By Nick Fortuna
As North America’s leading stallion for four years running, it’s no wonder Into Mischief is popular with thoroughbred breeders. But as Game of Silks nears its inaugural racing season, his popularity has carried over to the next-generation fantasy sports game, with players betting big on the sire’s continued success.
Progeny of Into Mischief account for three of the five highest prices paid for virtual thoroughbreds in the short history of Game of Silks. In 2023, owners of those NFTs will receive 1% of their horses’ real-world purse earnings, and that figure is expected to rise steadily in subsequent seasons.
Last year, Into Mischief set a record for a North American stallion with $28.1 million in progeny earnings, and Game of Silks owners want a piece of that pie. At an online auction last week, a juvenile filly by Into Mischief drew a final bid of 3 ETH, or $5,122, a record price for a Silks horse. NFTs in Game of Silks are purchased with the popular cryptocurrency Ethereum, the value of which constantly changes through 24/7 trading.
Launched last April, Game of Silks already is a top 10 sports-themed NFT platform on the Ethereum blockchain. The game’s first racing season begins in April, when this year’s crop of 2-year-old thoroughbreds begins competing.
Game of Silks tokenizes each registered thoroughbred into a digital collectible that can be bought and sold. As a dynasty fantasy game, Silks allows players to retain ownership of their horses for the duration of their racing and breeding careers, potentially earning rewards for a decade or more. Owners also are free to sell at any time. The New York Racing Association is a minority owner of Game of Silks.
With the spring sales of 2-year-olds in training still weeks away, Game of Silks owners looking to build a racing stable have been relying primarily on pedigree to evaluate horses. Under-tack shows and results from juvenile auctions will provide more useful data for Silks owners, many of whom are new to racing.
Players may “mint” an NFT from Game of Silks, meaning they’re randomly assigned a thoroughbred from the first Silks catalog, which includes all the horses born in 2021 that were entered in a public auction in the United States prior to publication.
Alternatively, players may buy and sell horses on secondary-market sites such as OpenSea. Game of Silks also has been holding weekly auctions on OpenSea featuring 10 randomly selected juveniles.
Last week’s auction featured the record-setting Into Mischief filly, who had sold for $1.15 million as a yearling. The NFT was purchased by a Silks owner who goes by the name “Charbo” on Discord, where the Silks community interacts daily. He’s a 52-year-old Oregon resident who produces and sells training materials for IT professionals.
“I was particularly excited to see a million-dollar horse in the auction,” Charbo said of his purchase. “Doubly so when I saw it was sired by Into Mischief, my favorite stud.”
The 2-year-old filly is the second foal produced by the unraced Irish broodmare Wildwood Rose, a daughter of the great Galileo. The second dam, Wildwood Flower, is a stakes winner who’s produced five winners, including Grade 1 winner Materiality and Grade 2 winner My Miss Sophia, who in turn produced Grade 2 winner Annapolis.
Earlier this month, Charbo paid 3 ETH, or $4,938.06 at the time, for a colt sired by 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner. That horse, named Normandy Landing, sold for $1.05 million as a yearling. His second dam, Flute, won the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes in 2001 and subsequently produced Grade 2 winner Filimbi.
Like Into Mischief, Gun Runner is proving a popular stallion with Silks owners. He got $14.7 million in progeny earnings last year to rank fifth among North American sires, an amazing accomplishment given that he had only two crops of racing age.
In January, an Into Mischief filly named Audacious sold for 2.5 ETH, or $3,950, a record price for a Silks horse at the time. The sale came a month after another Into Mischief filly named Shop Lifting sold for $2.5 ETH, or $3,270 at the time.
Audacious was purchased by Bill Sadoo, who lives near San Diego and works for FanDuel, formerly TVG. He previously worked for Penn National Gaming, and he cashed in last year’s National Handicapping Championship. A $700,000 purchase as a yearling, Audacious was produced by Veracity, a full sister to Cheery, a stakes-winning broodmare who produced the Grade 1-winning filly Elate.
Shop Lifting, who sold for $475,000 as a yearling, was produced by Miss Shop, a Grade 1 winner who earned $1.13 million.
Rounding out the five most-expensive horses in Silks history is a Constitution colt who sold for 2.1 ETH, or $3,466, in early February. That colt was produced by Sand Puce, a Group 2 stakes winner in her native Argentina, and sold for $700,000 as a yearling.
Other notable Silks sales include Bushin, a son of Into Mischief who sold for 2.2 ETH, or $2,593.84, in late November, when the value of cryptocurrencies had declined significantly. Bushin, an $800,000 purchase as a yearling, is a full brother to 2020 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Authentic.
The inaugural Game of Silks season begins April 7 with the opening of Keeneland’s spring meet, so more high-priced 2-year-olds are sure to change hands before then.
You can read more news on Game of Silks HERE