Among the highlights of Fasig-Tipton’s annual Saratoga select yearling sale that was held on the evenings of Aug. 7 and 8, one of the premium items of interest is the quality and market reception of young sires with their first-crop yearlings.
Will Take Charge is one young stallion in this class who has received a lot of praise, despite the challenges for any horse becoming a successful sire, or for any successful sire becoming for the success of his sons.
One of the greatest attainments of a leading sire is to become known as a “sire of sires.” This is particularly true for the commercial value of a stallion’s second-generation offspring and for the sales value of his colts, which will skyrocket if a sire’s initial sons gain early success.
The prototype of this is Northern Dancer, whose immediate success as a sire was bolstered by racing excellence of his great son Nijinsky, who then became a leading international sire. This created greater demand for succeeding sons and also gave them better opportunities at stud.
Usually, however, the opposite is true. A stallion’s first few sons do little to enhance his reputation as a sire of sires. That’s the norm because most stallions do not succeed at a grand level, and few sons of a great sire become very good or great sires themselves.
Unbridled, for instance, was an excellent sire, one of the most consistent sources of classic quality in American breeding. He got a boxcar full of sons, but it appears that his influence will be carried on principally by Empire Maker and Unbridled’s Song.
The latter came from Unbridled’s first crop and was notable both for his exceptional speed and for his size. Unbridled was big, his sire Fappiano was big, and Unbridled’s Song was thumping big, as well.
That has appeared to be something of a limitation for the sons of Unbridled’s Song, as they have tried to establish themselves as sires. Despite ability and opportunity, none has become a sire of great distinction to date, and most horsemen blame size and speed on that shortcoming.
But one of the most appealing young sires of the early sales scene is the Unbridled’s Song stallion Will Take Charge. A striking chestnut colt who emerged from the Triple Crown to become the late-season leader of his generation and eventually also the Eclipse Award winner as champion 3-year-old colt, Will Take Charge is a “typical” son of his sire.
He is tall, long, and most horsemen would not want him to be any bigger.
So the impression of the first-crop yearlings by Will Take Charge means a lot. Grant Williamson of Three Chimneys Farm, which owns part of the stallion and stands him, has seen nearly all the stallion’s foals. He said, “They are good-sized, not oversized, athletic, and attractive individuals who have balance and quality. I would not be surprised if some of them make good 2-year-olds.”
Not surprisingly, a good number of the Will Take Charge yearlings have appeared at Fasig-Tipton’s July select sale and are cataloged for the Saratoga select sale, as well. There were a trio in July and 10 more are set for the Saratoga select auction.
Will Take Charge is the front man in a trio of the best stallion prospects sired by Unbridled’s Song. In addition to the chestnut champion, Liam’s Map, winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, has first-crop weanlings of 2017, and champion Arrogate, the leading racehorse of 2017, is expected to try to repeat his Breeders’ Cup Classic victory later this year and enter stud in 2018.
In contrast to the much-ballyhooed set of yearlings by Will Take Charge, this Saratoga sale also featured the last crop of yearlings by the Johannesburg stallion Scat Daddy.
The much-lamented Scat Daddy, who died in December 2015, has been having a brilliant year as a sire in 2017 with such stars as G1 winner Lady Aurelia, a winner of stakes across the globe, including the G1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in July.
There were, in fact, four Kentucky-bred winners at Royal Ascot this year: all by Scat Daddy. Those winners at Royal Ascot – Lady Aurelia (King’s Stand Stakes), Con Te Partiro (Sandringham Stakes), Caravaggio (Commonwealth Cup), and Sioux Nation (Norfolk Stakes) – all showed speed and class. Two of them, Lady Aurelia and Caravaggio, are among the most widely praised speed horses in the world.
Given the sire’s high profile, one might have considered going to Fasig-Tipton’s July sale of select yearlings to pick out a Scat Daddy, but there weren’t any. None. Those wise purveyors of equine goodies have them all reserved for the Saratoga select sale of yearlings, and there are a dozen Scat Daddy yearlings cataloged for the Spa auction.
Only one consignor, Gainesway (3), has more than a single Saratoga yearling by this sire with the hottest hand in breeding at the moment. And the demand for the Scat Daddy stock isn’t declining; instead, it is ramping up because it’s a case of buy now or miss ’em entirely.
The last crop by Scat Daddy were foaled in 2016, beginning the month after the sire’s death, as the mares from Scat Daddy’s 2015 book began dropping foals. There are 147 foals in that crop, and every one that comes to auction will get a careful inspection by potential buyers.
That will be especially true of those young prospects good enough to qualify for the premium sales and sessions this year. At Saratoga’s select yearling auction, one of the lots sure to attract attention is Hip 106, a chestnut filly out of stakes winner Winning Season, by Lemon Drop Kid, consigned by Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services. The second dam of this filly is multiple graded stakes winner Topicount (Private Account), the dam of two stakes winners and three other daughters who are stakes producers.
One of the best pedigreed lots in the sale is Hip 140, a bay filly consigned by Brookdale for Audley Farm. This filly is the first foal of her dam, the Smart Strike mare Bilboquet. The second dam is stakes winner Handpainted (A.P. Indy), who also ran second in the G1 Selene. The next dam is the beautiful Deputy Minister stakes winner Daijin, a full sister to Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold and a half-sister to Canadian champion and classic winner With Approval.
One of Scat Daddy’s particular strengths as a sire was his ability to succeed with a variety of types of mares and with offspring who performed well in a variety of conditions. The European successes of his offspring such as Lady Aurelia, Caravaggio, and previously No Nay Never will surely bring lookers to Hip 216, a bay colt consigned by Gainesway and out of European stakes winner Kaloura, by the Arc de Triomphe winner Sinndar.
This colt’s dam is a half-sister to European highweight and American champion Kalanisi, winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in the States, as well as the G1 Champion Stakes in England.
Hip 106 sold for $155,000 to Matt Schera.
Hip 140 sold for $600,000 to White Birch Farm.
Hip 216 sold for not sold for $195,000.