The first foals by any sire with the stature of American Pharoah , who ended the 37-year American Triple Crown drought in 2015, would garner great anticipation and excitement.
But American Pharoah's reputation, is not why consignors and breeders are buzzing over his first crop of weanlings being offered at the upcoming Fasig-Tipton November and Keeneland November breeding stock sales.
The quality and athleticism of the weanlings cataloged is what's capturing everyone's attention.
"What you see is a physical that gets you excited. The buzz is well deserved," said Kerry Cauthen with Four Star Sales, which is offering Hip 20, the first American Pharoah weanling to sell at the Fasig-Tipton November sale Nov. 6. The filly is out of the Pulpit daughter Pulsating, from the family of multiple group 1 winner Minstrella and graded winner A Little Warm.
"She has fantastic size, great scope with a wonderful shoulder and hip, and she just moves well. She has so much scope that you can project forward and see classic form," Cauthen said. "For us, I think it is terrific to have the first 'Pharoah.' "
Reiley McDonald with Eaton Sales also was impressed with the seven or eight American Pharoah weanlings he's seen.
"I am blown away by how good they are," McDonald said. "They all have that big shoulder with great depth through the girth. It is unusual to see babies that deep at this point in their lives. They're really athletic, and like ours, they have minds like their dad's. They are all easy to be around."
Eaton Sales is offering Hip 46 at the Fasig-Tipton sale, an American Pharoah filly out of Untouched Talent (Storm Cat), the dam of grade 1 winner and leading second-crop sire Bodemeister . At the Keeneland sale, the consignment is offering Hip 984, a colt out of multiple stakes winner J Z Warrior (Harlan's Holiday).
Hunter Valley Farm has two American Pharoah weanlings for sale at Fasig-Tipton and two at Keeneland. The farm's co-owner Fergus Galvin said they all show good athleticism.
"The ones we have are seriously good walkers. They're well-made, but what stands out is how they move," Galvin said. "'Pharoah' was a lovely horse at the end of a shank and even lovelier when he got into stride."
While many breeders will wait to sell their first-crop American Pharoah foals as yearlings, Hunter Valley has been particularly successful selling weanlings. The consignor is offering Hip 30, a colt out of stakes-placed winner Sheraton Park (Cozzene); and Hip 68, a filly out of stakes winner Flattermewithroses (Flatter ) at the Fasig-Tipton sale. At Keeneland, Hunter Valley is offering Hip 54, a colt out of grade 1 winner and graded stakes producer Harmony Lodge; and Hip 69, a filly out of graded stakes-placed winner Jemima's Pearl (Distorted Humor ).
"Some people wait to sell as yearlings, but if we're happy and we like them then we predominately sell them as weanlings," Galvin said. "It been our MO, and it's paid dividends for us."
Dermot Ryan, manager of Ashford Stud where American Pharoah stands, said there is no comparing the buzz surrounding this sire with any other first-crop stallion.
"From the extra public attention to the excitement from breeders to the quality of mares he attracted in his first year, he takes it to a whole new level," Ryan said. "He was very well supported in his first year and, on the strength of his first foals, he bred an even bigger book in his second year.
"With Mendelssohn's win yesterday at the Breeders' Cup, Leslie's Lady showed again what an outstanding mare she is and she was bred to him this year, so that's the kind of quality you are talking about."
As for what the weanling market may indicate about the value of American Pharoah's first foals, Ryan said the yearling market will provide the greatest insight.
"The weanling market is generally a teaser for what's out there, but it is really the yearling market that gives you the bulk of horses to look at," he said. "In saying that, a strong foal sale can build momentum for a first-year horse, and we have seen that even before now with the amount of repeat business we got based on the reports of his first foals when they were born in the spring.
"American Pharoah has some very good-looking horses on the sales grounds but for every one in the sale there are probably three or four other good ones we've seen out on the farms so it is very exciting," Ryan said.
The observations by Cauthen, McDonald, and Galvin all square with what Ryan said he's heard from many breeders.
"The biggest thing that stands out about them is probably the way they move," Ryan said. "American Pharoah is such an exceptional mover and you can see it in his foals, they glide across the ground. He also passes on a good frame, they have size, scope, and strength, and the mindset to go with it."
American Pharoah shuttled this year to Coolmore Australia, where Ryan said the sire was oversubscribed about 24 hours after it was announced he'd be sent.
"The Triple Crown is one of the longstanding achievements that resonates with everyone," he said. "Horses like Seattle Slew and Secretariat are known the world over and that has certainly been true with American Pharoah. He achieved so much that sometimes it's easy to overlook that he was a champion 2-year-old, but he was also very precocious and that suits the Australian market."