The following story first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
At the Breeders’ Cup races last Friday and Saturday, not all the top performers were by the star stallions who regularly stand at the top of the sire lists. Indeed, one of the inspirations of the Cup was the high-profile success for racers by relatively low-profile sires. Some of the stallions simply are not well-known to breeders or fans, but others are sufficiently obscure that they deserve some ink for illumination.
Surely the least-known of the sires of this year’s Breeders’ Cup winners is Spanish Steps, the sire of Little Mike, the 5-year-old bay gelding who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf by holding off race favorite Point of Entry (Dynaformer).
The Turf was the third G1 success for Little Mike, and he is the best offspring of Spanish Steps by a large margin. An unraced son of Unbridled out of the Caro mare Trolley Song who entered stud in Florida, Spanish Steps is the only full brother to leading sire Unbridled’s Song.
Unlike Unbridled’s Song, however, Spanish Steps did not have a race record, and despite breeders’ confidence in sending high-quality mares to him, the stallion did not produce athletes like his brother. Spanish Steps sired 200 foals in five crops of racing age, and Little Mike is a member of the stallion’s second crop. Spanish Steps has five stakes winners from foals, getting stakes-winners at a rate of 2.5%.
In 2012, Spanish Steps stood at Lake Shore Farm in Indiana for a fee of $3,000.
Bowman’s Band, the sire of Groupie Doll (BC Filly & Mare Sprint), is not widely known because he died in 2008, the year that Groupie Doll was foaled, and she is from the stallion’s next-to-last crop. Bowman’s Band spent four seasons at stud, with his first two years at the Maryland Stallion Station, then the final two seasons at Lane’s End in Kentucky. Groupie Doll was conceived there, but Bowman’s Band was euthanized due to complications from colic surgery on Aug. 16, 2008.
A G2 winner who was the leading money winner ($1.3 million) for his sire Dixieland Band, Bowman’s Band was out of the Pleasant Colony mare Hometown Queen. Groupie Doll has emulated that racing success, with earnings of $1.3 million, but won her third G1 in the Filly Sprint and virtually guaranteed herself an Eclipse Award for that division.
Groupie Doll is one of 13 stakes winners (7 percent) by Bowman’s Band from 178 foals in four crops.
Groupie Doll is not the only likely Eclipse Award winner by a relatively unknown stallion. Wise Dan was arguably the most impressive winner at the Breeders’ Cup, and he will be a serious contender for the Eclipse as leading turf horse. By many accounts he is also the leading candidate for Horse of the Year.
Winner in five of his six starts this year and second in the G1 Stephen Foster, Wise Dan is the leading racer by his sire Wiseman’s Ferry, who started his stud career in New York, moved to Kentucky for the 2006 season, and has stood at Dana Point Farm in Pennsylvania since 2009 (the 2012 fee was $3,500).
Wiseman’s Ferry was a good-class horse, winning the G3 West Virginia Derby and Lone Star Derby, as well as finishing second in the G2 Ohio Derby. He is also a very good-looking horse by the striking Storm Cat stallion Hennessy. Wiseman’s Ferry is lengthy and very strongly muscled, with the power and reach typical of the Storm Cat line.
At stud, however, Wiseman’s Ferry has not transmitted his athletic potential to most of his offspring. From six crops of racing age, he has sired a half-dozen stakes winners (2%), and Wise Dan is both his best racer and indeed is a cut above his sire as a performer on the racecourse.
Despite the early death of Hennessy, his male line had a grand day on Saturday at the Breeders’ Cup because his great-grandson Trinniberg, by the Johannesburg stallion Teuflesberg, won the Sprint against some of the fastest horses in the world.
Now a G1 winner and clearly one of the favorites as leading sprinter, Trinniberg is one of two stakes winners by his sire. The G2 winner Teuflesberg, however, has only 45 foals from two crops of racing age, and the big bay stallion will surely get more opportunity due to his son’s performances. Teuflesberg stands at Journeyman Stud in Florida.*
Despite the misfortunes of early death and the uncertainties of stallion success, Teuflesberg is the “unknown” stallion who has reasonable prospects of generating greater regard as more of his foals come to the races.
*On Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in New York announced the purchase of Teuflesberg and his transfer to stand in New York for 2013.