'He's stamping them' - Pharoah's first crop take centre stage at Saratoga
Michele MacDonald gets the lowdown on the Triple Crown hero's yearlings
While it is unlikely that any of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah’s offspring can ever outshine him on the racetrack, the first group of yearlings by the champion will have the chance, starting on Monday, to eclipse him in the sale ring.
Exactly five years ago on August 5, American Pharoah entered the ring at the Humphrey S Finney Pavilion for Fasig-Tipton’s Saratoga Selected Yearling Sale only to be led out as unsold, although sale reports show that agent David Ingordo bid him back for breeder Zayat Stables at $300,000.
On Monday, the first of 15 yearlings by American Pharoah catalogued for this year’s Saratoga sale, with 13 still listed as available for sale and two withdrawn, will enter that same ring with great fanfare.
They are the first large group of yearlings by a Triple Crown winner to come up for public auction since the sons and daughters of Affirmed debuted in 1982.
Enthusiasm and curiosity about the American Pharoahs are high, with the general consensus among horsemen that, in general, many seem to inherit his athletic body and calm disposition.
“We’ve seen a ton of American Pharoahs, and I really like them,” says Mark Taylor, vice president of sales and marketing for Taylor Made Sales Agency, which has three yearlings by the stallion among its 35 horses catalogued for the Saratoga auction.
Since American Pharoah was raised at Taylor Made Farm and consigned by Taylor Made at Saratoga, Taylor possesses particularly keen insights about the son of Pioneerof The Nile as well as what traits he seems to be passing on to his offspring.
“I think the one thing about them is that he's really stamping them. Most of them are not real flashy horses - he wasn’t - but they’re very well put together and they have huge walks on them.
"That’s the most consistent thing that he’s throwing - they're really good movers,” Taylor says. “I think there's going to be a lot of excitement about them.
“When you take a horse of that calibre, the first Triple Crown winner in decades… people are really curious to see if the horse is going to replicate himself,” he adds.
“I think everything is on the up with him. The yearlings look great and I think he’s going to do real well.”
There is a huge difference between sales in the current era, Taylor notes, versus the time when the first sons and daughters by the trio of Triple Crown winners of the 1970s came to market.
There were far fewer offspring from much smaller books for stallions at that time, and some individuals could spark a "feeding frenzy” among buyers, he says, reflecting their status as part of a limited edition in the market.
American Pharoah covered 208 mares in his first season at stud in 2016 and there will be plenty of yearlings available at auction.
Just like their sire at the same age, the yearlings by American Pharoah have tended to be a “touch long in the pasterns,” Taylor says.
“He eventually grew out of that and grew into his pasterns,” Taylor notes. “Early on, I saw the same thing in his babies. But now they’re growing out of them. He's throwing a lot of himself into them.
“They are just well balanced, well put together,” he continues. “If you look at his pictures growing up at Taylor Made, we always said we liked the horse and gave him good scores, but he wasn’t the most talked about horse on the farm, and these yearlings are not flashy either.
"There are some stallions that throw sale horses - they come out and every one has flash to them and ripped muscle. American Pharoahs aren’t like that; they’re kind of like the Uncle Mos. There are a lot of bays, very well put together - you can’t pick them apart - but they aren’t brilliantly flashy horses.”
Many have handled themselves with an intelligent calm, as did American Pharoah, and Taylor opines that “sometimes that’s the most important thing” for racehorses, in addition to speed.
Perhaps the most intriguing yearling by American Pharoah in the Taylor Made consignment is hip 231, a chestnut colt out of stakes winner Global Finance, by End Sweep, and thus a half-brother to Queen Mary Stakes winner Acapulco.
Another American Pharoah colt sure to get his share of attention due to his catalogue page is hip 62, a bay out of the Touch Gold mare Party Silks consigned by Summerfield, agent for New York-based Sunnyfield Farm. The colt is a half-brother to multiple Graded winner and $1.7 million earner Upstart, who placed in six Grade 1 events.
Hip 240, a bay American Pharaoh colt out of Graded winner Hessonite, by Freud, has a pedigree that would be particularly notable for the small group of buyers expected in Saratoga representing Australian and Japanese interests.
Hessonite is a half-sister to the dam of New Zealand champion King’s Rose, who in turn produced Japanese Graded winner Satono Arthur, and Australian Group winner and Australian Derby-placed Hardham.
Among the standout daughters of American Pharoah in the Saratoga sale, hip 26 consigned by Gainesway is a chestnut out of multiple Grade 1 winner Life At Ten.
Hip 225, a chestnut bred by Summer Wind Farm and consigned by Lane’s End, is out of stakes winner Funny Feeling, a full-sister to Grade 1 winner and sire Jimmy Creed.
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