Posts Tagged ‘Santanna Blue Chip’

It is hard enough to breed for yearling sales, and even harder when the time gap between decision making and bid is about 2.5 years apart – a timespan when trends change, reputations are made or lost, freak 2yos appear or not, and stakes can encourage or totally turn off buyers.

Add into that volatile mix the situation where the sire of the horse you breed suddenly vanishes from the scene.

Oh oh.

The sires that have been affected by change of situation recently include three from Alabar – Jereme’s Jet, Santanna Blue Chip  and Real Desire – and Shark Gesture, Stonebridge Regal, Rob Roy Mattgregor, Four Starzzz Shark.

The reasons for their absence is varied but the affect on the breeder of having a sire not currently available when the yearling is being sold – well, that’s a major hurdle.

Alabar in particular committed to advertising support this time around, and that was a very helpful gesture. The fact remains: absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes horses less desirable because at a very basic level there is a perception that “he didn’t work out as a sire here”.

The best result for the vendor then depends on individual outstanding types and really strong families. In my own case, I got a stunning price for my Real Desire colt, far and away beyond what other very nice Real Desires I saw at Karaka and Christchurch got. He was a beautiful type of yearling, but not so incredibly far ahead of some others by the same sire – I was really impressed by ones like Goforjack from the very good mare Laurent Perrier, for example, but he struggled to get a bid at $14,000.

The averages for Real Desire yearlings were skewed by the $84,000 for one sale, so better to look at each sale separately. At Karaka 4 sold and 3 were bought back, for an average sale price of $26,500, but if you take out the top lot, the average was just $7,333. At Christchurch he had 15 yearlings sold and 9 bought back, for an average of $14,033.  All the Karaka lots that were bought back or passed in without a bid were fillies, and the fillies at Christchurch also struggled to get decent bids.

Look at the length of  body in Real Desire’s progeny; it’s something Real Desire often stamps, along with legs that reach. His record is good, from a career that means there is a lack of young racing stock at the moment. He had 152 live foals in 2008, was absent the next year, 51 live foals in 2010, 37 in 2011, and these yearlings were from his biggest crop of 159 live foals in 2012, when the performance of his earlier foals encouraged breeders to go again. He was missing again last year and I doubt he will be back unless these yearlings jump out of their skins.

I asked around quite a few buyers, trainers and breeders what it was about Real Desires that put people off, what the problem was. And the answer was never specific – often along the lines of “I don’t see anything wrong with them myself but a lot of people don’t like them.”  Nothing tangible. In fact a lot of them spoke favourable about specific Real Desires they knew or had trained.

On type, I really liked what I saw of the Shark Gestures. They look bigger, bolder types that could need time, but wow they looked strong and handsome. What a horse he was, from a juvenile to older racehorse! And a strong pedigree. Now he is based in Ohio, but the one year he was available via Wai Eyre Farm was an opportunity missed by many, and I believe those breeders who took that opportunity were hard done by at the yearling sales. I will follow them with interest.

Jereme’s Jet is another matter, and I will delve into that over the next month. Like many (when I saw his big bum and strong but more compact body) I thought he might be leaving those early sprinty types. He’s not really, but his statistics are showing something really interesting. More on that later. Suffice to say, there were several Jereme’s Jets who really caught my eye and some astute buyers got them cheap.

I have also covered Santanna Blue Chip previously so won’t go over that ground except to say that his 5 yearlings for sale across both North Island and South Island yearling sales went for $3000-$11,000, including one passed in on vendor’s bid. And yet he is a sire that stamps an attractive athleticism on his foals, but perhaps not the strong bold look some buyers are wanting.

Below are some photos of the yearlings by Real Desire and by Shark Gesture, who was here one minute, gone the next.

In all cases, I did not inspect the yearlings so there may have been reasons why the prices were so low, other than the commercial appeal of the sire himself – but many of these sires struggled to attract competitive buying interest in the ring, in spite of looking the part.

I think that is a huge shame, the often the vendor is not getting a price the individual yearling deserves. And if that individual is a filly, of course that immediately reduces the value as the sire’s ability to produce good race fillies is one big question mark. Having said that, it is interesting to see the prices paid for bold types, like a couple of the Shark Gesture fillies, held up relatively well.

Photos below of some Real Desire, Shark Gesture and Santanna Blue Chip yearlings.

Some of the  Real Desire yearlings at the 2014 sales:

LOT 111 Real Desire  colt from the wonderful Twice As Hot/Twice As Good family - he was bought back as a vendor bid for just $11,000 after not meeting the reserve.

LOT 111 Christchurch, Real Desire colt from the wonderful Twice As Hot/Twice As Good family – he was bought back as a vendor bid for just $11,000 after not meeting the reserve.

Lot 123 a Real Desire colt  from All My Art, the dam of Ohoka Nevada, et al. He was bought for $6000.

Lot 123, Christchurch, a Real Desire colt from All My Art, the dam of Ohoka Nevada, et al. He was bought for $6000.

Lot 313 Goforjack Real Desire colt from the lovely broodmare Laurent Perrier, the dam of the great Lancome. He was bought for just $14,000.

Lot 313 Christchurch, Goforjack Real Desire colt from the lovely broodmare Laurent Perrier, the dam of the great Lancome. He was bought for just $14,000.

Some of the Shark Gestures:

Shark Gesture yearling colt

Lot 99 Christchurch, Shark Gesture colt bought for $8000

Shark Gesture yearling filly

Lot 191 Christchurch, Shark Gesture filly from Holmes Hanover mare Electrify, dam of Lochinvar, was sold for just $3000.

Lot 102 Christchurch, a lovely Shark Gesture filly from an In the Pocket mare,  sold for $11,500

Lot 102 Christchurch, a lovely Shark Gesture filly from an In the Pocket mare, sold for $11,500

One of the Santanna Blue Chip yearlings:

Santanna Blue Chip filly yearling

Lot 95 at Karaka,  Santanna Blue Chip filly from Erinyes bought back at $6000

Santanna Blue Chip yearling colt

Lot 109 Christchurch, Santanna Blue Chip colt from Dream Bel family




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I thought I should add a few stats on how Santanna Blue Chip has performed in New Zealand as a sire – and perhaps someone can do the same as a blog comment for the Australian bred foals.

Right now he’s had 22 qualifiers for 10 starters and 4 winners (oldest are 3yos) – being Three Blind Mice (now in Australia), I Smart, Carlos Santana, and Hear The Call (exported to Australia). There would be another couple in Mullinalaghta Lad and Macey Blue Chip who are not far away, which would make his percentages quite respectable for a new sire. None of them have blown us away, but they are showing some toughness.

Surprisingly for me, only a few of his qualifiers are out of In The Pocket, none from In The Pocket sons. I would have thought we would see Matt’s Scooter on the maternal line as an opportunity? But it is a wide mix of mares, not uncommon scenario for a middle range new sire, as breeders search for what their mare needs. His best performer as a 3yo in North America was Windsong Jack, who has won almost $300,000 and is by a Million Dollar Cam mare. That mare has both Jate Lobell and Die Laughing in her pedigree close, which Australian mares echo perhaps, rathe than New Zealand?  But one swallow doesn’t make a spring I guess.

For New Zealand? Well, its all too late, but if I was looking now I would say good scenarios with this particular sire would have been McArdle, Mach Three and Grinfromeartoear. And I’m wondering why owners/breeders aren’t looking harder at the younger mares they have who have remarkably good genes as broodmares.

But that’s another blog, which is coming up on NZ yearling sales damsires.

Santanna Blue Chip live foals numbers were 52, 65, 46 in his first 3 years, and the results are not in from this season’s foals of course – where, incidentally, he served by far his biggest book (at 114). These are very typical stats for an imported horse that comes without heaps of hype but a very good record and suitable pedigree. They have to get enough mares to make their own niche as a sire. The same is true for our own locally bred sires. Getting 40 to 60 mares is a basic requirement, just to end up with enough foals on the ground from a range of mares to give the sire any sort of chance. A good sire will capitalise on that, but often that’s only clear after the 3yo season is done and dusted. A glamour 2yo is a huge bonus, but from a small number of foals it is potentially labelled “just a freak”.  The fact that his bookings went up again is interesting. Breeders seemed to be liking what they saw.

Santanna Blue Chip obviously still has the will and ability to race and win, and the future may lie in him becoming a really good all-aged racer, like Mister Big and others have done. A reputation won twice,  but perhaps indicating qualities of toughness, enduring competitiveness and soundness which will also stand his foals in good stead.

So his “retirement” back to the racetrack is both a blessing (if he really does well) and a pain-in-the-butt for breeders, especially those who are just getting foals on the ground. Marketing: “He’s a wonderful Dad, but he pissed off when I was just a baby and went back to a life of adventure and competition. I don’t think Mum misses him, but I might at Sales time.”

I know how you feel. I went to Real Desire, like many others, only to find he’s been withheld by North American owners (for the good of the horse, I give them credit). But shuttle sires like Real Desire, Santanna Blue Chip and Jereme’s Jet are always going to vulnerable to a change of mind/circumstances and suddenly disappear from the market. It’s frustrating, but that’s life.

We need to retain confidence in the sires and our foals until time (rather than this year’s sales prices) really tell the story.

Shuttle sires are “flotsam and jetsam” on the sea currents of a fickle standardbred market.

As breeders we need to be very canny “beachcombers”.

Who knows when we will find the sire that is ambergris – and particularly ambergris for our mare?

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In case  you misssed it, Santanna Blue Chip, a very well performed son of Art Major, has not performed well enough in the competitive North American market to warrant keeping him standing as a sire. So he has been working up again as race horse, and winning!

See article  and  video of his qualifying trial  and  another article  from Canada where he is now racing.

What effect does that have on breeders here who have gone to him as a sire? It leaves you a bit stranded. But don’t panic. The fact is he has not produced the 2yo excitment machines that a sire must have to make his commercial mark and this creates difficulties for you as a breeder/owner.

In New Zealand we often stand back from new sires, so he has taken time to even get a foothold. He was not available this year and will no longer be a “Sales” sire although a great individual type can still sell well.

But that doesn’t mean that your foal/yearling/2yo/3yo can’t run. The sire has some great genes, and is a very athletic horse. He was competitive with Somebeachsomewhere (who has young progeny that have some very good Downunder trainers scratching their heads, by the way).

Santanna Blue Chip Alabar Parade NZ

Santanna Blue Chip – handsome and athletic at the Alabar Parade a few years ago.

Personally, I think Santanna Blue Chip’s pedigree may be better suited to our Direct Scooter line here, which he has through his maternal side and of course we do too, and through the best local siring lines as well. Or maybe, like so many excellent top racehorses, he lacks the dominant siring gene that stamps progeny with the very things he did so well. That is such a tall order. Very very few stallions have it, or have the luck to find the mares they need to show it.

The standards for commercial sires is brutal and quick, but hindsight shows time and certain nicks can produce very good individuals – or that the sire fits a particular niche in breeding/training that is really important. I would class Elsu in that latter category. Not a sire of Group 1 horses but great bread and butter horses for owners and trainers who want horses that try hard and are consistant and willing, and increasingly showing up some classy types. Bread and butter makes a great pudding!!  (A tip o’ the hat to Richard’s wife Barbara who makes great B&B Puddings he says).

I was in the same position when Island Fantasy (great breeding, good race results, handsome sire) was a potential sire, only to find he was gone and I was left with a pretty but not commercial yearling. It’s part of the learning curve.

In the end, the individual horse will perform or not. If you have a nice type by Santanna Blue Chip, don’t be afraid to feel positive about that horse. Put into it what you would if the sire had been top of the siring pops in North America.  Because it’s different here, and each horse has it’s own ability, with 50% coming from your mare.

I saw Santanna Blue Chip at the Alabar parade a few years ago (see photo) and thought he was a very athletic and handsome individual. And the few yearlings I’ve seen at Karaka Sales were lovely types. It all just shows how damn hard it is to get even a foot hold into a market that makes unreasonable demands and rewards only those few who have the genetics and luck to become successful sires.

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A great sunshiney day and a good turnout at Alabar’s Waiau Pa property.  You’d have to be a bigger risk taker than I am to pinhook in the current economic climate, particularly weanlings that are from okay but not recently performing families, and you would need to look for potential to develop into a standout individual over the next 10 months, regardless of breeding. That’s a real gift! However weanling sales do offer the opportunity for owner/trainers to pick up something at a very reasonable cost and have a go. The cheaper initial cost takes some of the pressure off and gives leeway to let them develop at their own pace. Kym (who has an eye for young horses and their potential that I will never have) has bought three weanling fillies from the Alabar draft over the past couple of years, and all are developing nicely. It was interesting to see their half sisters/brothers as part of this year’s weanling draft.

I did my usual first walk around the weanlings “blind” i.e. picking out what appeals on type before I know what the breeding is.  I don’t judge on size until I can check the foaling dates, as there were some very early and several late foals in the mix.

Lot 32 weanling sale at Karaka 2012

Lot 32, Art Major-Heather Laurique filly

Overall, I came up with number 32, an Art Major filly out of Heather Laurique as my top choice – she’s a December foal and so lacks size but was attractive, nicely proportioned, lovely neck and head. She had a spring and energy about her – an athletic type (photo).  I would not normally seek out Art Majors as a personal preference, so it was interesting to find I’d picked her! At the other end of the spectrum in looks, but almost as appealing to me, was number 8, a Real Desire filly out of an American bred mare. A late October foal, she was already showing size and had good strong body and legs, but I reckon she will go through a tall and lanky stage before maturing and probably not a truly early type even though she might get up and running at 2. Compared to 32 she was a plain type, but from the brief encounter I would say she’d have a good temperament.  Number 4 is the Santanna Blue Chip filly out of Alta Magari I mentioned in my last blog – she was smaller than I expected although not a late foal – the dam’s influence perhaps, but very correct.

Lot 21

Lot 21, Shadow Play-Dunbeath colt

Of the colts, I’d take home number 16, a lovely compact but strong looking Grin, and number 21 a Shadow Play out of a Falcon Seelster mare. But there were several colts – and particularly some of the Santanna Blue Chips – that were very appealing.

In fact the overall impression of the Santanna Blue Chip weanlings was  favourable. I thought they looked good correct types, straight in the leg, decent length of body and upstanding.

Lot 25 Shadow Play – Esha colt

Shadow Plays were also on my list to check out on type – overall they looked a finer,  perhaps athletic type. Not leaping out at me in the same way that most of the Santanna Blue Chips did. Number 25 was a stockier, more solid type and an earlier foal than some of the other Shadow Plays. He has thrown in markings to his damsire Elsu (including a blaze) and perhaps Elsu mares will give a bit more ‘solid body’ to their foals.

The sale itself is on this Sunday 20 May when offerings from Woodlands and others will join these weanlings – and of course some mixed aged horses/broodmares.

We are not buying this year, and I may not make it to Karaka this time, but I welcome any comments and observations from those who do.

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These sales are a great opportunity for those looking for value. They lack the hype of the yearling sales and therefore both the vendor and the buyer are likely to have more realistic expectations.

At these sales you can also see some of the new sires’ foals in larger numbers than many of us might normally – especially in the North Is where Alabar uses this sale rather than the more risky yearling sales to showcase and move on its young stock. The Alabar inspection day is on Saturday 5 May, and there were plenty of people taking advantage of that last year.

I’ll be particularly interested in looking at Shadow Play’s and Santanna Blue Chip’s weanlings, and checking if some of the other sires are starting to show any signs of ‘throwing to type’ that I noticed from prior weanling and yearling sales.  The filly by Santanna Blue Chip out of Alta Magari looks striking in the photo, but there is nothing like seeing these little ones in the flesh. Overall, the Santanna Blue Chips look very nice types. I’m not an expert judge at all (far from it!), but I like to get an overall impression built up from as many individuals as I can see, rather than base my views on a few horses I might know.  At the inspection day,  I can ask the Alabar crew about the weanling’s dam to find out what she might have added to the mix – they are a really helpful, friendly team up there.  Of particular interest to me will be the Gotta Co Cullects, as I am so impressed by the sire and his weanlings/yearlings to date and now have a half share in a filly we picked up at last year’s weanling sale and is breaking in nicely.

In the all aged category, the 2yo Grinfromeartoear filly Provocative could be a good sneaky bid if you want something ready to run – she was unwanted at the yearling sale last year in spite of being a nice type (I recall her in the ring and wondered why she was not attracting more bids, but the Grins aren’t sexy at the sales), and was bought back by the Barlows for about $9000 – and they persuaded Linda Hamilton to take her, with Steven Argue doing the breaking in and training. She qualified nicely enough as a 2yo at Franklin, long before many of the other pricier sales yearlings have made it to the track. Grins tend to need time and can be a little one dimensional in their racing until they mature mentally and strengthen, but those that have natural ability can hold speed and are tough minded – and this filly is from the same family that produced Charge Forward and Covert Action, both Grins of course.  The pedigree match refers in some really nice ways to great mares Breath of Spring, The Old Maid and therefore Spinster, and Grin’s Storm Damage damsire provides the close up footnote to those – one of the things I really like about Grin from a genetic perspective, pulling older references back into the pattern (see my blog on fairisle knitting!)

The South Is sale is much more oriented to broodmares with a bit of a clean out occuring.  I would be interested in getting comments from those in the South Island who can assess some possible nuggets amongst those horses on offer.

More from me – and hopefully others who want to comment – after the Alabar inspection day and sales days.

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