What makes a value sire? It’s not only one whose stud fees are low, though that is nice and can be a starting point for value. But you should look at other indicators, such as which sires a particular one is performing better than at half the cost. It should be a sire who is on the rise and showing better results in numerous categories as years pass. A sire who is just starting to produce stakes winners and Graded Stakes winners for the first time or in greater amounts than normal; that’s a sign of a value sire. Let’s look and see who I view as 5 current value sires and why.
Street Boss, Photo Courtesy of Darley
3-year-old Holy Boss’s win in The Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga on August 1st, his 3rd straight stakes win, put a spotlight on his sire, Street Boss. A late-developing, superbly talented sprinter who set three track records in 2008, Street Boss has been producing stakes-winning three-year-olds on both coasts so far in 2015. He is also 4th in 2-year-old earnings this year as well. Ever since Darley lowered his stud fees after his 2012 Freshman season from $15,000 to $10,000, Street Boss’s numbers have steadily risen, in areas such as general earnings, 2-year old earnings, turf earnings, all-weather earnings and lifetime AEI. Darley even shuttles Street Boss to Australia, where he’s produced stakes winners Thiamandi and The Quarterback. Street Boss can be viewed as a value sire, since he is out producing numerous stallions who cost twice as much at stud. I can definitely see his stud fees going up if his sons and daughters continue to have the success they have shown so far this year. Let’s look at Street Boss and see why I see him as a value sire in 2015.
A Multiple Grade 1 winner, Street Boss was consistently good on the track; he had 7 wins, 3 seconds, and a third place finish from 13 starts, earning $831,800. After not racing until the Fall as a three-year-old, he went on to set three track records on the track in 2008 as a 4 year old: at 5 1/2 furlongs in a Santa Anita allowance, six furlongs in the Grade 3 Los Angeles at Hollywood Park, and six furlongs in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar. He was a physically imposing racehorse who had a relentless ability to wear down his opponents, usually coming from 5-7 wide in the stretch to accomplish this. He ended his career by doing so, in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he finished third.
In the breeding shed, Street Boss has sired 15 stakes winners to date, and has produced better numbers at stud ever since his 2012 freshman campaign. This season, so far, has really catapulted him to new heights. Let’s look at his numbers since Darley lowered his stud fees after 2012.
North American Earnings
2015/46, 2014/69, 2013/96
2015/6, 2014/5, 2013/4
2015/7 (tied for 2nd with 8 winners so far this year), 2014/40, 2013/38
2015/39, 2014/53, 2013/52
All Weather Earnings:
2015/12, 2014/94, 2013/113
2015/$1,289,995, 2014/$1,160,60, 2013/$266,990
2015/43, 2014/65, 2013/80
So, as you can see, Street Boss has shown dramatic improvement in 2015. Overall, Street Boss is also known as a stallion who produces a nice % of winners from starters. Darley purchased him on the merits of his track record as an “A” list sprinter on top of a physique that would draw attention from breeders. I think we’re beginning to see what they saw in him by the offspring he’s now producing. Let’s look at some of them.
While Street Boss competed and in and won Grade One events on all-weather surfaces, he’s produced runners who’ve shown their talents on both dirt and turf. Street Boss didn’t race at two, and won at first asking in September at 3. Because of this, many of his progeny have run their best races as they’ve matured a bit. That’s why it’s nice to see him collecting some strong numbers from his 2-year-old runners this year, lead by Get Rhythm. who won the Ontario Debutante Stakes, and the talented filly Decked Out, a closer who’s run 2nd in the Astoria Stakes and 3rd in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga in 2015. Street Boss first garnished attention as a sire in 2013, when Capo Bastone, at 28-1 odds, came from the back of the pack to win the Grade 1 King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga. As a 2-year-old, he had finished 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. In 2014, Danza came on the scene. He was a lightly raced, Grade 2 placed juvenile who scored a dominant victory in the Grade 1 Arkansas victory at 41-1 odds. He followed that up with a game 3rd place finish to California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby. He was later retired to Spendthrift Farms. Capo Bastone and Danza both show off some of the versatility Street Boss has going for him as a sire; the ability to produce high-class sprinters as well as long-distance routers. On August 1st of 2015, we saw his three-year-old son Holy Boss win the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes (6 1/2 furlongs) at Saratoga in fine fashion, as this was his 3rd stakes win in a row and his 1st Graded Stakes score. He will most likely run in the G1 King’s Bishop Stakes at the end of the month. Other runners that have made 2015 a special one for the sire are Long Hot Summer (G3 Placed Senorita Stakes, Turf), Soul Driver (Multiple Stakes winner on turf, 1 at Del Mar), Bench Warrant (stakes winner, turf), Metaboss (winner, G3 El Camino Derby, synthetic), King of New York (stakes placed at Saratoga, dirt), Highway Boss (stakes placed, dirt), and Petits Filous (AUS, G3) . These horses are all three-year-olds and competed in distances from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. They also ran and won on all 3 surfaces. These successes show how Street Boss produces horses who blossom throughout their three-year-old seasons. Street Boss has an AWD of 6.5, which means his progeny have a tendency to win at sprint distances. This is not surprising, given that he was a top-notch sprinter with a gift for speed. It is his sire line, with Street Cry and Machiavellian influences, and his dam sire line, with Ogygian and Blushing Groom, that help him produce routers when bred to a distance-laden female family and gives hope that he can one day produce a classic-winning horse. Let’s look more into his pedigree to find clues as to what we may expect from Street Boss in the coming years.
Street Boss was a KEESEP2005, $300,000 yearling purchase by Bruce Headley, Marsha Naify and Simon Yu. His dad, Street Cry, was a physically gifted horse who earned over 5 million dollars on the track by winning the 2002 Stephen Foster Handicap and 2002 Dubai World Cup. Street Cry was an honest horse, never finishing out of the money in 12 career starts. His racing career was unfortunately muttered by injury, as he had to miss both the Kentucky Derby at 3 and the Breeders’ Cup Classic at 4, an injury that ended his career. As a young and talented international sire, along with Street Boss he produced the great filly and 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta and Street Sense, the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Champion and 2007 Kentucky Derby Champion. He unfortunately passed away at 16 years of age. Street Cry has been represented by progeny that have earned more than $84.3 million worldwide, including six champions, 49 graded stakes winners, 78 stakes winners, and 17 Grade 1 winners. Street Cry was by dual Group One winner Machiavellian, a son of the influential sire Mr. Prospector. He was one of Europe’s finest stallions who also produced another Dubai World Cup winner in Almutawakel. Another Machiavellian son, Storming Home, was a two-time Grade One turf winner in the U.S. Street Boss is out of Ogygian, a listed stakes winner. She produced Habiboo, who was a Multiple G2 stakes placed filly. She is a full sister to stakes placed Tiny Decision, and a half-sister to half-sister to Fruhlingserwachen (dam of Fruhlingssturm-1st G2 Euro-Cup (Ger) and Champion 3-year-Old in Holland in 2003). His 2nd dam, Fruhlingshochzeit, was a stakes winning miler in France. His 3rd dam, Fuhrlingstag, was Group 1 placed and the dam of Running Stag, who was a Multiple Grade 2 winning horse in the U.S. who also placed 2nd in the prestigious Group One Hong Kong Cup. Street Boss’s dam sire is Ogygian, and this is who he most resembles in looks and in speed. He was a Graded Stakes winner from 7 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, and won 7 races from 10 starts. While becoming just an ordinary sire, he was a superior broodmare sire, producing Street Boss, Champion Sprinter Johannesburg, Multiple Grade 1 winner Gygistar, and Multiple Grade 2 winner Friendly Island amongst others. Ogygian was a known speed influence. His 2nd dam sire is Blushing Groom. A Champion Two and Three year Old in Europe, Blushing Groom became a Brilliant/Classic Chef-de-Race in the breeding shed. He gave off both speed and endurance onto his progeny. Finally, Street Boss’s 3rd sire, Orsini, was the 1958 Horse of the Year in Germany and was also a four-time Champion Sire there as well. He won numerous races at 1 1/2 miles and is a stamina influence. Street Boss has a nice blend of speed, stamina, and class in his bloodlines. While his dam sire, Ogygian, probably gave him his speed, some of the distance horses in his pedigree were probably the reason why he could go 6-7 wide while sprinting and clear the field. Street Cry, Machiavellian, Blushing Groom, and Orsini may help Street Boss eventually produce a classic winner.
Street Boss is the epitome of a value sire. His numbers keep getting better in all areas, he’s putting out more stakes winners with each passing year, has proved he can produce Grade 1 winners, and he has a strong pedigree that should lead towards producing quality, good-looking horses that have started to produce nicely upon hitting the track. I see Street Boss on the rise, and I don’t see why he can’t continue to have more success as a sire for years to come. At his current price of $10,000, I view him as a steal.
Afleet Alex, Photo Courtesy of Gainesway Farm
The pinnacle moment in Afleet Alex’s racing career was his Preakness Stakes, where heading for home he stumbled so badly that he nearly fell to his knees, and his nose was just a few inches from dirt, only to regroup himself and regain momentum to win by 4 1/4 lengths. He ended his career with a dominant 7 length score in the Belmont Stakes, There was a lot of promise for Afleet Alex to become a talented stallion, but he has had his ups and downs there. Standing for an initial fee of $40,000, Afleet Alex has dipped as low as $12,500 at this present time. And here is where his value lies. His son, Texas Red, not only won the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 2 in 2014, but also took the G2 Jim Dandy Stakes recently at 3. Materiality, meanwhile, won this year’s Florida Derby. Finally, in 2014, Iotapa won back-to-back Grade 1’s and then finished her career with back-to-back 3rd place finishes in Grade One races, including the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She was later sold at a KENNOV2014 sale for $2,800,000. With Afleet Alex’s numbers on the rise these past 3-4 years, I would expect his stud fees to rise accordingly. His arrow is pointing upward, and furthermore he’s performing much better overall than many of his counterparts commanding much more money at stud. Let’s look at Afleet Alex and what makes him a true fan favorite to many horse racing fans.
Afleet Alex was a good one from the start. In 2004, after winning his maiden and an allowance race, he won the G2 Sanford Stakes (in a stakes record time) and the G1 Hopeful Stakes. He finished up the year running 2nd in both the G1 Champagne Stakes and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Then, as a three-year-old, he won the Mountain Valley Stakes at Oaklawn before finishing last in the G2 Rebel Stakes. It was later discovered that he had a lung infection, which explained his finish. Once that cleared, Afleet Alex put out a scintillating performance in the Arkansas Derby, winning by a record 8 lengths. As one of the betting favorites in the Kentucky Derby, he finished 3rd, losing by one length to longshots Giacomo (50-1) and Closing Argument (72-1). Jeremy Rose, Afleet Alex’s jockey, was criticized for his ride on Afleet Alex. Critics say that he lost Afleet Alex the Derby by whipping him right-handed in deep stretch, forcing the colt toward the rail, onto a deeper, slower part of the racetrack. Afleet Alex next ran at Pimlico, and that is where his spot in horse racing lore was cemented. His stumble and recovery on the road to victory, for many fans, was one for the ages. Moving on to the Belmont Stakes, he made his 7 length win look extremely effortless. He was one length from being a Triple Crown winner, and was awarded the 2005 Eclipse Award for a 3 Year Old Male Colt. Afleet Alex was retired in 2006 due to injury. He ended up with a record of 12 starts with 8 wins, 2 second place finishes, and a third place finish. His total earnings was $2,765,800. Afleet Alex would be remembered for his ability and athleticism on the race track. Now let’s look at his sire data, which should give you an idea that he’s a sire on the rebound.
Afleet Alex has already made a mark as a stallion. At stud so far, he has had 50- plus stakes horses, 30-plus stakes winners, 12 Graded winners, with earnings of over $30,000,000. In 2013, his stud fee went from $15,000 to a low of $12,500. Here are his numbers from 2012 until now.
North American Earnings:
2015/22, 2014/19, 2013/59, 2012/51
2015/5, 2014/7, 2013/4, 2012/5
2015/0ut of the top 150, 2014/3, 2013/60, 2012/139
2015/42. 2014/57, 2013/124, 2012/108
All Weather Earnings:
2015/35, 2014/46, 2013/89, 2012/123
2015/50, 2014/54, 2013/56, 2012/53
2015/$20,473, 2014/$78,635, 2013/$296,088, 2012: N/A
Afleet Alex has made dramatic improvements in most categories over the past two years, especially North American earnings, turf earnings, and all weather earnings . Afleet Alex has been known to be one who gets his offspring to develop a little bit over time; this is why it was so nice to see what Texas Red accomplished in his Breeders’ Cup race. Early on as a sire, Afleet Alex sired Afleet Express, who won the Grade One Travers Stakes in 2010, and Dublin, who won the 2009 Hopeful Stakes. Now, fast forward to 2015, and Afleet Alex has added 4 more Grade One winners: Texas Red, Iotapa, Materiality, and Sharla Rae. That’s a huge spike in production, showing Afleet Alex is trending in the right direction as a sire. Here’s a look at some of his best offspring.
Afleet Alex’s first crop numbers in 2009 were nothing to write home about. He finished 7th in earnings, but did have Dublin win the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, the same race he won in 2004. Dublin went on to finish 3rd in the G1 Arkansas Derby and earn $438,949. 2010 brought us the first cropper Afleet Express and a nose win at the G1 Travers Stakes. He injured himself and has gone on to become a sire. Afleet Alex also had another first-crop horse in Afleet Again, who in 2010 won the Grade 3 Withers on his way to winning the Breeders’ Cup Marathon the following year. Other horses of note that Afleet Alex produced before 2014 were Harissa, a stakes-winning filly at 3, who won the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie in 2011 at 4, first-crop Afleeting Lady, who became a graded stakes winner in 2012 at age 5 with wins in the Grade 2 Falls City and the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm. There was also Second-crop Bizzy Caroline, a dual Grade 3-winning filly on turf, the third-crop Called to Serve, who won the Grade 3 Discovery in 2012 and was third in this 2013 Santa Anita Handicap, and the second crop Miss Valentine, who was a multiple stakes winner. Things were then pretty quiet for Afleet Alex until his daughter, Iotopa, won the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap and Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes during the Summer of 2014. He then struck again in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, when his son Texas Red blew open the race, winning going away by 6 1/2 lengths. The Spring of 2015 welcomed Materiality on to the Derby Trail, with a win in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and a spot as one of the favorites in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished 6th. Finally, this past August of 2015 has been mammoth for Afleet Alex. Not only did Texas Red announce to everybody that, after injury, he was back in the 3-year-old fray with a win in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, but this past weekend three-year-old filly Sharla Rae scored in the G1 Del Mar Oaks. Afleet Alex is showing us that he’s much better than his stud value indicates, and I feel horse breeders and owners will have had to take notice
Afleet Alex is by Northern Afleet, who was a strongly-built miler and has produced over 70 stakes winners with earnings over $59 million dollars. More importantly, he’s given us 29 Graded Stakes winners, four champions, and five millionaires, incl. Afleet Alex, Big City Man, Teaks North, and Evening Jewel. His 2nd sire, Afleet, was the 1987 Canadian Horse Of The Year. He was sent to Japan, where he had progeny earning of over $125,000,000. While Northern Afleet had a propensity to throw speed into his runners, Afleet would give off stronger amounts of endurance. Afleet Alex himself puts a healthy does of stamina into his offspring. Afleet Alex’s dam, Maggy Hawk, also produced his full brother, the stakes winner Unforgettable Max. His 2nd dam was the Grade 1 winner Qualique, and his 4th dam was multiple stakes placed Gaylord’s Touch. She also produced Multiple Grade 3 winner Island Charm. Afleet Alex’s dam sire, Hawkster, was a Multiple Grade 1 winner and earner of close to $1.5 million dollars. He set a world record for 12 furlongs on turf at Santa Anita (2:22.80). As a sire, he only produced 4 stakes winners. His 2nd dam sire, Hawaii, was the 1968 Horse of the Year in South Africa, and the 1969 U.S. Champion Turf Horse. In the breeding shed, Hawaii had 39 stakes winners, including Kentucky Derby Champion Henbit. Finally, Afleet Alex’s 3rd dam sire is Sensitivo. He earned $248,557 on the track and attained 13 wins from 57 starts.
As far as Afleet Alex’s bloodlines are concerned, not many names that you’ll find in it would be over-appealing to Kentucky breeders. On top of that, although Afleet Alex is a nicely put together colt, he is not the most imposing colt. Even his breeder named him an “Ugly Duckling”. While this is a part of why his stud career has not grown to great heights, he appears to be heading in the right direction, and I can look at Afleet Alex today and say, “This horse is a value sire”.
Yes It’s True, Photo Courtesy of Lee Thomas
Veteran sire yes It’s True has raised up his game for Three Chimneys Farm ever since his stud fee was lowered after his 2012 season. Although he has been at or near five million dollars in earnings for nine straight years, he only costs $10,000. Yes It’s True is as consistent as it comes. If you are looking for a quality dirt sire, look no further. You will pay half the price, in many cases, for his results. Yes It’s True has been inside the top 35 sires in total earnings for three straight years. And his two-year-olds have been showing well, ranking 24th in earnings this year and tied for 2nd in stakes winners. Let’s look at this stallion and see how he’s on the rise in his twilight years.
Yes It’s True sold at BARMAR98 2-year-old sale for $800,000 (3rd highest price of sale). His athleticism, good looks, and precocity followed him on to the track. He possessed an abundance of speed from the get go. where at 2 he raced 9 times, and came away with 5 wins (Multiple Grade 3 victories), 2 seconds (including G1 Futurity Stakes), and a third. At three, he became a top flight sprinter, winning 6 races of 11, including the Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash (G1), Riva Rige S.(G2), Maryland Breeders’ Cup (G3), Lafayette S. (G3), Swale S. (G3), and Jersey Shore Breeders’ Cup (G3). Unfortunately, the colt’s 4-year-old season was poor, as he started only twice and finished out of the money both times. He retired to stud having won half his 22 starts and earning $1,080,700.
Yes It’s True began his stud career at Pauda Stables in Florida. His pedigree was not seen as one that would demand attention from horse breeders and owners. But after finishing 2nd in the country in first-crop earnings, he was brought to Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, where he’s been a consistently good sire. Yes It’s True has put up increasingly good numbers in many areas, yet he stands for a mere $10,000. Let me show you.
North America Earnings:
2015/26, 2014/24, 2013/33, 2012/59
2015/5, 2014/8, 2013/9, 2012/5
2015/24, 2014/33, 2013/17, 2012/44
2015/not ranked, 2014/125, 2013/74, 2012/129
All Weather Earnings:
2015/144, 2014/99, 2013/58, 2012/62
2015/76, 2014/79, 2013/88, 2012/86
2015/$51,579, 2014/$79,714, 2013/$76,645, 2012/$387,500
Broodmare Sire Earnings:
In most categories, Yes It’s True has dramatically raised his game since his stud value was dropped in 2012. As you can see, Yes It’s True is strongly slanted as a dirt sire, but he is a very good value none the less. You are paying double in many cases for sires putting up his kind of numbers, and being such a consistently good stallion for many years would seem to be very enticing when deciding who you want to breed your mare with. Let’s look at Yes It’s True’s progeny to see the kind of horses he has produced.
Yes It’s True has over 52 stakes winners in his stud career and over 100 stakes horses. A couple of his best horses have come on the seen this past couple of years. Top sprinter The Big Beast , standing at over 17 hands tall, captured the 2014 G1 King’s Bishop Stakes, gobbling up ground going six wide and putting his head in front of Fast Anna for the win. An injury forced him to miss the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and after a 4 month layoff since finished 4th in the G1 Carter Handicap. Since then, Big Beast finished a game second recently, losing by a nose to the up-and-coming Rock Fall in the G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap. Yes It’s True’s ever consistent, Multiple Grade 2 winning filly, La Verdad, has won 14 of her 20 starts and has earned over $1 million dollars on the track. She first came on the scene in the Spring and Summer of 2014 with 4 straight stakes wins (1 Graded). In 2015, she is undefeated in four starts (3 Graded scores), and stepped up in class to win the Grade 2 honorable Miss Handicap at Saratoga on July 29th. Yes It’s True 3-year-old son, The Truth or Else, found himself on the 2015 Derby trail with a 2nd place finish in the G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Finally, 3-year-old filly Calamity Kate was the winner of the $300,000 Delaware Oaks. Other notable progeny of Yes It’s True include Multiple Grade 2 winner Aikenite, Proud Accolade (G1 Champagne Stakes), Yesbyjimminy (stakes winning sprinter, $586,940), Maltese Massive (stakes winner in Japan), B.B. Best (multiple stakes winner, $787,761), and Earth Sound (stakes winning sprinter in Japan, $1,656,918). You can see that Yes It’s True has been flourishing over the last couple of years, and the veteran sire’s steady production should make him rather appealing to horse breeders everywhere, especially for economic reasons alone.
Yes It’s True is an outstanding physical specimen, whose yearlings and two-year-olds routinely sell for $100,000 and up. His sprinter speed has carried over onto his progeny, because his AWD is very low. If you are looking to breed a quality dirt sprinter, Yes It’s True fits the bill. His pedigree, while unflashy, is interesting and you’ll see why he makes a strong sire. He is by Is It True, who was the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, upsetting heavily favored Easy Goer. He earned $819,999 on the track. Is It True sired 2 Grade 1 winners, one being Yes It’s True. Overall, he sired 29 stakes winners, as he stood in Australia and Kentucky. His AWD was very low as well, showing that he was a producer of mainly sprinter types. Yes It’s True Grandsire is Raja Baba, who was the Leading Sire of North America in 1980. At stud, he sired 62 stakes winners (23 Group/Graded) and 2 Champions. Yes It’s True’s dam is Clever Monique, who was unplaced in her only race. She is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Prince of the Mt., and produced one other stakes winner, Honest Deceiver. Yes It’s True comes from female family branch A1, whose descendants include Gato De Sol, Tizway, and Regret amongst others. Yes It’s True’s dam sire is Clever Trick. A fine sprinter, he had 18 wins from 29 starts and won 9 stakes races. Clever Trick had a nice stud career, producing 67 stakes winners with earnings of $43.5 million dollars. He was a sire of sires, with his sons producing 120 stakes winners with earnings of $85 million dollars. Clever Trick is another in Yes It’s True’s bloodlines who put sprinter speed into his progeny. His 2nd dam sire, Prince Of Ascot, earned $61,576 and had only 1 stakes winner. Yes It’s True’s 3rd dam sire, Speedy Frank, earned only $8,645. While Yes It’s True’s pedigree seems to be lacking, the promising thing about it is that it is an outcross to practically every major American sire line. He is free of Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer, In Reality, Seattle Slew, Hail to Reason, and Ribot. Thus he has been tried with mares having a large diversity of genetic backgrounds, and has been quite successful.
Yes It’s True has been as consistent as you can get over his 10+ years at stud. Every year he seems to put up numbers that are stronger than other sires who cost more than him. With his stud fees at a low of $10,000, his value has climbed high, because in these last couple of years he has put together high quality sprinters who are competing in and winning big races. Once again, if you were a breeder looking for a dirt sprinter, Yes It’s True would be a smart choice to bring you’re mare to; and a value one.
Birdstone, Photo courtesy of Gainesway Farm
Casual horse racing fans will hear the name Birdstone and draw a picture in their mind of the horse who broke up Smarty Jones’s Triple Crown bid in 2004, gunning him down in the Belmont Stakes to win by 1 length. To the more astute fan, Birdstone was remembered on the track as being the only horse other than Easy Goer (1989) to win the Champagne Stakes, the Belmont Stakes, and the Travers Stakes; all in New York. They may also know that his first crop at stud produced 2 classic winners in 2009, with Mine That Bird winning the Kentucky Derby and Summer Bird the Belmont Stakes. After that season, Birdstone’s stud fees hit a peak at $30,000 at Gainesway Farm. But ever since his freshman year, Birdstone was a disappointment as a sire, with his stud fee plummeting to $5,000 at this time. But here is where the value lies, because Birdstone has raised his game over the last few years and is showing improved numbers in many areas. And with Thank You Marylou placing in the 2014 Breeders’s Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, along with Noble Bird winning this year’s Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, he’s made it clear that, once again, he can produce high quality racehorses. Let’s look at what makes Birdstone possibly the greatest $5000 stallion in the world.
Birdstone, who was trained by Nick Zito and is owned by Marylou Whitney, made a scintillating debut on Aug. 2, 2003 at Saratoga, accelerating from just off the pace and dusting the field to win by 12 1/2-length, running six furlongs in 1:10.32. He then moved on to the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, where he finished 4th, losing by 6 1/2 lengths. Later that Fall, in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, Birdtone surged past a pace-setting Chapel Royal to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Unfortunately, it appeared that Birdstone hadn’t carried is stellar two-year-old form into his tree-year-old season. After an easy allowance win at Gulfstream, he ran fifth in the Grade 2 Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park, losing by 10 3/4 lengths. He went on to finish 8th in the Kentucky Derby. Birdstone became an afterthought for bettors in the 2004 Belmont Stakes, letting him go off at 36-1. In the race, Triple Crown hopeful Smarty Jones and jockey Stewart Elliot made a pre-mature move and were leg-weary with one furlong left, and Birdstone had him in his sights and charged at him, galloping by him at the wire as silence and a few boos overcame Belmont Park. Smarty’s Party had been crashed. Even when he lined up for the Travers Stakes, people had their doubts in his ability, making him the 4th choice at 5-1. In the race, Birdstone loomed large, sitting 5th at the top of the stretch, and when asked he responded by gobbling up ground to pass his rivals and win by 2 1/2 lengths. In his last race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he finished 7th to eventual horse of the year Ghostzapper. For a career, Birdstone had 9 starts with 5 wins and earning of $1,575,600.
Birdstone was not seen as an overly-promising sire when he went to stud. This was probably because of his unimpressive stature, in which breeders would find less than desirable. He did have positive qualities; he was made pretty well and was a nice mover. His pedigree was also a good one, being by a Kentucky Derby Champion and out of a Broodmare of the Year. With all of that, though, his initial stud fee was only $10,000 and he only had 67 named foals in his first season. But in 2009, all changed, as he was 2nd in earnings as a second-crop sire based on the successes of Mine That Bird and Summer Bird. This was amongst such talented stallions as Medaglia d’ Oro, Tapit, Speightstown, and Candy Ride. Then, a fall from grace in 2010 where, as a third-crop sire, he finished 29th in earnings. But I’m going to show you how Birdstone has started to make a comeback by looking at some of his numbers. $5000 is too low of a stud fee now for what he has been putting out on the track.
North American Earnings:
2015/74, 2014/106, 2013/not in the top 150 (stud fee $10,000)
2015/42, 2014/not in the top 150, 2013/73
Not ranked in pat 3 years
All Weather Earnings:
2015/102 (1 SW), 2014/70 (2 SW), 2013/not in top 150
2015/90, 2014/94, 2013/81
To put things in perspective, in 2015, there are just 2 sires standing for $5000 or less that are ahead of Birdstone, in North American Earnings. Behind Birdstone, this year, there are more than 25 sires who have higher stud fees than him who have less in total North American earnings. I’m thinking value. Especially seeing that many of his numbers have increased the last couple of years. And now after seeing that he’s produced his first Grade 1 winner since 2009, a Breeders’ Cup placed filly, and a two-year-old who looks like he’s on to better things, his $5000 stud fee is almost laughable and most likely will be adjusted by Gainesway heading into the 2016 season. Let’s look at the horses who have lifted this bird off the ground again.
2014 was the start of the comeback for Birdstone, and surprisingly, it was led by a three-year-old filly sprinter, Thank You Marylou. After winning the Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs, she ran 3rd in the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes and followed up that performance with a third place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Stakes. Thank You Marylou finished the year with another third place finish in the La Brea Stakes, and is still running at 4 this year. Other quality performers in 2014 for Birdstone were Blue Tone (stakes winner and Grade 3 placed at Del Mar), Florida Won (Grade 3 Ontario Derby) and Conquest Titan (2nd place, Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes). 2015 introduced us to Noble Bird. He flew onto the seen on Kentucky Oaks day with a 2nd place finish in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes, and followed that race up with a surprising score in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap. In that race, he beat Lea and Hopportunity, and it was a “win and you’re in” race to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Other top performers of Birdstone in 2015 are Stoneware (2nd place Wakango Stakes-Japan), Florida Won (2nd G2 Dominion Day Stakes, G2SW Seagram Cup Stakes), Blue Tone (winner Santana Mile Stakes), and the promising 2-year-old Swipe, who won the Summer Juvenile Championship Stakes and finished 2nd in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. Before 2014, Mine That Bird, Summer Bird, and Birdrun had been Birdstone’s most notable offspring. For a $5000 stallion, this is quite a strong resume. He’s already passed his mark of stakes winners this year, with four, and the year is far from over. This is turning into a nice comeback for a horse who’s never seemed to garnish a ton of respect, on and off the track.
While commercial breeders didn’t line up to hand their mares over to Birdstone upon his retirement in 2005, I doubt it had anything to do with his pedigree. He is by Grindstone, the 1996 Kentucky Derby winner, and hails from the Unbridled sire line, which gave us recent Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, through his son Empire Maker (2003 Belmont Stakes winner). Talented sire Unbridled’s Song was a son of Unbridled as well. He sired over 100 stakes winners and had over $90 million dollars in career earnings. Besides winning the Kentucky Derby, Grindstone also won the Louisiana Derby and lost by a neck in the Arkansas Derby. He earned $1,224,510 on the racetrack. Grindtone’s offspring are not overly large, and inherit more endurance than speed from him. He has sired 25 stakes winners to date, and has stood in Oregon since 2007. Birdstone’s 2nd sire, Unbridled, not only won the Kentucky Derby in 1990, but that year captured the Breeders’ Cup Classic and became the U.S. Champion Three Year Old Colt. Unbridled holds the distinction of being the last stallion to have sired at least one horse in each American Triple Crown race: Grindstone (Kentucky Derby), Red Bullet (Preakness Stakes), and Empire Maker (Belmont Stakes). Overall, Unbridled sired 48 stakes winners in an abbreviated stud career, which included four Eclipse Award Champions (three-year-old fillies Banshee Breeze and Smuggler, and two-year-olds Anees and Halfbridled). Unbridled’s progeny were also known to win at longer distances. Because of American Pharoah’s success, I’d imagine this would only make Birdstone a more desirable sire. It is Birdstone’s female family where you see the true class of this horse. His dam, Dear Birdie, is the dam of 12 foals to race, in which all are winners. Amongst them, she gave us Bird Town, who won the 2003 Kentucky Oaks with the fastest time in the races history. In 2004, Dear Birdie became the Broodmare of the Year. Birdstone’s 3rd dam, You All, won the Ashland Stakes at 3. His 4th dam, Honey Dear, won the New York Handicap in a course record on the Belmont Turf (1 1/4 miles in 2:03.80). Birdstone’s dam sire, Storm Bird, was a 2-year-old champion in Europe and sired both Storm Cat and Summer Squall, who, by the way, had a great rivalry with Unbridled during their racing career. He was the sire of 63 stakes winners, and also the broodmare sire for over another 100 stakes winners, including Thunder Gulch and Commentator. His 2nd dam sire is Silent Screen, who was a U.S. Champion 2 Year Old Colt. He never won beyond a mile. Birdstone’s 3rd dam sire is Hall of Famer Nashau, won 22 races from 30 starts, and was the 1955 Horse of the Year. A winner of the Belmont Stakes, he broke 3 track records during his career, at 6 furlongs, 9.5 furlongs, and 16 furlongs. So while Grindstone has underachieved as a sire, the Unbridled sire line is extremely strong, and his dam line would seem to be a huge draw to those interested in breeding their mare with Birdstone.
Birdstone, for the most part, has played the underdog role, on the track and in the breeding shed. He’s definitely had his moments of greatness, but all have come as a surprise to most. Sitting with a current stud fee of $5000, I think it would be to no one’s surprise if that was to rise in the near future, given the success of some of his horses since 2014. I think it would make many racing fans happy to see Birdstone continue to soar higher and higher in the coming years, after having the fall from grace he’s experienced as a sire.
Discreet Cat, Photo Courtesy of Darley
Discreet Cat is standing at Darley for $7,500, and I don’t know why. In 2014 and 2015, he was and is ahead in North American Earnings over numerous sires that cost double or more than him. So far in 2015, he ranks 16th in 2-year-old earnings. His 2-year-olds at auction this year have averaged $89,000. His son, Dads Cap, won the Grade 1 Carter Handicap this past April. Finally, he was tremendous on the racetrack at both 2 and 3. I have one thing to say about Discreet Cat, and that is he’s a steal at $7,500.
Discreet Cat was known on the racetrack to have a high cruising speed and an ability to win his races with a sense of ease. He put on a spectacular performance in his debut at Saratoga, winning by 3 ½ lengths and getting six furlongs in 1:09.76, earning a 106 Beyer Speed Figure. After the race, he was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed for $6 million dollars and sent to race in Dubai. At 3, he won the Grade 2 UAE Derby by 6 lengths. Coming back to the United States, he won the G2 Jerome Handicap by 10 1/4 lengths. His 3-year-old season culminated with a Grade 1 win in the Cigar Mile against older horses, where he equaled a track record of 1:32.46 set by Easy Goer and earned a 116 BSF. Discreet Cat was the co-highweighted 3-year-old on the 2006 Northern Hemisphere World Thoroughbred Rankings, sharing a 128 ranking with Eclipse Award winner Bernardini. At 4, he had his undefeated streak broken when finishing last of seven in the Dubai World Cup after a poor break. Discreet Cat closed out his racing career with 2 third place finishes in the G1 Vosburgh Stakes and G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile. He ended up with 6 wins and 2 third place finishes from 9 starts with earnings of $1,694,180.
In 2013, Discreet Cat’s numbers were very strong. He was the 3rd ranked third-crop sire, so his stud fee was set for $20,000 for the upcoming season. You could have said that this was too low, given his credentials. In 2014, his numbers dipped, so Darley lowered his stud fees to $7,500. Once again, given what he was putting out, in relative comparison to other sires, this seemed like too low of a number. Let’s look at his numbers and stack them up against other sires to see where his value lies.
North American Earnings:
2015/56, 2014/63, 2013/39
2015/5, 2014/6, 2013/13
2015/16, 2014/75, 2013/29
2015/60, 2014/50, 2013/38
All Weather Earnings:
2015/not ranked in the top 150, 2014/not ranked, 2013/not ranked
2015/81, 2014/83, 2013/70
2015/$390,000, 2014/$671,000, 2013/$1.15 million dollars
First off, I don’t see such a drop off in numbers in 2014 to bring about such a reduction in stud fees. And it was only in one year…it was not like a pattern had been formed. Darley has been bringing in a lot of mares to be bred with him, so it’s not like they are throwing in the towel on him. But for a horse who’s already sired 5 Grade 1-Grade 2 winners since 2011, $7,500 seems like a bargain price. Especially, when comparing his 2015 North American Earnings to date to other big-name sires such as Midnight Lute ($25,000), First Samurai ($15,000), Eskendereya ($17,500), Quality Road ($35,000), Warrior’s Reward ($25,000), Into Mischief ($35,000), and Tale of Ekati ($15,000). Let’s look at some of Discreet Cat’s progeny which give him strong appeal.
Discreet Cat has produced 20 stakes winners, over 190 winners, with earnings of over $18 million dollars. He also has a healthy 12% stakes horses from runners. 2013 was a big year for him, as he got his 1st Grade One winner with Discreet Marq in the Del Mar Oaks on the turf. She has gone on the place in 6 other Grade One events to date, with earnings of $1,263,900. Dads Caps is another of Discreet Cat’s millionaires. He won both the 2014 & 2015 Grade One Carter Handicaps (7 furlongs). Discreet Cat has 2 other millionaires, Qisah and Air Khalifah, who run in Japan. His other Grade 1 winner is Secret Compass (G1 Chandelier Stakes). Discreet Cat’s other Graded Stakes winners are Discreet Dancer (G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, placed G1 Carter Handicap), Mamma Kimbo (G2 Fantasy Stakes), Out Of Bounds (G3 Sham Stakes), Sage Valley (G3 Maryland Sprint Handicap & G3 James Marvin Stakes), and Debt Ceiling (G3 Bashford Manor Stakes). This is a pretty solid resume for a horse whose stud value is less than $10,000. Let’s see what his pedigree tells us about the attention he draws from horse breeders.
Discreet Cat is by Forestry. He was a muscular and good-looking colt, who was consistent during his racing career, with a record of 11 starts, 7 wins, 1 second, and 2 thirds, earning $531,225. At 3, he equaled a record time set by Holy Bull in the Dwyer Stakes. He than set a track record in the 1999 King Bishop’s Stakes, stopping the clock at 1:21 flat for 7 furlongs. At stud, he sired Graded Stakes winners Diplomat Lady, Smokey Glacken, Old Forester, Forest Danger, and Woodlander amongst others. He also sired Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford. Forestry as over 50 stakes winners with over $45 million dollars of progeny earnings. He is also an emerging sire of sires, and is a known speed influence Discreet Cat’s 2nd sire is the influential Storm Cat. He won the Grade 1 Young America Stakes in 1985 in an abbreviated racing career. His stud fee of $500,000 was one of the highest in the world. Storm Cat was a leading sire of North America in both 1999 & 2000. He sired earners of more than $127 million, eight champions, and 108 graded stakes winners, including winners of the G1 Preakness Stakes, G1 Belmont Stakes, G1 Kentucky Oaks, and five Breeders’ Cup races. He was known to produce speedy, precocious 2-year-olds. Discreet Cat is a half-brother to G1 winner and sire Discreetly Mine, and Multiple Stakes winner Pretty Wild, through his Reines-de-Course dam Pretty Discreet. She won the G1 Alabama Stakes in 1985, and placed in the G1 Matron Stakes and G1 Frizette Stakes at 2. She is also the Granddam of G1 winners Awesome Maria, SW Chary, SW Concorde’s Edge, & SP Bound Notebook. Discreet Cat’s 3rd dam, Bury The Hatchet, was unraced, but produced Kentucky Oaks winner Buryyourbelief, who also ran 2nd in the G1 Ashland Stakes and G1 Santa Anita Oaks. His 4th dam is a Reines-de-Course mare Christmas Wishes, as was his 5th dam, Happy Mood. Discreet Cat’s dam sire is Private Account, Who won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Handicap (1 mile) and Grade 1 Widener Handicap (1 1/4 miles). At stud, he was the sire of the undefeated, superstar filly Personal Ensign and Inside Information, the American Champion Older Female Horse of 1995. Private Account produced 4 other millionaires, 61 stakes winners, and progeny earnings of over $44 million dollars. He was a known stamina influence. His 2nd dam sire, Believe It, won the 1978 Grade 1 Wood Memorial, and finished 3rd, to Affirmed and Alydar, in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He is the dam sire of Real Quiet, whose Triple Crown bid was spoiled in the Belmont Stakes by a nose in 1998. His 3rd dam sire is Tom Rolfe, the 1965 Champion Three Year Old Colt and Chef-de-Race, who was known as a strong broodmare sire and one who gave long distance to his progeny. You can see that Discreet Cat possesses a great balance of speed, class, and stamina in his pedigree. So far, he’s produced mostly miler types, but when matched to a distance- oriented female family, may be able to produce a horse who can travel long. What is know is that when breeding to Discreet Cat, you are breeding to class, by looking at his dam line.
Discreet Cat has produced Graded winners that suggest at $7500, he is undervalued as a sire. If he continues to produce solid numbers, such as the ones he’s putting together in 2015, he should be called a steal based on the quantity of sires who cost more than and numbers are beneath him. Discreet Cat owns the racing career, the progeny, and the pedigree that makes him very desirable to breed to. I see him climbing back towards the numbers he produced in 2013, and, to me, that what makes him a current value sire.
A value horse is one where you say, “for where is stud price is, he’s much better than many horses behind him whose prices are double.” You can say that about all five horses I’ve covered in this article. You can also see that they are on the rise; they’re moving forward off last years’ numbers. These are sires that you’re pretty certain you’ll see an increase in their stud fees probably in 2016. I hope you enjoyed reading about them as I did studying them, for there is something special to be found in a value sire.