Big Cap Day at Santa Anita proved to be a huge day for 5-year-old geldings, as two of them won Grade 1 races. Not only is their gelding-ness an indication that their expected contribution to the breed appeared to be small, but Saturday’s G1 victory was the first for each. It was, in fact, the first graded stakes that either had won.
That does not diminish what Melatonin (by Kodiak Kowboy) in the Santa Anita Handicap and What a View (Vronsky) in the Frank Kilroe Mile accomplished on their day of days. Each defeated a good field in solid time and looked the part of a proper athlete.
Another six to 12 months will offer greater perspective to those of us who ponder these things such as the form of major races, but it will not change the bare facts for the winners’ sires.
Melatonin and What a View are the first G1 winners for each of their sires.
That’s a significant accomplishment because most stallions never sire even one. From a commercial perspective, however, it is too little and too late.
Kodiak Kowboy (Posse) was a champion sprinter, multiple G1 winner on the racetrack, and retired with earnings of more than $1.6 million. He stood initially at Vinery, then at WinStar when Vinery was sold and its stallion moved to new quarters.
A handsome bay with greater finesse than his sire, Kodiak Kowboy was so beautifully proportioned that few realized he was 16 hands till they were standing beside him. He was not a towering specimen, and in a world that glories in “huger,” the horse’s balance and quality were not enhancements to his commercial appeal.
Nonetheless, Kodiak Kowboy was among the top five freshmen sires from his crop, but he failed to sire a star performer at the top of the game. By the midpoint of his first runners’ second season, an agreement had been reached for Kodiak Kowboy to become a shuttle stallion to Haras Bage do Sul in Brazil to stand the 2014 breeding season in the Southern Hemisphere.
Presently, Kodiak Kowboy doesn’t shuttle back to Kentucky any longer, and the simple reason is that there isn’t the demand from breeders to breed to him. In 2014, the son of Posse and the Coronado’s Quest mare Kokadrie, had stood for a $5,000 fee, and that is a plain indicator that the demand from breeders was not intense then.
Perhaps in a different environment, his offspring will meet different bloodlines, different racing conditions, and find greater success.
At Santa Anita, Melatonin shot to the top of the class among Kodiak Kowboy’s offspring with $768,552 in earnings and a G1 bracket. The stallion has 5-year-olds of racing age; so the Santa Anita Handicap winner is among that group. Likewise, G3 Burj Nahaar winner Cool Cowboy is from that first crop and had been his sire’s leading representative, along with second-crop Shotgun Cowboy, winner of the G3 Oklahoma Derby.
Those three graded winners are matched by What a View’s sire Vronsky, who also has out G2 San Gabriel Stakes winner Norvsky ($616,444) and G3 Berkeley Handicap winner Poshsky ($340,665).
Whereas Kodiak Kowboy wasn’t well served by having a sire (Posse to New York) and broodmare sire (Coronado’s Quest to Japan) who had been sent to stand at stud elsewhere, Vronsky pretty much owed his spot at stud to his excellent forebears. A winner of $135,247, Vronsky is by the great sire and sire of stallions Danzig, and Vronsky is out of a major producing daughter of the important sire Lord at War.
Vronsky is a half-brother to No Matter What, a major racer and producer, and from nine crops of racing age, Vronsky has sired nine stakes winners and progeny with total earnings of $7.2 million. The 17-year-old Vronsky stands at Old English Rancho in California for $6,500 live foal.