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Kentucky Sires for 2021: Established Stallions
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So here we are at last, rounding the home turn. This series has unfolded in familiar fashion, with an initial stampede of unproven young stallions progressively thinned out by the impatience of a commercial sector operating in ever decreasing cycles. Today we finish with a selection from those admirable stallions who have survived the ruthless attrition, and created a viable niche at various levels of the market. The odds they have overcome, to get here, are such that the long-term health of the breed is clearly being treated as something our grandchildren can worry about instead. Yes, action is now being taken by the industry, notably on book sizes and medication. But the onus for change is not so much on regulators as on those directing investment. So long as the bloodstock agents (and racing managers and all the rest) keep funneling the budget into untested stallions, then farms can't be blamed for industrial exploitation of flimsy rookies perceived as “commercial” before discarding them to overseas or regional programs. And nor can breeders and pinhookers be blamed for supporting them. The standard defense, of course, is that you have no choice but to try new stallions unless you can afford the proven operators in the six-figure elite. If that were truly so, however, why don't they support stallions in their third, fourth and fifth years? Why don't they tell their patrons that the time to get real value is when they're cooling off: you could get to Into Mischief for just $7,500 after he had sold his first yearlings, remember, and Tapit for $12,500. We all know why. It's because professional advisers are too nervous of having their judgement exposed. They daren't risk telling their patrons that now is the time to roll with a slower-burning stallion, in case his first couple of crops go so quietly that he's dispatched to Turkey or Pennsylvania. And of course that becomes self-fulfilling. Instead they behave as though the sieves of quality and value, between pedigree and conformation and all the rest of it, suddenly cease functioning once a stallion is about to launch his stock. That way they can say: “Don't blame me that this stallion didn't work out. You saw how hot his yearlings were. All the other experts agreed.” Sky Mesa's lifetime percentages remain tremendous for this level | EquiSport Photos On that basis, we've already explored some of the best value in the marketplace. But today we're going to browse some of those who, often by combining merit with timely fortune, have come out the other side of this winnowing process. They set a standard that will be met by very few of the new stallions annually flooding the market. As such, in fact, they provide what should (in a sane industry) be the most commercial service of all–by offering tangible, legible prospects of decorating your mare with a stakes winner or two. The nature of this particular beast means we'll be revisiting some who have featured in years past. One or two have meanwhile faded, naturally; one or two have elevated themselves beyond the reach of “value.” But consistency is what keeps the rest in our esteem, and we'll repay them in kind. As a general principle, older stallions are a good place to start. I realize that many people are convinced that these greybeards lose their potency, but I suspect this to be one of those self-fulfilling prejudices; not least because ageing achievers often face competition from more affordable sons. There are simply too many top-class runners (and stallions) from the last books of their sires to be dismissed merely as exceptions that prove the rule. And it's certainly splendid to see Speightstown, with four individual Grade I winners in 2020, earn a fee hike from $70,000 to $90,000 at the age of 23! As ever, anyone in this business who proposes an inviolable “rule” on the basis of a software program should be treated with suspicion; but they do kindly enable some stallions of proven, elite caliber to slip into reach, especially at a time when many farms are cutting fees across the roster. Malibu Moon | Spendthrift For instance, do we really think Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy–Macoumba, by Mr. Prospector) a bust, now that he's down to $35,000? This sire of 17 Grade I winners–a tally exceeded among active rivals only by Tapit ($185,000), War Front ($150,000), Medaglia d'Oro ($150,000) and Speightstown himself, who's a year his junior–admittedly had a relatively quiet 2020 on the track, with just a couple of graded stakes winners. But his yearlings were still turning over a six-figure average in a squeezed market, and he's long established the efficacy of his aristocratic genes in producing dirt horses ideally adapted to the demands of Classic racing. Unlike a lot of veteran sires, moreover, Malibu Moon is not going to run dry of material to keep his name in lights: he has been covering triple-digit books like clockwork, and his imminent juveniles crop comprised 103 live foals. And they're all out of mares deemed worthy of a $75,000 cover. What a terrific price he is now, to prove a young mare! If you're a breeder, moreover, you'd be willing to retain one of his daughters in the hope of her someday producing another Stellar Wind (Curlin), Girvin (Tale of Ekati) or Bellafina (Quality Road). In that capacity, mind you, we're reluctant to look past another by the same breed-shaping sire. Bernardini | Darley For Bernardini (A.P. Indy–Cara Rafaela, by Quiet American) is also down to $35,000 at Darley. That's a milder trim, from $40,000, and presumably prompted primarily by a troubled market environment–but it's also a fourth cut in four years. He was still at six figures as recently as 2017, and as high as $150,000 in his pomp. Having only just turned 18, however, he remains ahead of a genuinely historic curve as a broodmare sire: his daughters have produced more Grade I, graded stakes and black-type winners than any stallion in history, at this stage. Yet his headline act in 2020 was a colt, Art Collector, who beat Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) comprehensively in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. during a spree that qualified him as one of the best sophomores around. He tapered off somewhat, and Micheline's narrow defeat in the GI Queen Elizabeth II Cup meant that their sire could not add to his 10 domestic Grade I winners (plus three in Australia/one apiece in Italy and Dubai). Nonetheless, Bernardini has confirmed himself still perfectly capable of producing on the track, doubtless with more to follow given that he's routinely covering books in the 130s. And then there's the extraordinary precocity of his damsire credits, which can be shared between both sides of his pedigree: A.P. Indy's established a formidable distaff influence both through his own daughters and now those of his sons, unsurprising given the Secretariat–Buckpasser combination behind his own dam; while damsire Quiet American is a unique genetic dynamo. Physically, of course, Bernardini is himself so beautiful a specimen that you're tempted to use adjectives typically reserved for femininity. And if commercial nerves about his recent performance reached his yearlings in the COVID market, then it shouldn't be forgotten that he has always been a lucrative performer in a sales environment that prizes deeds even above those looks: his 2-year-olds last year averaged $176,265, and only Storm Cat beats his 25 lifetime juveniles at $500,000-plus. Bottom line is that any breeder inclined to retain a filly will not get better value than Bernardini, perhaps anywhere in the world. Hard Spun | Darley Mind you, end-users simply looking for a runner won't even have to leave Jonabell for a fine alternative at the same peg in Hard Spun (Danzig–Turkish Tryst, by Turkoman). His own excellence on the track, of course, reinforces our earlier defense of senior stallions (conceived when Danzig was 26) and Hard Spun continues to punch way above weight at $35,000, charitably clipped from $40,000 despite following up his stellar 2019 (three Grade I winners, all from his first crop since returning from that unhelpful sojourn in Japan) with another top 10 finish in the general sires' table. This sire of 10 Grade I winners has assembled his 129 lifetime black-type performers at 11.5%–a tick behind Uncle Mo, for instance, who has advanced his fee to $175,000 with eight Grade I winners and 12% stakes performers. And Hard Spun has an exciting sophomore in Smarty Jones S. winner Caddo River, as high as No. 2 in colleague T.D. Thornton's Derby Top 12. Despite the quirky damsire, it's all good stuff along that Darby Dan bottom line, with a half-sister to Little Current as close up as second dam; while Hard Spun's half-sister has refreshed the family page in more recent times as second dam of Improbable (City Zip). Above all, Hard Spun throws us as short a lifeline as we have, and at a fraction of the cost of War Front, to their breed-shaping sire. Moreover he is parlaying his genes into such diverse disciplines and environments that he really should be much higher on the list for European breeders, as well. (Good to see one daughter, pinhooked as a $70,000 Keeneland September RNA, making 375,000gns at the Tattersalls Breeze-Ups last summer; she duly won her only start.) Blame | Claiborne Another whose fee trim for 2021 ($30,000 from $35,000) must be accounted simply a friendly gesture to a difficult trading environment is Blame (Arch–Liable, by Seeking the Gold). Because the Claiborne stallion has long passed the stage when he needs that kind of help. In fact, he has become a tribute to exemplary management, rebuilding in pretty spectacular fashion from a point where he did appear to be in a spot of trouble. That was in 2018, when his fee was halved to $12,500. At that stage, he had made a similarly quiet start to that once made by his own sire on the same farm, and was down to just 48 mares the previous year–albeit he promptly had a breakthrough Classic success in Europe. Since then, he has left no doubt that he is successfully replicating the elite genetic wares that underpinned nine consecutive triple-digit Beyers and a historic distinction as the only horse ever to beat Zenyatta (Street Cry Ire). Though unlucky to have soon lost the services of his fifth elite winner, Nadal, Blame had nine other graded stakes performers in 2020. Actually, Blame's overall output, after eight crops, is now strikingly similar to that of Quality Road, who started at the same time and smoothly elevated himself to $150,000 thanks to 11 Grade I winners at a ratio surpassing nearly all comers. For Blame can otherwise nearly match him for the across-the-board consistency: by stakes winners, Quality Road's 6.5% plays 6% for Blame (black-type performers (12.5 and 12.2%); they respectively stand at 3.7 and 3.3% for graded stakes winners, and 6.2 and 6.4% for graded stakes horses; while their overall Grade I performers measure up at 2.5 and 2.3%. Again, this comparison is only intended to magnify Blame and not belittle a top-class alternative, and it must be said that their latest yearling averages (as so often tends to be the case) dutifully reflect the difference in fees. True, even a $57,884 average for Blame looked after their $12,500 conception fee very nicely–and that, in itself, is a reminder that Blame's revival since should be sustained, in terms of racetrack headlines, by the improved quality and size (now routinely in three figures) of his books. Having just turned 15, Blame is entering his prime. So forget Quality Road for a minute. As a percentage of named foals, despite that sticky start, Blame now measures up to Into Mischief for Grade I winners; Ghostzapper for Grade I horses; More Than Ready for graded stakes winners; Kitten's Joy for graded stakes horses; Uncle Mo for stakes horses; and Candy Ride (Arg) for stakes winners. Oh yes, and he just had his fee cut. That either shows you prove anything with statistics, or that he deserves gold on our final “value podium.” (See below…) None of this is hard to explain: Blame has a for-the-ages pedigree, with fourth dam Thong standing opposite Courtly Dee in Arch's maternal line. That's like a time capsule for everything we need to retain in the breed. Sure enough, he's obviously another who would make any breeder glad to retain a filly. English Channel | Sarah Andrew We don't need too much detail on the eligibility of English Channel (Smart Strike–Belva, by Theatrical Ire) for this list, having so recently celebrated his breakthrough turf championship (by domestic and/or Northern Hemisphere earnings). We remarked then that if Kitten's Joy has been crazily undervalued by European prospectors, we should be outright scandalized by neglect of a stallion whose lifetime percentages either match or (mostly) surpass that acknowledged turf Titan, right across the board. We know that the commercial market has an infantile terror of grass, but the combined class and durability of stallions like these are precisely what the breed overall requires most urgently. These days Calumet may sing from a rather different hymnsheet from most commercial horsemen, but at $27,500 (down from $35,000) English Channel is an imperative option for end users–most obviously, if by no means exclusively, those eager to exploit the expanding turf program. Lookin At Lucky | Coolmore For a long time, we were able to bracket another by the same stallion, Lookin At Lucky (Smart Strike–Private Feeling, by Belong to Me) with his Ashford buddy Munnings (Speightstown) as a pair who together represented great value at a similar level. The Munnings train has meanwhile left town: nobody ever needed telling about him, to be honest, because everyone already seemed to know. His books have been soaring, in quality and quantity, and now the dividends are there for Kentucky's No. 7 stallion by earnings in 2020, with six graded stakes winners. But poor old Lookin At Lucky remains grievously underrated, whatever he does. He's still stranded at $20,000, a fee now doubled by Munnings, and received 113 mares last spring compared with 207 for his uber-fashionable rival. And, cursed by a self-fulfilling reputation (“not a sales sire”), his yearlings averaged $33,777 even as Munnings swaggered his way up to $80,932. But Lookin At Lucky's record is so much better than many a “sales sire” that he points an accusing finger at the whole business. Just what are these guys looking for? A racehorse, or a pretty model for art students? His cumulative achievements, even now, keep him on a par with Munnings himself. Okay, so he is outpunched on stakes winners (6.7 versus 4.7% of named foals), but other indices keep the ugly duckling right alongside the swan. Lookin At Lucky gets black-type horses at 10.3 against 10.7%; graded stakes winners at 2.5 against 2.6%; graded stakes performers at 4.9 against 4.4%; Grade I horses at 2.2 against 1.2%. And while Munnings still has just two elite scorers from 685 named foals, Lookin At Lucky (553) has come up with winners of the Breeders' Cup Classic, the Kentucky Derby and a Beldame winner who then ran Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) to a length in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. When he connects, Lucky hits as hard as anyone. Those who quibble over the promotion of Country House, incidentally, should remind themselves that he was not the only son of Lookin At Lucky to have passed the post second in the one race everyone claims to have in mind when they go to Keeneland in September. It's nuts, really. Here's a stallion who has repeatedly produced elite two-turn horses, from mares on a $20,000 covering budget, and still a lot of agents put an automatic line through his yearlings. But that's fine. See you guys in the winner's circle. Because Lookin At Lucky doesn't have to get mad. He can just get even. The Factor | Lee Thomas The Factor (War Front–Greyciousness, by Miswaki) had another productive campaign in 2020, just cents off the top 10 among living Kentucky stallions, but Lane's End held him at $17,500. That's doubtless because this last yearling cycle was the one he missed through his season in Japan, so he'll be quieter on the track this time round, but patience will bring its rewards: his book last spring rocketed to 150, from 80 in his comeback year. In fact, patience has been the key throughout. The Factor lost early momentum when his first crop, conspicuously well received at the sales, turned out not to be the sharp and early types everyone had anticipated. But they proved worth the wait, and The Factor's cumulative percentages now stack up very closely with those of his flourishing studmate Twirling Candy, who deservedly commands a fee of $40,000. The Factor is surely just refueling at this kind of fee, and can be expected to motor upwards once back on the highway. Midnight Lute | Sarah Andrew A half-sister to The Factor wrote an important new chapter for Midnight Lute (Real Quiet–Candytuft, by Dehere) in 2020 when her daughter Keeper Ofthe Stars became the Hill 'n' Dale stallion's fourth Grade I winner. It was a good campaign all round for Midnight Lute, with three others adding elite podiums to Grade II success. That's especially important for one who has produced such an extravagant talent in Midnight Bisou that people don't always recognize his breadth of achievement. As a turf miler, moreover, Keeper Ofthe Stars reiterated the versatility of a horse who was celebrated on the track as very fast, and very tall, but who very adaptably recycles a ton of Classic genes and all-round physical quality. Another old pal is Sky Mesa (Pulpit–Caress, by Storm Cat). Good to see that he welcomed a three-figure book to Three Chimneys last year, up from 59 in 2019. Admittedly he had a quiet campaign, with just three stakes winners, but his page has been freshened up by Maxfield (Street Sense), who is out of a half-sister, and he gets a helpful trim to $12,500 (from $15,000). His lifetime percentages remain tremendous, for this level: black-type winners/horses to named foals at 6.5 and 12.7% respectively, which is as much as can be said even for stallions as accomplished as, for instance, Candy Ride (Arg), Street Sense or Flatter. Midshipman | Darley Midshipman (Unbridled's Song–Fleet Lady, by Avenue of Flags) meanwhile continued his metronomic service at Darley, another eight stakes winners in 2020 maintaining his unbelievable consistency for one operating at this end of the market: he, too, has lifetime stakes performers at 12% of named foals. To ease him a little to just $7,500, when routinely covering three-figure books, is really looking after the working breeder at a difficult time. I really look forward to the day when Midshipman gets the domestic Grade I success that is surely, given his achievements with such limited mares, well within his competence. Mind you, Mizzen Mast (Cozzene–Kinema, by Graustark) has had eight of those! Here's another big firm looking after the little guy, with Juddmonte standing this venerable creature at the same bargain fee. He's a versatile influence in everything with the class that has united achievers in every theatre–short and long, turf and dirt–and he's now of an age where his daughters can show the same merit, most recently through Ete Indien (Summer Front), Nashville (Speightstown) and Classic-placed European filly Quadrilateral (GB) (Frankel GB). So having started with a veteran, we finish with one, too. Because for a fee you could carry into the farm office in a cigar box, you can still tap into a grandson of Caro (Ire), with first two dams by Graustark and Tom Fool. Show me something like that in the freshman's table, and you get my attention. CHRIS McGRATH'S VALUE PODIUMGold: Blame ($30,000, Claiborne)   Now nearing elite status by any measure but price.Silver: Lookin At Lucky ($20,000, Coolmore)   Seems that nobody is ever Lookin' hard enough.Bronze: Mizzen Mast ($7,500, Juddmonte)   Hurry for those genes while they last!
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Kentucky Sires for 2021: Fourth-Crop Stallions
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What a tough game this is. You only get to show the first card in your hand before virtually the whole pile of chips is distributed. One or two players gather up their winnings, whooping triumphantly, and suddenly your own hopes of staying in the game–your hopes of a viable stud career in Kentucky–depend exorbitantly on the next card. Generally speaking, it doesn't matter if you turn out to have had a whole sheaf of aces farther into your hand. By the time you can turn those over, there will be nothing left on the table but empty glasses and a full ashtray. We noted in the previous instalment that a third crop of juveniles, alongside a first crop of 4-year-olds, typically represents a final chance. Sure enough, compared with 18 Bluegrass stallions approaching that crossroads, we find just six left to review today from the preceding intake. But whatever sympathy we feel for those meanwhile driven into regional or overseas programs, the nature of the business today means that they have actually delivered as legible and legitimate a sample of their work as we are ever going to get. So many stallions nowadays cover 500 mares across their first three seasons, only to find themselves reduced to a dozen or two within a couple of years. If anything, then, their embarrassment now should prompt us to revisit the vogue they enjoyed when first going to market–and perhaps the contrast might even make us hesitate before rushing to the next lot of rookies off the carousel. In this group, however, there are a couple who have done something beyond almost all young stallions and created a sustainable niche in the market. Having made a brisk start with his first juveniles in 2018, in fact, GOLDENCENTS (Into Mischief–Golden Works, by Banker's Gold) entertained no fewer than 239 mares at Spendthrift the following spring and another 204 last year–taking him to an aggregate 1,133 through his first six years. And he will presumably maintain the traffic, his farm having taken such a purposeful lead on fee cuts in the pandemic marketplace: for 2021 he's back down to his original fee of $15,000, from $25,000 last year. Goldencents topped the third-crop championship in 2020 by nearly all indices, having previously been champion freshman by winners (second to studmate Cross Traffic by prize money) and then headed the second-crop table. Given his fairly industrial output, however, he is nothing like so dominant in percentage terms. It would be pushing things, certainly, to describe nine black-type winners and three graded stakes winners from 255 starters as a wildly exciting yield. By My Standards has been a standard-bearer for Goldencents | Coady But then Goldencents, having been one of the first to demonstrate his sire's capacity to upgrade mares, has also been in the vanguard in terms of testing whether that prowess will be recycled by his sons. He was just a $5,500 yearling, remember, out of a $7,000 mare by a stallion who ended up in Cyprus. The family did bring hardiness (next two dams respectively 18-for-45 and 13-for-46), but somehow Into Mischief ignited a spark of quality in Goldencents that burned up consecutive editions of the GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. And while his sire was still available at $35,000 when Goldencents joined him at Spendthrift, his relative affordability has obviously been at a growing premium ever since. Goldencents was blessed that his own first crop produced a couple who did much the same service, in promoting their sire, as he had himself performed for Into Mischief. In fact, By My Standards and Mr. Money remain far and away his biggest earners to date. And while neither has quite broken the Grade I ice, By My Standards certainly neared the top of the handicap division in his third season and has helped to keep his sire's names in lights all the way through. Arguably it's about time Goldencents produced a new star, but that's precisely what he can hope to do after getting that reboot from his prolific first crop. In the meantime, admittedly, he has been treading water somewhat at the sales: while one daughter did bring $300,000, he averaged a steady $29,069 with his 2020 yearlings, for 52 sold of 68 offered. That yield, and all the rest cited here, must of course be placed in the context of an exceptionally challenging market. Be that as it may, we will pretty soon have to cease doing what we're doing today–comparing these survivors against other stallions at the same stage of their career–and instead start measuring them against all those established operators who, having shed the commercial allure of novelty, have already chiselled a lasting foothold in the market. Cairo Prince | Sarah Andrew Sticking to this group, however, you couldn't ask for a more instructive foil to Goldencents than CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof the Nile–Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull). They have reached this point absolutely in tandem: Goldencents has 384 named foals, Cairo Prince 380; Goldencents has had 256 starters, Cairo Prince 249; Goldencents has 158 winners, Cairo Prince 156; they both, moreover, have 26 black-type horses. Sure enough, they stand for the same fee. But it's the Airdrie stallion who has a slight but consistent edge at the top end: by stakes winners (13 plays nine), graded stakes winners (five plays three) and graded stakes horses (ten plays seven). Moreover Cairo Prince is one of those rare stallions whose initial market reception was way out of line with the ranking implied by his opening fee. We've seen, throughout this series, how that seldom guarantees anything–whether for better or worse. In this case, however, it has turned out that Cairo Prince was quite rightly “found” as a $10,000 start-up. His stock was received with such enthusiasm that he actually earned two fee hikes before he had a single runner, an extremely rare accolade. And if he, too, has now required a trim from $25,000, then the buzz he generated with his sales debut in 2017–when he achieved a staggering average yield of 15 times his fee–will only now start to tell in the improved quality of his mares. True, commercial opportunism tends to be finite wherever it occurs in the cycle, and Cairo Prince dropped to 87 mares last spring after being basically fully subscribed to that point. But it's a confident bet that the juveniles heading to the track this year, conceived after that remarkable sales debut, will give fresh commercial kudos to the foals he breeds this time round. In the meantime, Cairo Prince continues to impress with his sales stock, averaging $47,601 for 57 sold of 78 offered in 2020, confirming him far and away the most resilient and productive sales sire in this group. He just needs his big horse, now, but he's having an excellent winter on the track (three new stakes winners over the past month) and, nationally, only Into Mischief, Tapiture, Not This Time and American Pharoah had more juvenile winners last year. And it certainly does no harm that he now has another productive young stallion so close up, his Grade I-placed half-sister having gained new celebrity as dam of WinStar's thriving rookie Outwork (Uncle Mo). Mucho Macho Man | EquiSport Photos In 2020, however, the star turn in this group was MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno–Ponche de Leona, by Ponche), who inserted himself between Goldencents and Cairo Prince in the third-crop prize money table with two Grade I winners. In previous years, of course, Mucho Gusto's success in the Pegasus World Cup would have been still more lucrative. Moreover that horse was unfortunate to be sidelined after his trip to the desert and only resurfaced when fourth behind Cairo Prince's latest graded stakes winner, Kiss Today Goodbye, in the GII San Antonio S. at Christmas. Anyhow his sire followed through with an elite success on turf, as well, Rodeo Drive S. winner Mucho Unusual having meanwhile added another two graded stakes even since Christmas. In fact, with a total 51 winners from just 77 starters in 2020, Mucho Macho Man topped the national field last year in earnings-per-foal–and, importantly, we know that his stock is just going to keep thriving. Though precocious enough to contest all three legs of the Triple Crown before his third birthday, he kept filling that great rangy frame of his to win the GI Breeders' Cup Classic at five. These results are barely filtering through to the commercial market, as he averaged $24,883 for 21 yearling sales of 28 offered, but then he only stands for $7,500. And he goes well at the juvenile sales (Mucho Gusto made no less than $625,000!) just as we should expect of a stallion who relies on deeds not hype. He's a mad outcross but is quietly earning his stripes and hopefully people are beginning to pay attention. His third book had dwindled to just 35, but he has since welcomed 96, 86 and 77 guests to Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa. Lot of horse for the money, in every way. Will Take Charge | Louise Reinagel The rival Mucho Macho Man nosed out for his greatest success was a barely less imposing creature, but now finds himself on a rather less encouraging tangent. It seems a long time, certainly, since WILL TAKE CHARGE (Unbridled's Song–Take Charge Lady, by Dehere) set out at $30,000 and duly dominated this lot in their sales debut with a $169,190 average. This time round he cashed out 37 of 41 for just $13,712, and he's down to a bargain $5,000 at Three Chimneys after being reduced to a very small book last spring. Will Take Charge has mustered a handful of stakes winners, notably Grade I-placed sprinter Manny Wah, and maybe he will just prove a slow burner, as will sometimes happen with such a scopey horse. His was an especially fine constitution by the standards of his sire, highlighted by an 11-start sophomore campaign that started in January and ended, 26 days after his huge run at the Breeders' Cup, with success in the GI Clark H. His maternal family, meanwhile, has only become more aristocratic with the rise of Omaha Beach (War Front). Everything seemed to be in place so it would be a mystery, as well as a pity, if he can't turn things round. Cross Traffic | Sarah Andrew CROSS TRAFFIC (Unbridled's Song–Stop Traffic, by Cure the Blues) is by the same sire and made a stronger start in contesting the succession, helped to the freshman's title by Breeders' Cup champion Jaywalk but also topping the class by overall stakes winners/ performers. He has not quite maintained that flying start and Spendthrift, who briefly rewarded his freshman title with a hike to $25,000, will be hoping for a reset after halving him from $15,000 to $7,500 this time round. But there are solid grounds for optimism. For a start, Cross Traffic is no longer dining out simply on Jaywalk. Among his second crop, Ny Traffic carried his standard very valiantly–never more conspicuously than when running Authentic (Into Mischief) himself to a head in the GI Haskell, while he was previously only beaten a length by Maxfield in the GIII Matt Winn S. And Cross Traffic can soon expect a healthy spike in the graph, with his post-freshman, 2019 book having soared to 188 mares from 60. True, he promptly sank to 59 last year, but that's how fecklessly the commercial market works nowadays. The thing to remember now is that he will have that big crop of juveniles next year, so he's another who can hope that foals conceived this spring may ride fresh headlines on the track. True, Cross Traffic stands in need of that revival after averaging just $11,630 for the 16 yearlings of 17 sent into the pandemic market, but at least he has exactly that chance brewing. Let's not forget how naturally talented he was, nailed only on the line in the stallion-making GI Met Mile just four months after his debut (got his Grade I next time). As noted, many stallions in this group have been sold to regional programs or exported, and we're particularly sorry that Fed Biz (great work, Highfield Farm of Alberta!) and Noble Mission (GB) weren't able to get adequate traction. One or two others, however, appear to have slipped off Kentucky rosters with zero announcements on their relocation. I know the farms in question will have applied impeccable standards in deciding their future but it would be a concern if due candour about their “failure,” after so brief an opportunity, is being viewed as too instructive of the flimsiness of the commercial model. Real Solution | ThoroStride The only other member of this intake apparently still operating in the Bluegrass on a commercial basis is REAL SOLUTION (Kitten's Joy–Reachforthe-heavens, by Pulpit). Actually he has reversed the standard procedure, having returned to Calumet after a couple of years in Louisiana early on. But he certainly fits the bill for this farm as a dual Grade I winner on turf, with venerable Classic influences seeding his family: his third dam is a Northern Dancer half-sister to champion Slew o' Gold (Seattle Slew) and Classic winner Coastal (Majestic Prince), as well as to the dam of Aptitude (A.P. Indy). Real Solution covered just 27 mares last spring and his handful of yearlings couldn't work even a $5,000 fee, but he's had a $675,000 2-year-old and, bottom line, he's there to breed runners. That's just what he produced (thanks to the breeders who made his sire) in Ramsey Solution, who is five-for-nine including a $300,000 stakes at Kentucky Downs last September. In fact, Real Solution has had 33 winners from just 44 starters overall, including three at black-type level; while $10,000 yearling and six-time winner Queens Embrace earned a Grade II placing at Saratoga last summer. That shows what can be done if your priorities are right, and Real Solution could appeal to enlightened breeders as being well named. In the long term, after all, the breed will suffer badly if people can only afford to use fast-buck commercial sires who are expelled from the Bluegrass the moment their first yearlings leave the sales ring. With so few stallions surviving in this intake, however, we'll combine them with the preceding class for a composite “value podium” next time.
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