Saturday, November 12, 2011

Initial Stud Values. Are They a Mugs Game or Good Business?

This was tweeted out this morning:

It may be moving that way in thoroughbred racing, but in harness, have we moved at all off that opinion? I'd have to surmise we haven't.

We see it each year - a big name horse is retired and his stud fee is huge; Deweycheatumnhowe, Donato Hanover, Somebeachsomewhere to name but three. The breeding farm goes all in and brings the best mares they can find for the first crop, hoping they have a supersire (or trying to make it a self fulfilling prophecy). Yearling buyers line up for the new, new thing, and away we go.

This season at Harrisburg, the second crop of Donato Hanover was all the rage. His foals sold like gangbusters. He had two or three very nice horses in his first crop and we all heard about them. Not following his first crop via its hard numbers I was sold too - wow, the son of Dtrain is really mowing them down.  So was the narrative.

But as I looked deeper into his numbers, expecting to see the hype confirmed, I found something different.

From the published statistics on Standardbred Canada:

Out of his first crop of stellar mares, 100 were registered. 43 made it to the track for a 43% start rate, 18 took a lifetime mark in a race. 4 out of the 100 made over $100,000. 15 out of the hundred (15%) made his stud fee back at two.

If we contrast that with an "old" sire, who has good press but is not in the first crop narrative, we see a difference.

Kadabra had 30 taking a lifetime mark in a race. He had 60 out of 109 make it for a 55% start rate. He has (at the time of writing) 6 horses who have made over $100,000. 28 have made more than his stud fee.

If we look at only the numbers, and factor in the amazing group of mares Donato got when compared to Kadabra, one may think that Kadabra rules the roost. But that would not be correct.

Donato stands for double Kadabra's price. At Harrisburg, Donato had three foals sell for $200k or greater, one for $290k. At all the sales Kadabra had $210k filly sell, with everything else around $100k or lower.

We've seen this time and again, in my opinion, with first crop sires who catch, or first crop sires in general. The buzz, the excitement, the buy the hype is there. And it seems to happen each year.

Donato had a good year and looks like a nice sire (especially when you factor in the talented and wonderful Check Me Out), but is he that good?

Is the first crop sire method a mugs game, a self-fulfilling prophecy, or is it simply good business?

It might be a little bit of all three.


jamesp said...

Nice little sire stakes card tonight at Woodbine with two and a half million on the line. I do appreciate the free program on their site, too and other U.S. tracks really should follow suit.

I'm looking to see which of those three morning line 1-2 and 1-5 shots can get beat, to make for some nice Pick 3's.


jamesp said...

I'm looking, but see no Breeder's Crown-type competition for Daylon Magician or Monkey On My Wheel. Ditto for Warrawee - he has already beaten his competition, Machapelo. I don't think you'll get a $3 win price on any of the three - their races are spread out though - 2, 5 and 8.

Pull the Pocket said...

They certainly look like 1-5 slam dunks Sunny.

Needy can beat himself, and I dont think Daylon Magician is sharp right now, but it's a stretch I guess.

Monkey on My Wheel looks lights out better than her foes, methinks.


Phil said...

Donato is the most over-hyped sire since Niatross - you heard it here first.

The people who spent $300k for his yaerlings this year should've spent it elsewhere.



Pull the Pocket said...

There you go Sunny Jim:

WN converts, but is handled gingerly all the way around.

DM was not only not sharp, he ran into a superhorse.

MOMW seemed to throw in a clunker.

That's horse racing.


jamesp said...

Yeah, you nailed it with Daylon - a tired horse after a long campaign. But overall a terrific card for this time of year, with two and a half million in sire stakes races. Here in New Jersey we used to have a vibrant sire stakes program, which won't be back for a long time, if ever.

What with 7 other odds-on favorites winning on the Woodbine card, I'm sure you'd hear the same complaints that were heard on Breeders Crown night - too much chalk makes it real hard to make money, and they have a point. But to me it's what makes harness racing so fan friendly - the same divisions of horses knock heads all year.

You gotta appreciate these types of cards - you only see a few of them all year - in this day and age of endless low-priced claimers at these casino-fueled tracks.


Brett Coffey said...

You are right it is all three.

Now having said that we are in the midst of some truly amazing new sires.

Donato, Dewey and Muscle Hill and Beach were all amazing performers. So they got outstanding mares. Dewey wouldn't have got the same mares as he stood in KY.

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