In 2012, I quite fancied the foals of Colonel John at yearling auctions. I decided to keep tabs on his first crop during their first year of racing, and, lo and behold, the looks in the sales ring paid off. The handsome son of Tiznow ended last year as one of the leading first-crop sires, along with another sire whose foals I liked quite a bit, Pioneerof The Nile.
So I have to ask this question – does sales ring prowess translate to success on the racetrack? Certainly, one could make that argument after seeing Colonel John and Pioneerof The Nile do so well in 2013, with stakes winners like Concave and Cairo Prince. I’ve racked my brain in the past half hour, thinking of young sires whose names kept popping up in the pedigrees of sales-toppers, and I’ve remembered five of them who could possibly make a splash this coming year as their foals begin to hit the racetrack.
All sales statistics are from Bloodhorse’s Stallion Register website.
Blame (Arch – Liable (Seeking the Gold))
This freshman sire’s pedigree doesn’t exactly scream precocity, but his first yearlings took the sales rings by force last year. The average of all of his yearlings sold last year was just a shade over an impressive $180,000 – more than six times his stud fee. He had a yearling consigned towards the tail end of Keeneland September’s Book 1 go for $550,000, and many more have gone for $200,000 or more. In addition, his eight weanlings to sell last year averaged about $114,000, so that spells promise for future crops as well.
Blame will always be best known as the horse who spoiled Zenyatta’s undefeated career in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic. One more jump, and she would have had him, but Blame’s place in history was cemented with a Classic win. Now, these good looking sons and daughters of his are looking to grow his fame even more. He didn’t hit his best stride until age four but was a winner at two. Blame stands at Claiborne Farm for $30,000 live foal.
Eskendereya (Giant’s Causeway – Aldebaran Light (Seattle Slew))
This brilliant three year-old never got his shot at the Kentucky Derby; he was injured and retired the week of the big event. He’s been slowly making up for it by stamping foals in his own handsome image. Eskendereya took last year’s Keeneland September sale by storm; a stunning colt of his sold for $540,000 early in the sale. His 2013 yearling average was just over $125,000, which is more than four times his 2011 stud fee and more than seven times his 2014 fee.
Eskendereya was a stakes winner at two before going on to stunning, though abbreviated, three year-old performances. Both his sire and damsire were stakes winners as two year-olds, and he is inbred to brilliant youngsters Hail to Reason and Bold Ruler. His well-conformed offspring should have no problem shining next year on the track. Eskendereya stands at Taylor Made Farm for $17,500 live foal.
Lookin At Lucky (Smart Strike – Private Feeling (Belong to Me))
Only special colts can pick up championship awards for both their two and three year-old seasons, and that’s exactly what Lookin At Lucky did in 2009 and 2010. Baffert’s well-bred racehorse did everything asked of him, and when it came for him to retire to stud, he didn’t disappoint. His yearling average for 2013 was $83,000, which is more than twice his original fee of $35,000. Lookin At Lucky sired several six figure horses at yearling sales, including a $490,000 colt in the second session of Keeneland September.
As a Grade 1 winner at two, Lookin At Lucky is an obvious freshman sire to watch. His sturdy Smart Strike sireline also lays a foundation for his offspring doing well at ages three or older, as well. Coolmore knows what they’re doing with young sires – they also stand Dunkirk, who topped the freshman sire lists last year with runners like Grade 1 winner Havana. Lookin At Lucky stands at Ashford Stud for $15,000 live foal.
Quality Road (Elusive Quality – Kobla (Strawberry Road (AUS)))
In his quirky career on the track, Quality Road gained a roller-coaster reputation for himself. When he was on, he was brilliant – three track records set, four Grade 1 wins, and $2.2 million in prizes collected. However, soundness injuries and starting gate tantrums would always sour what could have been a glorious campaign. Since his retirement, the bay stallion has been quietly making up for all of that by siring some magnificent horses. Last year at Keeneland September, he was the sire of a $500,000 yearling, and his yearling sales average for the year as a whole was nearly $110,000.
Though he was a winner at two, his pedigree suggests that his foals may do even better with age. Elusive Quality was no flash in the pan youngster, and damsire Strawberry Road raced successfully in stakes to the ripe old age of eight. But if these yearlings run to their looks this year, Quality Road may enjoy more success even than he did on the track. He stands at Lane’s End for $25,000 live foal.
Super Saver (Maria’s Mon – Supercharger (A.P. Indy))
Super Saver splashed home to win the Kentucky Derby in 2010, and now his offspring are making quite a splash in the sales ring. He ended 2013 with a yearling average of more than $91,000, which is nearly five times his original stud fee of $20,000. He had a colt sell for $360,000 in Book 2 of Keeneland September, and his offspring consistently sold for six figures there. So despite the Derby being his last big triumph, he still has many years ahead of him to make his name even more well-known as a sire.
A stakes winner at two, Super Saver’s pedigree also promises success at three and older. He is just one of many nice stallions WinStar has in their formidable arsenal; he shares the farm with names like Tiznow, Speightstown, and Distorted Humor. Could Super Saver join those ranks? He stands for $17,500 stands and nurses.