In a response to yesterday’s post about the economics for standing new stallions in Kentucky, breeder Garrett Redmond questioned the bias against “turf” sires that many have observed and that prevents most stud farms from seriously considering such stallions as major sire prospects. He mentioned a short but elite list of premium international stallions who raced on nothing but turf and yet became immensely successful sires and important influences on the breed. What giveth, you might say?
In my immediate response to his query, I noted that the influence of the commercial marketplace has come to be the standard against which stallions are measured. And those Redmond mentioned were, to a critter, either imported before the commercial marketplace became extremely important in the late 1970s and early 1980s or else were made horses before coming over (Sharpen Up, Lyphard, Riverman, etc.).
Upon further reflection, the lone exception in the list Redmond posed was beautiful Blushing Groom, an utterly first-class international juvenile who won the French 2,000 Guineas and was third in the English Derby at 3. One could also make a case that he slid in under the catcher’s mitt just before the commercial marketplace went sour on turf racers.
And it seems to me that a sizable part of the disregard given to turf racers as sires lies in the fact that most of them really show their best form at 10 furlongs and beyond. They are classic horses. They tend to sire classic horses, and who the heck wants to wait, to cultivate, to nurture, to develop, and to dream about the classics?
There are, thankfully, a handful of breeders with the bankrolls to allow them to breed as if this were the sport of kings. Aside from those with an HRH, HRM, or similar title attached to their names (indicating that, yes Bessie, these really are the kings and queens of sport), the breeders with an inclination to try their hands at this most difficult and demanding portion of the fascinating world of horse breeding include names such as Phipps and Farish.
The latter breeder, Will Farish, co-bred and raced Horse of the Year Mineshaft, an elegant and somewhat late-maturing son of AP Indy out of the splendid Mr. Prospector mare Prospectors Delite. A top-class racer, Mineshaft was shaped like a true classic horse, and his mechanical excellence indicated that he would have a reasonable chance to sire the same, if he collided with enough suitable mares of the proper type.
The issue for most of these young classic sires is getting enough of the mares who are the proper type. One who is the right sort is Alabama Stakes winner Pretty Discreet, the dam of Discreetly Mine, winner of the G2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Saturday. The progressive colt had finished second in the Futurity and the Champagne at Belmont last fall when he was getting his wheels rolling and is a long-striding colt who looks a legitimate classic prospect.
Pretty Discreet is also the dam of G1 winner Discreet Cat (by Forestry), now a promising young sire for Darley, and she is by the important sire Private Account, who was bred and raced by Ogden Phipps.