Timing isn’t everything for a stallion, but opportune success sure makes a sire’s life a lot easier.
The highly distinguished veteran stallion Distorted Humor (by Forty Niner) began his career by becoming the leading freshman sire of 2002, when the stallion had four stakes winners, including a chestnut son by the name of Funny Cide.
The following year, Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness on his way to being named Eclipse Award champion as leading 3-year-old colt or gelding. Crowd favorite Funny Cide was the first of four top-class colts or geldings to develop out of the first four crops by Distorted Humor. The others were Commentator (G1 Whitney), Flower Alley (G1 Travers), and Any Given Saturday (G1 Haskell).
A stallion could not have made a better beginning with a strong percentage of stakes winners led by this sequence of high-class performers because the principal breeders and commercial market both demand success at the highest level. Distorted Humor supplied that when the stallion was unproven and standing for $12,500 live foal or less.
Further success was naturally expected, and Distorted Humor has delivered. To date, he has nearly 140 stakes winners, including a dozen and a half G1 winners. Anyone who doubted that Distorted Humor was a stallion of great consequence was wrong.
Success as a sire of stallion sons, however, has been more elusive.
Fundamentally, Distorted Humor was handicapped from the beginning in this endeavor because half of his four crop leaders were geldings — Funny Cide and Commentator, the fastest of them all.
The other two haven’t been empty stalls, however. Any Given Saturday sired Hoppertunity, a two-time G1 winner who has earned more than $3 million in a career noteworthy for soundness and solid 10-furlong form, and Mongolian Saturday, winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
In addition to G1 Ashland Stakes winner Lilacs and Lace from his first crop, Flower Alley sired in his second crop Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another, who was named the champion 3-year-old colt in 2012.
The classic double for Flower Alley–I’ll Have Another was so like Distorted Humor’s classic pairing with Funny Cide that the very different breeder response to the stallion’s progeny requires explanation.
First of all, the foals and first-crop yearlings by Distorted Humor attracted knowledgeable buyers and brought good prices. Then they performed ahead of expectations on the racetrack. Simply put, the foals in the initial crops by Flower Alley did the reverse. They did not attract buyers by virtue of their obvious athleticism or strength, and those doubts were quickly borne out on the racetrack. Despite two G1 winners in his first two crops, the demand for Flower Alley and his stock diminished rapidly. I’ll Have Another sold for only $11,000 as a yearling and for $35,000 as a 2-year-old in training, and that colt was from the stallion’s second crop.
When a stallion’s offspring elicit those sorts of prices, breeders don’t want to see any more of them, especially in these days of 100-plus books of mares.
As a result, both Flower Alley and Any Given Saturday are now plying their trade abroad. Flower Alley stands at Wilgerbosdrift Stud in South Africa after his export in 2014, and Any Given Saturday was sold to the Korean Thoroughbred Breeders Association and was exported to stand there in 2015.
Before Flower Alley left, however, he sired a trio of full brothers out of the stakes-winning mare Flower Forest (Kris S.). Each of those three is a stakes horse, and 5-year-old Bullards Alley became the latest G1 winner for his sire with victory in the Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 15.
The International was the greatest success to date for Bullards Alley, who had previously won the G3 Kentucky Turf Cup and had placed four times at that level. The gelding has full brothers Karibu Gardens (G2 Sky Classic Stakes) and Nessy (2nd in the restricted John’s Call Stakes at Saratoga).
Given all the challenges to his early sons, Distorted Humor has had a blazing hot 2017 with son Mclean’s Music, sire of 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing from his first crop, and with 2017 freshmen sires Alternation and Jimmy Creed, both of whom have already sired stakes winners.
In addition, Distorted Humor is the leading broodmare sire of 2017. Among the 67 stakes winners out of Distorted Humor’s daughters, the leader is champion Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song).
That should mean breeders should prize the daughters of Distorted Humor even more, and the 24-year-old stallion has more to come. On Oct. 15, his 2-year-old daughter Happy Like a Fool won the G3 Matron Stakes at Belmont Park by 2 ¼ lengths from Take Charge Paula, a filly from the first crop by the A.P. Indy stallion Take Charge Indy. Third-place Valuable Package was eight lengths farther back.
Just as the grand old stallion began his career with fast and classy racers, the chunky chestnut son of Forty Niner is continuing that pattern to the end.