Mineshaft, at Lane's End Farm.

Mineshaft, at Lane's End Farm.

Anne M. Eberhardt

New Sires for 2004: Six-Figure Returns

Published in the Dec. 13, 2003 issue of The Blood-Horse
Can it really be just a year ago that the top price for an incoming stallion was only $40,000? That the second-highest price was $30,000?

Well, now the top price for a newcomer is back up to six figures, $100,000 to be exact, and the next highest is $50,000. It goes to show what a rise in the bloodstock market can do to stud fees. Increases in yearling averages at Saratoga and the Keeneland September sale, and the upswing at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, helped convince stallion owners that the market can bear a little more in the way of price.

The two top-priced newcomers, Empire Maker (by Unbridled) and Mineshaft (by A.P. Indy), figure to be highly popular at their $100,000 price, and the same goes for Aldebaran (by Mr. Prospector) and Vindication (by Seattle Slew) at $50,000. Both Empire Maker and Mineshaft are by stallions more noted for stamina than speed, unlike last year's top-priced newcomer, Came Home (by Gone West). The trend toward stamina figures to be gaining momentum.

Mineshaft will begin his stallion duties at William S. Farish's Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Ky., joining Came Home and A.P. Indy there. Empire Maker will hold court at Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms near Lexington.

Following are brief profiles of the 34 top incoming stallions, consisting of those who will stand for $7,500 or more, or who achieved the status of grade I winner or millionaire.

Stallion (year of birth, breeding, 2004 stud fee, farm)

Empire Maker (2000, Unbridled--Toussaud, by El Gran Senor, $100,000, Juddmonte Farms, Lexington, Ky.). His trainer, Bobby Frankel, might have been right when he said, "We weren't within 10 lengths of seeing this horse's best race." A contender for top 3-year-old male, millionaire Empire Maker denied Funny Cide the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and also beat that rival earlier in the year in the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I). His other grade I win came in a 93/4-length score in the Florida Derby (gr. I) in his fourth start. Second in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), he is arguably the best runner by Unbridled and is out of Kentucky's reigning Broodmare of the Year, Toussaud, dam of three other grade I winners.

Mineshaft (1999, A.P. Indy--Prospectors Delite, by Mr. Prospector, $100,000, Lane's End Farm, Versailles, Ky.). The favorite for Horse of the Year and champion older male, millionaire Mineshaft registered Beyer Speed Figures of 116 or better in five of his nine races in 2003. By North America's premier sire of stamina, Mineshaft captured Belmont Park's three most important stakes for 3-year-olds and up beyond a mile on dirt in 2003--the Suburban Handicap (gr. I), Woodward Stakes (gr. I), and Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I)--and also scored a grade I triumph in the Pimlico Special Handicap. His dam is a grade I winner, and so is his full sister, millionaire Tomisue's Delight.

Aldebaran (1998, Mr. Prospector--Chimes of Freedom, by Private Account, $50,000, Darby Dan Farm, Lexington, Ky.). Pronounced All-DEB-uhh-ron and named after one of the brightest stars in the sky, this millionaire son of Mr. Prospector lived up to his name with a dazzling display of speed in the 2003 Forego Handicap (gr. I) at seven furlongs at Saratoga. His 122 Beyer Speed Figure was the highest Beyer of the year on dirt up to a mile and the second-fastest in any division. The favorite for champion sprinter, Aldebaran also won this year's Metropolitan (gr. I) and San Carlos (gr. I) Handicaps and a pair of grade II events. He won or placed in 23 of 25 starts in his career.

Vindication (2000, Seattle Slew--Strawberry Reason, by Strawberry Road, $50,000, Hill 'n' Dale Farm, Lexington, Ky.). Seattle Slew's only unbeaten champion 2-year-old male and a $2.15-million Saratoga yearling, Vindication was an easy choice for top juvenile after winning the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He received rave reviews in his very first start. "The 2-year-old son of Seattle Slew looked sensational in his six-furlong debut, winning by an easy 5 1/2 lengths," wrote The Blood-Horse after that Del Mar effort. Trainer Bob Baffert called him "the most exciting 2-year-old I have trained."

Sky Mesa (2000, Pulpit--Caress, by Storm Cat, $30,000, Three Chimneys Farm, Midway, Ky.). A $750,000 Keeneland September yearling, Sky Mesa was an unbeaten grade I winner as a 2-year-old and the joint third-highest-weighted juvenile on the Experimental Free Handicap for males. He started out by winning at Saratoga by 73/4 lengths, then took the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at the Spa, followed by the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. II) at Keeneland. His 3-year-old efforts included a runner-up finish in the Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I), with dual classic winner Funny Cide third, and a third-place finish in the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II). Sky Mesa's dam, Caress, won a New York graded stakes over males.

Harlan's Holiday (1999, Harlan--Christmas in Aiken, by Affirmed, $17,500, Airdrie Stud, Midway, Ky.). The richest of the elite group of newcomers, Harlan's Holiday was a graded stakes winner all three years he raced and a grade I winner in two of them. His grade I wins came in the Florida Derby and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in consecutive starts as a 3-year-old and the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at four. Harlan's Holiday, who earned $3,632,664, also placed in such events as the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), and Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I).

Hold That Tiger (2000, Storm Cat--Beware of the Cat, by Caveat, $15,000, Ashford Stud, Versailles, Ky.). A $1.1-million Keeneland November weanling, Hold That Tiger was a group I winner in France and twice grade I-placed in the U.S. As a 2-year-old, he won the Grand Criterium-Lucien Barriere (Fr-I) and the Anheuser Busch Railway Stakes (Ire-III) and ran third in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). His other grade I placing came at age three in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I). A half-brother to Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Editor's Note, Hold That Tiger is by Storm Cat and shares the same second dam as Storm Cat's successful son Hennessy.

Macho Uno (1998, Holy Bull--Primal Force, by Blushing Groom, $15,000, Adena Springs South, Ocala, Fla.). By a Horse of the Year and out of a Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, millionaire Macho Uno captured the 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes (Can-I) the year he earned an Eclipse Award. At three, he won the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. III), and at four, took the Massachusetts Handicap (gr. II) and received a 116 Beyer Speed Figure for his effort in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I). Macho Uno's half-brother, Awesome Again, ranks as one of the leading second-crop sires of 2003.

Milwaukee Brew (1997, Wild Again--Ask Anita, by Wolf Power, $15,000, Adena Springs Kentucky, Midway, Ky.). Millionaire Milwaukee Brew became the first horse in history to finish first in two runnings of the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), thus bettering John Henry's mark, who needed help from the stewards in one of his two wins. Milwaukee Brew registered a 118 Beyer Speed Figure in the 2002 running and a 116 Beyer in 2003. Milwaukee Brew, who earned $2,879,612 in his career, also won a pair of grade II stakes and placed in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).