From the time they were retired to stud in 2004, Mineshaft and Empire Maker have lived parallel lives, to a certain extent.
The two entered stud for fees of $100,000 and remain at that level. Both were among the leading first-crop sires when their first yearlings sold at public auction in 2006. And they are the leading second-crop sires (by average, with three or more sold) during the current Keeneland September yearling sale.
Through the sale’s first nine sessions, 23 offspring of Empire Maker sold for a total of $5,149,000 and an average of $223,870. Mineshaft followed close behind with an average of $220,138 with 29 yearlings selling for $6,384,000. Mineshaft had the best sale median price of the two, at $290,000, compared with $210,000 for Empire Maker.
An 8-year-old son of A.P. Indy who was 2003 Horse of the Year, Mineshaft stands at William S. Farish’s Lane’s End Farm. When his first crop of foals was offered at public auction as yearlings of 2006, they averaged $279,237 for 38 sold.
Empire Maker, a 7-year-old son of Unbridled, stands at Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms. Thirty-two yearlings from the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner’s first crop sold at auction last year for an average price of $379,125.
So, considering their accomplishments on the track and in the sales ring last year, it is understandable that offspring from their second crops would be in demand. It is, however, somewhat surprising, given that neither is among the top sires whose first foals are racing this year.
As of Sept. 18 racing stats, Mineshaft and Empire Maker each had one winner to their credit. Mineshaft also had one stakes-placed runner, with Minewander finishing third in the Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes (gr. III).
On the other hand, Posse, the leading freshman sire this year with 14 winners from 32 starters, was represented at Keeneland by eight yearlings sold for an average of $107,125. Harlan's Holiday, third-leading freshman sire with 11 winners (32 starters), had 13 yearlings sell for an average of $132,077. (There had been no yearlings sell at Keeneland September sired by Van Nistlerooy, second-leading freshman sire with 17 winners from 47 starters).
That Mineshaft and Empire Maker are outselling the leading first-crop sires of runners indicates buyers see their offspring as more likely to produce classic results for them rather than getting a quick return on their investment.
“(Buyers) still like Mineshaft and Empire Maker and don’t expect them to be running that much as 2-year-olds,” said Keeneland sales director Geoffrey Russell. “They are hoping (Mineshaft's and Empire Maker's) offspring are going to be the classic, two-turn horse. They are hoping they are going to win on the first Saturday in May (the Kentucky Derby).”
And they are willing to pay a price for their patience.