Turning Two - By Evan Hammonds

The racing world has spent the better part of the first half of 2017 focused on the breeding and foaling season on the farms and the 3-year-olds on the tracks. As the smoke clears from the Fourth of July fireworks and the industry rolls into the summer and fall, the yearling sales market vies for attention. We provide plenty of reference material for upcoming sales with this week’s “Summer Sales Guide” in the BloodHorse MarketWatch section.

Stakes results from the holiday weekend are a reminder of the importance of 2-year-old racing in the yearling marketplace…especially for the younger stallions trying to build their résumés and for sires that stand below the five-figure line.

Animal Kingdom, a freshman sire of 2017 who stood for $30,000 earlier this year, caught fire June 30 at Churchill Downs when his first winner, Nancy Polk’s Normandy Farm’s Sunny Skies took the Debutante Stakes.

Industry players have had a keen eye on the offspring of Animal Kingdom, as the son of Leroisdesanimaux was the winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). Siring a black-type winner before the calendar flips to July certainly draws attention to his second crop of yearlings that will be on display at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky in July, Fasig-Tipton Saratoga in August, and Keeneland in September.

“To start any stallion off like that is huge,” said Darren Fox, sales manager for Darley America. “One would anticipate them to take another step forward when they turn 3, being a horse of his profile, but it bodes well for the future. It’s a great start and we’re excited.

“Recent activity trumps old activity,” he said. “What happens in the preceding 30 days before a sale has a huge bearing on the market. It drives the action. To have a start like this so close to the sales is like a dream.

“We’re high on him internally, and knowing what we’ve seen on the farm and what he has in the pipeline, a start like this has us excited. Fingers crossed he’ll remain hot leading into the September sale.”

Two races before the Debutante, Tommie Lewis’ 2-year-old Ten City scored in the grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes, the nation’s first graded stakes for juveniles.

Ten City is a son of Run Away and Hide, who lacks the classic credentials of an Animal Kingdom and stood for $5,000 but has a penchant for producing quick winners at 2. Ten City’s win was fortified July 3 by Run Away’s victory in the Santa Anita Juvenile Stakes. The two stakes wins lifted the Darby Dan stallion inside the top five leading sires of 2-year-olds.

“It’s fair to say that the marketplace has received him modestly,” said Darby Dan’s John Phillips of the 11-year-old son of City Zip. “But he’s hot. Other pundits have noted that he’s one of the best value buys on the stallion market.

“Wins like this focus attention on horses that have come up the hard way,” he added. “These wins will clearly focus more attention on him as a sire, and, therefore, as a sire of sale yearlings.”

While Run Away and Hide has limited offspring at both Fasig-Tipton venues, the September sale might help bring more attention to the stallion.

“People are always trying to get ahead of the market, and it’s because of the 2-year-olds,” Phillips said. “Both of those horses have a significant future, and if they are running well, it draws attention to their potential. The impact on the yearling market can be very significant.

“This time of year—July, August, September—it gets so exciting because the 2-year-olds come out, and you begin to see the future unfold. Of course, that is then played out in the yearling market.”

In racing parlance, “get hot—stay hot.”

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