Buyers and sellers gather for record Keeneland sale of breeding stock.

Buyers and sellers gather for record Keeneland sale of breeding stock.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Early Ventures: Jump Start, Explicit shine among first-year weanling sires

(From the November 27, 2004 issue of The Blood-Horse)
The weanling market exhibited strength throughout the Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November breeding stock sales, and that strength was not just concentrated at the top. As has been the trend the last few years, there was a premium attached to all levels of the younger sires, and that seemed to be more pronounced this season. That was good news for sellers loaded with weanlings from first-year sires.

That first-year bunch didn't have a true "superstar" stallion--or one that had a first-year stud fee in the six-figure range. The top-priced first-year stallion last year was Came Home, the grade I-winning son of Gone West who entered stud with a fee of $40,000 at Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Ky. There were three stallions that stood their initial year at stud at $30,000: Johannesburg at Ashford Stud near Versailles; Red Bullet at Adena Springs South near Ocala, Fla.; and Street Cry at Darley at Jonabell near Lexington.

"People want the young sires and many of the first-crop weanling sires this year did not have high stud fees," noted Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales.

It comes as no surprise that Came Home is responsible for the highest-priced weanling of the season from the Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sales. A dark bay or brown colt out of Chilean champion and mare of the year Cristalline, consigned by Four Star Sales, agent, sold to D O C Bloodstock for $310,000 during the second session of the Keeneland auction.

Johnnesburg, champion 2-year-old of 2001, recorded the highest average--and only one in six figures--of sale weanlings at $107,810.

One of the better ways to judge a stallion's success from sale results is not looking at individual sales or averages, but dividing the offspring's sale averages by his stud fee. The average-price-to-stud-fee ratio helps smooth out the high and low prices and rewards those stallions that consistently sold above-average priced foals. As is most often the case, it's the "bargain-priced" sires that do the best in this category.

Two of the leaders in this year's group were Jump Start  and Explicit, who stood for $5,000 and $3,000, respectively.

Jump Start , a grade II-winning son of A.P. Indy out of the Storm Cat mare Steady Cat, had an average-to-stud-fee ratio of 9.69. Jump Start's short racing career ended after an injury suffered as a 2-year-old in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Belmont Park in 2001. Managing his book at Overbrook Farm near Lexington is Ric Waldman.

His 16 foals sold this month averaged $48,438. One individual sold for $110,000.

"In that price range, he appealed to a broad range of mares," Waldman said. "He was able to attract a lot of mares that would usually go to a $10,000 stallion.

"The proof is in the pudding," Waldman said of his high ratio. "The people liked his foals. I think he'll make a lot of profit for pinhookers when his yearlings come to market next year."

In fact, unlike most young sires, his stud fee has gone up over the last two years. Jump Start stood for $7,500 in 2004 and next year's fee has already been set at $10,000. He was priced at $5,000 due to the fact that he originally was going to enter stud in 2002, but was held up due to his injury. Arthrodesis was performed to fuse an ankle joint just as the breeding season was ready to get underway. The lost year cost momentum.

The missed breeding season "might have hurt him," Waldman said. "But it further convinced us to hold his fee to a reasonable $5,000. We were never able to create the buzz, but pricing him at $5,000 made it difficult to forget him." Jump Start still managed to have 79 named foals in his first crop.

Explicit, a son of Mr. Prospector's son Distant View, only had four weanlings sell at Keeneland, but they averaged $24,750 off an initial stud fee of $3,000, an 8.25 ratio. He stands at Pope McLean's Crestwood Farm near Lexington.

"What he has going for him is that a lot of the market wants speed," McLean said. "He's a pinhooker's dream. A lot of his foals have a big crease in their rump. He has a tremendous gaskin; it almost looks abnormal. That's where the speed comes from and he's passed that on. A large number of buyers want that 'quick-looking' weanling or yearling to sell as a 2-year-old."

A pair of stallions that both recorded strong ratios stand at Vinery near Lexington. Pure Prize had a small number of offerings from his 74 foals while Yonaguska had 23 weanlings sell from a crop of 103 foals.

Pure Prize, a son of Storm Cat out of champion Heavenly Prize, captured the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) to close out his 17-race career as a 4-year-old in 2002. His initial fee was $7,500.

"He was a very easy sell," said Bates Newton, director of sales for Vinery. "We syndicated him at a time when most people aren't syndicating. You can knock his race record, but he's still a grade II-winning son of Storm Cat out of a fantastic mare. There's plenty of upside."

Newton noted Vinery bought some of his foals, as Vinery's formula for proving their stallions is to race their offspring. "They had very good uniformity and looked like athletic horses," Newton said. "We wouldn't have bought them if we didn't think they were going to be runners." Pure Prize's stud-fee-to-price ratio was an enviable 7.11.

Yonaguska, who was a $1.95-million sale 2-year-old and a stellar 2-year-old runner, "has all the ingredients that the pinhookers are looking for," according to Newton. Yonaguska's weanling average was $62,000 and off a $10,000 stud fee, had a healthy stud-fee-to-sale-price ratio of 6.20.

One stallion that failed to register any ratio at all was Beautiful Indy. The unraced son of A.P. Indy--Beautiful Bid, by Baldski, had 10 weanlings sell at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky auction by James FitzGerald's Knockgriffin Farm, agent. Owned by Daniel Borislow, Beautiful Indy, a half-brother to Mecke and champion Beautiful Pleasure, sired 16 foals from his first crop, only covering Borislow's mares while standing privately at Knockgriffin.

Despite no commercial buzz and selling as part of Borislow's dispersal, his foals averaged $13,290.

"He's a lovely-looking horse," FitzGerald said. "He pulled a suspensory and Borislow retired him. A lot of people looked at his foals and they were rather impressed. He was bred to some questionable mares, but when bred to some better mares, he got some lovely stock. He has that A.P. Indy look about him and he really stamps his stock.

"It's tough to sell foals like that, and it remains to be seen how well he'll do with such a small crop."

Beautiful Indy has yet to find a commercial home, but FitzGerald thinks "he'd do real well in a regional market."

All Buyers
All Consignors
All Weanling Sires
All Covering Sires
Leading Buyers
Leading Consignors