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I'll Have Another's Stallion Prospects

Since 2000, five 3 year old colts have gone to Elmont, New York with a chance to win the Belmont Stakes and complete the Triple Crown for the first time since 1978. All all five failed to complete the task. But I'll Have Another has one thing on Big Brown, Smarty Jones, Funny Cide, and War Emblem: he could have won. That certainly sounds strange, but the fact that by the eye test I'll Have Another would have won the Belmont counts for something. Successful stallions' ranks are filled with those that almost did or those that could have. It's the genes that count.

Since the Great Collapse of 2008 (trademark pending), stud fees have plummeted. Distorted Humor, the grandsire of I'll Have Another, stood for as much as $325,000 in 2008. By 2011, his stud fee for a live foal had fallen by nearly 70% to $100,000. So we can adjust for pre-2008 numbers by using a coefficient of 0.65 as an estimate for what they would look like now:

Stallion Year at Stud Raw Fee Adjusted Fee
Big Brown 2008 $65,000 $65,000
Smarty Jones 2005 $100,000 $65,000
Funny Cide 2004 Gelding N/A
War Emblem 2003 Private Private

So, it is not an accident that Big Brown's 2008 stud fee was set at $65,000. Funny Cide is a gelding, therefore does not factor into the discussion. War Emblem, well, old War Emblem has had his own set of issues. Let's just leave it at him being extremely selective. Whatever the case is this article from the NY Times runs through all of his details and it is a very interesting story.

The above demonstrates two things: first, the fact that a Derby-Preakness winner's generic stud fee is $65,000; second, the chances that a specific horse develops into a top end sire are small. Big Brown looks solid thus far, but that is purely from yearling sales and what bloodstock agents say. Smarty Jones was a complete bust and was moved to Pennsylvania. War Emblem, well, read the article.

Let us assume the baseline with all things being equal is a $65,000 stands and nurse stud fee for I'll Have Another. Will he exceed that or will his stallion managers try lower that fee to build his book as large as it can be?

I'll Have Another is by Flower Alley out of Arch's Gal Edith by Arch. His sire is Distorted Humor, who is one of the best sires of his generation. From my look at IHA's pedigree earlier:

His stallion, Flower Alley, currently stands at Three Chimneys in Lexington for $7,500. He is a solid sire, but nothing spectacular. He has a total of 6 stakes runners out of two crops of foals that have reached the race track. That is a 4% rate of siring stakes runners. I'll Have Another is far and away his best foal, as Flower Alley only has 8 foals that have earned over $100,000. Flower Alley's dam is Princess Olivia, who only won $43,000, but was bred to run all day long. Basically she's nothing special.

Flower Alley is well (and cleverly) bred. He has come very tricky inbreeding which really do enhance his pedigree. He has Mr. Prospector 3x3 inbreeding and Northern Dancer inbreeding 4x4x5, and both inbreeds are from the stallion and the mare. However, he has really yet to produce any significant offspring other than I'll Have another. His stallions statistics from 2011 included 104 runners and 4 Stakes Winners, which is not a rate commensurate with the highest quality stallion. This is reflected in the fact that his stud fee in the pre-IHA era was $7,500. (Update: Neck N Neck, winner of the G3 Matt Wynn Stakes at Churchill Downs, is also by Flower Alley, so the updated number is 104 runners, 5 stakes winners).

Distorted Humor though is unbelievable. Included in his progeny are Drosselmeyer, Funny Cide, and Any Given Saturday, just to name a few. He has sired winners of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes. His 2011 stallions stats left him ranked as the #1 stallion in the world, according to Bloodhorse, and had him with 249 runners and 19 stakes winners, which is a rate more in line with the best sires. He currently stands for $100,000.

Flower Alley's Dam is Arch's Gal Edith. She was 1 for 1 on the track and won $25,000. She is by Arch, who is a high end broodmare sire. Arch has broodmare sired 11 stakes winners from 149 starters, which is a great clip. He sires 17% stakes winners from starters, including Blame. As a broodmare sire, he currently ranks 14th on the Bloodhorse Broodmare Stallion list for 2012.

More importantly, she has had 4 registered foals from 2007-2010:

  • 2007 foal: Those Wer the Days (gelding) by Thunder Gulch. 7 starts, 5-1-1, $162,860 in lifetime earnings. He is a good allowance horse in New York and the northeast splitting time between the NYC tracks, Parx, and Monmouth. His last win was at Aqueduct on April 13th 2012 in an Allowance Optional Claimer for $75,000 at 6.5 furlongs. He closed hard, showing some of that familiar tactical speed. His last race was at Belmont on May 27th 2012 where he finished 3rd at 7 furlongs. Definitely a stalker.
  • 2008 foal: When Willy Win (colt) by Soto. 15 starts, 6-2-4, $70,476 in lifetime earnings. He is a low level allowance horse in Texas and Louisiana. His last start was a win March 31st 2012 at Will Rogers Downs in an Allowance race at 1 mile. Definitely a stalker/closer.
  • 2009 foal: I'll Have Another.
  • 2010 foal: Gloria S (filly) by Tapit. No race or sales record.

Bottom line from the dam: even with the small sample size of two other runners, she produces solid winners that show good closing and/or and tactical speed. Very consistent with I'll Have Another. In my opinion, Those Wer the Days could show up in a stakes race here soon. He's solid, but he seems to struggle above the 50k AOC level. Find him the right spot and he'll place in an ungraded stakes.

Second Dam: Force Five Gal (by Pleasant Tap) Ungraded black-type placed. 7 foals, 4 winners. Produced three $100k+ winners, none with black type. Solid producer. Ran at just under a mile.

Third Dam: Last Cause (by Caucasus) 3rd in G3 Miss Grillo Stakes. 10 foals, 7 winners. Produced four $100k+ winners, one placed in G3, 2 placed in ungraded stakes. Very good producer. She was most successful at 8+ furlongs on the turf.

The female tail is packed with solid producers, so the genes coming from the bottom of IHA's pedigree are not lacking in quality, but do definitely miss on the top end graded stakes winning talent you really want to see from a great sire prospect.

There is another interesting parallel with Big Brown though. Big Brown is by Boundary, who was a good, not great, sire whose major big hitting offspring was Big Brown. BB's broodmare sire is Nureyev, who is a champion broodmare sire, is extremely well bred as a half to Sadler's Wells, and has progeny with great success across all surfaces. So good sire, very good broodmare sire.

The best crosses for I'll Have Another (which is difficult to predict based on the small sample size of Flower Alley's 2 crops, so most of the data is based off of Distorted Humor's successes) include: 7 A++ ratings and 19 A++ ratings, which is alright. But it does give breeders a range of mares that vary from high end stallions to reasonably priced ones. A large cross section of A+ or higher will open the gates for in order to make his book as large as possible, which is a major contributor to success in the auction ring, which builds the hype needed to carry you through a stallion's first three (or so) seasons.

So what will he command? You have a pedigree that is good, but not great, that produces solid horses, but IHA is the only top notch runner from either side of the family. You have a pedigree that points towards 10 furlongs and is successful on dirt and turf. So the data and the eye test point towards $75,000 based off the fact that you can legitimately play the, "Well, he has incredible tactical speed and stamina and had he run, he probably would have won" card. But based on the lack of results of Flower Alley, I'd say he falls back to $65,000. His dam is consistent with the type of runner and the general quality of horse she puts out. His Broodmare Sire is one of the best. And his general pedigree point to being a quality sire. But as of today, he looks to be a bit of a freak out of Flower Alley and out of his female family. Freaks don't necessarily pass those traits on, since they just hit the genetic jackpot and do not necessarily have the best depth in their pedigree.

So I'll settle with $40,000 as his initial stud fee, wherever he stands. I also would not be surprised if the breeding shed is very willing to make a deal as well in order to increase his number of mares covered. But just like all recent stallions, his stud fee will drop quickly after his first season until he gets runners on the track.