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 Post subject: Stateside Studs
PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 4:11 am 

Joined: Mon May 18, 2015 1:06 pm
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In the latest instalment of Stateside Stories, Nancy Sexton reflects on the changing scene of US stallion studs.

THE landscape of Kentucky’s breeding industry has changed rapidly within the past decade to the point it looks quite different to that of even six years ago.

In 2009, for instance, WinStar Farm was home to a high-profile yet select group of six stallions headlined by Tiznow at $75,000. Today, $100,000 stallion Distorted Humor sits at the top of a 20-strong roster at Kenny Troutt’s farm that includes nine unproven names.

Similarly, B Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift Farm has grown from five stallions in 2009 to a 19-strong roster for the 2015 season. Not content with expanding solely in Kentucky, octogenarian Hughes recently purchased Yallambee Stud in Australia, where he plans to stand four stallions later in the year.

Then there is Calumet Farm. Acquired by Brad Kelley in October 2012, the famed stud is home to eight stallions this year, having stood only two under its previous ownership in 2012.

Other large farms, such as Lane’s End, Gainesway and Claiborne, remain as prominent as ever. But in keeping with their recent expansion, this year’s Classic generation also represents a triumph for the stallion divisions at WinStar and Spendthrift.

Six of the 18 runners in the Kentucky Derby were conceived when their sires stood at Spendthrift. They included the runner-up Firing Line, who is from the first crop of $3,500 stallion Line Of David. The top accolade, however, belongs to WinStar in its position as home to Pioneerof The Nile, sire of the winner and current stateside star American Pharoah.

WinStar actually inherited Pioneerof The Nile, the 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up, in 2013 from Vinery when the American stallion division of that operation shut down. Then an unknown quantity with his first two-year-olds on the ground, Pioneerof The Nile was transferred by his majority owner Ahmed Zayat alongside another Zayat colour-bearer, Maimonides, and stood the 2013 season for $15,000. Roll on to 2015 and that figure has risen to $60,000.

Winner of the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity as a two-year-old and Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby at three for Zayat, Pioneerof The Nile sired last year’s Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes winner Cairo Prince, one of the early favourites for the 2014 Kentucky Derby before injury intervened, as well as fellow Grade 2 winners Jojo Warrior and Midnight Storm from his first crop of 86. American Pharoah, fittingly a Zayat homebred, is the highlight of the 58 foals from his second.

He is the overwhelming leader among the US third-crop sires – although admittedly that is far from being a vintage group – and thanks primarily to the exploits of American Pharoah, has earned a spot in second behind Tapit on the leading sires’ list by North American earnings. His two-year-olds have sold for up to $840,000 this spring, while his 2015 book of mares includes nine Grade 1 winners and 15 Grade 1 producers; it’s safe to assume the best is still to come.

The burning question now is whether American Pharoah can win the Belmont Stakes and become the first horse in 37 years to complete the US Triple Crown. The average American thoroughbred is not bred today to relish 1m4f – what some American racegoers would term an extreme distance – and American Pharoah is certainly not bred for such a test on his dam’s side; his half-brother, the Maimonides colt Xixixi, has won twice over 6f, while his dam, Littleprincessemma, is an unplaced daughter of Yankee Gentleman, a minor stakes-winning sprinter by Storm Cat now at stud in Louisiana, and a half-sister to Storm Wolf, a Grade 2 winner over 7f, and Misty Rosette, a Grade 3 winner over 6½f.

SO SHOULD American Pharoah pull off the Triple Crown, Pioneerof The Nile will be deserving of plenty of credit. While he never tackled further than 1m2f in ten starts himself, he is the sire of this year’s Indian Oaks (1m4f) winner Athens and is by Empire Maker, Juddmonte’s 2003 Belmont Stakes winner who is regarded as a stamina source in the US – only in March, his son Sky Kingdom won the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup Stakes over 1m4f at Santa Anita. In turn, Empire Maker, a son of Unbridled, is one of four members of the Fappiano sire line to land the Belmont Stakes in the past 20 years alongside Victory Gallop, Birdstone and his son Summer Bird.

Empire Maker was sold by Juddmonte to stand in Japan in late 2010 when Pioneerof The Nile was a four-year-old, but waiting in the wings was another Grade 1-winning colt in Bodemeister. Like Pioneerof The Nile, he was campaigned by Zayat, finished second in the Kentucky Derby and stands at WinStar Farm. His first crop are yearlings and after the early achievements of Pioneerof The Nile, hopes must run high at WinStar it has another ace up its s

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