Day At The Track

First season sire review - North America 2014

01:05 PM 16 Jan 2015 NZDT
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Sportswriter -  Dominated the Ontario Sire Stakes in 2014 Rocknroll Heaven - His fillies impressed in 2014 Rockin Image - Great debut season in Indiana
Sportswriter - Dominated the Ontario Sire Stakes in 2014
Rocknroll Heaven - His fillies impressed in 2014
Rockin Image - Great debut season in Indiana

The surprising thing when you look at the siring charts for the two-year-olds in the 2014 harness racing season in North America is the small number of new sires that cracked the top twenty list.

As the season is now history we thought it would be a good time to review the impact the new sires had and how we think they performed.

Only three stallions who were first season sires made last years top twenty list and they were:

Sportswriter -- 1:48.3 ($1,649,411)

Rocknroll Heaven -- 1:47.3  ($2,774,478)

Rockin Image - 1:48.2 ($903,424)

All three have plenty to recommend themselves as far as pedigree goes.

Sportswriter is by Artsplace from Precious Beauty 1:53 ($112,842) who has also left the top Art Major filly in Precocious Beauty 1:50.1 ($778,196)

Rocknroll Heaven is by Rocknroll Hanover from Artistic Vision 1:50.2 ($644,623) who is also the dam of Clear Vision 1:48.2 ($2,318,598)

Rockin Image is by Rocknroll Hanover from Kikikatie 1:50.3 ($1,415,566) whose five live foals have all gone in 1:50 or better

As they all stood in completely different states and sire stakes programmes it is hard to compare them and you end up having to make some judgments for better or worse.

Sportswriter

Stood his first season in 2011 in Ontario in the midst of the great broodmare exodus from Canada. With the access to the "pokie" money denied, there was a lot of doom and gloom in the Canadian breeding industry and a lot of the top end mares were relocated to the USA due to the fear that the  sire stakes programmes in Canada would be substantially reduced.

They still continue to race for great money and recents agreements mean the stakes are set to improve again

Even allowing for the problems at the time Sportswriter served a huge book of quality mares which resulted in a foal crop in 2012 of 154 (largest in North America) which raced as two- year-olds last season in Ontario.

They took the Ontario Sires Stakes programme by storm and dominated a lot of the races throughout the season.

His first season statistics make great reading

Foals -- 154

Starters -- 89

Winners -- 48

Sub 1:55 -- 21

Sub 1:53 -- 5

Total Stakes -- $2,489,354 

We thought we would take a look at the maternal families of his top five stake earners for the season to get a line on weather Sportswriter is lifting pedigrees.

Sports Chic 1:54.2 ($241,389) is from Vesta Blue Chip (unraced) who amongst her many winners has also left the champion mare Rainbow Blue 1:49.2 ($1,600,012)

Reverend Hanover - 1:51.1 ($218,500) is from Razzel My Tazzel 1:58 ($13,026) who already has four $250,000 earners but Reverend Hanover looks like he might be the best of them

Code One Hanover - 1:54.1 ($182,325) is from the very smart racemare Current Hanover 1:50.3 ($380,248) and is her second $100,000 winner to date

Sporting The Look - 1:53 ($178,594) is the fourth foal and best winner to date from the smart racemare Lyons Mandi 1:53 ($162,482) while the grand-dam is the talented Merci 1:55.3 ($264,938)

Bob Ben And John - 1:53 ($149,996) is from My Best Girl (lightly raced) who is a half sister to the top horse Calypso Beat 1:52.1 ($828,361) 

From that close look Sportswriter is obviously not hurting pedigrees.

The one negative and one that is repeated frequently to us when we talk to clients and owners in North America is his lack of a real superstar to go with all the winners.

Sports Chic finished 15th on the 2014 seasons money won list while Reverend Hanover finished 22nd on the same list so for Sportswriters two best winners to be so far down the list is a concern 

No Sportswriters were in the 2014 versions of the  Metro Pace or the She's A Great Lady Finals even though those races were in their backyard at Mohawk.

Reverend Hanover was a late arrival in the later part of the season who did look a touch special but never got the chance to prove it.

Comment - A great first season all round but did have several things in his favour namely the 154 foals and the lack of competition in the Ontario Sires Stakes programme means it is very hard to get a real handle on how Sportswriter stacks up.

The numbers on there own are great but he does need some grand circuit performers to emerge at three or the naysayers will be out in force. 

Rocknroll Heaven

When Rocknroll Heaven went to stud he did so with a fanfare not accorded many stallions. Everything about the horse suggested this was a horse that could be a great sire if you listened to a lot of the breeders and owners in North America. He had a great racetrack career to go with his looks and a maternal family to die for. His dam Artistic Vision had won $644,623 and taken a mark of 1:50.2 and had also produced Clear Vision 1:48.2 ($2,318,598)

Consequently he served a big book of the best mares in the standardbred world but that was balanced a bit in our opinion due to the fact that he stood at Blue Chip Farms in New York

That meant that his progeny would be in the same Sires Stakes programme as Art Major, Bettor's Delight and American Ideal.

Without doubt the toughest Sires Stakes programme to compete in during 2014 was New York so any success that Rocknroll Heaven had was going to be well earned. 

Rocknroll Heaven's first crop was noticeable for the fact that his best four performers were all fillies headed by the brilliant Sassa Hanover 1:50.1 ($485,591)

Foals -- 103

Starters -- 62

Winners -- 33

Sub1:55 -- 16

Sub 1:53 -- 3

Total Stakes -- $1,731,306

Again we have a look at the maternal families of the five biggest stakes earners  from his first crop

Sassa Hanover 1:50.1 ($485,591) is the first foal from Sayo Hanover 1:54.2 ($45,317) who is a half sister to Sharky Osbourne 1:49.4 ($900,660)  Shadyshark Hanover 1:47.4 ($771,172) and Shaky Hanover 1:51.2 ($500,189)

Band Of Angels 1:51.3 ($184,373) is from Time N Again 1:54 ($60,186) which makes her a half sister to the outstanding filly Romantic Moment 1:50.1 ($1,077,352)

Divine Caroline 1:53.1 ($142,597) is the second foal from Loving Caroline 1:52 ($197,059). The first foal is Aunt Caroline 1:51.3 ($230,382) while the second dam of Divine Caroline is Best Laid Plans 1:50.4 ($401,085)

Heavenly Bride 1:50.3 pl ($119,345) is the first foal from the former outstanding racemare in Native Bride 1:50 ($707,493)

Arque Hanover 1:52.2 ($66,820) is the first foal from A Pippin Hanover 1:52.4 ($104,230) who is a half sister to Appleoosa Hanover 1 52.1 ($519,187)

What is very obvious from just those five examples is the quality of the mares Rocknroll Heaven served in his debut season.

The performance of his fillies is a big bonus for breeders but there must be some concern that his best son only earned $66,820

Still his sons and daughters were racing in the toughest Sires Stakes programme on the planet so they performed creditably overall.

Comment - Given every chance to prove himself with the quality of the mares he served in his first season but more than delivered in the tough New York environment.

Able to produce a standout filly in Sassa Hanover (3rd on stakes won list) and several other smart fillies as well but the lack of a real top line colt is a concern.

Rockin Image

While not a real star on the track, Rockin Image was a very talented racehorse nevertheless. He won in 1:50.4 at two and 1:48.2 at three and banked $901, 756.

The big plus is a pedigree without peer with the dam Kikikatie 1:50.3 ($1,415,566) having the unbelievable record of all her five live foals having gone 1:50 or quicker and earned $3,098,977 between them.

Rockin Image ended up at stud at Victory Hill Farm in Indiana alongside the state's leading sire in Always A Virgin whose three- year-olds had such a great season last year.

He served a large book of good mares who while probably not in the same class as those mares served by Rocknroll Heaven, they have still got a lot of credits to their name with plenty of smart horses on the pedigree page.

Rockin Image had 107 foals in his first crop and they did a stellar job in their debut season in the Indiana Sires Stakes programme.

He had a good mixture of fillies and colts in his better performers and finished the season in 8th place on the North American 2 year old sires chart which was a great result for a stallion based in Indianna.

Foals -- 107

Starters -- 60

Winners -- 29

Sub 1:55 -- 19

Sub 1:53 -- 4

Total Stakes -- $1,339,063

Again we have a look at the maternal families of his five biggest stake earners.

Freeky Feet Pete 1:50.3 ($261,950) is from Skyway Lori 1:54.1 ($56,663) who  already has six $100,000 winners apart from this colt.

Rockin Good 1:53.2 ($181,250) is from Do Me Good 1:52.4 ($435,346) and the dam is a half sister to Another Mile 1:50.1($641,587) and Do Me Justice 1:53.2 ($412,844)

Camturo Rock 1:52.3 ($100,980) is from the smart racemare Camturo 1:52.2 ($190,715) and the dam is a half sister to Matt Damon 1:51.2 ($261.205)

Image Of Felicia 1:53.2 ($91,926) is from the smart racemare Keep Your Pans Off 1:51.1($298,441) who has three $100,000 credits as a broodmare including Pans Culottes 1:54.3 ($318,472)

Rock The Look 1:54.4 ($88,020) is from Halle Go Lightly 1:54.2 ($65,660) and the dam is a half sister to Trade Sign 1:50.4 ($484,030) and Whogoesfirst 1:49.3 ($357,325) while the grand dam is Go Lightly 1:53.4 ($242,666)

A nice group of mares who seem to have clicked with Rockin Image with most of these five on track to be the best winner produced by the dam. 

Freeky Feet Pete was the eight fastest 2 year old produced in North America last year and has the look of a horse who will be a great flag bearer for his young sire as a 3 year old.

Took the mantle of top 2 year old sire in Indiana off Always A Virgin at his first attempt, which given the success of that stallion on the national stage lately is no mean feat.

Comment  - Did a huge job when you take everything into consideration and to finish eighth overall in North America in season one from a base in Indianna is a great result.

Has smart fillies and colts and they seem genuine types which is a big plus.

We will surely see a couple of the Rockin Image's on the grand circuit as 3 year olds.

Harnesslink Media

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