“We all know that older mares can “tail off” in the quality of their progeny, and there’s a logical explanation for this in the wear-and- tear which the womb’s endometrial lining suffers over the years. It’s obviously a relative thing, and applies more in some cases than in others, but there’s nothing in a stallion’s “seeds”, as far as we are aware, to explain the drop-off in his progeny performances.”
There are some fascinating things happening in the world of research right now, and thanks to geniuses like Bill Oppenheim, racing is getting its fair share as well. In part one of this article (click here to read), we told you we’d get back to you soon with Bill’s response to our question concerning the “tailing off” of aging stallions. This was our problem: “There is nothing we know of to explain this, not in genetics and not in the physical specimens we see on the ground among their progeny. We all know that older mares can “tail off” in the quality of their progeny, and there’s a logical explanation for this in the wear-and- tear which the womb’s endometrial lining suffers over the years. It’s obviously a relative thing, and applies more in some cases than in others, but there’s nothing in a stallion’s “seeds”, as far as we are aware, to explain the drop-off in his progeny performances. Of course, we all know we’re in the fashion business, and that older stallions may lose some of their commercial lustre (and hence the support of the best mares), but when you consider that the lofty likes of Sadler’s Wells and Mr. Prospector both suffered the same fate, that on its own is not a complete explanation.”
Bill Oppenheim is a restless man when it comes to stallions, and his curiosity knows few boundaries, he will keep digging until he strikes the mother load. Right now, he’s busy with another exercise, but in the process his team have come across some interesting spin-offs. His research in conjunction with one of our regular correspondents, the Argentinean breeder, Alberto Stein, (who’s made a big investment in the game at his Haras La Leyenda in recent times,) it seems they’re otherwise discovering some interesting data on the prospects of a stallion’s progeny improving their performance on the back of a lift in the quality of his mares. How often have we seen a stallion’s stats nosedive following an increase in his stud fee and the patronage of what are supposedly better class mares, rather than, as you would expect, a commensurate move in the opposite direction? So they’re not just investigating the phenomenon around the drop-off in performance of older stallions, but they’re looking at the correlation between the point at which a stallion begins to attract higher-rated mares (at higher fees) and the performances of the resultant progeny. Our betting is that there are a surprising number of stallions whose performance either drops off or remains static, against those that actually move up.
Founded many years ago by the Correas family, La Leyenda was home in the halcyon days of the international agricultural boom, to the grand English racehorse, Diamond Jubilee. A dual Classic winning brother to Persimmon, Diamond Jubilee carried the colours of King Edward VII, and was the first of a succession of English Derby heroes imported to Argentina in that era. He was a material contributor to the foundations of the modern South American thoroughbred. Alberto and Renata Stein made their fortune in the family steel business, and made their investment in the farm six years ago.
“Our goal is to combine the best Northern Hemisphere bloodlines and best equine management in the world with Argentina’s centuries old tradition of horsemanship and of raising some of the best horses in the world,” Alberto Stein said.
Dan Rosenberg, the former president of Three Chimneys Farm in Central Kentucky, is a director of the operation and helped secure the Southern Hemisphere stallion duties of the highly successful sires, Exchange Rate, Freud, and 2009 leading North American freshman sire Offlee Wild.
“We wanted to have a world-class operation, with the best management and facilities,” Renata Stein said. “That is why we have Dan Rosenberg in the U.S. and [stallion manager] Ricardo Correas as part of our team.”
“I am more than happy to be involved; I am thrilled to be involved,” Rosenberg said. “In addition to a good working relationship, I have formed a close personal relationship with Alberto, Renata and Ricardo. The project is challenging, exciting, and fun. I love Argentina and the chance to travel and to be involved with so many of the people in the industry I have met there is an added bonus.”
Before moving to La Leyenda, Correas was stud manager of La Mission stallion station in Argentina, having formerly worked at Harris Farms in California, as well as assisting trainer Charlie Whittingham in California.
“Breeding Thoroughbreds is my life - is my place in the world - and I don’t imagine doing any other thing,” Correas said. La Leyenda’s business plan involves two approaches to broodmares: It has acquired its own mares and entered into long-term foal-sharing arrangements involving mares owned by North Americans interested in Argentine racing.
The Steins vision for La Leyenda started to become reality in 2007 when they purchased 622 acres of land in Argentina with plans for a stud farm. They attended a breeding seminar in Lexington and visited farms throughout the Bluegrass before deciding to pursue a “breed-to-race” business model.
“The experience was excellent and really broadened our vision to understand how the industry works in the U.S. with its best practices and standards,” Alberto Stein said. Owners of mares based in North America participate in the La Leyenda program by having their mare covered by a Northern Hemisphere stallion on Southern Hemisphere time and then exporting that mare to La Leyenda for five years. The mare is bred to La Leyenda stallions during that time and the owner and farm share each foal. After five years, the owner takes back complete control of the mare.
“We have received a very positive response from stallion owners, and response from mare owners has been very strong as well,” Renata Stein said. “We have already seven mares from Winchell Thoroughbreds in foal to Tapit that arrived for the project. We also received six mares from Mt. Brilliant Farm for boarding, including one in foal to Medaglia d’Oro. Most of these people have experienced Argentina and love the country, its people, the quality of its horses, and the level of horsemanship.”
Extracts from Thoroughbred Daily News