In the aftermath of a smashing sale of New York-breds at Saratoga over the past weekend, I see a couple of trends in the breeding industry there. One is the national trend strongly leaning toward Tapit, particularly through his sons. The other is a continuing advance through the quality of dams, which is more subtle.
The influence of Tapit in the breed nationally is approaching that seen with Storm Cat a decade ago and more, and here follows a look at two stallions who are emblematic of the present and future of the Empire State: Freud, a full brother to Giant’s Causeway who has been New York’s leading sire every year since 2008; and Honorable Dillon, a Grade 2-winning son of leading sire Tapit who entered stud in 2015 and proved very popular among breeders in his first season.
Freud: A Star for Storm Cat
Dominance in any field has some subjective qualities, but those who truly dominate also show consistency. They are good, every day and every way, including when they are less than their best.
Consistency of racing stock is one way to assess the importance of Freud to the New York breeding program. The 17-year-old son of Storm Cat and Mariah’s Storm has sired 69 percent starters from foals, 49 percent winners, which places him about 15 percent above the breed norms of 60 and 42. And he has 6 percent stakes winners, which puts him at nearly 100 percent above the breed norm.
Furthermore, the blocky bay has total progeny earnings to date of more than $35 million, with average earnings per runner of $76,252. With stats like those, it is no surprise that Freud is the leading New York-based stallion.
All this is nothing less than what his pedigree promised. As a son of Storm Cat, Freud was a desirable stallion prospect when he went to stud, and being a full brother to international star Giant’s Causeway ensured that the dark bay would get a fair assessment from breeders.
They would not have given Freud the same treatment based solely on his race record. He raced a dozen times, winning only a piddling maiden race at the Curragh. That he also made the third spot in the Group 2 Cork & Orrery Stakes at Ascot was to his credit, even more so when considering that Invincible Spirit and Bahamian Pirate were among the beaten field.
The race record, however, didn’t cut a dashing figure when the time came for him to enter stud. Freud found no favor in the major leagues of breeding, but their loss proved to be New York’s gain.
The stallion translated his own suspect form into consistent athleticism among his offspring, who are rugged enough and game enough to win lots of races. Some of them also show class, and among the stallion’s best runners are G1 winners Giant Ryan and Franny Freud. From his innings at stud in Argentina at Haras La Legenda, Freud has sired good performers like G2 winner Must Go On, who won the Gran Premio Chacabuco at Palermo.
Demand for his offspring has made Freud one of the most popular stallions in New York, with eight yearlings consigned to the New York-bred sale at Saratoga.
Among the more interesting lots are Hips 316 and 480. The first is a half-brother to stakes-placed Make the Moment (earnings of $335,720). He is out of the Silver Deputy mare Pretty Pretty, and his second dam is graded stakes winner Careless Heiress, a winner twice at the G3 level and four times graded placed. The second is out of stakes winner Fly to Me, by former New York stallion Belong to Me (by Danzig). This makes Hip 480 line-bred to Northern Dancer through Storm Bird and Danzig, and the colt’s third dam is the tough stakes winner Nurse Dopey.
Overall, for athleticism and racing enthusiasm, Freud has proven a star for Storm Cat and the New York program.
Honorable Dillon: Growing Impact of Tapit
In the no holds barred arena of stallion competition, there is little fantasizing about what it takes to make a significant sire: winners. Lots of them and the higher the class the better.
Among proven stallions in New York, Freud stands clear. He is an honorable representative of the powerful Storm Cat line, known for its speed, and is a full brother to leading international sire Giant’s Causeway.
In the continuing flux of Thoroughbred breeding, however, the king of the mountain in Kentucky these days is Tapit. There has been a changing of the guard, especially in American breeding, with a continuing shift toward the A.P. Indy line of horses. As a grandson of A.P. Indy, Tapit stands at the head of the class, along with other important sires like Malibu Moon, Bernardini, Flatter, Stroll, and Congrats.
Tapit, however, is the leading sire, and he has proven that as his books improve, his gross earnings and race results have too. And sons of Tapit are horses that breeders want to use.
Not surprisingly, enterprising breeders brought the Tapit son Honorable Dillon to New York and stood him at Rockridge Farm near Hudson, N.Y. They sent him to stud in 2015 with a fee of $5,000 stand and nurse, and breeders nearly trampled the place getting to the stallion.
One of the reasons for the interest in Honorable Dillon is the growing impact of Tapit, who has made himself the leading sire in America with champion juveniles like Stardom Bound and Hansen; classic stock like Tonalist (Belmont), Frosted (Wood Memorial), Careless Jewel (Alabama), and Untapable (Kentucky Oaks); and high-class winners like Constitution (Florida Derby), Joyful Victory (Santa Margarita), Tapizar (Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile), and Zazu (Lady’s Secret).
Rockridge’s owner-manager Lere Visagie said, “Honorable Dillon was so fertile that you could count on one hand all the mares who weren’t in foal after his first 60 days at stud. So we kept adding mares.”
The horse’s appeal is not limited to the strength of his sire. Honorable Dillon is a good-looking horse standing 16 hands. He has the balance and quality we have come to expect from the stock by Tapit, and he is a gray, mimicking his famous sire in color and deportment.
Honorable Dillon is out of the Argentine mare Shy Greeting (by Shy Tom), who was stakes-placed in her homeland. In Argentina, Shy Greeting produced Forty Greeta (Roar), a champion 2-year-old filly and twice winner at the G1 level, including the Estrellas Juvenile Fillies.
Brought to the States, Shy Greeting produced Honorable Dillon, who won the G2 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream.
The family, although based in Argentina, has some familiar names. The young stallion’s second dam is by top American sprinter Groovy and produced a sibling to Shy Greeting who is the dam of Greco Tom, winner of the G1 Estrellas Juniors Sprint. Honorable Dillon’s third dam is G1 winner Gioconda (Good Manners), the dam of Fayette Handicap winner Good Command.
This is the family of Argentine star racehorse and stallion Farnesio, who was produced by Honorable Dillon’s fifth dam.