Intuitively, most breeders know that the odds are stacked against a stallion ever becoming a long term success. If asked, most of us can rattle of a long list of failures that were quickly exported from central Kentucky, usually landing in regional markets or foreign countries.

The irony then occurs when we look at the enormous support first year stallions receive both in the breeding shed and the sales ring. Each year, the list of most heavily bred stallions is littered with first and second year horses despite the knowledge that most of these horses will fail. Case in point, during the 2004 breeding season, no horse bred more mares than first year stallion Hold That Tiger, who covered an astronomical 199 mares. And as most can predict, the resulting foals will be well received during the 2006 yearling sales.

So exactly how self-defeating is the practice of paying inflated fees for unproven commodities? For the commercial breeder, it is anything but self-defeating. Yearling buyers line up in droves to pay outrageous amounts for a first year stallion’s yearlings, and commercial breeders know this.

But from the buyer’s perspective, the willingness to go along with the hype of unproven stallions goes against common sense and the laws of averages. As we already know, most of these horses are ghastly failures, leaving buyers who bought into the hype holding the bag.

To quantify this phenomenon, we looked at stallions entering stud between 1994 and 1997. According to the 1997 Thoroughbred Times Stallion Directory, 107 stallions entered stud in central Kentucky during these 4 breeding seasons, with fees ranging from $1,000 to Thunder Gulch’s $40,000. The 107 includes all advertised stallions with a specified fee. Stallions not advertised in the register or whose fee was listed as ‘private’ were not included. Below is a complete list of stallions used for this analysis:

  • Afternoon Deelites
  • American Day
  • American Chance
  • Bahri
  • Blush Rambler
  • Boone’s Mill
  • Botanic
  • Boundary
  • Bound By Honor
  • Buckhar
  • Cherokee Run
  • Chimes Band
  • Colonial Affair
  • Conte Di Savoya
  • Count The Time
  • Defrere
  • Demidoff
  • De Niro
  • Desert Secret
  • Devil His Due
  • Diazo
  • Dignitas
  • Discover
  • Distant View
  • Dixieland Heat
  • Dumaani
  • Dusty Screen
  • Evansville Slew
  • Fastness
  • Ferrara
  • Forest Wildcat
  • Foxhound
  • French Deputy
  • Ghazi
  • Gilded Time
  • Go For Gin
  • Gold Legend
  • Gold Spring
  • Grindstone
  • Hawk Attack
  • Hennesy
  • Hickman Creek
  • Holy Bull
  • Ide Seattle
  • Kan D’ Oro
  • Kayrawan
  • Latin American
  • Lit De Justice
  • Lite the Fuse
  • Lord Carson
  • Maria’s Mon
  • Marquetry
  • Mi Cielo
  • Miesque’s Son
  • Mountain Cat
  • Mr. Greeley
  • Muhtafal
  • Mutakddim
  • Navarone
  • Northern Spur
  • Numerous
  • Ocean Crest
  • Our Emblem
  • Party Manners
  • Patton
  • Peaks and Valleys
  • Pembroke
  • Personal Hope
  • Petionville
  • Pioneering
  • Pistols and Roses
  • Prenup
  • Prospectors Music
  • Red Bishop
  • Repriced
  • River Special
  • Robin Des Pins
  • Rockamundo
  • Schossberg
  • Sleet
  • Secret Odds
  • Senor Speedy
  • Shuailaan
  • Sobolewski
  • Southern Rhythm
  • Speedy Cure
  • Storm Boot
  • Strike The Gold
  • Strodes Creek
  • Sultry Song
  • Take Me Out
  • Talkin Man
  • Technology
  • Tejano
  • Tethra
  • The Name’s Jimmy
  • The Prime Minister
  • The Wicked North
  • Thunder Gulch
  • Tinner’s Way
  • Torrential
  • Twining
  • Wallenda
  • West By West
  • Wild Zone
  • Williamstown
  • You and I

A quick glance of this list quickly puts perspective on the chances for 1st year stallions to achieve long term success, but we’ll put some numbers to it anyway. First, of the original 107, only 16 remain in Kentucky as of this writing, or just under 15%. And if you take into account Pioneering, Repriced, and The Name’s Jimmy, who are difficult to argue as success stories, that percentage drops to just over 12%. In other words, if you bred to an unproven stallion during this period, you had an 88% chance of breeding to an eventual Kentucky outcast. Just as importantly, if you bought a yearling by one of these sires at likely inflated prices, odds are you dumped tens of thousands of dollars into training a racing prospect that was sired by a soon-to-be failure.

To splash a little more reality into this phenomenon, it helps to look at some of the more ghastly failures, perhaps making us all think a little bit more before buying yearlings from unproven sires.

Name Initial Fee Current Fee Current Location
Afternoon Deelites 15,000 4,000 Louisiana
Bahri 20,000 Ireland
Chimes Band 7,500 5,000 New Mexico
Colonial Affair 15,000 2,000 Argentina
De Niro 5,000 2,000 Pennsylvania
Devil His Due 20,000 7,500 Kentucky
Fastness 7,500 3,000 Pennsylvania
French Deputy 15,000 Japan
Go For Gin 15,000 TBA Pennsylvania
Grindstone 20,000 5,000 Kentucky
Ide 5,000 2,500 Louisiana
Kayrawan 5,000 2,000 New York
Lit De Justice 15,000 5,000 California
Lord Carson 10,000 6,000 California
Miesque’s Son 20,000 4,000 Australis
Mountain Cat 12,500 Turkey
Numerous 10,000 France
Personal Hope 7,500 South Africa
River Special 7,500 Turkey
Robin Des Pins 6,000 Uruguay
Strike The Gold 15,000 Turkey
Talkin Man 7,500 Canada
Technology 5,000 2,000 Pennsylvania
The Wicked North 7,500 3,000 New York
Tinner’s Way 5,000 2,000 Texas
Torrential 10,000 Brazil
Wallenda 7,500 Japan
West by West 7,500 Turkey
You and I 10,000 6,500 California

And in the interest of being fair, here are some of the bigger success stories from that period:

Name Initial Fee Current Fee Current Location
Cherokee Run 7,500 40,000 Kentucky
Forest Wildcat 10,000 40,000 Kentucky
Maria’s Mon 7,500 35,000 Kentucky
Mutakddim 5,000 10,000 Kentucky
Storm Boot 2,000 15,000 Kentucky
Thunder Gulch 40,000 50,000 Kentucky

Even in pointing to the success stories, we illustrate just how the odds are stacked against a stallion ever appreciating in value. In this case, a mere 5.6% made significant leaps in value.

So the next time an agent tries to steer you onto a yearling by an unproven sire, or a stallion manager tries to get you to send your mare to a young sire, keep these numbers in mind. Ask yourself: “Considering the enormous risk involved, does this yearling or stallion season represent true value?” In today’s market, 88% of the time, your answer will be no.

Posted in News by developer January 16, 2023

Author: developer

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