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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Unfashionable the Current Derby Fashion

- I wanted to go back to Jim Squires' article in the Times, and take a closer look at the Derby horses that he says are all products of matings planned without market considerations; those being, according to the author, Curlin, Nobiz Like Shobiz, Street Sense, Circular Quay and Tiago.

Curlin actually was sold at a public auction, so, while I don't know the circumstances behind that and though he only brought $57,000, I don't know if you can say that he was bred totally without market considerations. Like the other four, he does not descend from a Northern Dancer line stallion. He is, however, by the highly regarded Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector), who, as we've noted in the past, is a wonderful producer of stakes winners; though his stakes winners-to-foals percentage is down to 8% now after flirting with the once-magic 10% mark, that is still an outstanding figure in this day and age. His stud fee has more than doubled, from $35,000 in 2005 to $75,000 this year. Yet, a look at his sales stats at the Stallion Register show that in 2006, his 48 yearlings sold brought an average of $111,073. (By comparison, Forestry's yearlings averaged almost $215,000; Unbridled's Song, over $400,000.)

The other four were all bred by their current owners. Circular Quay is by the Mr. Prospector line sire Thunder Gulch, a Derby winner himself, who stands for $30,000; his yearlings averaged $70,000 last year. Street Sense also descends from the Mr. Prospector line; his sire, the Darley-owned Street Cry (Machiavellian) stands for $50,000, and his yearlings averaged a bit over $100,000 last year.

Nobiz Like Shobiz and Tiago are both from Ribot-line sires, a line which is long on stamina, but short on commercial popularity. Tiago is by Pleasant Tap, a champion older horse and descendent of the Ribot line through Pleasant Colony/His Majesty. He currently stands for $15,000, and he has to be one of the biggest bargains around if you're breeding to race. He also has an outstanding 8% rate of stakes winners to foals, and has 16 graded stakes winners from his first 11 crops. Yet his 260 yearlings have averaged under $36,000 at sale. Of course, Tiago has some extra pizazz, being the sibling of a Derby winner.

Nobiz Like Shobiz is by Albert the Great, a sire who, as we recently noted, hasn't really had much other success at all as of yet, with his third crop hitting the track this year. His fee was $10,000 in his second year at the time of the mating; he currently stands for $7,500. His dam is, interestingly, by Storm Cat, which makes him inbred to Northern Dancer. He's also inbred to the mare Swoon's Tune, and Lauren Stitch wrote about that in the Form last year:

Swoon's Tune produced Song Sparrow (Tudor Minstrel), the dam of Cormorant, and Cormorant is the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin, the sire of Albert the Great.

Swoon's Tune also produced Lilt (Herbager), the dam of Halo's Daughter, who, in turn, produced Nightstorm, the dam of Nobiz Like Shobiz. Thus, Nobiz Like Shobiz carries the Rasmussen Factor (RF), 5x4 to Swoon's Tune, and female family inbreeding such as this more often than not results in a Thoroughbred of significant class.
Should Nobiz or Tiago win the Derby (or Imawildandcrazyguy, Bwana Bull, Great Hunter, Liquidity, or Zanjero), it would be the third year in a row that a colt that does not descend from either the Northern Dancer nor Mr. Prospector lines ended up in the winner's circle. Barbaro was by Dynaformer, who descends from Turn-to through Roberto; Giacomo is by Holy Bull, and I don't even know what line that is considered (Great Above/Minnesota Mac/Rough'n'Tumble). Interestingly, you have to go all the way back to Charismatic, in 1999, to find a Derby winner by a Northern Dancer line sire - Funny Cide, War Emblem, Smarty Jones and Fusaichi Pegasus are all Mr. Prospector-line colts; Monarchos does descend from Mr. P's sire Raise a Native, but through Majestic Prince.

Whatsmore, it says here that, unless Hard Spun (Danzig) or Scat Daddy (Johannesburg) win, we won't see a Northern Dancer-line horse triumph this year either. Stormello (Stormy Atlantic), Sam P. (Cat Thief), Teuflesberg (Johannesburg), Reporting for Duty (Deputy Commander), and Xchanger (Exchange Rate/Danzig) are the other such runners. Yet buyers still swoon over descendants of Storm Cat, even though the closest he'll be to the winner's circle this year, or any year thus far for that matter, would be as the broodmare sire of Nobiz. It seems as if some people paying a lot of money to win the Derby haven't really been paying attention.


Anonymous said...

Wanted to add that arguably the best 3yo's of the last two crops Bernardini and Afleet Alex, had Mr. P up close in the pedigree and were sans Storm Cat.

Mr. P will be my final deciding factor once I narrow the Derby down to the 3 or 4 most likely winners.

7 of the likely starters (Street Sense, Circular Quay, Curlin, Dominican, Cowtown Cat, Sedgefield) descend from Mr. P's male line.

Three longshots (Sam P, Stormello and Storm in May) descend from Storm Cat.

Anonymous said...

Correction, Teuflesburg got in, so now there are four SC's.

Brett said...

Your boys got lucky tonite. That game should be in overtime still. If only the video could have confirmed what everyone knows, the puck was in the net. Oh well, you guys did outplay them.

Alan Mann said...

It was the right call given the available evidence, but there's a possibility that maybe the puck was over the line. (Whew!) :)