The shift in sire power at the marathon Keeneland September yearling sale could result in a decreased stud fee for Storm Cat and a limit on the number of mares to be bred to the most expensive sire in North America.
Through the first four days of the fall sale, which is the barometer used by commercial farms to determine the following year’s stud fees, A.P. Indy was leading sire, with 23 horses selling for an average $858,043. Storm Cat, who stands for $500,000, was well back in second, with an average $559,773 for 22 sold. Third-leading sire at the September sale was Distorted Humor (26 sold for an average $507,115), followed by Unbridled’s Song (42 sold; $494,333 average) and Dynaformer (17 sold; $492,941 average).
This marks the second consecutive year in which Storm Cat, who stands at Overbrook Farm, did not lead the September sale by average. Last year, Storm Cat’s $1,270,208 average for 24 sold trailed the $1,465,833 average for the 12 horses sold from the last crop sired by deceased Danzig.
Although the 2008 fees for Storm Cat and other Overbrook stallions will not be determined until after the September sale, Overbrook adviser Ric Waldman said some changes are being contemplated.
“It’s conceivable,” Waldman said in reference to a possible fee reduction next year, when Storm Cat will be 25. “We still have to continue to price the horse attractively enough to fit in the big breeders’ plans. We have been fortunate in that over the last 15 or more years we have stood this horse at a stud fee popular enough that demand has always outstripped supply.”
Waldman said offspring of Storm Cat continue to be coveted by buyers because of his success as a sire and as a sire of sires.
“They’re still sought after when a buyer is paying mid- to upper-seven figures for yearlings,” Waldman explained. “The buyer must be thinking the residual value if that colt is a successful racehorse. After all, he has 24 sons who have sired grade/group I winners.”
Waldman attributed the lower average for Storm Cat’s yearlings at the current sale in part to the dynamic that is affecting the sale overall – the lack of a bidding war between two buyers that makes prices soar.
“The final knockdown price of most breakaway yearlings is usually arrived at because two people liked the horse for half the distance (while the horse is in the sales ring). If you remove one of those players, you have reduced the price of the breakaway yearling by at least 50%.”
Waldman said the stud fee and the number of mares bred to the stallion are among the variables that the syndicate manager can control, and both are being reviewed with regard to Storm Cat.
“He will be bred to a smaller book (in 2008)", Waldman said.
In 2006, the latest breeding season for which statistics are available, Storm Cat was bred to 111 mares, according to a report released by The Jockey Club this week.
While the average paid for Storm Cat yearlings this year is off from previous levels, Waldman said many who have sent mares to the stallion are repeat clients who enjoyed the glory years.
“Most of the breeders at that level understand there is risk associated with the attempt to make a big gain,” Waldman said. “(Storm Cat) has been very fortunate that his rise has mirrored that of the yearling market.”