The importance in thoroughbred racing eventually comes down to breeding, and for nearly a decade this section of the sport had been suffering since the economic downturn of 2007. That’s why it was such a pleasant surprise to see the emergence of Uncle Mo and his first fleet of sons. The only stud you ever heard about was Tapit, widely considered the most important stallion in the United States.
That is starting to change. American Pharoah is charging an ungodly $200,000 stud fee and has already grossed $20 million in his first year of retirement. We are still a few years out from seeing what his offspring are actually capable of, but there is an obvious desire to diversify and broaden the champion bloodstock available in the United States.
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This is where Uncle Mo comes in. Though history will reflect an unremarkable racing career that included wins at the Wood Memorial and a 10th place finish at the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Mark Repole product was badly injured during the Triple Crown lead-up despite emerging as one of the top contenders. Five years after he was supposed to become one of the sport’s legends, the now eight-year old horse is becoming one of its most important.
Nyquist is one of Uncle Mo’s sons and the three-year old champion is perhaps the most talented in his class. The Kentucky Derby winner also had two half-brothers in the race, including Outwork and Mo Tom. The former is now retired after a 14th place finish at the derby, while Mo Tom finished a very respectable 8th overall in that same race. The value in getting Outwork to stud early will soon be seen as WinStar Farms looks to stretch the bloodstock of Uncle Mo further and further.
This may not feel like the most important element of the 2016 Triple Crown, but make no mistake about how crucial this turning point is in the sport. We have been searching for more, quality sires and Tapit has essentially been the only one of note for so many years. With Uncle Mo and American Pharoah suddenly producing, the sport is in a better overall spot than it was at this time last year.
It’s no secret that thoroughbred racing is struggling to hold its footing. Mainstream appeal continues to peak and value from year to year, financial problems have cursed the sport in certain states and there is a lack of depth across the country when it comes to filling out all the age and surface categories that tracks try to populate. An increase of high quality contenders is the frame that all of these elements exist within, and the foundation underneath is the stallions which produce those horses.