At age 23, Northern Afleet's popularity is increasing in Saudi Arabia

At age 23, Northern Afleet's popularity is increasing in Saudi Arabia

Christine Wittmer

Resurgent Northern Afleet

Northern Afeet getting new attention from overseas

For Taylor Made Farm, the 2016 breeding season is like the calm before the storm. Next year the farm near Nicholasville, Ky., is planning to stand international superstar California Chrome, a dual U.S. classic winner and victor of the 2016 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). Ben Taylor, vice president of Taylor Made Stallions, talks about the 2016 breeding season, which included a bit of a surprise—a resurging interest in Northern Afleet, the 23-year-old son of Afleet out of the Nureyev mare Nureyette. Since 2012 Northern Afleet has averaged 69 mares bred a year, with 2014 his slowest year with 50 mares bred. This year he is expected to breed 110 mares.

MarketWatch: So talk about where Northern Afleet is in his breeding career and where the renewed interest is coming from?

Ben Taylor: We've pared down our number of stallions over the years to three. We've kept horses we felt would be commercial and whose books would fill.

Northern Afleet is getting up there (in age), so he's reached that plateau and that price range where people just want something new. They gravitate toward the young horses, even though he's a really nice horse and gets runners.

What happened this year is he got a couple of really nice runners in Saudi Arabia. His first stakes winners in Saudi Arabia.

(Leeman won the King Abdullah bin Abdualaziz Cup Jan. 22 and placed second in the King Abdulaziz Cup Feb. 27; Mamlouk won the King Faisal bin Abdualaziz Cup Jan. 23 and was second in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup Feb. 14. All these races are not internationally recognized group races but carry group I status in Saudi Arabia.)

MW: What has been the response to those Saudi Arabian stakes winners?

BT: Well, half his book this year will be made up of mares owned by Saudi Arabians. They tried to buy the horse, but at his age we were not sending him over there. So they started buying mares in foal to him and breeding to him. I think we've gotten 15 calls from people wanting to buy mares bred to him or buy weanlings or buy yearlings by him.

MW: Taylor Made also stands first-crop sire Astrology and Graydar, who will have his first yearlings this year. How did their season go?

BT: Astrology has four winners from six starters, so we have seen a spike in calls late in the season. Those winners definitely helped us sell some seasons over the past couple of weeks. I think he'll be close to 110.

Graydar has been well-received and got significant support from his ownership group, Twin Creeks Racing, and the shareholders. He will get a bit over 125 mares.