Horse Racing

Looking Beyond Yearling Averages With First-Crop Sires

A number of ways exist to gauge how the marketplace is assessing a stallion’s progeny. The most common, straightforward metric is the yearling average but even stallions not among the top 10 by average, for example, could be providing plenty of value to breeders.

Spendthrift Farm’s Authentic  , Gainesway’s McKinzie  , and Claiborne Farm’s War of Will  —all first-crop yearling sires—head into the Keeneland September Yearling Sale as the leaders of their class with year to date yearling averages of more than $200,000.

Authentic, a 6-year-old son of four-time leading sire
Into Mischief   and 2020 Horse of the Year, leads his sire class with a $446,333 average from 15 sold. Another metric used to determine relative value is the times national average ratio, which compares a sire’s average to the overall North American yearling average. For 2023 as of Sept. 8, the overall yearling average was $98,456, which gives Authentic a robust TNA ratio of 4.53.

McKinzie’s year to date average is $230,222 (18 sold), and War of Will has a 201,263 average (11 sold). The TNA for these sires is 2.34 and 2.04, respectively, but even more impressive for these two sires is another metric that is particularly important to breeders—the yearling average as a multiple of stud fee at conception.

War of Will’s average is more than eight times his entering-year stud fee of $25,000. BloodHorse MarketWatch determines a yearling is profitable by doubling the stud fee, adding $20,000 for the cost of maintenance and getting a horse to a sale, and accounting for the 5% commissions charged by the sales companies and consignors. Using this formula, the son of War Front  ‘s yearlings are generating overall 159% return on investment.

McKinzie’s yearlings are performing nearly as well with a 7.67 multiple from his entering-year stud fee of $30,000. Yearlings by this son of Street Sense   overall also are generating a 159% ROI.

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Authentic entered stud at $75,000, the highest for his sire class, so his yearling multiple is 5.95 and his overall sales yearling ROI is tracking around 136%.

Besides the top three sires, five others that will be represented by a yearling in the Keeneland September sale are represented by overall averages above the national average. They include WinStar Farm’s Improbable   (1.65), Three Chimneys Farm’s Volatile   (1.50), Spendthrift’s Vekoma   (1.11), and Airdrie Stud’s Complexity   (1.02). One overseas stallion is among the five—Coolmore Stud’s 2020 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) winner Sottsass , whose yearling average in U.S. dollars is around $195,587 with a TNA of 1.99. Sottsass, a son of Siyouni, entered stud at €30,000 (US$32,123) and is represented by one yearling cataloged in the September sale.

While 15 other first-crop yearling sires are tracking below the national average, it should be noted that 10 of these have overall stud fee multiples making their yearlings sold to date collectively profitable.

Sequel Stallions New York’s Honest Mischief   actually has the highest stud fee multiple of the sire class at 10.67 though his TNA is 0.70. The 7-year-old son of Into Mischief entered stud at $6,500 and to date has an overall yearling average of $69,385 from 13 sold. His yearling ROI is tracking around 89%. Honest Mischief has only two yearlings cataloged in the September sale. He had a stronger representation at the Fasig-Tipton New York Bred Yearling Sale where 12 of his yearlings sold averaged $74,667.

Taylor Made Stallions’ Instagrand   is not far behind Honest Mischief with a stud fee multiple of 9.25. Also a son of Into Mischief with a TNA of 0.70, Instagrand has an overall yearling average of $69,405 from 13 sold.  He entered stud at $7,500 so his ROI is around 78%. The stallion will have plenty of opportunities to build on these numbers with 40 September yearlings cataloged. So far he has two still entered in Book 2 and five in Book 3. The majority of his yearlings will be offered in Books 5 and 6.


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