We’ve always said the stallion barn is the soul of the farm, more so when it’s home to a game-changing sire. A glance at the standings of our domestic stallions in 2016, reveals the value of a Trippi, a Dynasty, a Silvano or a Captain Al. Yet Bill Oppenheim’s latest revelations on the international scene remind us what a giant progenitor means to a farm in the global context, more so when they are serving books of 200 or more and coining it in hard currency.
 Bill Oppenheim

“In 2014, the first year TDN archived combined lists for North American and European sires, Coolmore’s Galileo was the leading sire by progeny earnings, with $18,693,237, and led all NA/EU sires in all six black-type categories, with 38 Black-Type Winners (BTW), 66 Black-Type Horses (BTH), 25 Group/Graded SW (GSW), 50 Group/Graded Stakes Horses (GSH), eight Grade I/Group 1 winners, and 15 Grade I/Group 1 Horses (G1H). He led Gainesway’s Tapit, the leading sire in North America with progeny earnings of $18,644,719, by a little over $300,000. In 2015, Darley’s flagship sire, Dubawi, grabbed the money title, with progeny earnings of $22,696,170. Tapit again took the North American sires’ championship, breaking his own record with progeny earnings of $19,104,673, while Galileo finished third on money, with $17,704,275, but again led all six black-type categories, with 40 BTW, 70 BTH, 25 GSW, 49 GSH, 10 G1W, and 19 G1H.

Galileo / Coolmore (p)

This year, Galileo reclaims the money title; with just 10 days left in the year, he has 2016 progeny earnings of an incredible $30,082,927, and once again leads all six black-type categories, with 39 BTW, 71 BTH, 30 GSW, 54 GSH, a mind-blowing 14 Group 1 winners (by comparison, Dubawi, Tapit and North America number two sire Curlin have five each), and 24 G1H. Dubawi is second in Europe, with the earners of $17,886,202.

In North America, Tapit will win his third consecutive sires’ championship, and his new record progeny earnings figure stands at $19,758,908 (all figures as of Tuesday, December 20). There is one more really big day of racing, opening day at Santa Anita December 26, so it’s not out of the question Tapit could break the $20-million barrier. He leads North American sires this year in five of the six black-type categories; Claiborne’s War Front, who is actually 21st on the North American General Sire List (GSL) as a high percentage of his earnings being in Europe, leads Tapit in number of 2016 Black-Type Winners, 22 to 21. In all the other categories Tapit is the leader in North America: 53 BTH, 15 GSW, 36 GSH, 5 GISW (tied with Curlin), and 10 GIH.

Hill ‘n Dale’s Curlin, whose first foals are just six this year, moves into the number two spot on the North American GSL; his progeny earnings this year are $12,660,050, which is about $7-million adrift of Tapit, but about $360,000 ahead of Coolmore Ashford’s leading second-crop sire, Uncle Mo, who has progeny earnings of $12,300,350, in third. Curlin’s five 2016 Grade I winners, tying him with Tapit in that category, were big contributors to his impressive placing.

 Into Mischief / Spendthrift (p)

Into Mischief / Spendthrift (p)

Among North American second-crop sires, Uncle Mo’s total, good for third on the GSL, is some $8.7-million clear of Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti ($3.55-million) and Lane’s End’s Twirling Candy ($3.41-million). He of course leads North American second-crop sires in all black-type categories, with 18 BTW, 30 BTH, 10 GSW, 19 GSH, two GIW and five GIH. Among the 20 sires which all had fabulous years in 2016, there are four which would qualify as the most notable performances: Galileo’s $30-million in progeny earnings and off-the-graph numbers of black-type performers; Tapit’s third consecutive record-breaking North American sire championship; Spendthrift’s Into Mischief topping the North American 2-year-old sire list with his first big crop; and Banstead Manor’s Frankel, probably the best racehorse of all time, who has made an equally impressive start at stud.

We wrote about Into Mischief in our column November 23, after he hit the top of the 2016 North American 2-year-old sire list. He has actually increased his margin in the interim, and from a crop of 133 named foals, he’s had 88 2-year-old runners this year (only his own sire, Harlan’s Holiday, with 92, has had more), and leads all North American sires with 34 2-year-old winners, which have earned $3,073,765 (over $600,000 now in front of War Front in second). These include six 2-year-old BTW and 12 2-year-old BTH, the best of which is dual Grade I winner and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile third, Practical Joke. Inevitably when a stallion proves to sire this many precocious horses the question is “will they train on?” We really don’t know one way or the other, because he’ll have almost as many 3-year-olds in 2017 as in his previous four crops combined. But his midyear 2016 APEX ABC Runner Age Ratings are not discouraging: 2yo 1.98; 3yo 1.78; 4yo 1.31; 5yo+ 3.25.

It’s also instructive to see exactly who Into Mischief finished in front of. War Front led this list for most of the summer and fall, courtesy to a great extent of trainer Aidan O’Brien. War Front has 25 2-year-old winners and the earners of over $2.4-million, and leads North American 2016 sires of 2-year-olds in five of the six black-type categories, with eight 2-year-old BTW, 14 BTH, five GSW, 12 GSH, and six GIH. Four sires have two 2-year-old Grade I winners: Tapit, Scat Daddy, Union Rags, and Quality Road. WinStar’s Pioneer of the Nile, also the wide-margin leader among North American fourth-crop sires, ranks third on the 2-year-old sire list, courtesy of GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and pro-tem champion 2-year-old colt, Classic Empire, with Tapit fourth, Speightstown fifth, Scat Daddy sixth, and Harlan’s Holiday seventh. There’s no hedging here: Into Mischief topping the 2-year-old sire list in this company is an extremely impressive performance.

Frankel / Juddmonte (p)

Frankel’s dominance among 2016 European Freshman Sires is only partially demonstrated by the Progeny Earnings Table which shows he has 18 winners, progeny earnings of $1,882,131, more than double those of second-placed Sir Prancealot, and leads all the black-type categories, including six GSW, one of which is the Japanese Group 1 winner, Soul Stirring. TDN contributor Kevin Blake wrote an interesting piece in our December 9 edition, in which he produced a table covering European first-crop sires of 2016. He tabulated the percentage of runners for each sire which had achieved two Racing Post Ratings thresholds, RPR 85+ and RPR 100+. This was illuminating. Frankel had 42.9% RPR 85+/runners; 2-3-4 were Mayson 22.9%, Sepoy 22.4%, Power 19.5%. For runners at RPR 100+, Frankel had 17.1%; Power actually had 12.2%, then Sepoy 8.2% and Dragon Pulse 6.5%. Whichever scale one uses, private research being done by several people suggests Frankel the sire could be in the same class as Frankel the racehorse, though of course you never really know until they have 3-year-olds. The only other horse we have to compare him with recently, really, is Uncle Mo, and so far Frankel seems to be starting out even more strongly than Uncle Mo did. He was a breath-taking racehorse, and there’s a chance he’s going to be a breath-taking sire, too.

The race for leading North American first-crop sire is going down to the wire. At the moment, Darby Dan’s 2011 GI Florida Derby winner Dialed In (Mineshaft) holds a $37,000 lead over Lane’s End’s 2011 GI Champagne Stakes and 2012 GI Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags (Dixie Union), but clearly both are very good. Back in 2002, Distorted Humor, Awesome Again, and Elusive Quality fought out the North American freshman sire title. They finished in that order, but all three turned out to be good sires, and that’s likely to be the case with this year’s pair as well. Both look very promising indeed. We’ve mentioned Uncle Mo’s dominance, above, among North American second-crop sires, with their first 3-year-olds 2016 (F2013, first foals 2013). Two stallions stand out among European second-crop sires. Last year’s leading European freshman sire, Coolmore’s Zoffany (Dansili), is still the cumulative leading European second-crop sire, both by progeny earnings ($3,909,864) and in all six black-type categories: 10 BTW, 15 BTH, six GSW, nine GSH, five G1H, and, along with Haras D’ Etreham’s Wootton Bassett, they are the only European second-crop sires to have sired a Group 1 winner. Wootton Bassett’s is, of course, Almanzor, winner of almost $3-million in 2016, thus contributing the vast majority of his sire’s $3,262,381 total for 2016. So Wootton Bassett leads Zoffany in 2016 earnings and they each have a Group 1 winner, but Zoffany leads in all other categories. Both are still quite reasonably priced for 2017, Wootton Bassett at £20,000 and Zoffany at £35,000.

Quality Road / Lane's End (p)

The two leading North American third-crop sires are proving to be Lane’s End’s Quality Road (Elusive Quality) and Coolmore Ashford’s Munnings (Speightstown). Quality Road is the leader with five GSW, eight GSH, three Grade I winners, including two 2-year-olds, Klimt and Abel Tasman, four GIH, and 2016 earnings of $6,282,684, about $1-million ahead of Munnings, who is the leading NA third-crop sire by BTW, with 10. Munnings is also the leader by cumulative BTW (19) and BTH (25), tied with Quality Road with six GSW each, and has about a $300,000 margin, with cumulative progeny earnings of $11,462,390 versus Quality Road’s total of $11,186,216. The only categories we’re covering in this report in which Quality Road and Munnings are not one-two in either order are: number of 2016 BTH (17, tie between Ashford’s Lookin At Lucky {Smart Strike} and Hill ‘n Dale’s Florida import, Kantharos {Lion Heart}); and cumulative number of GIH (Lookin At Lucky, 6). Among European third-crop sires, Ireland’s Ballylinch Stud’s Lope De Vega (Shamardal) has emerged as the standout, leading by 2016 earnings and cumulative progeny earnings, as well as leading in all six black-type categories both in 2016 and cumulatively. Interestingly, both Quality Road and Lope De Vega had somewhat shaky years in 2015, when they had their first 3-year-olds, but bounced back with purpose in 2016, when they had their first 4-year-olds, to establish their credentials without question.

Among North American fourth-crop sires (meaning their first foals were born in 2011 and are 5-year-olds this year, when their fourth crop of 2-year-olds are racing), WinStar’s Pioneer of the Nile also finally confirmed his stature, not only as North America’s top fourth-crop sire, but also as a legitimate six-figure stud fee sire. It’s funny, all he did in 2015 was have the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years in his second crop, but some people still knocked him because American Pharoah was his only Grade I winner, he was a “one-trick pony”. But this year he’s had two new Grade I winners, including the pro-tem champion 2-year-old colt, GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Classic Empire, plus his first-crop Grade II winner Cairo Prince proved a hit at the November sales with his first weanlings, and all is forgiven.

 Fastnet Rock / Coolmore (p)

Fastnet Rock / Coolmore (p)

Three European fourth-crop sires actually achieve standout status: Gilltown Stud’s brilliant half-brother to Galileo, Sea The Stars; and the Coolmore pair of Australian champion sire Fastnet Rock and Mastercraftsman, sire of three Grade I winners in his first crop in 2014-15. Fastnet Rock leads the trio by 2016 earnings, BTW (14), BTH (29), and 2016 Group 1 winners (3). Mastercraftsman leads by cumulative progeny earnings, while Sea The Stars, second in 2016 earnings and third cumulatively, leads in all the cumulative black-type categories, with 34 BTW, 57 BTH, 20 GSW, 40 GSH, five Group 1 winners (tied with Fastnet Rock), and 12 Group 1 Horses. These three are the top three in all the relevant categories, and it’s also interesting to note the cumulative number just of winners for each. They’re actually quite close together again: Mastercraftsman 186, Fastnet Rock 179, Sea The Stars 174; for Fastnet Rock, of course, these numbers apply only to his four North American crops.”

Bill Oppenheim / TDN 21.12.2016