Distorted Humor showing why he is one seriously good stallion
Martin Stevens looks at how he is hitting the heights as a broodmare sire
Officially the best horse to have raced this year, Arrogate, as well as four other Grade 1 winners of 2017 – Elate, New Money Honey, Practical Joke and Takaful – are all out of mares by Distorted Humor.
The WinStar Farm stalwart is, clearly, an outstanding broodmare sire and although those top-notchers are trained in the US, this is an emerging trend that breeders in every breeding jurisdiction cannot afford to ignore.
Distorted Humor is one of those precious commodities: a Kentucky sire whose progeny have excelled on turf as well as dirt, in North America and across the world. His 16 Group/Grade 1 winners include Aesop’s Fables, Cursory Glance and Pathfork in Europe and Australian Oaks heroine Rinky Dink from a brief spell shuttling to Australia.
Plus, of course, there is a robust roster of domestic talents headed by first-crop son Funny Cide, who gave the sire his breakthrough by upstaging Empire Maker to win the Kentucky Derby, as well as titans Any Given Saturday (a brother to the dam of New Money Honey), Commentator and Drosselmeyer.
It became apparent early on that Distorted Humor was an empire maker himself when the early crops of one of his sire sons, Flower Alley, yielded a horse in I’ll Have Another who, just as Funny Cide had, notched victories in the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
It did not take long for mares by Distorted Humor to ensure his name appeared in the second generation of classy performers either, with first-crop daughters coming up with the stakes winners Enjoy The Score and US Cavalry, as well as a bellwether of the sire’s future global influence in the French Listed-placed Danse Grecque.
That drip, drip, drip of talented maternal grandchildren for Distorted Humor turned into a gush, not just in America, where Arrogate and co are joined by Tapit’s Donn Handicap hero Constitution, but also in Australia, where One More Honey, a daughter of Onemorenomore, is a Group 2 winner and was fourth in the Flight Stakes last month; in Japan, where the Henny Hughes colt Moanin took the Grade 1 February Stakes; and in Europe, where the More Than Ready colt Boynton landed the Superlative Stakes and finished third in the Vintage Stakes.
Boynton is a paragon of the potency of Distorted Humor mares, as he is a half-brother to Constitution and to Aqueduct Grade 3 winner Jacaranda. Their dam, Baffled, who finished third in the Albany Stakes for Jeremy Noseda, was sold to Bridlewood Farm for a
sale-topping $3.5 million at Fasig-Tipton last November.
Having clicked with Tapit (by Pulpit out of an Unbridled mare) and More Than Ready (by Southern Halo out of a Woodman mare), Baffled provides a snapshot of the versatility of Distorted Humor mares.
Grade 1 winners out of Distorted Humor mares
Arrogate (Unbridled's Song) - Won: Dubai World Cup, Pegasus World Cup, Breeders' Cup Classic and Travers Stakes
Book Review (Giant's Causeway) - Won: La Brea Stakes
Constitution (Tapit) - Won: Donn Handicap and Florida Derby
Moanin (Henny Hughes) - Won: February Stakes
Molly Morgan (Ghostzapper) - Won: La Troienne Stakes
New Money Honey (Medaglia D'Oro) - Won: Belmont Oaks, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
Practical Joke (Into Mischief) - Won: H Allen Jerkens Stakes, Champagne Stakes, Hopeful Stakes
Takaful (Bernardini) - Won: Vosburgh Stakes
The nine winners at the highest level out of his daughters are by eight different stallions and it is striking, from a European perspective, that the one who doubled up is Medaglia D’Oro – the sire of Elate, who has eclipsed her rivals in the Beldame Stakes and Alabama Stakes on her last two starts, and New Money Honey, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last year and the Belmont Oaks in July.
Medaglia D’Oro will no doubt find a few more daughters of Distorted Humor grace his court at Jonabell Farm next year, and breeders may also be encouraged to send them to his younger, more affordable sons such as Mshawish, Vancouver and Violence. Perhaps it would even encourage them to look at other El Prado-line sires for Distorted Humor mares: Kitten’s Joy, perhaps, or his Lanwades Stud-based son Bobby’s Kitten.
Incidentally, the cross of Distorted Humor over mares by El Prado’s sire Sadler’s Wells is responsible for all three of his European Group 1 winners and although the reverse cross or its variations has not had much exposure, the very limited evidence suggests it could be successful. Ivory Gala, for example, is a Listed runner-up by Sadler’s Wells’ son and heir Galileo out of a daughter of Distorted Humor’s sire Forty Niner; she is the dam of recent Godolphin Stakes runner-up Red Galileo.
Certain astute breeders have continued to emulate the cross that provided Aesop’s Fables, Cursory Glance and Pathfork. Last year Distorted Humor was sent, among others, Affectionately, a Galileo
half-sister to Invincible Spirit, and Time On, a Sadler’s Wells sister to the dam of Cursory Glance.
Looking at the success of Medaglia D’Oro with Distorted Humor mares, sending Galileo a high-class and/or blueblooded daughter of his would seem an avenue worth exploring, although only one foal has been born on that cross according to Weatherbys. A less expensive iteration of the cross, using Galileo’s sons, would also be an interesting proposition.
It is also noteworthy that Japanese star Moanin is by Henny Hughes, a son of Hennessy who is also the paternal grandsire of the sensational Scat Daddy. There are bound to be plenty of sons of Scat Daddy retired to stud in seasons ahead as stallion masters move to secure his legacy, and Distorted Humor mares could be a complementary ingredient in matings to them.
The breeding-stock sales at Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton will offer the widest range of such mares and breeders at home and away ought to have those representatives of such an internationally proven sire and grandsire on their radar.
And, as with any sire who starts his stallion career at an accessible fee but rises through the ranks, we might reasonably expect his profile as broodmare sire to grow as more and more of his better-bred daughters produce more and more foals.
The mares conceived when Distorted Humor stood at peak fees of $225,000 and $300,000 – a group that includes Cheery, the daughter of Kentucky Oaks third Yell who has produced Elate as her first foal – are still only aged eight and nine. Every crop since then has been bred from fees between $80,000 and $150,000.
Don’t forget, too, that as Distorted Humor is by Forty Niner out of a Danzig mare, his daughters are relatively easy to mate.
The only drawback is, thanks to Arrogate and Elate in particular, the sire’s prowess in the damsire department is no longer a secret. At least any associated premium on their value in Kentucky next month should be mitigated by the breadth of choice.
Five mares by Distorted Humor at the Kentucky breeding-stock sales to look out for
9yo b m ex Fleet Lady (Avenue Of Flags)
Keeneland, hip 797
Godolphin are moving on this winning half-sister to Midshipman and to the dam of Frosted. Her early foals have not shone yet but it is still early days in her broodmare career and she is in foal to Tiznow.
Consigned by Godolphin
Charge Of Angels
7yo b m ex She’s A Winner (A.P. Indy)
Keeneland, hip 216
The half-sister to four stakes winners including Bluegrass Cat is in foal to Pioneerof The Nile and is offered as part of the dispersal of Ben and Elaine Walden’s stock.
Consigned by Pauls Mill
9yo ch m ex D’Wildcat Speed (Forest Wildcat)
Fasig-Tipton, hip 165
This half-sister to none other than speed queen Lady Aurelia comes with a cover by in-demand freshman sire Orb.
Consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency
7yo ch m ex Indy’s Windy (A.P. Indy)
Fasig-Tipton, hip 108
A winning half-sister to Grade 2 winner and Grade 1-placed American Anthem offered in foal to that colt’s exciting young sire Bodemeister.
Consigned by Warrendale Sales
9yo ch m ex Weekend In Indy (A.P. Indy)
Keeneland, hip 1
The unraced dam of New Money Honey is put on the market back in foal to the star filly’s sire Medaglia D’Oro.
Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency