Leading freshman sire Successful Appeal.

Leading freshman sire Successful Appeal.

Joy Gilbert

Leading Freshman Sire 2004: Successful Appeal

For the second time in four years, a son of Valid Appeal and a representative of the In Reality male line is the leading first-crop sire in North America. In 2001, Valid Expectations earned the freshman sire title, and in 2004, Successful Appeal  joined him in stamping Valid Appeal as a modern sire of sires.

With six stakes winners to his credit, Successful Appeal achieved his honors with a crop just 37 strong. Of those, 22 (59%) reached the track, with 15 (41%) finding the winner's circle. Overall, only Storm Cat's 2-year-olds fared better in earnings.

For perspective, Yes It's True, Successful Appeal's closest competitor, sired a first crop of 64 foals with 16 (25%) winners from his 42(66%) to race; and Fusaichi Pegasus , who carried a fee of $150,000 in 2001, was represented by 82 2-year-olds, with 16 (20%) winners from 34 (41%) to race.

Successful Appeal's runners--headed by Closing Argument's $421,984--amassed $1,727,557 in purses; the second-highest total for a first-crop sire since Danzig's progeny ran to winnings of $2,155,218 in 1984. Successful Appeal's nine stakes horses make for an eye-catching 24%; all this with an initial book of relatively modest mares.

Successful Appeal made the transition from Florida stallion to the Kentucky ranks in August 2004, having stood his first three seasons at Randy Hartley and Dean De Renzo's Walmac South near Ocala, Fla.

"We decided to move him up here and raise his price (from $6,000 to $25,000) after his fourth stakes winner," said Walmac Farm's John Jones III. "And the next thing you know, he gets his sixth.

"His 2005 book is set up for 110 mares," said Jones. "With the exception of a few we didn't book, they're all stakes winners or stakes producers--that's going to be the criteria."

A foal of 1996, Successful Appeal was bred in Florida by Harry T. Mangurian Jr. at his Mockingbird Farm near Ocala. He is the first foal from the winning Fortunate Prospect mare Successful Dancer, earner of $96,817 in 42 starts.

Mangurian bred one full sibling to Successful Appeal and one half-sibling by Valid Expectations before consigning Successful Dancer to the 1999 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s mixed sale while she was in foal to End Sweep. Live Oak Stud purchased her for $560,000 and keeps her at Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky., where she is barren from the 2004 cover of Dixie Union.

As a racehorse, Successful Appeal showed brilliance running for trainer John Kimmel in the colors of Starview Stable, from whom John T.L Jones Jr. acquired a 50% ownership interest in him at the end of his 4-year-old season, along with the rights to stand him upon retirement.

He was named Florida's champion sprinter of 1999, and though he did win the Withers Stakes (gr. II) at a mile, his average winning distance in 22 starts was 6.25 furlongs. A winner of the Cowdin Stakes (gr. II) at two, he dazzled spectators with a six-length victory over Five Star Day in the Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. II) at Turfway Park at three.

And while his pedigree suggests a lineage of soundness, and of speed over short distances--from In Reality to Valid Appeal to his broodmare sire, Fortunate Prospect--John Jones III says there's more to it than meets the eye.

"More than half of Valid Appeal's winners won at a mile or over," said Jones. "Two of Successful Appeal's six stakes winners have won at a mile-and-a-sixteenth, and Closing Argument placed in a $1-million two-turn stakes."

To back up his claim, Jones cites Successful Dancer's pedigree going back a few generations. "She's inbred 3x4 to Northern Dancer and 3x3 to Lucky Debonair--both Derby winners."

Buyers at auction certainly liked what they saw. Thirty-six of Successful Appeal's yearlings have sold for an average of $42,067--seven times his stud fee. Fifteen weanlings sold for an average of $17,293, and his 19 2-year-olds brought an average price of $63,211.

De Renzo said Successful Appeal is "a great big horse, and that's rare for the In Reality-Valid Appeal line. Plus, he's gorgeous."

De Renzo, who still retains some shares, said his Kentucky partners are putting out the word for Mr. Prospector-line mares. "Four of his stakes winners have come from a mare with a Mr. Prospector inbreed, including two of his distance winners. That's not an accident.

"What's interesting is that his foals look exactly identical to him. He's never even had a chestnut. When you get a prepotent sire that stamps his foals like this, it's usually a sign of a great horse passing on those dominant genes."