Fasig-Tipton innovation shows that the Americans still value turf sires
Perhaps it is the Europeans who are more complacent in their own pedigrees
When I interviewed leading Kentucky breeder Greg Goodman last September, shortly before his Mt Brilliant Farm sent its latest draft of yearlings up the road to Keeneland, I asked whether he was concerned about the appeal of several with turf profiles to North American buyers.
Goodman seemed a bit put out by the question. "Using turf or dirt sires doesn't worry me too much," he said. "Number one, there's a lot of people who love turf horses in the US; and number two, there's so many Europeans and Australians and Japanese who come over here to buy."
The admonishment was fair. It made me wonder whether the often repeated mantra that North American racing and breeding is only about dirt really holds true.
The era of top-class European turf talents being snapped up by Kentucky stallion masters, who would sell the offspring back to European owners for huge sums, is long over. As Mt Brilliant Farm shows, however, that does not necessarily mean North American breeders are no longer reaching out to international buyers.
Goodman is far from the only Kentucky-based breeder who has invested in European bloodlines, over recent years focusing on progeny of Galileo, Frankel and Dubawi, in particular.
Nor are the US stallion ranks bereft of horses with transatlantic appeal. Tepin, a daughter of the late Bernstein, beat the cream of our milers at Royal Ascot last year. In recent seasons there have also been excellent results for offspring of Kitten's Joy, Scat Daddy and War Front. Together they leave no doubt that certain North American pedigrees can be effective at the top level on turf.
Now Fasig-Tipton has launched a new initiative to entice buyers from around the world to shop in Kentucky. The firm will stage a one-day select sale of yearlings suited for the turf on Sunday, September 10, on the eve of rival Keeneland's mammoth auction.
"This is an exciting addition to the sales calendar for Fasig-Tipton, and provides a great opportunity for buyers from around the globe to shop for yearlings with turf appeal," said company president Boyd Browning. "The performance of American-bred horses at Royal Ascot last year clearly demonstrated the quality of turf performers bred and raised in the US.
"In addition, more than 40 per cent of 2017 Graded stakes races in the US will be turf races - and we are seeing North American racing and breeding programmes investing in high-class grass performers at an increasing rate. The Turf Showcase will offer a concentration of quality yearlings in a single session, and should interest buyers from both North America and abroad."
British and Irish horsemen might not have as much need to buy in Kentucky as in times past but cannot claim to have no reason to do so at all. There would be a certain irony, in fact, if they did not seek to invigorate European pedigrees with fresh blood - and yet still dismissed North American breeders as isolationist.