Australia, Al Naamah and the challenge of buying a full sibling to a Classic Winner
Lord Derby and his brother the Hon. Peter Stanley of New England Stud are in a position that just about any owner/breeder in the world would like to be in having bred the brilliant Australia, winner of the Epsom Derby (gr.I) and clearly the head of his class in Europe. Having done this, they are now facing a decision in regards to the yearling colt out of Ouija Board, sired by the white hot Dubawi and bred on the similar Dubawi/Green Desert nick to Makfi, Lucky Nine and Dubawi Gold.
When questioned about the colt, Lord Derby has gone on record as saying that no decision will be made in haste in respect of electing to keep or sell the colt, but we are sure that despite all efforts to not get caught up in the attention that Australia will bring this will be a decision that is influenced by emotion. After all, Lord Derby and his family raced Ouija Board to Classic success and with the mare having produced two Group stakes winners including a Champion it is hard not to feel that she is a rare mare and that the likes of Australia is a somewhat repeatable event.
But what does the data tell us?
We gathered the winners of the English Classic Races - the Epsom Derby, 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks and 1,000 Guineas back to the year 2000 and took a look at the foal born two years after the Classic winner, thus comparing the Dubawi/Ouija Board colt to to those of similar circumstance. By including those that are current 4yo's, thus giving them some chance to show their ability on the racetrack, we have a list of 32 horses to examine.
The first noteworthy comment to make on the data above is that very few of the yearlings that followed their Classic winning sibling made their way into the sale ring, but the ones that did sold very well with an average over US$1 million. Buyers seem to pay for what they hope is a repeatable event. It would seem that the rarity of a yearling being sold out of a Classic producing mare is in itself a factor when considering to sell. That data doesn't include the as yet unraced 3yo Al Jassasiyah a full brother to the Oaks winner Was who sold for US$2,403,750 two years ago, nor the US$8,450,925 paid for Was' full sister Al Naamah, who looked very good in breaking her maiden at first asking today, so selling a half or full relation to a Classic winner is certainly a financially rewarding experience.
But what about the other side of the coin? What if they elect to race the Dubawi colt? The complete race record of the 32 horses reads
Runners (Rns/Fls): 24 (75%)
Winners (Wns/Fls): 14 (44%)
SW (SW/Fls): 3 (9.5%)
GSW (SW/Fls): 3 (9.5%)
Earnings per Foal: US$61,952
Earnings Per Runner: US$82,603
The best runner of the 32 is probably Alexander of Hales, a Danehill half brother to Virginia Waters who was the winner of the Gallinaule Stakes (gr.II) and Classic placed in the Irish Derby (gr.I) although Motivator's full brother Macarthur was also Group One placed in the Coronation Cup. The third of the Group stakes winners is Perfectperformance, a half brother to Russian Rhythm.
Three group winners from 32 is certainly a better than normal strike rate. However, none of these three colts were as good or better than their classic winning elder and none of the three have made commercial stallions. That is probably the most important point for Lord Derby to consider. A time value of money analysis would suggest that the scarcity of a brother to a Classic winner entering the sales ring this fall will have immense financial return with a small risk that the colt turns out to justify his price tag.
That is also a challenge that is faced by Al Naamah. As impressive as her maiden victory was, the only full relation to a classic winner in the period studied to become a stakes winner itself was Macarthur, the full to Movitator. The other 5 full relations to Classic winners didn't amount to much so this filly has to beat a fair bit of history to become a Classic winner herself.