Six years ago Kenny Troutt's WinStar Farm began implementing a plan to purposefully increase the scope and quality of both its broodmare band and its stallion roster.
The 2,400-acre farm near Versailles, Ky., grew its stallion roster from seven to 22 and expanded the broodmare band from 60 to 150, according to Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar. The laser focus on quality during this expansion has contributed to WinStar achieving for the first time the top spot on the leading North American breeders list by earnings.
Through Dec. 29, WinStar-bred North American runners have cumulatively earned $10,503,297, more than $3.8 million ahead of all other breeders this year. The farm also holds a slim lead as the top breeder by number of wins with 238, just ahead of second-ranked Adena Springs at 229. Out of 1,403 starts, WinStar has a 17% win rate as a breeder and a 43% rate for finishes in the money.
"Being the leading breeder is important because it's the most team-oriented of our objectives; it encompasses broodmare care, mating selections, foaling, raising the yearlings, and so forth," Walden said. "It has certainly been an allinclusive effort."
WinStar has regularly ranked among the top 10 North American breeders since 2010 and been among the top five every year since 2012. The farm's highest end-of-year ranking prior to this year was third in 2014 with $6,897,879 in earnings. Walden gives a lot of credit for WinStar's success as a breeder to the insights provided by veteran pedigree analyst John Prather, who has been an adviser since Troutt purchased the farm's original 400 acres in 2000.
"The effort John gives starts the whole process," he said. "We start out with a mating that looks right on paper then combine that with the physical aspects; but keep in mind that one does not weigh more heavily than the other. Over the years we have developed a great feel for what works, not only for our mares, but with our stallions as well." WinStar breeds 75-80% of its mares to stallions it stands, according to Walden.
While earnings have put WinStar on top, the farm has been well represented by high-quality runners as well. This year WinStar has been represented by 18 black-type stakes winners, of which nine won graded stakes and three won grade I stakes.
Tourist is the leader among the grade I winners. The son of Tiznow--Unbridled Melody, by Unbridled's Song, won the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) for co-owners WinStar, Gary Barber, and Wachtel Stable. Prior to the Breeders' Cup, Tourist also won the grade I Fourstardave Handicap and placed in the Shoemaker Mile Stakes, Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes, and Maker's 46 Mile Stakes (all grade IT). Tourist enters stud next year at WinStar, where he'll stand for $12,500.
WinStar's other grade I winners are New Money Honey, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf; and, Constellation, recent winner of the La Brea Stakes. The rest of the graded stakes winners include Calgary Cat, Cyrus Alexander, Flexibility, Good Samaritan, Nonna Mela, and Stanford.
Walden said it is gratifying to be at the top of the leading breeders list after being so close for so many years.
"It's been a goal and something we've talked about, but it is not something you can dictate," Walden said. "So you focus on doing the right thing every day and day-byday you get there."