Kitten's Joy Stallion
Kitten's Joy Stallion

Kitten’s Joy

(Photo : Ramsey Farm)


From the desk of Bill Oppenheim

bill oppenheim
bill oppenheim

Bill Oppenheim

TDNHighlighted by an almighty duel which saw Ramsey Farm’s Kitten’s Joy (El Prado) nip WinStar’s Speightstown (Gone West) by no more than $15,000 for the title of Leading North American Sire for 2013, according to calculations for TDN sire lists, these two were still outdistanced by two European sires, Coolmore’s Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) and Juddmonte’s Dansili (Danehill), on the final TDN 2013 General Sire List, combining European and North American sires.

World Number One Galileo once again topped the charts in 2013 with 144 winners and the earners of $14,354,382, according to figures generated by The Jockey Club Information Systems (TJCIS). Galileo led all North American and European sires (hereafter abbreviated NA/EU) in four black-type categories, and tied with earnings runner-up Dansili in number of 2013 Group 1/Grade I winners, with six each. From 319 runners, Galileo sired 32 black-type winners (BTW) in 2013, and 65 black-type horses (BTH, won or placed in a black-type race); that’s 10% BTW/runners during the year, and over 20% BTH. He sired 20 group/graded stakes winners (GSW) - 6.3% of his runners last year - and a quite remarkable 46 graded/group stakes horses (GSH) - 14.4% of runners. His career totals now read: 129 BTW; 226 BTH; 81 GSW; 154 GSH; and now 33 Group 1/Grade I winners (G1SW), in nine crops of racing age through 2013. He’s the greatest since his own sire, Sadler’s Wells.

A fast-finishing and arguably unlucky third behind War Chant in the 2000 G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs, Dansili nonetheless went to stud a Group 2 winner at Juddmonte’s Banstead Manor Stud in 2001 for a fee of £8,000. He worked his way up until he started to attract the better mares, and ‘stood the raise’ which not that many do - and finished 2013 as the number two sire on the combined NA/EU list, with 124 winners and the earners of $12,887,396. Dansili finished the season with 26 BT winners and 42 BT horses, second to Galileo in both categories, and was also second to him in number of group/graded SH, with 25. As noted, he was tied with Galileo with six 2013 Group 1 winners, and was third in number of GSW, with 13.

Second in that category was Darley’s Dubawi (Dubai Millennium), with 16 GSW among his 21 BTW (ranked 5th in that category), of which four were Group 1 stakes winners.

Kitten’s Joy, with just five crops racing, captured the North American title, as mentioned by a margin of just $15,000. Kitten’s Joy had 24 BT winners last year, Speightstown 23. Each had 10 GSW, while Kitten’s Joy had five GISW, Speightstown four. Unlike other versions of the General Sire List, we do not count jumps earnings in North America, which is why Kitten’s Joy’s margin of victory over Speightstown is smaller on our list than on the other guys’. Moreover, there is a case that Speightstown - who was also second on our list in 2012 - really should be called the winner.

Because earnings in Japan and Hong Kong are so much higher than in North America and Europe, most sire lists, including ours, do not include earnings from Japan and Hong Kong. An example of the problem is this: when we computed the top 2% earnings thresholds for 2012 APEX ratings, the top 2% threshold in North America was $121,200; in Japan, the threshold is $425,698. These are roughly the same standard of horses, yet the horses in Japan earned 3.5 times the same level of horses in North America (over the seven-year period 2006-2012 the average was about 4x). So including Japanese earnings, and earnings in Hong Kong, generally can be dangerous. It cost Speightstown last year, though. He had earnings in Japan of $873,762, and even if we had divided them by four and included them, he would have comfortably topped Kitten’s Joy as North America’s Leading Sire. This controversy shouldn’t detract from Kitten’s Joy’s accomplishments, though, which included siring three Grade I winners in a single day last August 17 - all on the grass. In fact, over 75% of Kitten’s Joy’s 2013 earnings came in turf races - surely the first time ever a ‘turf’ sire has led the North American General Sire List. Also, 23 of Kitten’s Joy’s 24 black-type winners last year were bred by the Ramseys. This has occasioned some murmuring to the effect that, well, only the Ramseys get good horses by him, but I don’t know what people expected. He was a grass champion standing for $12,500, and the Ramseys were the only ones prepared to give the horse a real shot.

No doubt, the way these things work, as Kitten’s Joy’s stud fee has rocketed up and top commercial breeders start to use him, his results won’t be as impressive as they’ve been up until now, but it will hardly be the Ramseys’ fault if that proves to be the case. They’ve made him: good on ‘em. They’re going to get the Eclipse Awards for leading breeder and leading owner as their bonus, and so they should; I certainly voted for them in both categories.

Extracts from Thoroughbred Daily News