B. Wayne Hughes’ Kentucky-based Spendthrift Farm is making its first foray into the New York stallion marketplace. In 2012, it will stand grade I winner Dublin at Keane Stud near Amenia.
Spendthrift isn’t the first Blue Grass State nursery to try a breeding venture in the Empire State. For example, earlier this year, Vinery expanded its stallion operation into New York, starting a division at Empire Stud. Soon afterward, Vinery took over the management of Sugar Maple Farm.
Other Kentucky nurseries probably will make similar moves in the near future, according to Spendthrift's stallion director Ken Wilkins.
“While I’ve been here for the (Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling) sale this week, there have been whispers and rumors that other people from Kentucky are thinking about it,” he said Aug. 9. “We’re not the only ones who have noticed that this is a great opportunity.”
New York has had a strong state-bred rewards program for years. But what has been causing even more excitement lately is the opening of the long-awaited video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct that is scheduled for later this year.
Revenue from the casino’s first year of operation is projected to generate about $32 million in prize money for runners at the New York Racing Association’s three tracks in its first year of operation and it also will increase the money funds available for New York-bred horses.
“We’re doing this now (standing Dublin in New York) because we feel like the ground is a little firmer than it has been,” Wilkins said. “The New York-bred program is unbelievable and we also think there is a potentially huge market for growth, so we decided we could stand a horse in New York that could probably stand in Kentucky.”
Dublin, a 4-year-old son of Afleet Alex , won two of his 11 career races and earned $438,949. Produced from the grade I-winning Storm Bird mare Classy Mirage, the bay colt captured the 2009 Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. I). In 2010, he finished second in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) and third in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) and Rebel Stakes (gr. II).
“He’s a big, good-looking horse,” Wilkins said. “He won the Hopeful, his daddy won the Hopeful (at Saratoga), and his mother won the Ballerina Stakes (gr. I, at Saratoga), so he’s New York all the way.”
Dublin is being marketed to New York breeders through Spendthrift’s popular “Share the Upside” program, which has been used in Kentucky with such stallions or stallion prospects as Warrior's Reward , Line of David, Archarcharch, and Paddy O'Prado. In the program, breeders pay a deposit (in the case of Dublin it is $500), and agree to breed two mares in two consecutive years to a stallion. After those mares have produced live foals and the breeder has paid the stands-and-nurses stud fees ($8,500 for each mare), he or she receives a lifetime breeding right in the stallion.
“We’ve had lots of positive feedback about Dublin and we’ve had people who have already signed up, but it’s going to take a little time to get it rolling in New York,” Wilkins said. “Some of the guys in New York are breeding mares in Kentucky, so they’re familiar with our program. But even though it’s a very simple program, it does take a little bit of explaining just to be able to understand it. But when they do grasp it, it can be like a tidal wave. With the last several stallions we’ve brought into Kentucky, we’ve been inundated with requests.”
One of Spendthrift’s recent Kentucky stallion prospects is Tizway. Soon after he won the Aug. 6 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course, it was announced that the farm had acquired the breeding interest in the son of Tiznow and that he would enter stud in 2012 at Spendthrift.
According to Wilkins, Spendthrift management is considering standing other stallions in New York.
“A lot of regional markets seem to get hand me downs from Kentucky, but we intend to bring new stallions to New York and we’re thinking about doing that with some of the other ones we are trying to purchase now,” Wilkins said. “All the indicators show that the market in New York could really, really take off. And if it does, and you take it to the extreme, it could even impact the Kentucky stallion market significantly.”