended to sit back somewhat on their laurels.

A buying splurge triggered initially by Coolmore, Robert Sangster and Vincent O’Brien, and ratcheted up to unprecedented levels by the Maktoum family, has witnessed a resurgence in the stocks of Europe’s fire power; epitomised by Galileo, Montjeu, Dubawi, Dansili, Pivotal and Oasis Dream. These are the new colossi of the stallion universe, and you can expect the world and his dog to turn up at the Tattersalls Highflyer in early October, where we’ll see the fireworks for which the Keeneland sales pavilion was once renowned.

The truth is, if America wants to get back to the top of the pile, they will only do so through the strength of their stallions, which means if you want ‘em, go get ‘em!

KEENELAND SEPTEMBER YEARLINGS

Overall Top 10 Colts

Hip

Sire

Price (US$)

131

DISTORTED HUMOR

1,650,000

469

BERNARDINI

1,550,000

94

WAR FRONT

1,100,000

956

EMPIRE MAKER

1,050,000

41

STREET CRY

1,000,000

1021

SMART STRIKE

900,000

132

DISTORTED HUMOR

850,000

645

BIG BROWN

825,000

1004

UNBRIDLED’S SONG

800,000

807

GIANT’S CAUSEWAY

750,000

KEENELAND SEPTEMBER YEARLINGS

Overall Top 11 Fillies

Hip

Sire

Price (US$)

45

SMART STRIKE

1,300,000

128

A.P. INDY

1,100,000

124

A.P. INDY

725,000

125

A.P. INDY

675,000

1042

DYNAFORMER

650,000

960

INDIAN CHARLIE

650,000

51

INDIAN CHARLIE

625,000

654

TAPIT

525,000

81

DIVINE PARK

500,000

117

EMPIRE MAKER

500,000

349

TIZNOW

500,000

For further reference, please visit :

www.keeneland.com

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KEENELAND SEPTEMBER : LIGHT IN THE TUNNEL

Scenes from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale
(Photos : Keeneland)

KEENELAND SEPTEMBER YEARLING SALE
10 - 21 September 2012

The biggest sale of racehorses in the world is drawing to a close, and the numbers are encouraging. The Keeneland September Yearling Sale, which opened on September 10th and runs uninterrupted until the 21st September, has thus far seen almost 2400 horses through the ring, of which more than 1800 have found new homes, for an average of $111,672 (against $107,106 in 2011,) (3.7% up), and a median of $70,000 (against $60,000) (up 16.6%). If you watch CNN of an evening, and if you listen to the political doomsayers, you’d have difficulty believing these numbers; it’s a statement about the fans of our sport, and the optimism that feeds their enthusiasm, that despite it all, anything can be almost 17% up.

Remarkably, because it’s not usually this way in racing, the lower echelons of the sale have been especially strong, with yesterday’s session posting a gain of 21.5% in average, and 20% by median. That means the bottom of the market has found a broad and solid base, and that has to be good news not only for producers, but for everyone associated with the game.

“By the time the sale is over, the gross is not going to go up, because it’s a smaller sale. But the feel of the sale is much better than last year,” Jeffrey Russell, CEO of Keeneland said. “When you essentially take three of the top buyers from last year out - Ferguson, Besilu and Adena, you would have thought it would have a huge effect, but it hasn’t. So in that regard, this market is stronger. New people have fallen into those positions, and that’s good. The word for this whole sale is ‘competitive’.”

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ZERO TO HERO : THERE'S ALWAYS A KELSO

Kelso The Racehorse
Kelso The Racehorse

Click above to watch a tribte to Kelso…

(Image : TVG - Footage : Vintage Horse Racing Videos)

KELSO (USA)

Your Host (USA) - Maid Of Flight (USA)

The breeding season has started, and the first foals have hit the ground running, literally. There’s always an air of anticipation around the first of a new stallion’s progeny, and at Summerhill, that means in most years. This time it’s the turn of Visionaire and Bankable, and you’re always gratified as a studman to see some parental resemblance in the progeny. Typically, the Visionaires are good square types, with big engines and beautiful sculpted heads, while the Bankables are leggy and athletic with the scope of their father.

Inevitably, there will be the odd one that doesn’t measure up to your expectations, and just occasionally, because it’s natures way, there will be a runt in the litter. If you happen to own one, don’t despair. When her Count Fleet mare, Maid of Flight produced a tiny non-descript colt at her Woodstock Farm in Maryland, USA in the spring of 1957, the fabled American breeder, Allaire du Pont was despondent. By any measure, he was a “squib”, the most unlikely runner in the whole darn crop, but in the end, he was the runt who would live to be king. For five consecutive years (1960-1964) the dark bay son of Your Host, whom racegoers would know as Kelso, would dominate the Sport of Kings like no other before or after him. New York was his domain, and he frequented the headlines of the city’s newspapers to a degree that when he was finally retired, as august a paper as The New York Times exclaimed “It just won’t be Saturday without Kelso”. To this day, Americans believe his five consecutive Horse of the Year titles remain the most unattainable feat in American racing, along with Secretariat’s 2:24 clocking in the Belmont Stakes (Gr.1).

The title of “greatest gelding of all-time” is always a contentious matter, particularly when his competitors include Forego and John Henry; among the trio, they were a major force in racing for a span of 20 of 25 years, winning 84 Stakes races and 25 championships, including ten Horse of the Year titles. In the end though, Kelso was supreme. In the weight-carrying category, Kelso, who remained the “runt” of the three in terms of size, (he was just a pony next to the massive Forego), made 24 starts carrying 130 pounds or more, and finished in the money in 19 of them. He carried an average weight in these races of 131.5 pounds. Amazingly, he scored some of his greatest triumphs while burdened with heavy weights. He came from sixteen lengths back under 136 pounds in the 1961 Brooklyn Handicap (Gr.1), completing a sweep of New York’s Triple Crown. In the 1963 Suburban Handicap, he carried 133 to victory, conceding 22 pounds to the runner-up, and in the Aqueduct Stakes (Gr.1) that same year, under 134 pounds he defeated Crimson Satan (broodmare sire of Royal Academy and grand broodmare sire of Storm Cat).

In the category of consistency, Kelso won eight consecutive races in 1963, all stakes, with six of those victories under a 130 pound burden or more. As for versatility, Kelso was a major star on the grass, while Forego never competed in a single grass race. Kelso could run short, winning the Met Mile and the Jerome Mile, and a number of allowance sprints, but no horse in history could match his accomplishments at long distances on the dirt. Not only did he win the two mile Jockey Gold Cup five times, setting a track record in three of them including one which still stands. He won seven of eleven starts at 1,5 miles or longer. He also won the Woodward three times, the Whitney three times, the Suburban twice, the Aqueduct Stakes twice, and the Brooklyn, Gulfstream Park Handicap and Hawthorne Gold Cup, at different venues. Following three seconds in the Washington DC International, Kelso nailed down his fifth Horse of the Year title at age 7 by defeating his arch rival Gun Bow, by 4.5 lengths in the 1964 version, setting a track and an American record in the process.

Speed is relative, but the one trademark of Kelso which stands out is his remarkable closing acceleration, which gave him victory over 11 champions or classic winners: Never Bend, Jaipur, Mungo, Carry Back, Bald Eagle, Roman Brother, Decidedly, Candy Spots, Crimson Satan, T.V.Lark and Quadrangle. He was retired at age 9, with 39 victories, twelve seconds and two thirds from sixty three starts, and when that time came, he became the idol of a new set.

The Du Ponts are famed for their association with the textile and explosives industries, and at Woodstock Farm following his retirement, he was pampered like the noblest of kings. He had his own private mail box to accommodate the flood of fan mail. His name graced the welcome mat, and he slept on a bed of sugar cane fibres, with a specially embroidered blanket, and drank only bottled spring water from Arkansas, costing a dollar a gallon. His fan club numbered in the thousands, and his sweet tooth was often pacified with ice-cream sundaes or lumps of sugar, individually wrapped in special paper bearing his name and picture. Allaire du Pont was a champion herself, an Olympic Trap shooter and a champion tennis player. She knew the look of a champion.

So there you are: if you happen to have had a disappointing foal, there’s always a Kelso to provide the hope. And we can name a few too; Pierre Jourdan, the Guineas winning heroine, Mystery Guest, Hear The Drums, and the Group One winners Bridal Paths, Bianconi and Icy Air. The list is long, it’s eminent and it’s always refreshing.

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MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME

Claiborne Farm
Claiborne Farm

Photos from Claiborne Farm…

(Image and Footage : Mrs LW)

“If you keep quiet and listen,

it’s evident you can learn a lot at Claiborne.”

Mick Goss
Mick Goss

Mick Goss

Summerhill Stud CEOA year ago to the day, and fresh out of a Warren Buffett presentation of epic proportions, we were winding our way to Churchill Downs for the curtain-raiser to America’s greatest horse race, the Kentucky Derby. The first Saturday in May marks the “Run for the Roses”, and in 2011, we were there to witness a famous victory for Summerhill clients, Team Valor, and their new-found hero, Animal Kingdom. Our friends at Team Valor bid for a double tomorrow with Went The Day Well, though they could’ve been represented in a three way assault if things had gone their way, double-handed as they are in the talent at their disposal.

For several days we traversed the pikes and turnpikes of Lexington, from one great farm to another, renewing our acquaintances with old friends like A.P. Indy, Pulpit, Distorted Humor and Dynaformer and a few new pretenders, Tapit, Malibu Moon and Giant’s Causeway. We kicked off deep in Bourbon County, just outside of Paris, Kentucky, like Mooi River, a slow town alongside a little railway station which looks as if it was a remnant of the Civil War. Everywhere are the fields of dreams, dotted with oak trees and enclosed by identical four-rail fences, all stained black. Wisps of fog hover low over the blue grass which has been washed bright green by a summer shower. Every so often, the columns of a white mansion peek discreetly through a cluster of trees. The mood is such that if Scarlett O’Hara was suddenly to glide by in hooped skirts, carrying a parasol and cooing, you would probably think, yes, she fits well enough. We are, after all, in a rare place, some of the richest farming dirt in the world. Old families, old money, nicely understated. A warm hand of friendship greets you, much like your arrival at Summerhill, but this time with a greeting “good to see y’all”, which can be confusing if, as often happens, there is only one of you. Like us, the racehorse is the reason for it all.

The Hancock’s Claiborne Farm is just outside Paris. No farm anywhere has more influenced the evolution of the American thoroughbred this last century. Claiborne is all about the brotherhood and, God knows, it is understated: no bragging, no hussle, no brochures in technicolor. Claiborne has been going so long it is a shrine as much as a business, and like us, it’s only as good as its current batch of stallions. You learn soon enough why Claiborne is what it is. All you need do, is watch and listen.

I recall my visit to Claiborne in the dead of winter, 1988. We were there to buy Coastal, the first American classic winner to set foot on African shores. Clay Arnold, one of the stallion men, was stooped by his 70 years, yet there was a boyish serenity in his face. You figure this was because he liked horses and the place, and never wanted to do anything else, and Clay said “you figured right”. He clipped the lead shank on the old bay stallion who was bathed in a pale yellow glow by the sunlight streaming into his box. Most things at Claiborne are in pale yellow, including the paint on the stables. The stallion stepped out calmly, tall with a great length of rein, and a head that was surely what the man meant when he coined the line about “the look of eagles”. But the bay was light of flesh on top and behind, the near-hind was swollen up to the hock, the off-fetlock was so thickened as to be deformed, turned way out and filled so tightly that pink skin flared through the white hairs just above the hoof.

The old horse was grinding away on courage at the end of his career: he was not about to play the invalid now. The light still burnt brightly in his eye. He let us rub his forehead, but he did not acknowledge us. Like any good stallion, he does not look at you, but over and beyond, out over the fields of dreams. He was Nijinsky, the last winner of the English Triple Crown in 1970. Here was another Claiborne legend, the genuine article, the sire of 125 Stakes winners and a sales yearling who brought $13 million (about R104 million). Clay Arnold had handled a few legends. He merely touched the old horse on the neck and drawled: “yessir, he’s a nice horse… a nice horse… I like him a lot, yessir”.

Claiborne is also about ghosts. To feel them you need but step into the stallion cemetary, and read the names on the grey headstones. Nasrullah, died 1959, one of the immortal sires…Secretariat, the great red horse with flaring nostrils who won the Belmont by 31 lengths…Bold RulerRound TablePrincequilloBlenheimGalant FoxBuckpasserCourt Martial. Go to a yearling sale anywhere in the world, Dublin, Buenos Aires, Sydney or Johannesburg, and these names appear on practically every page of the catalogue. Claiborne was running out of burying room, but there was a place for Nijinsky. Standing there though, he seemed happy to stay out of the place. He stood quietly for us, and never thought to fidget.

Clay brought up stallion after stallion; not one played up. At last there was Mr. Prospector, whose blood runs so thick and so deep here at Summerhill these days, and who stood for around $300,000 in those days. And little Danzig, commanding much the same fee and built in the classic Northern Dancer mould: neat, strong through the body and with a lovely head and jowl. As I’ve said, all you had to do to learn was to watch. These stallions were so well behaved, so content, because generations of stallion-handling were built into Claiborne. The place has always believed in the primacy of stallions, in the farming truism that a good bull is half your herd, and a bad bull is all your herd.

Claiborne has been chasing stallions since Captain Richard Hancock came back from the Civil War, determined to breed the best. He chased stallions in Europe, South America and Australia, looking for hybrid vigour, for that magical beast who outbreeds his own pedigree and performances, and South Africa has not been exempt from their shopping list. Hawaii, officially a son of Utrillo, but rumoured in fact to have been sired by Joy II, was one South African who had the distinction of getting a winner of England’s most famous race, the Epsom Derby, as well as a second and a third in the same race. Horse Chestnut, as good a racehorse as this country’s known, was another to grace those historic pastures. No family has done more to turn the American thoroughbred into an international commodity than the Hancocks.

And so the story goes on, one great stallion after another, and sooner or later we will provide you with a little more of the history of this great farm.

The most intriguing building on Claiborne is not the white stallion barn with its yellow trim and the brass name plates that tell you that Bold Ruler and Secretariat lived here. It is the breeding shed. In recent times, some very elaborate breeding sheds have gone up in various parts of the world, complete with hot and cold running vets, lasers, rubber floors, videos, and all the software of the hi-tech age. They have the décor of hospitals. The breeding shed at Claiborne is clad with warped slats on which the black paint has blistered and peeled. The shingles on the roof are stained green with mildew. Inside the floor is uneven and covered with bark. The only concession to modern times is the yellow padding around the walls. Yet heaven knows how many great horses have been fashioned in greatness here.

There’ve been only 11 Triple Crown winners in the history of American racing, which brings us back to tomorrow’s race, the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of this illustrious treble. No less than five of these heroes were conceived in this rough old Claiborne shed. A Kentucky horseman, one of the brotherhood, explained it this way: “Yessir, it’s not the fancy things inside the shed that count: it’s the quality of the horses that grow up outside of it once their mothers have passed through the middle”. If you keep quiet and listen, it’s evident you can learn a lot at Claiborne.

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A TRIBUTE TO TED BASSETT

Ted Bassett Tribute
Ted Bassett Tribute

Click above to watch a tribute to Ted Bassett

(Image : KY Forward - Footage : Keeneland)

JAMES E “TED” BASSETT III

Distinguished Citizen Award

Patriot Awards

Ted Bassett began working for the Keeneland Association in 1968, initially as the assistant to Louis Lee Haggin II. In 1969, Bassett became Keeneland’s president, and he served in that capacity until 1986, when he became chairman of the board. In 2003, Bassett became a Keeneland trustee, and he now holds the title of trustee emeritus. The entirety of his Keeneland tenure currently spans 42 years, and coincides with the association’s greatest period of growth.

SERVICE ABOVE SELF AND THE UNBREAKABLE

WILL TO NEVER EVER GIVE UP.

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SADLER'S WELLS RIDING HIGH

Sadler's Wells Stallion
Sadler's Wells Stallion

Sadler’s Wells

(Painting : Susan Crawford)

LEADING SIRES

BY 2011 NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

GRADE/GROUP 1 WINNERS

Standing in U.S. and Europe

Stallion

Sire

G1 Winner

Galileo (Ire)

Sadler’s Wells

10

Montjeu (Ire)

Sadler’s Wells

8

Giant’s Causeway (USA)

Storm Cat

3

High Chaparral (Ire)

Sadler’s Wells

3

Mr. Greeley (USA)

Gone West

3

Oasis Dream (GB)

Green Desert

3

Dalakhani (Ire)

Darshaan

2

Danehill Dancer (Ire)

Danehill

2

Dubawi (Ire)

Dubai Millennium

2

Dynaformer (USA)

Roberto

2

Empire Maker (USA)

Unbridled

2

Exceed and Excel (Aus)

Danehill

2

Hawk Wing (USA)

Woodman

2

Lomitas (GB)

Niniski

2

Medaglia d’Oro (USA)

El Prado

2

Mineshaft (USA)

A.P. Indy

2

More Than Ready (USA)

Southern Halo

2

Northern Afleet (USA)

Afleet

2

Refuse To Bend (Ire)

Sadler’s Wells

2

Sakhee (USA)

Bahri

2

Samum (Ger)

Monsun

2

Selkirk (USA)

Sharpen Up

2

Smart Strike (USA)

Mr. Prospector

2

Tapit (USA)

Pulpit

2

Tiznow (USA)

Cee’s Tizzy

2

War Front (USA)

Danzig

2

Correct as at 21 November 2011 (Thoroughbred Daily News)

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VISIONARIES

Visionnaire and Visionaire Foal
Visionnaire and Visionaire Foal

Visionnaire, Visionaire… Visionary

(Image : Lancome / Summerhill Stud)

VISIONNAIRE, VISIONAIRE… VISIONARY

We don’t know where his name came from, though there may be a connection between Vision Racing and the cosmetic product, Visionnaire (owned by Lancome), but one thing we do know, is that there are some far-sighted investors in the American weanling market. This past week, the first of our new resident sire, Visionaire’s foals went under the hammer at Keeneland, coming away with an average in excess of R300,000 (ahead of the likes of champion Pioneerofthenile, Group One heroes Kodiak Kowboy and Cowboy Cal, as well as Coolmore’s (Ashford-based) Dunkirk, which gives you an idea of the quality of our man’s foals. We don’t have any pictures from the sale itself, but we do have one of a foal we saw ourselves during our trip to Kentucky earlier this year; clearly, the winner of America’s greatest “stallion-maker is stamping his image on his progeny.

Nothing in this game is 20/20, as we all know, but this is as encouraging a start as you could ask for.

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GYPSY ISSUES WARNING

gypsey issues warning rss

“Our bleat about Broodmares”

Followers of these columns and those who receive our newsletters, will know our bleat about broodmares, and that this is the most opportune time to invest. Prices have been on the floor, numbers are down, and when the market corrects itself, there will be a shortage of stock. Looking at the results of the annual Keeneland November Sale, it seems the Americans are reading our propaganda more attentively than South Africans. Prices have literally gone mad, with the recent Breeder’s Cup Ladies Classic winner, Royal Delta making $8,5 million, and mares from the dispersal of the late Ned Evans’ Spring Hill Farm making as much as $4,2 million. Benjamin Leon from Florida has been the biggest investor, Coolmore have got their feet wet, and Thursday, Seth Hancock from the legendary Claiborne Farm got his “hands dirty”.

“I’ve wanted something from that family for a long time” Hancock admitted “and I tried, but Mr Leon got most of them on Monday, so I tried again, and Ned’s brother Shel, got me on that one. This was the last gasp. Our backs were to the wall if we wanted something from that family”. He added, “Ned Evans would do it like I would like to try and do it. He kept his broodmare band culled down, and he bred his mares to the right kind of stallions. He raced them and he loved them. I thought he was a lot like us, and I’m happy to have something from his best family”.

In a significant tribute to South African breeding, Rathmor-bred Gypsy’s Warning, a Group One winner at home and abroad, broke the million dollar barrier when the hammer came down for the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Holdings, who preside over some of the finest bloodlines in the world.

The man behind Admire Main’s presence at Summerhill, Katsumi Yoshida, has been especially active in the upper half of the market in recent months, and he got his hands on Ticker Tape at $950,000.

TOP BROODMARES PRICES

Horse Price ($) Price (ZAR) Purchaser
Royal Delta 8,500,000 68,000,000

Besilu Stables (Benjamin Leon)

Christmas Kid 4,200,000 33,600,000 Aisling Duignan (Coolmore)
Quiet Giant 3,000,000 24,000,000 Besilu Stables (Benjamin Leon)
Unrivaled Belle 2,800,000 22,400,000 Brushwood Stable
Delta Princess 2,600,000 20,800,000 Adena Springs
Blind Luck 2,500,000 20,000,000 Mike Puhich (Mark Dedomenico)
Buster’s Ready 2,400,000 19,200,000 Wertheimer et Frere
Cat Moves 2,400,000 19,200,000 Adena Springs
Weekend Strike 2,300,000 18,400,000 Barronstown Stud
Love Me Only 2,100,000 16,800,000 Summerwind Farm
Dance Quietly 2,000,000 16,000,000 Besilu Stables (Benjamin Leon)
Malibu Prayer 2,000,000 16,000,000 Besilu Stables (Benjamin Leon)
Life At Ten 1,950,000 15,600,000 Adena Springs
Quiet Now 1,850,000 14,800,000 Claiborne Farm
Camargue 1,650,000 13,200,000 Adena Springs
Porte Bonheur 1,600,000 12,800,000 Waratah Thoroughbreds
Dark Sky 1,500,000 12,000,000 Summerwind Farm
Gypsy’s Warning 1,050,000 8,400,000 Flaxman Holdings
Grand Prayer 1,000,000 8,000,000 Besilu Stables (Benjamin Leon)
Ticker Tape 950,000 7,600,000 Katsumi Yoshida
Rhumb Line 850,000 6,800,000 Bowden Global Equine
Le Relais 800,000 6,400,000

Stonestreet Throughbred Holdings

TOP WEANLING PRICES

Sire Sex Price ($) Price (ZAR) Purchaser
Medaglia d’Oro Filly 2,600,000 20,800,000 Besilu Stables (Benjamin Leon)
Smart Strike Filly 1,600,000 12,800,000 Besilu Stables (Benjamin Leon)
Henrythenavigator Filly 1,500,000 12,000,000 Adena Springs
Smart Strike Filly 1,000,000 8,000,000 Stonestreet Stables & George Bolton
Smoke Glacken Filly 900,000 7,200,000 Besilu Stables (Benjamin Leon)
Quiet American Filly 510,000 4,080,000 Bluegrass Hall
Street Sense Filly 295,000 2,360,000 Longitude Farm
Tapit Colt 240,000 1,920,000 Ben Glass
Stormy Atlantic Colt 225,000 1,800,000 Steve Shahinian
More Than Ready Colt 195,000 1,560,000 Rocco Bloodstock
Malibu Moon Filly 195,000 1,560,000 Clearsky Farm
US Ranger Colt 190,000 1,520,000 Blanford Bloodstock

Read more about Broodmare Investments…

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KEENELAND SEPTEMBER RUNAWAY TRAIN

keeneland september sale hip 307
keeneland september sale hip 307

HIP 307 - Keeneland Sale Tuesday Top Lot

(Photo : Bloodstock Journal)

KEENELAND SEPTEMBER YEARLING SALE

11 - 24 September 2011

Well, not quite a runaway train, but the Keeneland September Sales in America continued to roar ahead on the third day, with the cumulative average up more than 10% on the corresponding day last year, and the median (the mid-price, and the one that really counts when it comes to measuring market depth) up a remarkable 33,3% (at $200,000 or +- R1,5 million). The encouraging thing is that the top 11 horses (seven colts and four fillies to make $400,000 plus) all fell to domestic buyers; no sign of the Maktoums or Coolmore. A strong domestic market is fundamental to the strength of any economy, and this is a particularly encouraging result for America, given their downscaled credit rating and their structural economic difficulties of the current time. Here are yesterday’s prices:

KEENELAND SEPTEMBER TOP LOTS

Tuesday 13 September 2011

HIP

Sex

$

307

F

1,200,000

469

C

600,000

426

C

510,000

398

C

470,000

437

F

460,000

400

F

450,000

321

C

410,000

312

C

400,000

353

C

400,000

404

F

400,000

483

C

400,000

Hard to imagine, but wouldn’t it be marvellous if this were the Ready To Run.

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LAND OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS

Keeneland September Yearling Sale Hip 87 A.P Indy - Malka
Keeneland September Yearling Sale Hip 87 A.P Indy - Malka

Hip 87 A.P Indy - Malka $1,400,000

(Photo and Footage : Keeneland)

KEENELAND SEPTEMBER YEARLING SALE

11 - 24 September 2011

The Americans have been called lots of things, including “the free and the brave”, but the results of this weekend’s start to the Keeneland September sales (showcase of American breeding,) and the just-completed Fasig Tipton Saratoga sale, tell us that Americans (or at least some of them) have put aside their economic woes for the time being, in favour of a splurge on the ponies.

Saratoga showed some encouraging signs, but Keeneland (there are still more than 10 days to go) was roaring. Given that this year’s figures were competing with a $4.2million A.P. Indy colt on the first day last year, an average of 8.6% up (with a highest price of $1.4million) was encouragement enough, but it was in the median of $350,000 (the mid-price of the day) that there was cause for jubilation. This was a hefty 40% up, and it tells you how strong the market was at all levels. Investors know that racehorses are an international currency, you can take them anywhere if they’re good enough, and if they’re really good, the big prize is anybody’s guess.

Of course, there is a gamble involved, but it seems it’s one the rich are prepared to take. These numbers are a long way off the heady days of a few years ago, but they at least encourage the view that the market has bottomed and that breeders can continue, with a modicum of confidence, to breed these noble creatures, knowing that there is a point of appreciation in the hearts of Americans, beneath which values are not going to descend.

Perhaps of greater significance to Americans, was the fact that, by and large, the bulk of the big spenders were domestically based. Apart from the odd horse purchased by Shadwell, there was little evidence of participation from the Middle East, though their principal adversaries of the past decade, Coolmore, were back in the fray. Noticeably, the Irish purchases included the progeny of Maktoum stallions, an acknowledgement that for them at least, who owns the sire is not the determining factor: it’s a matter of who the best sires are, and for the past two years, Coolmore’s dabbles in the Maktoum gene pool suggests their interest lies mainly in their wish to maintain their position as the dominant force in world racing through the acquisition of the best horses, wherever they may be found.

Since the local environment is not, by any means, in the sort of trouble the American economy finds itself, there has to be some hope for our market as well. South African horses are more talented now than at any time in our history. Breeders have invested more heavily in their product than any of their predecessors did, and our horses have repaid the faith owners have bestowed upon them, by delivering the goods at the highest level wherever the best races are found.

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