Published in the Jan. 4, 2003 issue of The Blood-Horse
Forty Niner left behind more than just memories of his dominating racing days before heading to Japan to continue his stallion career. The champion son of Mr. Prospector left behind a slew of sons who are making a mark on North America's sire lists. Four of the top 20 first-crop stallions by progeny earnings in 2002, including the runner-up, Distorted Humor, are sons of Forty Niner. Distorted Humor, who stands at Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt's WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., topped the $1.3-million mark in progeny earnings. With a figure that high and a Saratoga grade I winner (Awesome Humor) in his first crop, it was no wonder that WinStar boosted his fee from $10,000 to $20,000 for 2003. "We've gotten 300 requests (for seasons), but will keep him at 125 mares," said Bill Brazzell, who is in charge of seasons and shares. "We could have gotten more, but this way, we can be more selective in his book." The first indication that Forty Niner was on his way to status as a sire of sires came when son End Sweep sired a record 33 juvenile winners and led the 1998 freshman list by progeny earnings. Other sons Tactical Advantage and Twining ranked third and sixth, respectively, that year. The fact that Forty Niner's sons have excelled as sires of 2-year-olds hardly comes as a surprise to those familiar with Forty Niner. Forty Niner was a champion juvenile from a speed-favoring sire line. That he won the Travers Stakes (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles helped instill confidence in breeders his runners had a chance to excel beyond their 2-year-old seasons. A Raise a Native grandson, Forty Niner got off to a quick start at stud at the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky., topping the freshman list by progeny earnings in 1992. But by 1995, he had fallen out of favor, with only a single grade I winner to his credit. Claiborne sold him to the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association for $10 million. Forty Niner has even bigger numbers to back up the claim that his sons are hot commodities at stud. Only older stallions Danzig, Deputy Minister, Storm Cat, Seattle Slew, and Mr. Prospector have more sons listed in The Blood-Horse Stallion Register for 2003 than does Forty Niner. A total of 41 are listed. Not bad for a stallion whose last North American foals were born in 1996. End Sweep, who died in 2002, remains Forty Niner's best advertisement as a sire. Following his freshman year, End Sweep topped the second- and third-crop lists by progeny earnings and was eighth on the 2001 general list and sixth in 2002. End Sweep started his stallion career at Harry Mangurian Jr.'s Mockingbird Farm near Ocala, Fla., and stood there until he was sold to John Messara's Arrowfield Stud in 1999 and sent to Australia. The sale came at the time when Mangurian was reducing his stock. Mark Casse, a trainer for Mangurian and general manager of Mockingbird, was a big fan of End Sweep. "I told Mr. Mangurian that he was such a good stallion there was no reason to sell him unless he was certain he was leaving the business," said Casse, who helped manage End Sweep. "Mr. Mangurian said he was." Forty Niner's other top 20 sons on the 2002 freshman list are Coronado's Quest, Banker's Gold, and Announce. Coronado's Quest stands at Claiborne. Banker's Gold is at Brereton C. Jones' Airdrie Stud near Midway, Ky., and Announce stands at Frank and Mattie Justice's Dell Ridge Farm near Lexington. Forty Niner also has three sons in the top 20 on the second-crop list (Jules, Gold Case, and Editor's Note) and three in the top 25 on the third-crop list (Ide, Roar, and Gold Fever). Twining, like End Sweep, proved he had staying power beyond his 2-year-olds. His runners earned $4.8 million in 2001 and $4.1 million in 2002. He stands at Tom Simon's Vinery near Lexington. Tactical Advantage, whose runners earned $2.6 million in 2002, died Dec. 26. Forty Niner's sire line figures to keep picking up momemtum. Two of End Sweep's more prominent sons, grade I winner Trippi and grade III winner Precise End, are now at stud. Forty Niner has proved popular in Japan. He covered 83 mares in 2002 and will stand for ¥3.6 million (approximately $30,000).