There were announcements on the horse retirement side today. Over with the runners, Verrazano and Paynter are calling it quits. On the harness side, Pet Rock, A Rock n Roll Dance and Panther Hanover are all hanging it up. We'll focus on the harness side, because it's pretty interesting, in my opinion.

Each year there is a three year old who seems to be better than the age restricted horses he races. In some years the competition is good, in some years it's bad, and in some years - like last year - it's mind-boggling. Generally what you get for your stud has more to do with who he raced against, rather than due to his ability.

In 2005, Rock n Roll Hanover was going to command a huge fee. He was an all-world colt and he had rich bloodlines. Not far behind him in ability, though, was American Ideal. American Ideal beat Rock n Roll in the Holmes and later on set a World record. I remember the week before he went the big speed. He signalled his fitness with a wide move to the eighth pole and a tightener where he came his last three quarters in 121.1.

American Ideal raced a couple of times at 4, then retired to a low stud fee. He was born in the wrong year, because if he raced in 2002 or 2006, for example, he would've probably been the big ticket, with an $8000 to $12,000 fee. He had to prove himself in the shed, which he has, and now commands a higher fee. The original syndication partners made out like bandits.

This year we see several potential American Ideal's. If a Rock n Roll Dance was born in a handful of other years, he certainly commands more than he will because he likely would've crushed on the racetrack (unbelievably he had only four wins last year with 147 speed). Panther Hanover and Pet Rock are not much different. Panther was a 147 and change three year old, and so was Pet Rock. Pet Rock almost made $1 million while racing against monsters. This year he is one fifth of a second from holding all three world records on three sized racetracks (he is standing for a meagre $6,000).

This year we've reverted back more to other years, where we see one big colt who will get most of the stud action, unless he flops at four. It's unlikely any of his competition would be massively wanted in the stud room. There just seems to be not much talent in the crop. I guess an easy way to look at it is like this. If Captaintreacherous gets injured in March, you are left with the two best colts being Vegas Vacation and Sunshine Beach. Vegas is a gelding, so Sunshine (a son of SBSW with a probable 1.5 million on his card) becomes the big ticket syndication horse.

Sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time - to cash a ticket, win a race, or build a bankroll. It's not much different in the stud game in harness racing.


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