Star Power - by Dan Liebman

Just three months after it was announced he was being pensioned, Storm Cat was represented by the top price Aug. 5 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale. How fitting.

The success enjoyed by the 25-year-old son of Storm Bird is obvious. Storm Cat made Overbrook Farm what it is today because he has sired 13% stakes winners, which ranks him among the best stallions of our time. His progeny’s racetrack success allowed his stud fee to rise to the highest in recent memory, $500,000.

But Storm Cat has been a huge commercial success as well, which is important to breeders taking his sons and daughters to market, and buyers hoping not only for top racetrack performance, but significant future residual value as well.

Over the past 32 years, 109 stallions have been represented by at least one offspring sold at a North American yearling sale for $1 million or more. That group of stallions has sired 718 seven-figure yearlings, and of that total, a remarkable 90 are by Storm Cat.

Thus, 12.5% of all yearlings ever sold in North America for $1 million or more are by one stallion.

(For the record, the next highest total is the 52 sired by Storm Bird’s sire, Northern Dancer.)

A group of 34 colts and fillies by Storm Cat are cataloged to the Keeneland fall yearling sale that kicks off Sept. 8. This is a comparable number to last year, when 37 were cataloged and 23 sold for an average of $536,739.

This year’s list is like a “Who’s Who” of pedigrees. Nine of the yearlings are out of grade/group I winners (three champions) and eight are full or half-siblings to grade/group I winners (four champions).

With numerous offspring still to go through an auction ring, it is possible Storm Cat could become the first triple-double stallion—more than 100 stakes winners (he has 166 to date) and more than 100 yearlings sold for $1 million or more.

Stallions like Storm Cat do not come along very often. But they are the dream of everyone who retires a horse to stud, and like a couple of other horses in the news lately—Danzig and Theatrical—prove the best do not necessarily start in the breeding shed with a high stud fee.

Storm Cat may have commanded $500,000 for six years, but his initial fee was just $30,000 (and later $20,000).

Danzig, who first stood for $20,000 and saw his fee rise to $250,000 no guarantee, recently became the first North American stallion to sire 200 stakes winners. Danzig, who died in 2006, is from the same sire line as Storm Cat. Danzig is by Northern Dancer, sire also of Storm Cat’s sire.

The mark of 200 stakes winners is impressive for Danzig considering he stood at Claiborne Farm, which has never bred books as large as many other farms. Danzig’s largest crop was 59 foals. His percentage of stakes winners, 18%, places him among the elite stallions of all time.

At a time when many are questioning the durability of the Thoroughbred and commercialized focus of breeders, there is Theatrical, who will never be thought of as flashy or dazzling, but has consistently rewarded those who bred to him, and whose progeny have an average winning distance of 9.5 furlongs.

A product of the highly successful breeding program of Bert and Diana Firestone, Theatrical, by Northern Dancer’s son, Nureyev, recently sired his 22nd grade/group I winner, Winchester, a Firestone homebred.

The Firestones raced Theatrical and later took on Allen Paulson as a partner in the horse. He first stood at Paulson’s Brookside Farms and now stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms near Lexington.

Theatrical has sired 77 stakes winners (8%), but consider that 28.5% have won a grade/group I race.

Percentage of stakes winners should still be the most important measure of a stallion’s success. 


Leave a Comment:


What's amazing about Northern Dancer and Storm Cat was that both would not have been as sucessful without the vision of their owners. E.P. Taylor could not get his reserve of 25 thou and so kept him to race and breed. and Mr. Young stood a young stallion with no huge race record and supported him with mares he bought. They both had the money behind them to take that chance, not like today where they get in and get out without any thought to improving the breed.

20 Aug 2008 11:30 AM

Storm Cat has been amazing and has amassed some impressive records--the Keeneland September sale should be very interesting...!

20 Aug 2008 5:11 PM

I agree with you about the Percentage of S.W.'s being the main way to track a stallion's success.   I think that's what most breeders look for when choosing a sire for their mare.   Especially since you can have a royally bred sire who might be a more perfect match for your mare, but whose really a dud as a stud.   Then the breeding behind him doesn't even matter.

But, I do have 1 question about percentages for you.

Why is it in the Stallion Register that the percentage of Winners from a sire is determined from the # of Foals and not from the # of Starters ???

I mean we know that the # of Starters from Foals is needed that way as a starting point.   But, wouldn't it be more correct in using a percentage of Winners from Starters instead of from Foals ???  

Seems kind of backwards in the current way.  

Just curious.

20 Aug 2008 8:54 PM

Just wanted to add that as cool as I think that Storm Cat was...only having 13% S.W.'s should be another sign of how strange of a time it is in thoroughbred racing.

I mean that, for all of the possibly deserved hype and $500,000 stud fees, 13% is a pretty low percentage when compared to 2 of the all-time greats in Bold Ruler and Northern Dancer both at 23% S.W.'s.  

What's that saying about the direction of our breed's success ???

And is there another stallion from history who had a higher percentage than B.R. and N.D. ???

20 Aug 2008 9:16 PM

Are there any studies/articles/books out there that look at the genetic diversity of the current pool of racehorses and breeding stallions?  I'm curious about the percentages of breeding stallions and percentages of current/recent Gr I and Gr II racing stock that are descended from the various male lines.  I've seen a few articles about dwindling genetic diversity and the fact that all of the quality stallions you discuss are male-line descendants from Northern Dancer got me interested.

20 Aug 2008 9:29 PM

Get those Storm Cat babies while they're hot.

22 Aug 2008 2:37 PM

One of my favourite all-time sires/racehorses is the N.Dancer son, Nijinsky II.  Brilliance.

22 Aug 2008 5:27 PM
Neon Green

The source of the data is the big concern. I have a report on a broodmare with two foals by the same stallion in back to back years. The report I bought shows her total number of foals as one. Take the stats with a grain of salt.

23 Aug 2008 1:25 PM

Love the article!! Although I am not well versed with the older sires of the past (they were fantastic race horses) I am just waiting to see who puts up the $$$ for a Ghostzapper- Ashado foal!! To me that would make for an unstoppable race horse!!  You heard it here folks.  If someone out there reads this they will say "Huh, that would be an interesting investment!" It's only a dream though!

23 Aug 2008 9:41 PM

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