With the announcement that Coolmore has acquired the breeding rights to this year’s Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, that means five of the last six Eclipse Award winners as the best juvenile colt or gelding will have gone to Coolmore and stood at Ashford.
The only exception is 2013 Eclipse Award winner Shared Belief, but that gelded son of leading sire Candy Ride was not eligible for the Coolmore Plan.
Coolmore began this set of purchases with Lookin at Lucky (by Smart Strike), then Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie), Hansen (Tapit), and Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday). Now that we know that American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) will join the group at Ashford, the Coolmore operation has positioned itself with the greatest of chances to success, both on the bottom line and at the racetrack.
Such a set of acquisitions could not be chance, and the decision to back American juvenile champions at stud is an approach that is well-tailored both to the commercial marketplace and to our racing environment that places an emphasis on speed and high class up to a mile or so.
Prior to American Pharoah, the only one of this group to distinguish himself at a distance greater than nine furlongs was Lookin at Lucky, who won the Preakness over 9 ½ furlongs. American Pharoah has famously won over 10 furlongs in the Kentucky Derby, and the handsome bay could make history with a successful race at 12 furlongs in the Belmont Stakes to carry off the Triple Crown.
Whether American Pharoah wins the Triple Crown or not, he will be a hugely popular commercial stallion prospect, and he will be able to stand at a highly rewarding fee. Among the reasons for the colt’s commercial appeal – even without the Triple – is that he is handsome and fast and yet stayed 10 furlongs. He was nicely balanced and mature enough as a yearling to be a select sale colt at Fasig-Tipton’s auction in Saratoga, even though the breeder bought him back for $300,000.
Visually, American Pharoah is big enough, stretchy and muscular enough, and nice-looking enough to make a horde of breeders believe they can make money selling foals that look like him. So the demand is going to be there. Furthermore, American Pharoah is by Pioneerof the Nile, the young stallion who has promoted himself as the most classically inclined stallion in the market today.
Last year, Pioneerof the Nile had classic contenders such as Cairo Prince, Vinceremos, and Social Inclusion, who placed third in the Preakness, and this season American Pharoah has fulfilled all the promise he showed as last season’s top 2-year-old colt.
That level of class and success from his offspring has pushed the stud fee for Pioneerof the Nile to $60,000 live foal this year, and the demand for seasons to the horse at WinStar was intense. Next year, it can only become more so.
Pioneerof the Nile is the most successful young sire in this branch of Mr. Prospector, coming down through leading sire Fappiano, Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, and Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker.
And the demand for the classic quality of this group of horses, allied with the speed and relatively early maturity that American Pharoah showed last season, will make this colt a must-see prospect for serious breeders in the States and abroad.
While there is relatively little representation for this line among current racers in Europe, the attraction to Australian breeders should be greater because of the speed and classics combination. And since Coolmore shuttles most of their stallions, the Southern Hemisphere breeders will surely get an opportunity to assess American Pharoah for their breeding programs, as well.
The provision of standing horses in dual hemispheres allows Coolmore to spend more on stallion prospects and then get a greater return from them, while simultaneously giving the horse much larger worldwide crops in which to potentially sire a star.
And star performance, rather than overall crop quality and success, has become the measure of the “successful” sire in these days of mega-books, where the top sire prospects regularly cover upwards of 200 mares each breeding season. With that many foals, a considerable number will surely be dross, but a highly regarded stallion will get some golden performers with the support of top-quality mares.
To date, the first racing returns from the Coolmore Plan have yielded passable results from Lookin at Lucky, whose first foals are now 3. They include G2 winner Madefromlucky, winner of the Peter Pan Stakes; Maybellene, winner of this year’s Sunland Oaks and third in the G1 Starlet last season; and One Lucky Dane, who ran second in the G1 Santa Anita Derby.
Uncle Mo has his first crop now on deck, and as his young stock race through the summer and fall, we will learn more about how the Coolmore Plan is progressing.
The genius of the plan, however, is that the results from a single stallion prospect are relatively unimportant.
Buying a set of high-performing colts such as these virtually guarantees that Coolmore will strike gold with one or more of them. Some may appear more likely for success than others, but Coolmore has found out that stallion success is more erratic than predictable. Therefore, having some volume is key, and when coupled with class and speed, the combination should be a ticket to stallion success.