Who Will Be the Leading First-Crop Sire?

In Thursday’s TDN, we talked to four top judges of equine talent who had a divergence of opinion on who this year’s leading first-crop sire would be. Who comes out on top in this edition?


Top Pick: Vino Rosso (Curlin–Mythical Bride, by Street Cry {Ire}). Spendthrift Farm, 2023 fee: $15,000.

Full disclosure, as a member of Team Repole that selected and raced Vino Rosso, I am obviously biased. However, I sincerely believe he will be the leading freshman sire. While he, as a Curlin, was slow-maturing and peaked as a 4-year-old, the 2-year-olds we saw this spring appear to be surprisingly precocious. If forced to recuse myself, my second choice would be Mitole. He was exceptionally fast and he should pass that speed on to his offspring.

Under-the-radar pick: Maximus Mischief (Into Mischief–Reina Maria, by Songandaprayer). Spendthrift Farm: 2023 fee: $7,500.

My slightly under-the-radar pick would be Maximus Mischief, a son of Into Mischief out of a Songandaprayer mare whose yearlings were well received.


Top pick: Vino Rosso

I’ll go with Vino Rosso. We broke a bunch of them at Mayberry’s. They were really smart, good-moving horses. They were kind of plainish, which you’d expect from the pedigree. But once you got them under tack and got them moving they were pretty impressive. I don’t expect them to win 4 1/2-furlong races at Keeneland or early in the Churchill meet, but by the time we get to Del Mar and Saratoga when the really heavy 2-year-old races start, he should get some winners. I can see him having a Breeders’ Cup winner. I know he developed a little slower, but they don’t look like horses that are going to take forever to mature.

Under-the-radar pick: Catalina Cruiser (Union Rags–Sea Gull, by Mineshaft). Lane’s End, 2023 fee: $15,000.

I really like Catalina Cruiser. He had brilliant speed and is a physically imposing horse who comes from a good family. We raised the horse at Lane’s End and we broke him at the Mayberry’s. We bought him for Mr. Hronis and John Sadler trained him. He was kind of an unlucky horse to not win a Grade I. He set a stakes record in the True North on Belmont weekend. That’s a race that has been around a long time. His offspring look the part; they look like their sire. We bought two at the 2-year-old sale and we bought a yearling by him, so we are supporting him. I could see him becoming a War Front or Distorted Humor-type stallion, a sprinter who had a lot of speed, maybe didn’t win at the top level but imparted their speed to their offspring. I can see him really, really making it in that mold.


Top pick: Mitole (Eskendereya–Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie). Spendthrift Farm, 2023 fee: $15,000.

My top pick is Mitole. I loved his babies at the recent OBS March sale. They look to be quick and early, but with quality and scope  enough to go on around two turns.

Under-the-radar pick: Vino Rosso

Vino Rosso will be my sleeper. By Curlin, you would think these need all the time in the world. However, it was really surprising to see several come out flying at the OBS March sale. Obviously, they will come alive the latter part of the year.  But don’t be shocked to see some early ones, too.


Top pick: Catalina Cruiser

We purchased a really sharp colt of his in March who is going to Cherie DeVaux shortly. We liked them as yearlings. They stand up in front of you with class and poise and are good-boned and athletic. Catalina Cruiser was also a similar racehorse to freshman sire favorite Omaha Beach in that he was effective both sprinting and routing. Those types tend to make the best stallions. I think he has a chance to make a good bit of noise this year.

Under-the-radar pick: Maximus Mischief

My under-the-radar pick is Maximus Mischief, who has the number power that Catalina Cruiser lacks. He bred 196 mares in his first year at stud, so he’s already emulating his high-volume sire and he has a close physical resemblance to Into Mischief as well. Several of his 2-year-olds sold well at March OBS. They are good movers and seem very sensible. Maximus Mischief was a very nice 2-year-old himself; some people forget he was one of the Kentucky Derby favorites before he got injured. Big upside.


Top pick: Mitole

My top pick for this year’s first crop sire is Mitole. His offspring were supported greatly at the yearling sales and he stamped them really well, showcasing them in all shapes and sizes. I personally purchased some for my clients to both race and pinhook. For a bubble-year horse whose book is full, that says a lot in itself. Trained by Steve Asmussen, for whom I have the utmost respect as a horseman and a person who needs no introduction, and being supported by Mr. and Mrs. Heiligbrodt in the breeding shed and at sales, connections who know how to win in all facets of life, I would have to imagine they’ll come out running this spring on the ultra competitive Kentucky circuit straight into the Saratoga summertime maiden races.

Under-the-radar pick: Flameaway (Scat Daddy–Vulcan Rose, by Fusaichi Pegasus), Darby Dan, 2023 fee: $7,500.

My under-the-radar sire is Flameaway, a son of Scat Daddy who is an absolutely stunning physical himself. He won races from distances of 4.5f to 1 1/16 miles and stakes on both turf and dirt. I feel as the year goes on, we will hear from Flameaway‘s offspring more and more.

In tomorrow’s TDN: more first-crop sire picks. Want to send in your selections? Email suefinley@thetdn.com.

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