Thursday, July 15, 2010


Distance is supposed to give one perspective.....and I suppose it does. But my conclusions about the Fasig-Tipton July sale are no different today from the banks of the Caney Fork in Tennessee than they were yesterday from the banks of Elkhorn Creek in Kentucky.

The market for Thoroughbred racing prospects still appears to be bouncing along at the bottom of a deep valley. There does not appear to be any significant prospect of climbing out of that valley anytime soon. At the moment, on the other hand, there does not appear to be any likelihood of it dropping off another cliff either. Cliffs, however, have a disturbing propensity to appear out of nowhere in the cartoon universe in which we now live, courtesy of....well, don't get me started.

As a result of the economic uncertainty with which we all live, buyers appear to have finally figured out that it is really stupid to pay a premium for the progeny of first-year stallions. Ironically, this burst of intelligence arrived in a year graced by perhaps the most promising group of first-year stallions of the last five years, most of them owned by Darley.

One or more of Darley's stellar group of firsters--Any Given Saturday, Discreet Cat, Hard Spun, and Street Sense--is virtually certain to develop into a first-rate stallion. Opinions vary on which is the most likely to light the lights, but Hard Spun was the horse to whom breeders were most eager to send a mare two years ago, and he led first-year sires at the sale with three or more sold. All four of the Darley horses had their moments, though, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out when some real numbers are added to the statistics in September.

This is likely to be the toughest year for commercial breeders in this cycle. Stud fees were at their highest in 2008 when these yearlings were conceived and prices are (hopefully) at their lowest point in the cycle. That is like buying at retail and selling at wholesale--not a formula for making money.

The underlying question, though, is have stud fees come down enough even now? At the end of the sales season it will be interesting to compare the stud fee ratios based on stud fee at conception versus current year stud fee. It may not be pretty.


  1. The uncertainty of choosing a first year stallion being as difficult as it is, I am willing to bet that Hard Spun will not be the most successful of those 4 prospects!

  2. Among the non-Darley crowd, which stallions caught your eye?

    I was most pleased with the stock by Flashy Bull, who also scores really well on his biomechanical profile for stallion compatibility with a wide range of mares.

    Aside from Hard Spun, perhaps, we ought to wait for September to get a more thorough sample, I suppose. But it's like waiting for Christmas.


  3. Hard Spun would not be at the top of my list among the four Darley horses. I like Street Sense and Any Given Saturday both better than him. Hard Spun has too much Turkoman in him for my taste. The Discreet Cats were better looking than they had any right to be compared to their sire.

    Flashy Bull is not a horse one would pick out by pedigree or really race record, but I thought he was a very attractive specimen when I saw him last year. His yearlings were strikingly consistent in type at FTK, so I suppose that's supposed to mean they'll be either all good or all bad. Who knows.

    The two Jazils were very much like the good Seeking the Golds used to look, and I had the same thought I always did about the StGs....Will they stay sound. Didn't see many Corinthians, but there's always been quite a bit of buzz about him. I'd say he has as good a pedigree, conformation and race record combination as any of this group to be a sire.

    I've also got a soft spot for Latent Heat, but didn't see many of his yearlings. I was just cruising around looking at whatever happened to be out most of the time, so I didn't see as much as I might have otherwise.

    What else did you see that you liked?