Published in the Jan. 12 issue of The Blood-Horse
For the second time in four years, the Mockingbird Farm team came up with the leading North American freshman sire. They won't make it three in 2002. Well, if they do, it won't be the same team. Longtime Mockingbird owner Harry T. Mangurian Jr. has dispersed his breeding stock holdings, and an agreement has been reached to sell the Ocala, Fla., farm to Eugene Melnyk. Mockingbird stood End Sweep when the son of Forty Niner was the leading freshman sire of 1998 (End Sweep, who now stands in Japan, set a record that year for first-season winners, 33), and was the original home of this year's leading first-crop sire, Valid Expectations. Valid Expectations finished the year with 27 winners from 68 named foals in his first crop. Forty-nine of his offspring of 1999 made at least one start in 2001. The group amassed progeny earnings of $1,397,911. The two freshman stallions who had the second- and third-highest number of winners, Open Forum and Smoke Glacken, also finished second and third, respectively, by progeny earnings. And, interestingly, Open Forum also stood at Mockingbird when this crop of youngsters was conceived. Of the 27 juvenile winners sired by Valid Expectations, all but two were bred in Florida in the Mockingbird name. The other two were bred in California by Cashmark Farm. Eight of Valid Expectations' 27 winners, about 30%, broke their maidens in their first start. At least one didn't have a chance to, unless a dead heat had occurred--Mapp Hill and Tank's Expectation ran one-two in a Woodbine maiden race. Seven of the 27 won more than one race during the year, with 20 at year's end still eligible for their second race condition. Fourteen of the winners are colts or geldings and 13 are fillies. The leading earner among the group was Expected Program (out of the Peterhof mare Program Pick), who also was the first of the 27 to win. Expected Program broke his maiden on April 29 and went on to win three of five outings, including the Willard L. Proctor Memorial and Haggin Stakes, both at Hollywood Park. He earned $120,240. Expected Program is one of three first-crop winners to also win a stakes race. One just barely made it in under the wire, Mapp Hill winning the Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds on New Year's Eve. The other is Expected Hour, who won the Victoria Stakes at Woodbine. Three of the other winners are stakes placed. Valid Expectations was bred in Florida by Mangurian and raced by Lee and Robert Ackerley, who also raced his full sister, stakes winner Little Sister. Mangurian bred and raced his stakes-winning dam, the Iron Constitution mare Mepache. Valid Expectations won 12 of 27 starts and earned $596,092. He won seven added-money races including the 1996 Derby Trial Stakes (gr. III) and Sport Page Handicap (gr. III). Having stood Valid Expectations' sire, Valid Appeal--who was pensioned following the 1997 breeding season--Mangurian purchased the breeding rights to Valid Expectations. He stood at Mockingbird in 1998 and 1999, then was moved to Will Farish's Huisache Farm in Texas in 2000. A group of Texas breeders--Farish, the Ackerleys, Robert and Janice McNair, Greg Goodman, and Joe Archer--leased Valid Expectations for two years. In June of 2001, the partners exercised their option to purchase Valid Expectations, but they will have to pony up some money because the contract included bonuses if Valid Expectations was leading freshman sire by money and winners. He led in both categories. "It really was a combination of things," Mark Casse, former general manager of the Mockingbird operation, said about the success of Valid Expectations. "We tried to breed specific types of mares, plus we had a really good program in getting them ready. Most importantly, by breeding our own mares we controlled everything, the whole process. We bred the stallions to our own mares, got them ready, got them sold in different places. We also ran a lot of them ourselves. "We tried to stand stallions that were sound," Casse said. "No matter how successful they (offspring of Valid Expectations) are, you have to be impressed with just how many make the races...they are sound. They are very pretty horses. That tells at the sales." Casse, also a successful trainer, predicted next year more and more Valid Expectations will make starts on the turf. "You are going to be surprised, but a lot of them like the grass. They're very versatile, they're better going further." Valid Expectations covered 63 mares in 1999, 83 in 2000, and 106 in 2001. His stud fee in 2002 will remain $12,500.