Loyal Breeders get to share the upside

published: 27 Aug 2015 in General

AUSTRALIAN breeders may not have access to outstanding American stallion Malibu Moon, but it is thanks to this horse that Spendthrift Farm has set up a base in Victoria . . . well in a roundabout way.

  Malibu Moon was the first special horse raced by self-made billionaire B. Wayne Hughes. He retired due to injury having raced just twice, his sole victory coming at his second start in a two year-old 1000m maiden at the now defunct Hollywood Park. Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy-Macoumba by Mr. Prospector) fractured a knee after that win and despite his excellent pedigree was not keenly sought after by major studs. With no black type wins there was no hype and so Malibu Moon retired to stand at Country Life Farm in Maryland, where off an introductory fee of $US3000, he proved an immediate sensation.

  Now resident at Spendthrift Farm (the historic Kentucky property having been purchased by Hughes in 2004), Malibu Moon has sired 85 stakes winners, including the Kentucky Derby hero Orb and fellow multiple Gr.1 winners Devil May Care, Life At Ten and Ask The Moon and is now standing at a fee of $US95,000.

  His ride to success has been thoroughly enjoyed by Hughes, a man whose racing passion predates the establishment in 1972 of his hugely successful business Public Storage. It was while following the deeds of Malibu Moon at stud that Hughes really began to appreciate the contribution made to a stallion by the mare owners who support him.  “They participate in the making of the stallion and they should participate in the success,” he said. Hughes noted that so often a smaller breeder, who had taken the risk with a stallion at the bottom/middle end of the market, would no longer be able to afford the horse once he succeeded and he decided to do something about it.

  That is how the concept of “Share The Upside” was born. Designed to “make the playing field more level between stallion owner and breeder,” the program is a basic one and its simplicity is of great appeal to broodmare owners according to Spendthrift Australia’s general manager Garry Cuddy. “People ring me expecting it to be more complicated than it is and when I explain how it works they get very excited,” he said.

  The majority of the bookings made to Spendthrift Australia’s four stallions Warrior’s Reward (USA), Can The Man (USA), Jimmy Creed (USA) (Distorted Humor (USA)-Hookedonthefeelin by Citidancer) and Hampton Court (Redoute’s Choice-Roses ‘n’ Wine by Broken Vow) are via the Share The Upside program; and, using the exciting Medaglia D’Oro (USA) stallion Warrior’s Reward as an example, this is how it works.

  Warrior’s Reward, the Carter Handicap-Gr.1 (1400m) winner who has made a most encouraging start to his northern hemisphere stud career, stands at a fee of $11,000, but spend a little more, $13,750, and the mare owner involves themselves in the stallion’s career. A lifetime breeding right is secured by an initial deposit and the promise of sending a mare this year and next. Providing both service fees are paid on time the mare owner can use the horse each year subsequently for no extra cost. Individual nominations can be traded, as can the breeding right, and this can prove extremely profitable if a stallion happens to succeed.

  Such is the case with Spendthrift’s Kentucky-based Into Mischief, whose Gr.3 winner and Gr.1 placed son Can The Man is shuttling to Victoria. Into Mischief, a Gr.1 winner of the Hollywood Futurity (1700m) and son of triple Gr.1 winner Harlan’s Holiday (a grandson of Storm Cat), kicked off his career at a Share The Upside fee of $US7500, while his service fee this year rose to $US35,000. A lifetime right in that horse changed hands recently for more than 25 times the original price. Normally it would be just the stallion owner who profits from the early success of a stallion, but in this case so have those who supported him early.

  So what is in it for the stud? Aside from Hughes’ commitment to the breeder, and he is justifiably proud of the fact that Spendthrift has become known as ‘The Breeders’ Farm’, the program ensures good support for stallions just when they need it, in that vital first two years. 

  “This game is about early numbers,” Cuddy said. “That is where results come from.”

  As a flow on benefit to breeders it enables the stud to take a certain amount of risk with the stallions it stands, knowing that a new and attractive incentive is going to bring in the numbers. So horses from new sire lines (or new branches of proven lines) can be brought to Australia and already one such horse, Into Mischief’s son Can The Man is proving popular.

 “We have had great response to all of our stallions,” Cuddy said. “With the Medaglia d’Oro factor (his son Vancouver a brilliant winner of this year’s Golden Slipper) Warrior’s Reward (ex For All You Do by Seeking the Gold) has the most early bookings, but Can The Man is not far behind him.”

  A lightly raced winner of the Affirmed Stakes-Gr.3 (1700m), Can The Man (ex Smolensk by Danzig) hails from a family well known to Australian breeders with his third dam being the acclaimed matriarch 
Best In Show, also fourth dam of champion stallion Redoute’s Choice. Smolensk was a Gr.2 winner and Gr.1 runner-up and her dam Blush With Pride (Blushing Groom) won the Kentucky Oaks-Gr.1 and Santa Susana Stakes-Gr.1.

  Another advantage of Share The Upside, says Cuddy, is that it supports the mare owners at the lower end of the market. As a group they make a massive contribution to breeding. but as individuals they have been struggling with rising costs over recent years. Each breeder who gets out of the game is a loss not only to the sport but to studs who rely on them to help make their stallions, something Hughes noted in America.

  “That part of the market was really struggling in the US and it was the catalyst for Share The Upside,” Cuddy explained.
  Fortunately for Victorian breeders Hughes chose the former Yallambee Stud at Romsey as Spendthrift’s newest branch. Spendthrift Australia is something that excites Hughes who declared, “I like Australia, it is a country with an enthusiasm for horses that exceeds what we have in America. So we have bought a farm, we are not just standing stallions and leaving, we want to be part of the breeding industry, to be long term players.” n