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Best Values, $100,000 and Up
1. Uncle Mo ($150,000, Ashford Stud, KY)
This writer has never seen a young sire get off to such a prolific start. $150,000 is going to sound awfully inexpensive in a couple of years. Gets the big strong types the market clamors to and his progeny can carry elite speed around two turns.
2. Tapit ($300,000, Gainesway Farm, KY)
Yearlings command a median price of $600,000 and no one in their right mind can question the accomplishments of his progeny at the track. A go-to sire for investors aiming for the top.
3. War Front ($250,000, Claiborne Farm, KY)
Investment is always treacherous and high-risk at this level (particularly when breeding to race), but War Front offers the best value from a commercial perspective and simultaneously puts up some of the best stakes production numbers in the world.
4. Medaglia d’Oro ($150,000, Darley, KY)
An elite sire all over the world and respected by everyone in the commercial market. 15 Grade 1 winners (and counting), anything is possible when any of his progeny walk into a sales ring, and his daughters are hitting on all cylinders as broodmares.
Worst Values, $100,000 and Up
1. Kitten’s Joy ($100,000, Ramsey Farm, KY)
Undoubtedly a high-end sire able to get elite U.S. horses. But if you have any ambitions of selling a Kitten’s Joy foal for a profit, you’re probably better off putting the money on a blackjack table. 56 yearlings in 2016 traded for a median price of $50,000… a net loss of over $75,000.
2. Bernardini ($100,000, Darley, KY)
The ultimate ‘feast or famine’ sire and most of the feast is a function of the elite mares he gets every year (2.70 Comparable Index). Drags his mares down worse than any stallion we can remember.
Best Values, $50,000 – $85,000
1. Ghostzapper ($75,000, Adena Springs, KY)
At the track and in particular, the sales ring, Ghostzapper has done everything right since his notorious slow start back in 2009. Stakes production rivals sires in the $150,000+ price range and his yearlings are capable of producing significant profit margins.
2. Candy Ride ($60,000, Lanes End, KY)
Offers investors the chance to compete at the elite levels of racing and commercial breeding without walking out on a financial cliff. Has done everything right for several years and shows no signs of letting up. Home runs are always on the table with Candy Ride in the equation.
3. Malibu Moon ($75,000, Spendthrift Farm, KY)
His track numbers speak for themselves, investors seldom go wrong in the sales ring, and he’s one of the best out there at consistently getting big athletic types. Both colts and fillies averaged over $200,000 as yearlings in 2016.
4. Giant’s Causeway ($75,000, Ashford Stud, KY)
Has cooled off commercially just a touch in recent years, but remains a reliable source of elite racehorses and profitable sales horses. One of the very best sires on the planet in terms of getting graded stakes progeny.
5. Into Mischief ($75,000, Spendthrift Farm, KY)
If he continues on his current trajectory, $75,000 is going to seem ridiculously cheap in the coming years. Some statistical models put him on par with the Tapits and War Fronts of the world. Commercial numbers will undoubtedly rise in 2017.
Worst Values, $50,000 – $85,000
1. Super Saver ($50,000, WinStar Farm, KY)
Few options are more treacherous for commercial breeders than Super Saver (64 yearlings in 2016 commanded a median yearling price of just $57,500) and his track numbers don’t substantiate the $50,000 fee either. Less than 5% stakes winners from starters, drags mares down by 25%, and his progeny visit the winner’s circle in just 13% of their starts.
2. Union Rags ($50,000, Lane’s End, KY)
He may prove to be worth $50,000 in the long term, but as his next 2-3 crops hit the racetrack, he will likely lose some luster, making him a risky venture at $50,000 this year. Even with all the buzz surrounding his first crop this fall, profit margins were lackluster.
3. Empire Maker ($85,000, Gainesway, KY)
Clearly a solid sire, but when you look at his entire body of work, the numbers just don’t square with an $85,000 fee. Drags mares down significantly and stakes production is ordinary. Commercial breeders will likely be left holding the bag when they try to sell yearlings in 2019.
4. Tiznow ($60,000, WinStar Farm, KY)
Another solid sire capable of getting the big horse, but when you look at the big picture, $60,000 is tough to justify. 2016 yearlings traded for a median price of $100,000, leaving mare owners with narrow margins… and his track numbers resemble more of a $25,000 sire.
Best Values, $25,000 – $45,000
1. Flatter ($35,000, Claiborne Farm, KY)
Books full quickly every fall for good reason. Track numbers are stellar and commercial breeders would be hard pressed to find a more sensible choice. Consistently gets strong, robust individuals and weanling/yearling buyers love him. One of the safer bets in the industry.
2. Hard Spun ($45,000, Darley, KY)
AEI comes in just a touch below his CI, but is otherwise hitting on all cylinders, particularly in the sales ring. Yearling, two year old, and covering sire averages for 2016 were all north of $135,000. Should be on every commercial breeder’s short list.
3. Lemon Drop Kid ($40,000, Lane’s End, KY)
A twilight sire that is still commanding respect in the sales ring, Lemon Drop Kid is appealing for both commercial breeders and those going to the races. And as an added benefit, he’s becoming an epic broodmare sire. He won’t get you the prettiest individual, but they are stone cold athletes with broad commercial appeal.
4. Munnings ($25,000, Ashford Stud, KY)
The commercial market has jumped off him (presumably temporarily), but make no mistake, Munnings’ track numbers are elite. Over 10% stakes winners from starters, 18% wins from starts, and is over performing relative to the mares that have come his way (1.89 vs. 1.27).
WORST VALUES, $25,000 – $45,000
1. Blame ($25,000, Claiborne Farm, KY)
Not a bad sire by any means, but his numbers don’t work at this price point. After expenses, commercial breeders get a very small piece of the pie and he drags his mares down significantly (1.45 AEI vs. 2.25 CI). A $10,000 sire at best.
2. Square Eddie ($25,000, Ocean Breeze Ranch, CA)
Progeny disproportionately benefit from solid owner/trainer connections and struggle outside of California-bred events. Commercially, just one of his six progeny sold for more than $15,000 in 2016. A money pit if your goal is to sell.
3. Air Force Blue ($25,000, Ashford Stud, KY)
Hate to condemn a first year sire, but we’re skeptical that even half of all commercial breeders sending mares his way will turn a profit. Fizzled badly as a 3yo, has no U.S. racing credentials, and isn’t overly impressive as a physical specimen.
4. English Channel ($25,000, Calumet Farm, KY)
One of the more absurd stud fees going right now. 21 yearlings in 2016 sold for a net median of just $9,000. A useful enough sire at the track, but given how patient owners have to be with his late developing progeny, his fee should be closer to $7,500 than $25,000.
5. Street Sense ($45,000, Darley, KY)
With a $63,000 net median for his yearlings in 2016, paying a $45,000 stud fee this year creates a high risk scenario for those supporting him in 2017. Would like to see him more on par with the opportunities sent his way. Drags his mares down significantly for a sire in this price range.
Best Values, $12,500 – $20,000
1. Twirling Candy ($20,000, Lane’s End, KY)
Track numbers are as stellar as his connections could hope for at this stage of his career. Progeny visit the winner’s circle once every five starts and he’s improving his mares significantly. The commercial market is catching on quickly. Look for big sales numbers this summer and fall.
2. Kantharos ($15,000, Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms, KY)
A supremely talented racehorse and now an epic overachiever in the breeding shed after only modest support while in Florida. Improving mares by a whopping 42% and should only get better with Hill ‘n’ Dale’s backing.
3. Dialed In ($15,000, Darby Dan Farm, KY)
Doesn’t appear to have the hallmark signs of being a flash in the pan. Progeny are stretching out beyond sprints and getting involved in elite U.S. graded stakes races. Very solid beginning for a sire with just a 1.10 Comparable Index. Should only get better.
Worst Values, $12,500 – $20,000
1. Tapizar ($15,000, Gainesway, KY)
Stranger things have happened, and he could recover… but the odds are long. Just three stakes horses from his first 69 starters and his AEI is well below the breed average. Pure risk from a mare owner’s perspective.
2. Shackleford ($15,000, Darby Dan Farm, KY)
Malagacy aside (accounting for a third of Shackleford’s total progeny earnings), things are awfully quiet with Shackleford’s progeny. Not quite as risky as Tapizar, but mare owners writing $15,000 checks for Shackleford this year are taking on an inordinate amount of risk.
3. Creative Cause ($15,000, Airdrie Stud, KY)
After a promising start, hasn’t done much in the last six months and his commercial numbers are starting to slide. Wouldn’t be shocked if he rebounds, but $15,000 is high risk at this point.
4. Lookin At Lucky ($17,500, Ashford Stud, KY)
Another sire that was promising early, but can’t justify his current fee. Drags his mares down and overall stakes production is more in line with a $7,500 sire. 2016 yearlings sold for a net median of just $500 more than his current fee.
5. Big Blue Kitten ($15,000, Calumet Farm, KY)
At a minimum, 80% of all commercial breeders supporting this horse at $15,000 will lose money with the resulting foal, and for those breeding to race, there are dozens of better choices for the same or less money.
Best Values, $10,000 and Below
1. Daaher ($5,000, Shadwell Farm, KY)
Putting up epic numbers from very ordinary mares (1.17 Comparable Index). Progeny win at a 20% clip and he improves upon his opportunities like few we’ve ever seen before. The sire that best exemplifies what’s wrong with the commercial marketplace.
2. Successful Appeal ($6,500, Walmac Farm, KY)
The classic “oldie but a goodie”. The commercial market has moved onto more trendy sires, but if you’re breeding to race, this horse should always be on your radar.
3. Run Away and Hide ($5,000, Darby Dan Farm, KY)
The commercial market is finally giving this horse some respect as his 2017 juveniles have sold for 335k, 135k, 85k, and 82k. They’re not big/flashy types, but they have a lot of ability and even more heart. Tons of value here.
4. Mizzen Mast ($10,000, Juddmonte Farms, KY)
Seems like every time we open an industry periodical, a Mizzen Mast is winning a graded stakes. Sires great physical specimens that can run on all surfaces and is a great choice for yearling to 2yo pinhookers as his yearlings are a bit sluggish in the sales ring.
5. Mr. Big ($6,000, E.A. Ranches, CA)
Despite covering mares with a collective Comparable Index of just .74 (the breed average is 1.00), he’s firing on all cylinders early including one of the better turf sophomores in the country. A terrific choice for mares requiring more size/substance.
Worst Values, $10,000 and Below
1. Red Rocks ($10,000, Calumet Farm, KY)
Unequivocally the most ridiculous stud fee on the planet this year. Progeny are sputtering in Chile and Italy leaving little doubt he will tank in this country. Anyone paying $10,000 for Red Rocks is inviting disaster into their program and bank account.
2. Bullet Train ($7,500, Crestwood Farm, KY)
Isn’t worth $750, let alone $7,500. His only credential to date is that he’s a 3/4 to Frankel. Other than that, he was a very ordinary racehorse and now an abysmal sire. Will likely be exiled out of Kentucky this fall.
3. Astrology ($6,500, Taylor Made Stallions, KY)
After a promising start last spring, has gotten really quiet at the track and in the sales ring. Yearlings traded for a median price of just $18,500 last year and his progeny are putting up a .85 AEI despite solid support from the farm and mare owners in 2013.
4. Treasure Beach ($10,000, Pleasant Acres Stallions, FL)
Can’t imagine where the 2017 fee originated from given his 2016 yearlings sold for a median of $11,500 and sons of Galileo are enormous risks in the U.S. market. No one wins in this scenario except the syndicate.
5. Magician ($7,500, Ashford Stud, KY)
This is strictly a hunch based on his phenotype. Lots of shortcomings physically that makes him extremely high risk in our opinion, and his racing style very seldom equates to a a successful stallion career in this country. Simply too many other options out there that are more likely to assimilate with U.S. racing/sales.