The last two or three years have not been kind to the ranks of U.S. stallions, with the loss of such Arch, Exchange Rate, Harlan’s Holiday, Pulpit, Scat Daddy, Smart Strike, Street Cry and Unbridled’s Song. While many of these had already enjoyed lengthy careers, the departure of Harlan’s Holiday and Scat Daddy, both almost certainly yet to hit their peak, was particularly bitter.
On a more positive note, we’ve also seen a number of young horses rise through the ranks, and with an eye to the future, it’s well worth taking a look at them, and the ways that they are working.
(Smart Strike – Sherriff’s Deputy by Deputy Minister)
Starting with those whose oldest were 5-year-olds in 2015, Curlin now stands for $100,000. He could be seen threatening to break out prior to last season (when available for $35,000), especially if you credited Ride On Curlin and Top Billing, who showed high-class form without winning a stakes, as honorary black-type scorers.
Curlin’s first crop didn’t meet universal approval in the marketplace but did ultimately produce nine stakes winners, two graded, headed by Palace Malice. There were five stakes winners, but only one graded, in the second.
It’s possible breeders made an adjustment in the type of mares they sent Curlin once they had seen early foals, as his third crop is an exceptional one, headed by Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Stellar Wind; Keen Ice, who ran down American Pharoah to take the G1 Travers Stakes; and dual G1 scorer Curalina.
Curlin already has three more stakes winners in his current 3-year-old crop, including classic hopeful Exaggerator.
Curlin has demonstrated some clear preferences in his mates, many shared by his sire. He himself is out of a Deputy Minister mare, and four of his stakes winners, including Curlina and Keen Ice, are out of mares from that line.
Five of his stakes winners are out of Storm Cat line mares; four - all graded – out of mares from four different branches of Seattle Slew, including Stellar Wind (dam by Malibu Moon); three, including Palace Malice, from Nureyev line mares; and three out of Danzig line mares.
PIONEEROF THE NILE
(Empire Maker – Star of Goshen by Lord At War)
He is another who has already stamped himself as a classic sire. American Pharoah is from his second crop, but like Curlin, Pioneerof the Nile’s potential was evident before the breakout.
His first crop contained 10 stakes winners, four graded, but the record could have been more impressive when we consider they included one-time Kentucky Derby favorite Cairo Prince, who was retired due to injury after finishing fourth in the G1 Florida Derby, and Preakness Stakes third Social Inclusion, who never won a stakes, but who was surely far better than he was allowed to demonstrate.
Pioneerof the Nile is much more of an enigma than Curlin when it comes to discerning trends among his preferred strains. American Pharoah is out of a mare by Yankee Gentleman, a son of Storm Cat. Of his other graded winners, Midnight Storm is out of a mare by Bertrando (Relaunch line); Cairo Prince out of a mare by Holy Bull; Vinceremos out of a mare by More Than Ready; and Jojo Warrior from a mare by Carson City (making her the only stakes winner from the sire from 31 starters out of mares by sons and grandsons of Mr. Prospector).
He also has a stakes winner out a mare by a son of A.P. Indy, and two out of mares from the Blushing Groom line.
(Maria’s Mon – Supercharger by A.P. Indy)
Looking at second season sires of 2015, Super Saver had eight first crop stakes winners, including Champion Sprinter Runhappy, and G1 winners Competitive Edge and Embellish The Lace.
As a group, they’ve been more speedy and precious than generally expected. Unlike his sire, he appears to have an affinity with Mr. Prospector, who is in the broodmare sire line of five of his stakes winners, usually via Mr. Prospector/Seattle Slew (or reverse), or Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer crosses.
(Speightstown – La Comete by Holy Bull)
He actually beat out Super Saver for the second crop earnings title. He has 10 stakes winners, four graded, in a first crop sired at $12,500, and another four from his second crop.
Munnings was primarily campaigned as a sprinter, but he’s getting some that can stretch out, among them the Eclipse Award finalist I’m A Chatterbox (out of a mare by Lost Soldier, a half-brother to Munnings’ second dam), and three-time graded winner Om (one of four Munnings stakes winners with inbreeding to Speightstown’s broodmare sire, Storm Cat).
(Indian Charlie – Playa Maya by Arch)
Like Super Saver, Champion Two-Year-Old Uncle Mo is shaping as if he may pick up the mantle of a prematurely deceased sire. He broke the Freshman and Leading Two-Year-Old Sire earnings records in 2015, and already has 18 total stakes horses, nine stakes winners, four graded, including Champion Two-Year-Old Nyquist - an impressive winner on his return at three - and G1 winner Gomo.
Uncle Mo is loving Fappiano/Unbridled, with graded winners out of mares by Rubiano and Untuttable, and two stakes placed horses out of mares by Unbridled’s Song. Nyquist is out of a mare by Forestry, a Storm Cat son that has a similar background to Fappiano in his dam. Two Uncle Mo stakes winners, including Gomo, are out of Elusive Quality mares, one out of a Relaunch line mare, and one out of a Malibu Moon mare.
(Arch – Liable by Seeking the Gold)
It’s also worth casting an eye over some young sires that have yet to hit the big time, but have some potential upward mobility.
Blame is by a horse who made a sticky start, before rebounding to become an upper mid-range stalwart. With first 3-year-olds in 2015, he has five first crop stakes winners, three graded, and seven stakes placed, two at G1 level.
(Tiznow – Sweet Damsel by Turkoman)
The Travers Stakes winner started fairly slowly, but with his third crop, now three, already has three stakes winners, including promising graded winning colts, Airoforce and Cocked And Loaded.
He seems to like some of the same bloodlines as his sire, with two stakes winners out of Carson City line mares, and two out of A.P. Indy line mares.
OTHERS TO WATCH
The prematurely exported Tale of the Cat horse Lion Heart has a useful duo in Kantharos (Contessa Halo by Southern Halo) and Line Of David (Emma’s Dilemma by Capote), both with first crop 3-year-olds of 2015.
Kantharos only has 74 foals in his first two crops, and has six stakes winners, two graded, including brilliant sprinter X Y Jet. Line of David has three stakes winners, seven stakes horses, including Kentucky Derby second Firing Line.
Finally, keep an eye on Twirling Candy (Candy Ride – House of Danzig by Chester House), who was runner-up on last year’s freshman list, and already has 31 first crop winners. He has only one stakes winner so far, but has 10 stakes horses, as well as the highly-rated Danzing Candy. Six of his stakes horses, including his stakes winner, are from just 19 starters out of mares by sons or grandsons of Storm Cat.