The current crop of sires with their first runners at the racecourse this year now include five freshman sires located in Kentucky or Florida who have already been represented by a stakes winner: Justify (by Scat Daddy), Sharp Azteca (Freud), Good Magic (Curlin), Girvin (Tale of Ekati), and Free Drop Billy (Union Rags).

The leader by number of stakes winners, with two, is Justify, and the chestnut stallion stands at Coolmore’s stateside operation, Ashford Stud, outside Versailles, Ky., for a 2022 fee of $100,000.

Justify at Ashford: the chestnut son of leading sire Scat Daddy is an impressive figure at Coolmore’s Kentucky stallion station and is the current leading freshman by number of stakes winners. (Coolmore photo)

The 2018 divisional champion and Horse of the Year struck first with Statuette, a half-sister to G1 winner Tenebrism (Caravaggio). Both are out of G1 winner Immortal Verse (Pivotal). Statuette won the G2 Airlie Stud Stakes at the Curragh on June 26, and on July 14, the sire’s daughter Just Cindy won the G3 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga to become Justify’s first stakes winner on this side of the Atlantic.

Just Cindy is a homebred for Clarkland Farm, which bred the filly from the stakes winner Jenda’s Agenda (Proud Citizen). A winner in four of her eight starts, Jenda’s Agenda is out of G2 Molly Pitcher winner Just Jenda (Menifee), and this family traces back to fourth dam Fulbright Scholar (Cox’s Ridge), winner of the Busher at Aqueduct and a half-sister to G1 winner Bachelor Beau (Raised Socially). Fulbright Scholar became a major producer with three stakes winners: Seeking Regina (Seeking the Gold), Tutorial (Forty Niner), and Oxford Scholar (Seeking the Gold).

Just Cindy is the first foal from Jenda’s Agenda, and the leggy bay filly went to the Keeneland September yearling sale last year as part of the annual Clarkland Farm consignment. When the bidding stalled at $140,000, the breeders brought her home and have been amply repaid. Unbeaten in two starts, Just Cindy has earned $165,710 and now has a value that is … well, let’s say, substantially higher.

Whereas Justify has the most stakes winners to date, the first freshman sire with a 2022 stakes winner was Girvin, whose daughter Devious Dame won the Astoria Stakes on June 9. Based in Florida at the O’Farrell family’s Ocala Stud, Girvin became a minor celebrity and a quality surprise this spring with his first juveniles in training. They looked the part of enterprising racehorses and sold like it. The horse stands for $6,000 live foal in 2022.

Two recent freshmen sires with stakes winners are Sharp Azteca, who stands for a 2022 stud fee of $5,000 at Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky., and Good Magic, who stands for a current season fee of $30,000 at Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa in Bourbon County north of Paris.

Sharp Azteca is among the newer members of the fraternity for sires of stakes winners. On July 9, Tyler’s Tribe won the Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows. The gelded son of Sharp Azteca won the race by 8 ½ lengths. The Iowa-bred is now unbeaten in two starts and was the top-priced yearling at $34,000 in the 2021 Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders’ October sale. Tyler’s Tribe was bred by Clifton Farm and Derek Merkler from Impazible Woman (Mission Impazible).

On the same day at Pleasanton racetrack in California, Good Magic’s daughter Vegas Magic won the Everett Nevin Stakes by a nose from Fumano’s Girl, with a colt a length back in third. Bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall, Vegas Magic is out of multiple stakes winner Heidi Maria (Rockport Harbor). The juvenile filly sold for $130,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale, then resold as a 2-year-old in training earlier this year at the OBS March sale for $100,000.

The fifth freshman with a stakes winner is the Spendthrift Farm sire Free Drop Billy, whose daughter Free Drop Maddy won the Texas Thoroughbred Association Futurity on July 17, making the son of Union Rags the latest sire to get a 2022 stakes winner. Bred in Louisiana by Clear Creek Stud, Free Drop Maddy sold for $10,500 as a yearling, then resold earlier this year at the Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale for $200,000. Second on debut at Churchill Downs, Free Drop Maddy won her second start, in the TTA Futurity, by 1 ¾ lengths as the slight favorite.

In other points of interest among the leading freshmen, the list leader by number of winners is Sharp Azteca with 12 from 27 starters. The son of Freud has the second-highest percentage of winners from starters, behind only Girvin, who leads freshmen by percentage of winners at 50 percent, five winners from 10 starters.

A point of particular irony among the leaders on the freshman list is Bolt d’Oro, who stands at Spendthrift along with Free Drop Billy. Despite not yet having a stakes winner, Bolt d’Oro is the overall leader by earnings with $476,249.* The son of Medaglia d’Oro has only a modest lead over Justify at this stage, with eight winners, and none has come back to win a second race. Yet.

The stallion’s son, Owen’s Leap, was second in the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs on July 4, and the stock by Bolt d’Oro, despite being very quick and early to train, appear likely to improve notably as they find distances beyond six furlongs through the late summer and fall.

These sires should help make some exciting sport.

*Current stats as of July 18, 2022