(Originally published in the January 9, 2010 combined issue of The Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions at the bottom of the column.
Researching the leading regional sires of 2009, a coincidence was noted among the leading sires of the year in Maryland, California, and Florida: Not For Love, Unusual Heat, and Montbrook have more in common than being the leading sire in their respective states; they are also all members of the 1990 foal crop.
There is not a highly successful sire among the 19 horses that ran in the 1993 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) won by Sea Hero. Though Sea Hero was a heartwarming story because he was owned and trained by Paul Mellon and Mack Miller, respectively, he did not go on to a successful career at stud. Neither did any of the 15 other colts that followed him under the wire: Wild Gale, Personal Hope, Diazo, Corby, Kissin Kris, Silver of Silver, Ragtime Rebel, Bull Inthe Heather, Dixieland Heat, Wallenda, Mi Cielo, Union City, Storm Tower, Rockamundo, and Tossofthecoin.
Three members of that Derby field, second-place finisher Prairie Bayou, 10th-place finisher Truth of It All, and 18th-place finisher El Bakan, were geldings. Another, Union City, never had a chance to make it at stud because he broke down in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) won by Prairie Bayou and was euthanized.
Cherokee Run, who finished second in that year's Preakness and sixth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) won by Colonial Affair, turned out to be the most successful sire from that year's Triple Crown races. Shortened up as a 4-year-old, Cherokee Run won the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) and Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (gr. II) and was named the year's champion sprinter. Cherokee Run was pensioned in 2009 after standing his entire career in Kentucky at Jonabell Farm (subsequently named Darley after Sheikh Mohammed purchased the farm). Cherokee Run is the sire of 45 stakes winners including champions War Pass and Chilukki.
Prairie Bayou, who broke down in the Belmont and had to be euthanized, was 1993's champion 3-year-old male, a year in which the Horse of the Year was the champion turf horse Kotashaan. The crop's Eclipse Award winner as a 2-year-old was Gilded Time, who won all four of his starts as a juvenile but missed the Triple Crown races because of chronic foot problems. Gilded Time stood at Vinery and shuttled to Australia before relocating to Canada for the 2008 breeding season. He is the sire of 53 stakes winners.
Of Not For Love, Unusual Heat, and Montbrook, it is Not For Love who has the best pedigree of the three, being by Mr. Prospector and produced from the Phipps family's mare Dance Number, by Northern Dancer. His dam, a grade I-winning daughter of champion Numbered Account, is also the dam of champion colt Rhythm and the filly Get Lucky, both full siblings of Not For Love. Get Lucky is the dam of three graded stakes winners and the granddam of grade I winner Bluegrass Cat.
For those who like to see a successful sire in the female family, Not For Love has it; his dam is a half-sister to Private Account. For those who like to see race record, he was but stakes-placed. Not For Love ranked 15th on the general sire list with earnings of more than $6.1 million, in a year in which he was represented by 16 stakes winners. He has 65 lifetime stakes winners, which leads to his most impressive statistic: 9% stakes winners from foals.
Unusual Heat is by Nureyev out of the Glacial mare Rossard, and his best distance was a mile. He won three stakes in Ireland but had little success in the U.S., being claimed to stand at stud. He ranked 29th on the general sire list with the earners of nearly $5.2 million and had out nine stakes winners. He has 24 lifetime stakes winners.
Montbrook was a pure sprinter who won two graded stakes as an Ocala Stud-bred. He ranked 66th on the general sire list with earnings of $3.78 million. The son of Buckaroo-Secret Papers, by Diplomacy, has sired 45 stakes winners.