One attribute which prospective horse owners look for across the world, whether they call home Britain, Australia or the United States is 2yo speed. Across the globe most of the expensive stallions share one thing in common, they can get precocious horses and perhaps even more importantly, those horses bring eye-popping numbers in auction sales. It is a circular cycle – get good looking yearlings, sell them for triple-digit figures, watch those horses flash 2yo speed, see the stud fee escalate and repeat. Very few owners are buying horses for 10 or 12-furlong races. Golden Horn didn’t meet his reserve when he went through auction. Neither did Wings of Eagles, two recent Epsom Derby winners. There is a reason Galileo dominates the Epsom Derby, he is only competing against his line, and that of Montjeu. Most high priced European sires, like their American and Australian counterparts, are miler types.
Montjeu, the spotlight stallion in this Saturday’s URC Sons of Contest, definitely is not someone you associate with 2yo speed. This is reflected in real life by the low ceiling of his stallions stud fees. URC members used four sons to fill the card, Camelot ($40,000), Motivator ($7000), Tavistock ($44,000), and Pour Moi (No longer siring thoroughbreds, I believe he is a jumper sire now). Yes, Pour Moi, who sired an Epsom Derby winner, was in such low demand that he couldn’t get enough covers for flat racing. Even Camelot, who has produced his share of G1 horses simply doesn’t get high auction sales so his stud fee at Coolmore remains low. While SIM breeders do not have to worry about auction sales, they do have to tackle the precocity dilemma. Very few players are willing to wait for a horse to mature into its 4yo season to possibly get a good horse. Can a respectable 2yo be gleaned from a son of Montjeu? That’s the challenge presented to the URC this weekend.
This race, more than any other in the series, is more subject to the whims of chance and so I’m not even bothering to list the odds. Many of these horses have fine pedigrees but that may not matter now because they could be years away from their ideal running age and distance. As mentioned above, this race was narrowed down to four stallions by the breeders with five choosing Camelot, four picking Pour Moi, three selecting Tavistock and two honing in on Motivator.
The five Camelot runners are Camstar, Pastel Addition, Rushworth, Fatalita, and Peter Frampton. In the SIM, Camelot is spectacularly inconsistent equally capable of throwing miserable slow plodders as he is to G1 winners. Needless to say, he is near perfectly rated. He has a low 75% winning rate meaning you have a decent chance of getting a horse who is flat out slow. This is in contrast to his above average 7% stakes-winning rate. He also throws 3.7% GW and has a collection of past G1 winners. The Camelot pairings looked like:
Forty Niner x Sea the Stars – Love the use of Mr. P in the middle but less thrilled by a SIM long stamina influence in the DDS kicker spot. Asking a lot of Forty Niner here. We’ll see if he is up to the task.
Dubawi x Lear Fan – Mom was a G1 sprinter so that is a plus. Produced a slow Golden Horn so that is a minus. Dubawi is an intriguing choice which two breeders used (including me), Lear Fan is unorthodox which sometimes works. Question the mares proclivity in the breeding shed.
Frankel x A.P. Indy – Good news is that is a ton of stallion power, the bad news is that is far too distance heavy in my opinion. Maybe good later but would be shocked if this produced 2yo speed.
Dubawi x Redoute’s Choice – Pairing of elite class in the middle with elite speed in the kicker spot. Ideal combination. I really feel you need turf speed somewhere in the three primary positions. Mare is untested however, so on paper promises may evaporate in the harsh light of day.
Giant’s Causeway x A.P. Indy – Same thoughts here as on the Frankel/Indy. I give a slight edge here as Giant’s Causeway can at times be a speed influencer. However, the dual surface nature of the Storm Cat may slant this pedigree too heavily toward the dirt.
Pour Moi is actually far better in the SIM than he was in real life. I’m not really sure why he is still 2yo available, but alright sure. He has 79% runners (better than Camelot you’ll note though still low) 6% stakes winners and 2% GW. I’ll bet you didn’t know Pour Moi and Camelot were so evenly rated didn’t you? Pour Moi has three G1 winners in the SIM. Of course, he is only 2/24 with 2yos this year. (Camelot was actually at 21% with 2yos in 2019 so maybe he received a precocity bump?) His runners in this race are, Girl From Sons, Fantastic Voyager, Dania Super Nova, and Pour Me a Beer (clever).
Deep Impact x Stage Door Johnny – Mare was a 9-12-furlong runner who has produced many claimers. Tough task here.
Fantastic Light x Sir Ivor – Fantastic Light was an elite 10-furlong horse. Sir Ivor more of a miler although the SIM has him rated as a dirt router. I can envision the thought process behind this scratch-bred whether or not the execution was successful remains to be seen.
Dynaformer x Irish River – I really like this scratch-bred pedigree. Follows the principle of elite class with elite speed. Also gets points for not being a commonly used pairing. Well-crafted and in a perfect world would inspire success.
Pulpit x Ad Valorem – Very out of left field here! Unique, Pulpit certainly has class and most Pulpits were 7-9 furlong horses. Ad Valorem was a champion 2yo excelling at 6-8. Sort of a discounted use of the elite class/elite speed theory. Smart thinking. Intriguing.
Tavistock stands in New Zealand and has begun to make something of a name for himself. Because of this, he swelled to 110 breedings in the SIM last year. He was one of the rare Montjeu sons who was more at home in sprints so the theory may hold that he has a superior chance of getting 2yo winners. Unfortunately, he has a lot of work to do before he becomes even average in our reality. He currently has a terrible 64% winners (19% 2yo winners so maybe on an upswing) with 2% stakes-winners and one G3 to represent him. In this race, his guidon is carried by Zealand Black (great name), Kymard Barrel, and Kiwi Express.
Dylan Thomas x Aldebaran – Look, both Dylan Thomas and Aldebaran were far, far better on the track than they were in real life but the mare’s name is Poet of Noir so I can’t say anything negative here and would buy this horse if it went to auction.
Shamardal x Broad Brush – The use of Shamardal here is the first reverse use of the class/speed principle which is sort of surprising. Shamardal offers both class and speed and Broad Brush has long been a black type boon in the DDS spot. I like what I see here.
Pierro x Dubai Millenium – Interesting combo, the use of an Australian speed sire could pay dividends. Dubai M is rare in DDS spot. First runner from the mare, who was a sprinter, although more successful on the dirt.
Finally, we come to Motivator who has fallen somewhat out of favor both in real life and the SIM. He only has 1 winner from 16 starters in 2019 but he did have some ratings in the SIM back in the day. These days he averages about 25 runners a season and has to make do with those. Still sports a 77% winners rate with 5% stakes-winners and 1% GW with two G1 victors. He is represented by Motive Dancer and Motivating Mission.
Danehill Dancer x Monsun – Really like DD in the middle. Monsun not so much. Don’t get me wrong, Monsun has serious SIM power and is perfect when paired with sprint sires but I don’t think his attributes are best served when mixed with Montjeu (and remember, Motivator has Buckpasser in his pedigree as well)
Sea the Stars x Danehill – Excellent pedigree. Superb use of the elite class/elite speed concept. Dangerous and a pairing that will likely be the best Motivator sees this season. Up to him now.
There are too many elite sires in this race not to elevate one of these runners. Someone will run mid-70s for the win and solve the Montjeu dilemma. However, all is not lost for the other 13 entrants as some of them could go on to significant careers if they are given the time and patience.