I recently read an excellent, and thought provoking, article on sire power, of lack of in North America . It made me think wonder about US sires, and up and coming stallions based in North America .
Few people will argue with the fact that the current band of top active US sires is not in the same league as years gone by. The years of US sires such as Mr Prospector, Northern Dancer and Blushing Groom (to name a few) dominating local and international markets appear, for the moment anyhow, to have come and gone.
The world’s number one, Galileo, is based in Ireland , and many other of the top commercial stallions, such as Oasis Dream, Dubawi and Pivotal, are based in Europe .
North America has also recently seen major breed shapers, A P Indy and Storm Cat, pensioned.
They are, however, a few younger stallions based in North America, who could yet turn things around for the US .
So who are the young generation of stallions who could yet turn the tide for a weakened band of US sires?
One young stallion to have made a truly exceptional start to his stud career is Hard Spun. The son of Danzig ’s first crop has included no fewer than 15 stakes winners in his first crop, including the G1 winning fillies Questing and Zo Impressive. A G1 winner himself, Hard Spun is currently siring 6% stakes winners to foals, which is impressive in these days of large books and huge number of foals.
While Danzig’s very best sire sons, ie Danehill and Green Desert , have previously stood in Europe, he has another very promising sire son based in the US in the form of War Front.
The latter stands at Claiborne Farm, a legendary stallion farm which has enjoyed something of a resurgence of late, currently standing the likes of leading US sires Arch, Pulpit, and now, War Front.
War Front has impressive statistics from his first two crops, which have produced 17 stakes winners – three of which have won G1 races in the US, and one of which having won at the highest level in Hong Kong.
One of the most striking things about War Front, and his increasing commercial appeal is that his stud fee jumped, in 2012, from $15,000 to $60,000.
Like his great sire, War Front has eye catching stats. He is siring 9% stakes winners to foals – a figure which puts him the big league of major stallions, and also upgrades his mares most impressively. What this stallion can achiev when mated to a better book of mares can only be wondered at.
A P Indy, himself an exceptional sire and increasingly influential sire of sires, is the last remaining real link to the powerful Bold Ruler sire line. He has an exceptional young stallion son in the form of Bernardini – a horse whose offspring have been dominating both on the track and in the sales ring. Bernardini, an outstanding racehorse – his sire’s best, has had three crops to race. To date, Bernardini (who has covered the very best of mares ever since he retired to stud), has had 11 group/graded winners in his first two crops. Remarkably, sons of Bernardini captured the G1 Travers Stakes in 2011 and 2012.
The impressive stallion has also shown signs of siring progeny with more precocity than he had, with his G1 winners including such top-class juveniles as A Z Warrior (Frizette S) and Biondetti (Gran Criterium).
No fewer than 23 of Bernardini’s yearlings sold for $500,000 plus , and there is strong evidence that he could take over his sire’s mantle as North America’s leading classic sire and number one commercial stallion.
The first of Bernardini’s sons to go to stud include the G2 winner Wilburn- who covered 169 mares in his first season at stud, which suggests there is a real confidence not only in Bernardini’s future as a top sire, but also in his sons further down the road.
North America’s leading first crop sire list in 2012 is currently headed by Spring At Last (Silver Deputy), who stands for a fee of $7,500. His eight winners include G1 winner Spring In The Air (Alciabiades S) and G3 victress Spring Venture (Mazarine S).
While Spring At Last was a high-class racehorse with a classy pedigree, he retired to stud in 2009 with far less hype than such as Curlin (Smart Strike), Big Brown (Boundary) and Henrythenavigator (Kingmambo), and yet he is (at the time of writing) outperforming his more famous rivals.
Another stallion to have exceeded expectations, as this column is penned, is Sightseeing. A G2 winner by Pulpit, Sightseeing stood the 2012 season for a fee of just $3,500.
Despite this, Sightseeing is one of just three US first crop sires, thus far, to have produced a G1 winner from his first crop of 2yos (Henrythenavigator and Spring At Last being the others).
Sightseeing is the sire of top-class filly, So Many Ways – unbeaten winner of the G1 Spinaway Stakes, and he has made a fine start with far less opportunities than some of the bigger names on the US first crop sires list.
There are also a number of well bred and well performed young stallions either yet to have runners on the track, or with their first 2yos racing this year.
This group of horses includes the likes of champions Curlin and Big Brown, with the latter represented by a Breeders Cup starter in his first crop. Interestingly enough, one of the most popular first crop sires in 2012 was Galileo’s son, Cape Blanco . Can the Galileo genes prove as influential in the USA as they have elsewhere in the world?
While Europe would appear to be in the ascendency in regards to standing the world’s number one sire, North America has plenty of sire power still to be uncovered. The next few years promise to be interesting, and hopefully the US will unearth another sire legend.