Bargain Buys

The success enjoyed by top US 3yo I’ll Have Another (Kentucky Derby, Preakness S) has underlined the fact, that while expensive purchases have excelled around the world in top races,  there have also been many cheaply bought horses who have left their mark both on the track and at stud.

I’ll Have Another, was sold as a yearling for just $11,000, and later bought by subsequent owner J Paul Reddam for $35,000 at a 2yo sale. Following a 3yo career which brought about four graded races, including three G1s, I’ll Have Another was subsequently retired with earnings of over $2.6 million in prize money . Subsequently he was sold to Japan for a reported sum of $10 million – a magnificent return on his purchase price.

It is interesting to note the number of relatively “cheap buys” who have won North America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby. Two of the race’s greatest ever winners, Seattle Slew (Bold Reasoning – My Charmer) and Spectacular Bid (Bold Bidder – Spectacular), were purchased as yearlings for $17,500 and $37,000 , respectively. Another winner of the Run For The Roses, filly Genuine Risk, cost $32,000 as a yearling.

Seattle Slew’s purchase price proved particularly rewarding when the champion went on to become a great sire, whose offspring earned in excess of $80 million. Not only did the 1977 Triple Crown winner earn over $1.2 million during his racing career, a syndicate paid $12 million for the champion when he retired to stud.

Real Quiet, who was a North American champion winning both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness fetched just $17,000 as a yearling. During his racing career, which included five victories at the highest level, Real Quiet earned over $3.2 million.

However, arguably the greatest bargain buy in North American racing history came when John Henry was originally sold as a 2yo. The bad tempered gelding with a plebeian pedigree fetched just $1,000. When John retired, following his 9yo campaign, he had earned over $6 million, and had carried off two Horse of the Year titles. He is regarded as one of the greatest, and best loved, geldings in the history of North American racing.

Magic Weisner, runner up in the 2002 Preakness Stakes, was out of a mare who sold for all of $1 – which is an almost unheard of amount! Her son, by the unfashionable sire Ameri Valay, won seven races, including the G2 Ohio Derby, and over $888,000, before his career was cut short by a near fatal bout of West Nile virus.

Australia has also seen its share of “cheapies” make good. One of the greatest examples was Takeover Target (Celtic Swing – Shady Stream). The gelding was sold for just $1,250 as a yearling and went on to net his taxi driver trainer, and part owner, Joe Janiak over $6 million. The remarkable gelding won major features in Singapore (Krisflyer Sprint) and England (King’s Stand Stakes), and took out no fewer than seven G1 features during his career. Takeover Target, who only began his career at four, won no fewer than 21 races, and is a member of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.

There have been a number of “cheapies” who have fared well locally as well.

At the 2000 KZN Yearling Sale, Candy Box (Exclusive Patriot – Our Casey’s Girl)  sold for R6,000. Subsequently winner of the G3 Strelitzia and R200 000 in prize money, Candy Box also enjoyed a successful career at stud, producing the G1 winner Chocolicious.

Another few cheap buys came at the 2001 Cape Summer Yearling Sale, where subsequent stakes winners Resolution Bay (R15 000), Sevillano (R25 000) and O Caesour (R25 000) all fetched less than R30 000.

Resolution Bay (Caesour – Miss Mags), not only won a feature race and over R150 000, but is the dam of the G1 Paddock Stakes winner, Emerald Cove. She certainly proved a bargain buy!

Sevillano and O Caesour both proved really tough campaigners. Between the two of them, they won 22 races and five feature races, providing their connections with plenty of joy during their campaigns.

In more recent times, top-class performer, Tribal Dance (Tiger Dance – Navajo Angel) sold for just R40 000 at the 2010 Emperors Palace National 2yo Sale. Not only did Tribal Dance land the G3 EP Derby, but he also won the G3 Schweppes 2200 on July day, and, to date, has earned over R500 000 – which is a terrific return on his purchase price.

While skill is unquestionably a vital part of finding a good horse, luck also often pays a vital part in finding a future star as these stats clearly suggest.

Master of the sires list

With the 2011-2012 season all but at an end, it is a good time to look at the sires list, and the leaders of the logs.
Jet Master is well clear on the South African general list. The great son of Rakeen has enjoyed yet another tremendous season, and his progeny have earned over R15 million in stakes.

This season saw his 3yo Pomodoro win both the G1 SA Derby (which he shared with Royal Bencher) and G1 Vodacom Durban July, his 3yo fillies Thunder Dance and Viva Maria land the G1 TBA Paddock Stakes and G1 Woolavington Stakes respectively,  while another Jet Master daughter, the enormous Ebony Flyer, won both the G1 SA Fillies Sprint and G1 Majorca Stakes. In 2011-2012 alone, Jet Master’s progeny won 172 races, and included no fewer than 14 black type performers.

The much lamented stallion has now been champion sire for the past six years in a row – which is a truly remarkable achievement.

Runner up on the general sires list for the season is the consistent source of high-class performers, Silvano, who had three winners at Clairwood Park on Saturday.  The son of Lomitas was represented by the earners of over R12 million this year and had eight individual stakes winners representing him this season. His stakes winners this season included Astro News, Bravura, Seal, Flirtation, Silver Flyer, Punta Arenas and G3 Algoa Cup hero Forest Of Dean.

Silvano has now been runner up on the South African general sires list twice in the past three seasons, and it is surely only a matter of time before he heads the log.

The top two are clear of the likes of Kahal, Var and Captain Al.

The 2yo sires list has become a tussle between sensational first crop sire Trippi and the excellent stallion Var. At this stage, the title of champion 2yo sire could go either way, with the likes of Captain Al and Victory Moon also up with the pace.

At this stage, Trippi’s progeny have earned R1,654 815, with Var’s babies having collected prize money of R1, 600,815. Captain Al, in third place, has the prize money of just over R1.46 million to his credit, with his paternal half-brother Victory Moon been represented by R1.44 million. All in all, this promises to be quite a fight!

It would appear that this title will only be won after the running of the G1 Thekwini Stakes and G1 Premier’s Champion Stakes, on Gold Cup day.

There have been few more dominant and successful broodmare sires in South Africa than Northern Guest. Yet again Northern Guest heads the local broodmare sires list, with progeny of his daughters having wracked up prize money over R12 million.

Northern Guest’s position is largely due to the performances of his July winning maternal grandson, Pomodoro, and the G2 Emerald Cup winner, The Mouseketeer.

His achievement of heading the broodmare sires list nine times, is a truly remarkable one.

Elliodor, Jallad, Model Man and Al Mufti round out the top five on the broodmare sires list.

Trippi is by a distance the leading first crop sire. His juveniles have won 22 races this season, and his impressive first crop of South African runners include the stakes winners Agra, Franny and Hammie’s Hooker, as well as a number of other smart looking 2yos. He is definitely one of the sires of the future.

The statistics used are based on those on Monday 16th July.

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