“Breed the best to the best and hope for the best.” Sage advice tempered with the reality that Mother Nature yields to the vagaries of Lady Luck. The best is also relative. So when your broodmare ban is comprised entirely of one pedigree challenged Iowa-bred and your wallet isn’t anywhere thick enough to afford a season to the six figure stallions, where to begin?
By the end of January 2006 we had worn the pages off the Stallion Register. We had also called what seemed to be every viable stud farm in Kentucky. Our Iowa-bred mare was just weeks away from delivering her first foal to the cover of Holy Bull. Yet that’s a different story, this is about the second mating. The selection process was proving arduous.
Having a young mare carrying her first foal, big dreams and a modest wallet led us to the decision to pursue a foal-share. Under this type of arrangement, the mare owner shares the resulting foal with the stallion owner in lieu of paying the stud fee. The offspring is then generally sold as a yearling at public auction with the proceeds split between the two parties on a predetermined basis. We had secured a few offers, debated the terms, reviewed pedigrees and considered conformation.
One of the stallions was an imposing physical specimen that had been an exceptionally gifted racehorse, garnering Horse of the Year honors. However, his luster as a stallion had begun to wane with the approach of the 2006 breeding season. While the general consensus was that his offspring, likely to be imparted with his massive size, would need time to mature, his first crop of two-year olds nonetheless failed to produce a single stakes winner. Yet as the dust gathered on the foal-share contract we had yet to sign, one stakes performer led to a stakes winner. The maturing now three-year olds were beginning to hit their best stride. The stallion, Point Given, still commanded a $50,000 fee and was possibly on the verge of a break-out year. It was now February and well into the fourteen day acceptance period of the contract dated January 27th. So we grabbed the nearest pen, signed the document and raced to the post office.
Now all we had to do was wait for the mare to deliver her first foal, haul her to Kentucky, get her in-foal to that stallion, wait another painstaking eleven months and few odd days to see the result, followed by another year and a half until the auctioneer’s hammer would fall on the then yearling walking through the sales ring. We would also be responsible for all of the board and vet bills before splitting the sales proceeds with the stallion owner.
The hoped for breakout year proved to be exciting, although not quite thrilling, as Point Given would be the sire of four Graded stakes winners, including a Grade 1 two-year old from his second crop, with nine stakes winners overall. By some statistical measures, the stallion had continued to impress, yet his foals were not commercially appealing. By the time the product of the foal-share, a well made solid chestnut filly, reached the sales ring, the stallion was being regarded as a breed to race stallion (ie limited market appeal). The display board at Keeneland echoed that sentiment, reading a modest $15,000 after the hammer fell. Far cry from a successful venture after splitting the proceeds and factoring in the costs for raising the filly.
Or was it? After a brief discussion with the buyer’s agent we said our goodbyes to the filly believing she was bound for South America. So we entertained ourselves with the notion that we had just sold what would become the Champion 2yo Filly in Argentina or Uruguay or Brazil, or wherever we found geographical cause to raise a consolatory glass of bourbon. Yet somewhere between then and now the travel plans changed. The filly would up in a completely different location and has proved to be something of racehorse.
By any measure our broodmare band of one had a successful 2009 with the exploits of Perfect Moment’s first two foals of racing age. The first, Perfect Bull, was crowned Champion 3yo Colt in Minnesota. The other, having won both a Listed and Group II stakes, is the Highest Rated 2yo Filly in Russia; they named her Perfect Point.