The Kentucky Derby Impact

How do winners of the American Classic fare at stud?

Harry's Son

Harry’s Son wins the 2015 Gr2 Gauteng Guineas

Champion Harry’s Son, the winner of Saturday’s Gr2 Betting World Gauteng Guineas, is a colt with a smart international pedigree. A half brother to Saturday’s Durbanville victor, Henry Of York (Henrythenavigator), as well as former Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup hero, Rock Of Arts (Rock Of Gibraltar), Harry’s Son is out of the Anabaa mare, Dash For Ruby. The latter was covered by champion and former Golden Slipper Stakes winner, Pierro, (Lonhro) last season. Anabaa mares have enjoyed huge success at stud, with the former sprint champion’s daughters having also produced dual Arc winner, Treve, and Australian stars, Bluffering and Dissident.

From the same female line as Gr1 winners Ruby Clipper and her now successful sire son Seventh Rock, Harry’s Son is, to date, the sole Gr1 winner sired by Haradasun. Himself a high class performer who won major Group 1 races in both Australia and Britain, the now New Zealand domiciled Haradasun is one of just five major international Gr1 winners sired by Fusaichi Pegasus.

Fusaichi Pegasus (Mr Prospector - Angel Fever)

Fusaichi Pegasus (Mr Prospector – Angel Fever)

The only Kentucky Derby winner sired by legendary stallion Mr Prospector, Fusaichi Pegasus was sold for an alleged $70 million when he retired and stood his first season at stud for $150 000. Tellingly, his 2015 stud fee was $7 500, a clear indication that he has not quite lived up to expectations that were held for “FuPeg” when he began his stud career.

While Fusaichi Pegasus may not have become the champion sire many thought he would, he can hardly be regarded as a failure. His 70 odd stakes winners include this season’s leading US 3yo International Star as well as the high class Roman Ruler, himself a proven Grade 1 sire.

Inevitably, Kentucky Derby winning colts are in high demand after they retire to stud – especially if they sport a fashionable pedigree. However, recent results suggest that winning the Derby is not necessarily a guarantee of success at stud. One of the world’s greatest sporting events, the Kentucky Derby has also been won by some of the greatest stallions in history.

Past winners of the US classic include such dominant champions as Northern Dancer, Seattle Slew and, Sunday Silence, as well as the highly successful sires Count Fleet Pleasant Colony and Unbridled.

And while Triple Crown winners Affirmed and Secretariat are often slated as being disappointing stallions, both enjoyed plenty of success, particularly as broodmare sires. Both Affirmed (Harlan’s Holiday) and Secretariat (A P Indy, Gone West, Storm Cat, and Summer Squall) went on to sire the dams of top class stallions, with Secretariat enjoying notable success.

Runner up in 1978, Alydar was another example of a Derby contender who went on to make it big at stud – champion sire of the USA in 1990, Alydar’s numerous stars included a pair of Kentucky Derby winners in the shapes of Horse Of The Year, Alydar, (1987) and Strike The Gold (1991). One of the most commercially successful stallions of his era, one can but wonder what Alydar may have achieved had he not suffered such a controversial and tragic death at the young age of 15.

However, the trend of Kentucky Derby winners themselves siring future Derby winners is less marked than might have been expected. Just three Kentucky Derby winners in the past 50 odd years (Swaps, Seattle Slew, and Unbridled) have gone on to sire sons who have emulated their sires by landing the famed Run ForThe Roses. Grindstone, victorious in 1996, was the most recent Kentucky Derby winner to have been sired by a former Derby victor.

Thunder Gulch, who scored in 1995, may have been unlucky not to be numbered among the Derby winning sires who replicated that Derby success as a sire. In 2001, his son, Invisible Ink, ran second, while his greatest son, and subsequent Horse Of The Year, Point Given, was a disappointing fifth in the same race. The Derby was the final loss of Point Given’s career, with the colt going on to stamp his status as the best of his year, with victories in the final two legs of the 2001 Triple Crown. With the Derby’s recent list of winners including a pair of geldings (Funny Cide, Mine That Bird), reluctant breeder, War Emblem, as well as the ill-fated Barbaro (Dynaformer), recent results may not be a true reflection of the quality of entire who have triumphed at Churchill Downs.

Two promising stallions, however, suggest the tide maybe turning for Kentucky Derby winners at stud.

Street Sense, the only horse ever to win both the Breeders Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby, is carving out a solidly successful stud career for himself. The son of the deceased Street Cry is already the sire of four Grade 1 winners to date, including this season’s US Grade 1 Las Virgenes winner, Callback.

Street Sense’s win in the 2007 Kentucky Derby came at the expense of a pair of colts (Hard Spun, Curlin) who have both enjoyed success at stud in recent times and those three all look like going on to bigger and better things in the years ahead.

Super Saver was not one of the better Kentucky Derby winners of recent years, with his form line showing the colt winning just three times in ten outings and the Derby being his sole Grade 1 win. However, the great great grandson of Derby hero Majestic Prince (Raise A Native) is showing signs of being a success at stud. Super Saver, whose yearlings last year fetched up to $750 000, made the perfect start with his first runners including Gr1 Hopeful Stakes 1-2 finishers Competitive Edge and I Spent It. He ended 2014 as the second leading first crop sire in the USA, with Super Saver sired runners amassing over $1.5 million last year.

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