We have mentioned more than once that starting a young mare off with a proven stallion is a tactic that makes the utmost sense in order to give her the best chance at beginning her breeding career with success. At the same time, finding an accomplished sire who is both still affordable and offers some commercial upside can be a tricky proposition, but we believe that we have found just that horse for Paluxy Princess’s 2018 date; she will be the second mare that we have booked this week to the brilliant Kantharos at Hill ‘n’ Dale.
As we mentioned in our write-up for the mating of Midnight Swinger, Kantharos won his three juvenile starts by a combined 28 and a half lengths, including the G2 Saratoga Special and the G3 Bashford Manor. Unfortunately, he was injured while preparing for the G1 Hopeful and forced to retire, which he did to Vinery in Florida, as his abbreviated race record and not-quite-commercial pedigree (which is also what limited him to a $250,000 purchase price at OBS as a 2-year-old) were not enough to find him a home in Kentucky right off the bat, despite his obvious talent and good looks.
As auspicious a start as he’d gotten off to during his racing career, Kantharos’s stud career began almost as impressively – he had 18 first-crop 2-year-old winners from 31 runners, putting him just narrowly behind Florida stalwart Wildcat Heir as the state’s leading juvenile sire. His first crop of 51 foals now contains 39 individual winners, including six stakes winners (12%), and he has remained almost as hot with his subsequent crops, with two stakes winners from 23 foals in his second crop, and five stakes winners from 70 foals in his third (through the end of their 4-year-old season in 2018). His total thus far of fifteen stakes winners from 220 foals aged 3 and up is good for 6.8%, which is an outstanding percentage in this big book era – especially in light of the fact that he’s achieved those results (and a 1.65 AEI) with mates good for just a 1.26 CI.
As early as the beginning of 2016, when his first crop had just turned 4-years old, Kantharos had been identified as a stallion on the rise, and the “best value sire on the planet,” given his high percentage of good winners from fairly modest, regional mares. His continued success that year resulted in his relocation from Florida to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm in Kentucky for the 2017 season, where, despite a fee increase from $5,000 to $15,000, he was still deemed an excellent value by pundits as well as, apparently, by breeders, who sent him more mares (155) than he’d covered in any season previously. Runners by Kantharos continued to have success in 2017 and thus far in 2018 to such a degree that he has again been identified (by us in a blog post, as well as by more recognizable commentators) as a value sire for 2018.
Nor have the Kantharos offspring been as fragile as he himself was, his runners thus far averaging more than eleven starts apiece (including the stats for his just-turned 3-year-olds), and they have not been flashes in the pan either, as his Graded stakes winners Bucchero, X Y Jet and Mr. Jordan have all won or placed in stakes races this season as 6-year-olds (X Y Jet having run a close 2nd this past weekend in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen for the second time). Kantharos’s runners have also been able to run farther than might have been expected, with Mr. Jordan and Ancient Secret both taking Graded stakes around two-turns (on dirt and turf, respectively).
Kantharos has obtained solid sales results with his offspring as well, with 23 of his 28 yearlings offered in 2017 averaging $40,957, with an impressive median of $40,000, including a $130,000 filly at the Fasig-Tipton July sale. And this year he’s already had a $410,000 2-year-old colt (to Rockingham Ranch) and a $130,000 2-year-old filly (to Eclipse Thoroughbreds) at the OBS March sale – all of these results coming from a crop conceived at just $5,000 while he was still in Florida.
As for why Kantharos fits Paluxy Princess specifically, most immediately she is a daughter of the incredible Horse of the Year and leading sire Ghostzapper, whose top produce as a broodmare sire so far (though it’s still quite early days for Ghostzapper in that regard) is the Eclipse Champion Sprinter Drefong, by the Tale of the Cat son Gio Ponti (Tale of the Cat being the grandsire of Kantharos). Ghostzapper is also the broodmare sire of one of 2018’s most hyped sophomores in the so-far-unbeaten Justify, who is also by a Storm Cat-line stallion (Scat Daddy) and currently features among the favorites for this year’s Kentucky Derby despite having only made two lifetime starts, neither of them prior to this year or in stakes company.
Kantharos already has a stakes winner out of a mare by Ghostzapper’s sire, the Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 winner Awesome Again (namely Cajun Delta Dawn, who won the first four starts of her career at 2, including a pair of Florida Sire stakes), and all eight of the foals by Kantharos out of mares by sons of Deputy Minister, ages 3 and up, have won. Kantharos’s sire, Lion Heart, also had excellent results with Deputy Minister-line mares, products of that cross including Grade 3 winner Agave Kiss, plus stakes winners Touch Magic and Lion D N A. Meanwhile, Lion Heart’s sire, Tale of the Cat, has gotten Grade 2 winners Overdriven and Benzini, plus a couple other stakes winner, from Deputy Minister-line mares, and the aforementioned Champion Drefong is by a son of Tale of the Cat out of a Ghostzapper mare.
The broader cross of Storm Cat-line stallions with Deputy Minister-line mares has been strong, adding Group 1 winner (and recent Grade 2 winner at Gulfstream for Todd Pletcher) Hi Happy, plus four additional G1 winners among no fewer than 63 total stakes winners. And as well as Ghostzapper mares have worked with Storm Cat-line stallions so far, the reverse cross has also been a solid one, accounting for Grade 2 winners Go Maggie Go (out of a daughter of Tale of the Cat) and Faypien.
As far as Paluxy Princess’s female family goes, it, too, has had success with Storm Cat-line stallions. Paluxy Princess herself is a half-sister to a pair of winners by the Storm Cat sons Stormy Atlantic and Hennessy. Then there is Goin Bear, who is closely related to Paluxy Princess’s dam, Bonnie Bear, in that both are by Gone West while Goin Bear is a half-sister to Bonnie Bear’s dam, Lure the Bear; Goin Bear produced the eight-time winner and multiple stakes-placed Stormy Going when mated to Stormy Atlantic. Another half-sister to Lure the Bear is Stormy Bear, by Storm Cat himself, and while she did not race, she has produced the stakes winner and multiple Grade 1-placed Mr. Z, along with a pair of stakes-placed winners.
So there is plenty to recommend this mating on paper, and, physically, Kantharos and Paluxy Princess are an excellent case of like-to-like, both being slightly close-coupled horses with plenty of leg.
With his increased recent support, both in terms of quantity and quality, we believe that Kantharos is well on his way to enhancing his status as a successful and representative member of the Storm Cat male-line, and he makes a perfect cross for a young Ghostzapper mare.
Kantharos wins the G2 Saratoga Special
Kantharos wins first-time out at Churchill Downs
Cajun Delta Dawn, by Kantharos out of an Awesome Again mare, wins the Susans Girl Stakes
Justify, by a Storm Cat-line stallion out of a Ghostzapper mare, completes the 2018 Triple Crown
Drefong, by a son Tale of the Cat out of a Ghostzapper mare, wins the G1 Breeders Cup Sprint
Overdriven, by Tale of the Cat out of a Deputy Minister-line mare, wins the G2 Sanford
Kantharos’s sire, Lion Heart, wins the G1 Hollywood Futurity