An oasis of proven and potential stallion power in Saratoga Springs New York

November 23, 2021

Just five minutes from Saratoga Racecourse and the famous sales pavilion there is a farm with as much sire power potential as any breeder could want

McMahon Thoroughbreds in Saratoga New York has already had a Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner born there, and the best just could be yet to come

Racing began at Saratoga racetrack way back in 1863 but you get the feeling as soon as you enter the town that racing and thoroughbreds have always been part of it. The area has a history filled with famous and historic battles from the Revolutionary War. It was home to native American Indian Tribes including the Mohawks. The famous bridge which marks your arrival in the region if you are coming from New York City is named after them. Sports writer Red Smith once gave the following directions to Saratoga racetrack:

“Go north on the Thruway 170 miles, turn onto Union Avenue, and go back 100 years.”

While those directions would probably have gotten you lost in the pre navigation days, the thruway goes just so far until you have to jump on the Northway, at the time the going back 100 years was accurate. It is difficult to put Saratoga and it’s storied history into words. It is something you have to feel and you do when you get to the town. The feeling is amplified when you walk into the racetrack. It is a special place.

With all that history it is the thoroughbreds and the racing that have come to define Saratoga. The sales, the two-year olds, the Whitney, the Travers and the Alabama, they are what Saratoga is all about. It makes sense, it fits like a pair of the finest gloves, that a Kentucky Derby winner would be born there and that is exactly what happened at McMahon Thoroughbreds when Funny Cide was born. The New York Bred went on to win the Preakness and that year’s Eclipse Award for champion three-year old. McMahon Thoroughbreds is located just five minutes from Saratoga racecourse. It is owned by Joe and Anne McMahon who both have a long history of loving the thoroughbred and racing. Joe was actually a hot walker, groom and exercise rider. Anne exercised Joe’s first horse and the horse won. The farm was founded in 1971. With Derby winner Funny Cide being born there, along with Revolutionary War and Indian artifacts being dug up from time to time on the grounds, the future could not be brighter for this oasis of proven and potential stallion power.

To be a New York Bred the mare has to have the foal in New York. The program for New York Breds is a lucrative one and the state bred racing is extremely competitive. There are additional bonusus if you breed back to a New York stallion. New York Breds were considered to be at a disadvantage years ago when racing in open company. Those days are gone.

Central Banker

The proven stallion at McMahon Thoroughbreds is Central Banker. At present, he is the leading sire in New York and over one million dollars ahead of last year’s leader Big Brown. Central Banker was a Klaravich horse trained by Chad Brown for his racing career. He won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes and was second in the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita. At the end of his racing career Joe tried to buy him privately. The connections opted to roll the dice at the Keeneland Sale and Joe bought him for $400,000. Klaravich stayed in on the horse and bred Bullish Sentiment who produced Sassy Agnes, a Stakes winner of over 198k. He has sired Stakes winners Newly Minted and Bankit. By Speightstown, Central Banker has speed that can carry on the sire side. Brilliant speed that could carry actually. Gone West, Mr. Prospector, Raise a Native, and Secrettame. Old school class bloodlines that stand the test of time. Distance jumps out on the dam side with a Derby winner, Go For Gin and Belmont winner Stage Door Johnny along with Halo and Hail to Reason.

Although proven, Central Banker is a relatively young stallion with what should be a long career ahead of him. With the lucrative New York Bred programs, and better mares coming, his best can also be yet to come. I often handicap and discuss racing and breeding with my brother. One thing we both say often is the Speightowns run on anything and any distance. Long, short, turf, dirt or slop. They handle whatever you throw at them.

The potential in the oasis comes in Redesdale and Solomini. Two stallions that if not for some bad luck and one of the worst disqualifications and steward decisions in history, could have been standing in Kentucky for more money. This is the type of stallion value and potential someone with a good mare should look for. Both these new stallions can easily have higher stud fees down the line.

Solomini

A controversial steward’s decision affects the career of a stallion before it starts potentially to the benefit of breeders

Inconsistent, inaccurate and outright poor steward decisions have been an industry problem for a while now. Generally, it is a problem the industry fails to address and that is likely because on the surface it seems to primarily affect the bettors. That’s not true though. If you look at it a bit deeper, steward decisions affect owners, trainers, riders, and breeders. They make rulings with significant financial impact on participants in the sport with no accountability. The rules they follow are subjective at best, and not clear and indecisive at worst. It cost a horse a better placing, it cost the horse a chance at a better placing, out of the gate just about anything goes, and so on. What happened to the days when a foul was a foul? We can agree on whether a foul occurred often enough, the rest is just way too subjective and the inconsistencies we see from track to track, state to state, and even race to race are troubling.

The decision to disqualify Solomini in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity was not just controversial, it was bad and the wrong call. McKinzie the runnerup was already back in the barn when the stewards decided to change the order of finish. That decision impacted Solomini as a stallion. Had his number stayed up after finishing first, he would have been a Grade 1 winning son of Curlin, and worth perhaps 5 million? He would have probably stood in Kentucky for somewhere around $20,000. He stands in New York at McMahon Thoroughbreds for $6,500. For comparison, Good Magic and Bolt d’ Oro stand in Kentucky and their initial stud fees were $35,000 and $25,000 respectively. These three were also the Eclipse Award finalists with Good Magic getting the nod after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

I have often said if you can’t say something better yourself, use a good quote. The following is from a letter Bill Oppenheim of The Oppenheim Group sent to Joe McMahon:

Talking about Solomini he said:

” I consider him an excellent prospect, surely one of the best prospects ever to retire to New York. It’s no exaggeration to say had he not been controversially (and in my opinion, unfairly) disqualified from his win in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity he would be standing in Kentucky alongside the six other G1 winners by Curlin who were standing in Kentucky at the beginning of 2020 breeding season for five-figure fees ranging from $20,000 to $35,000.”

“Besides his form at two which entitled him to Eclipse Award consideration I’d like to comment also that Solomini possesses an excellent pedigree, as he is out of a Storm Cat half-sister to the successful Darley stallion Midshipman, as well as to the dam of the promising sire Frosted, and he descends from the family of another successful sire in Salse.”

Bob Baffert who trained Solomini and the benefactor of the disqualification McKinzie had this to say at the time:

“I didn’t think there was going to be a change, McKinzie had a rough trip around the first turn and he got a little tired at the end. It’s a long stretch and he hooked up with Instilled Regard early. Prat rode a great race just sitting behind them. Unfortunately, Solomini will lay on horses in the lane and you have to be careful with him. Prat might have gotten a little over aggressive. It’s really too bad they took him down.”

He was the better horse today.”

What better way than to see for yourself?

Redesdale

Redesdale reminds me of horses like Danzig and Hoist the Flag. brilliant, loaded with upside, but derailed by short careers. They make you think what could have been, and we never know how really good they were. More recently Maclean’s Music and Malibu Moon come to mind. Redesdale sold at Saratoga for $140,000, that is 56 times his stud fee of $2,500.

Redesdale’s two-year olds will hit the track next year. You have to think they will come out running.

For those that like to look at Beyers, Redesdale had them. He broke his maiden first out at Churchill Downs earning an 85 Beyer Speed Figure. Next out he won a non winners of one at the Fair Grounds earning a 91 Beyer. In his third start he won a non winners of two and his Beyer Speed Figure increased for the third consecutive time to 95. He was fast.

Redesdale went on to try graded stakes company in the Grade 3 Commonwealth at Keeneland. He finished 5th but was injured and subsequently retired. That win alone would have likely put him in Kentucky with a stud fee of around $15,000 or more. Redesdale earned a 91 Beyer in the Commonwealth where he made a winning move before suffering an injury to his knee. He is also by Speightstown and out of the very well bred and also fast Juddmonte mare Harpia, who was a full sister to Danehill, a 14 time champion sire from the immediate family of Northern Dancer and Halo. If his two-year olds are half as fast as he was, we can only guess what his stud fee will be going forward. Redesdale foals are averaging over $31,000 which is 12x his stud fee. A Redesdale yearling sold at Saratoga for $140,000, that is 56 times his stud fee of $2,500. Dean Reeves of Reeves Thoroughbreds was the buyer.

Take a look at some potential stallion power right here:

There is a lot to be excited about at McMahon Thoroughbreds. There is also a lot for Breeders to look at and consider five minutes from Saratoga Racecourse. Besides getting the potential for a superstar runner at a more than fair price, you just may kick up an arrowhead from the days of the Revolutionary War.

Benoit Photo: Solomini finishes ahead of McKinzie in Los Alamitos Futurity

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Jon Stettin

Jonathan’s always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. Growing up around the game, he came about as close as anyone...

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