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Friday, January 2, 2015

Somebeachsomewhere Hits A Bump In The Road

Somebeachsomewhere sports the highest stud fee among pacing sires and his yearlings bring the highest average at the sales year after year. He produced the most accomplished and richest pacing colt from the recent past—Captaintreacherous—out of his first crop. What’s not to like? His 2014 freshman crop would be the answer to that question, I imagine. Captain T earned $900,000 at two, in 2012, but this year Ron Burke’s filly Southwind Roulette topped the freshman earnings list for SBSW. She earned a shade over $300,000. Southwind Roulette had some wins in the PA All Stars and the PASS, and won the PASS Championship at Pocono Downs, but she has no open stakes wins to her credit. She finished out at 99-1 from the rail in the BC; she finished third in the Debutante and out in the Matron and Kentuckiana. Not a good ambassador for a stallion that gets $30,000. Well, did get $30,000; his fee has been reduced to $25,000 for 2015, and his book is still open.

SBSW’s richest two-year-old son was Jimmy Takter’s Blood Brother, who earned almost $74,000. He won a split of the PASS Tyler B but finished out in the Governor’s Cup, Bluegrass and ISS. So, like his paternal sister Southwind Roulette, he has no open stakes wins on his resume. Art Major had JK She’salady; Western Ideal had Artspeak; American Ideal had In The Arsenal; even Rockin Image had Freaky Feet Pete.

Hillary’s Style was next on the list, having earned almost $69,000. She finished second in the Bluegrass, out in the ISS and was most at home in the PA Stallion Series. Another filly, Seeking Nirvana, was next with less than $60,000, and a win in the Debutante—Historic Stake—at Chester was her crowning achievement. Deli Beach earned $47,000, with wins in the John Simpson and Reynolds. However, she finished out at 55-1 in the Bluegrass and out at 50-1 in the ISS. Momas Got A Gun, struggled in the PA Stallion Series. And Linda Toscano’s highly regarded ASAP Hanover, who was favored in the Nassagaweya and his Metro elimination has only a Goshen Cup win to show for it.

A sizable mitigating circumstance is the fact that SBSW had 41 fewer two-year-old starters in 2014 than he did in 2013. Also, during 2014 he had 51 fewer two-year-old starters than three-year-old starters. Beyond that, the mares that produced his third class weren’t what one might expect. Still, the 2014 sophomores averaged $82,000 at Harrisburg; they were off a little at the top end from the previous year, but a bargain sale it was not.  

Was the 2014 sophomore group simply an anomaly? There was no Captaintreacherous in ten-year-old SBSW’s 2014 sophomore group. On the other hand, Limelight Beach, who won splits of the ISS and Bluegrass at two, won the LBJ, Bluegrass, Circle City and his BC elimination. The gelding is no star, but he did win a TC classic. Somewhere In LA, who won a split of the Nassagaweya at two, won the Diplomat and Keystone Classic in 2014. Competitive with his group, but no statues being contemplated. And Lyonssomewhere won the Cane and a Cup elimination. A talented but inconsistent trio, for sure.

On the distaff side, Sandbetweenurtoes strung together eight in a row against non-winners, state-breds and the Mistletoe Shalee bunch. Beach Gal and Beach Body failed to build on their success as two-year-olds. SBSW was the leading sire of three-year-olds in terms of gross earnings and average, but his star quotient was a little light.  

Contrasting SBSW with nine-year-old Muscle Hill, the pacing champ’s opposite number as the great trotter of the 21st century, we see that Muscle Hill has dominated the sales every bit as much as SBSW has. The latter has had two crops race, as opposed to three for SBSW, and his 2015 and 2016 freshmen are handicapped by the necessity to do their time in the underfunded NJSS program, before his offspring move on to Pennsylvania eligibility.

Muscle Hill was slightly ahead of Explosive Matter and Donato Hanover, on top of the freshman earnings list in 2014; he also led in average earnings. His first crop—three-year-olds in 2014—was third and fourth, respectively, in those categories. What he did have, that SBSW lacked, were stars. Mission Brief, who looks like an all-time great, set a world record of 1:50.3 in the ISS, winning by a ton. The $150,000 Lexington Select purchase was a break or win proposition all season. And Jonas Czernyson’s Jolene Jolene may have wound up in the shadow of paternal sister Mission Brief, but she matched the world record of 1:52.1 in the Bluegrass. How high will Mission Brief, who won the BC and the Merrie Annabelle, place in the 2015 Experimental Ratings? Will she top the field? Burke and some of her owners want to see her compete in the Hambletonian.

And in his sophomore class Muscle Hill had Hambletonian winner Trixton, who was a fan favorite, as well as E L Titan. Muscle Hill’s fee is unpublished, but it’s probably in the $25,000 range. While SBSW’s fee has been up and down, having been reduced 25% in 2012—the Captain’s two-year-old season—then restored the following year, and reduced again 17% for 2015, Muscle Hill, who was stuck in New Jersey for his first four years, seems to be on a smoother path. The Captain, Somwherovrarainbow and Sunshine Beach all came up short in 2014; SBSW needs a few headline grabbers to maintain those sale figures and justify the gait topping stud fee. Limelight Beach won the Jug, but he was winless as a three-year-old entering Jug Day and built sporadically on his success. The lack of stars from SBSW’s 2014 racing roster is concerning, but one can only assume that the syndicate has pulled out all the stops to reduce the risk of that happening again.

Joe FitzGerald

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