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Bill's Columns

2018 ABC RUNNERS: INTO MISCHIEF TOPPLES THE GIANTS

Date: February 25th, 2019
By Bill Oppenheim
Into Mischief at Spendthrift Stud, April 2016.
Photo © Emily Plant
Into Mischief was a $180,000 OBS 2-year-old in 2007, bought by Spendthrift Farm owner B. Wayne Hughes and trained by Richard Mandella in California during the synthetic-track era; indeed, all of Into Mischief’s six career starts were on synthetic tracks at Hollywood Park or Santa Anita, and in fact in all six he was ridden by Victor Espinosa. After breaking his maiden first time out at 6 ½ furlongs during the old Oak Tree meet, in October, he ran second over seven furlongs in the G3 Hollywood Prevue, then bounced back with a surprise 13-1 win in the 1 1/16m G1 Cashcall Futurity, defeating Colonel John and running a Beyer 95. His three runs as a 3-year-old were all at seven furlongs; he returned in February with a second, to one Georgie Boy, in the G2 San Vicente, then was out until the fall, when he ran back-to-back Beyer 103’s in winning the Damascus S., but finishing off on opening day of the Santa Anita meet with a second to Bob Black Jack in the G1 Malibu S.
Curlin and Big Brown were the big names among the sires who went to stud in 2009, when the thoroughbred industry, like the rest of the world, was in the midst of the worst financial crash since the Depression, and there wasn’t overwhelming interest in Into Mischief when he retired to Spendthrift for a $12,500 fee. There were 41 foals in his first crop, his stud fee fell incrementally the next three years, to $7,500 in 2012, and his first four crops totalled only 139 foals – an average of under 35 foals per crop.
But speed is a dangerous thing, especially Storm Cat-line speed, and Into Mischief had several times run splits of :44 and change and 1:08 and change in California. It was Goldencents, from his first crop, bought for $62,000 as an OBS 2-year-old by Dennis O’Neill and trained by his brother Doug, who really put Into Mischief on the map, not just when he ran second to Shanghai Bobby in the G1 Champagne in just his second start, but almost more so when he won the then-$1 million G3 Delta Jackpot to make Into Mischief the #3 Freshman Sire of 2012. Goldencents went on to win the G1 Santa Anita Derby at three, and the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile twice, as a 4- and 5-year-old (and now has finished #2 on the 2018 NA Freshman Sire List). Into Mischief had small crops but good percentages out of ordinary mares. In fact, by the end of 2015, when his fourth small crop had finished racing as 2-year-olds, he had just for the first time edged above the requisite 200+ year-starters we use to calculate the top sires in the APEX tables. Into Mischief (4.07 A Runner Index at that time) scored second among 448 sires rated, splitting Galileo (4.09) and War Front (3.89). That’s when I said for the first time Into Mischief could be considered one of the top three sires in North America, alongside Tapit and War Front.
Into Mischief has now had three big crops of racing age, each of which is bigger than his first four crops combined; so his oldest ‘big-crop’ foals were 4-year-olds of 2018. He was North America’s Leading Sire of 2-Year-Olds with his first big crop, in 2016, and again in 2018; he was third in 2017. He ranked fourth in the 2018 General Sire List, and is fourth again so far in 2019. And from our perspective, just as great an achievement is this: He was the top North American and European sire of 2018 ABC Runners, with 58; Galileo was second, with 55, and Tapit was third, with 53. This is just the latest evidence that Into Mischief really is one of the top three sires in North America.
A total of 22 NA-EU sires had 30 or more ABC Runners (top 8% earners from all runners) in 2018, of which 16 stand or stood in Kentucky, and six in Europe – four of those in Ireland, two in England. These are the sires which are best at producing ‘break-even-or-better’ racehorses, though the discouraging finances of the racing business are such that ‘break-even-or-better’ refers only to training costs, not to purchase price.
After Into Mischief (58), Galileo (55), and Tapit (53), three other sires managed 40+ 2018 ABC Runners: Dubawi (44), Scat Daddy (42), and Kitten’s Joy (40). Candy Ride and Ghostzapper tied on 39, followed by three ‘younger’ sires, tied with 38, whose first foals, like Into Mischief’s, raced in 2012, the first of seven years counted in the year-end 2018 APEX ratings (so includes the entire sire careers of any sire F2010 and after), or later: F2010 Curlin, F2012 Quality Road, and F2013 Uncle Mo. War Front is next, with 37, ahead of Malibu Moon and Shamardal, with 35 each. Frankel, the leading F2014 sire with just first 4-year-olds 2018, had 34 ABC Runners last year, the same as ¾-brothers Invincible Spirit and Kodiac. Five American sires round out this list: Flatter and Speightstown (33 each), Street Sense (32), and Giant’s Causeway and F2012 Blame (30 each).
Among the F2014 sires (first 4-year-olds 2018), Frankel is of course miles in front, with 34. American sires The Factor (23), Bodemeister (21), and Union Rags (20) come next, followed by the only other European sire among this top ten, Nathaniel (15). Five American or ex-American sires were tied, with 14 ABC Runners each in 2018, though of the five, only two remain in Kentucky: Creative Cause and Tapizar. Gemologist has gone to Louisiana, Stay Thirsty to California, and Tizway to South Korea.
Camelot (22) tops F2015 NA-EU sires, as he does in all the ‘numbers’ categories, while Violence (18) was the top American sire. Here too there are a few defections, as both Declaration of War (15) and Shanghai Bobby (13) have gone to Japan, and Take Charge Indy (12) is another in South Korea. Still in Kentucky are Point of Entry (15), Flat Out (14), Paynter (12), and Animal Kingdom (11). Intello (13) was second to Camelot among F2015 European sires.
For more articles by Bill Oppenheim, APEX ratings, and Brianne Stanley’s Weekly Sales Ticker, please visit www.billoppenheim.com
LEADING NA-EU SIRES of 2018 ABC RUNNERS
1st Fls SIRE ST 2018 ABC
2010 INTO MISCHIEF KY 58
2003 GALILEO IRE 55
2006 TAPIT KY 53
2007 DUBAWI ENG 44
2009 SCAT DADDY DEAD 42
2007 KITTEN'S JOY KY 40
2006 CANDY RIDE KY 39
2007 GHOSTZAPPER KY 39
2010 CURLIN KY 38
2012 QUALITY ROAD KY 38
2013 UNCLE MO KY 38
2008 WAR FRONT KY 37
2001 MALIBU MOON KY 35
2007 SHAMARDAL IRE 35
2004 INVINCIBLE SPIRIT IRE 34
2008 KODIAC IRE 34
2014 FRANKEL ENG 34
2005 FLATTER KY 33
2006 SPEIGHTSTOWN KY 33
2009 STREET SENSE KY 32
2002 GIANT'S CAUSEWAY DEAD 30
2012 BLAME KY 30
LEADING F2014 SIRES of 2018 ABC RUNNERS
1st Fls SIRE ST 2018 ABC
2014 FRANKEL ENG 34
2014 THE FACTOR KY 23
2014 BODEMEISTER KY 21
2014 UNION RAGS KY 20
2014 NATHANIEL ENG 15
2014 CREATIVE CAUSE KY 14
2014 GEMOLOGIST LA 14
2014 STAY THIRSTY CA 14
2014 TAPIZAR KY 14
2014 TIZWAY KOR 14
LEADING F2014 SIRES of 2018 ABC RUNNERS
1st Fls SIRE ST 2018 ABC
2014 FRANKEL ENG 34
2014 THE FACTOR KY 23
2014 BODEMEISTER KY 21
2014 UNION RAGS KY 20
2014 NATHANIEL ENG 15
2014 CREATIVE CAUSE KY 14
2014 GEMOLOGIST LA 14
2014 STAY THIRSTY CA 14
2014 TAPIZAR KY 14
2014 TIZWAY KOR 14
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