Finding Stallion Prospects: It's Not Always About Money

When searching for a stallion prospect, it helps to
have a lot of money. Because of the downturn in the Thoroughbred marketplace for
several years recently, top candidates don't sell for as much as they used to,
but they're still expensive in the scheme of things.

Many farms, however, don't have the resources to be
able to afford the very best in terms of pedigree and racing accomplishments.
Bret Jones of Airdrie Stud in Central Kentucky discussed earlier this year about how
the nursery goes about finding attractive horses to stand at stud while lacking
the biggest pocketbook:

"We want to be the best, and that's a very difficult
thing to do because we are a bit handcuffed financially. We have to sort of
find creative ways to find stallions that we really believe in and think have a
shot, but wouldn't necessarily go to the guys who write the bigger checks. Dad (former
Kentucky governor Brereton C. Jones) has been very successful in doing that and
my job is to help him with that.

"If you go through our stallion barn, pretty much
every horse fits the same description, for the most part. Our biggest criterion
is that the horse has shown a level of brilliance and shown ability that we
believe he can pass on. It's a commercial market, so physically any prospect we
bring in here really needs to be one that the breeders can come out, see, and
instantly get excited about. It's a bit unfair that some stallions don't get a
better opportunity than they do because it is a bit of beauty contest.

"But the brilliance is really the most important
thing to us. You know it when you see it. Majesticperfection is a great example.
And so was Harlan's Holiday, whom we were proud to have developed. He didn't
have an enormous female pedigree and if he did, he would have been three times
more expensive, but he had that brilliance.

"Not to be crude, but brilliance is that ‘holy crap!'
moment when you're watching  race and you
see a horse that has the type of acceleration that makes you say, ‘That was
something pretty special.'

"Indian Charlie was another great example. He had a
California pedigree that Kentucky breeders didn't, quite honestly, know a whole
lot about. But if you watched his races, he was a tremendously talented
racehorse and he took that brilliance and ascended to being one of the top
stallions in the country. He started off with a low stud fee and did it the
hard way.

"I think Brother Derek is very much in that same
mold. It was a little tricky trying to sell the California pedigree to the Kentucky
breeders, but at the same time, he is putting out a foal (with the appeal
physically) that is beginning to get them excited. We had some very smart
people buying them in September (at the Keeneland yearling sale). We think he
is another one that had the brilliance on the track that will translate to
success at stud."



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