I thought a recent commentary by Ray Paulick was interesting. Here’s a link if you haven’t read it yet: “The Race to the Breeding Shed”. I understand what Mr. Paulick is getting at, and I too would love to see Kentucky Derby winners running at four, five or even six (could you imagine?!), but I also understand the demand for young stallions, and in fact, advocate for them when advising clients. For owners and agents, it’s get in before the stallion becomes too expensive. Buying low, basically. By the time the stallion’s proven, you’ve been priced out. It’s the same for breeders too. Using Uncle Mo as an example, as recently as 2015, you were paying $25,000 for your mare to visit him. In 2017, SIX times that, for a fee of $150,000. A first crop yearling from Uncle Mo averaged around $109,000 in 2014. An Uncle Mo yearling in 2017? We’ll see, but I’d wager you may be paying double that. Uncle Mo, Pioneerofthe Nile and Bodemeister have less than five crops to race, and Curlin and Into Mischief have six. Those are all stallions in the top 15 of The Blood-Horse’s Average Earnings Index list ((AEI). Long story short, absolutely, it’s awesome to see Kentucky Derby winners continue on. California Chrome’s Pacific Classic is still one of the most impressive races I’ve seen. But there’s demand for their foals, and if you want nice older horses, I’d direct you to the Pegasus World Cup, the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup.
Along those same lines, what’s reasonable to expect from two-year-olds in training purchases? I went back and looked at each 2yo and 3yo Eclipse winner since 2005. Two-year-old auction purchases that took home the Eclipse were Nyquist, Lookin At Lucky and Stevie Wonderboy. Three-year-old champs were I’ll Have Another, Lookin At Lucky, Big Brown and Afleet Alex. So, the talent was there. Longetivity, not as much. None raced as four-year-olds, and only Lookin at Lucky made it to the Breeders Cup as a three-year-old. I’m not knocking the two-year-old sales, I think they are excellent for picking precocious runners, and with maiden races in New York with purses at $100,000, the motive is there. But keeping them in training for longer than say, fifteen months following the auction, seems to be a challenge. Maybe you just keep the horse healthy and training well, win some nice 2yo, early 3yo races, and call it a win.
As long as I’ve been interested in racing, it’s been a global sport. I remember when I think ABC ( Maybe NBC? we’re talking like mid-90s) would carry the Arc de Triomphe live in the US, early in the morning in October. Then there was the Dubai World Cup, and certainly any mention of American breeding has to include Darley/Godolphin and Coolmore. American breeding has been active in Australia for a while; American Pharoah will soon be shuttling there and California Chrome is going to Chile. At Ascot, we’ve had Tepin (What a race!) , a runner-up placing from Verrazano in 2014’s Queen Anne, and this year’s contingent looks pretty solid, with American Partriot, Long on Value, Miss Temple City (this is her year!) and La Coronel. On top of all of that, there’s the recent live simulcast of the Belmont in Japan, with Japanese wagering, along with the extension of the $1 million bonus for any Japanese horse that wins the Belmont Stakes.
Gun Runner returns at Churchill Saturday in the Stephen Foster (gr. 1) Kudos to Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen and team, they really have a good one on their hands. Off the board only twice in fourteen starts, he’s been in really good form at least since last November’s Clark at Churchill. He followed that up with a win in the Razorback (gr. 3) at Oaklawn, and a runner-up to Arrogate in Dubai. He shows up everytime, and it will be fun to follow him this summer and fall.
NBA and racing fans, follow me on this one: is Richard Mandella racing’s Gregg Popovich? Both in terms of personality and the way they manage their teams? The Spurs lose Tim Duncan, Pop responds with Kawhi Leonard. Mandella loses Beholder, he comes back with Bal a Bali and Paradise Woods. Point is, both have been consistent winners with established programs and when the money’s on the line, even if they’re going against maybe flashier or more talented rivals, are you going to count them out?
Saturday’s Summertime Oaks (gr. 2) at Santa Anita looks like a nice betting race. Two fillies from the Baffert barn, and the promising It Tiz Well, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, look like the headliners. Noted and Quoted is the morning line favorite at 3/1, and there’s good value across the board. Also Saturday at Santa Anita, the undefeated Sircat Sally looks for her seventh win in a row in the Honeymoon Stakes (gr. 2). Mike Smith rides, Hollendorfer trains, she’s 3/5 morning line. She could be a star in the making (maybe she already is?)
That’ll have to do it for this week. Enjoy the weekend; the Stephen Foster and a few undercard events will be on NBCSN Saturday night. Thanks for reading, I’ll talk to you next week.