Saturday’s Belmont Stakes wasn’t a victory for Mine That Bird, Calvin Borel or horse racing in general. And Summer Bird might have won the race, but the real winner might have actually been Marylou Whitney and Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky.
Well, Summer Bird and Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Birdcome from the same father, Birdstone, who won the 2004 Belmont Stakes. Birdstone is owned by Whitney and Gainesway Farms manages the breeding rights.
Having two of the horses from Birdstone’s first crop win Triple Crown races is quite an amazing feat, especially considering the fact that Birdstone’s stud fee is a measly $10,000.
But don’t expect that stud fee, even with the rough economy, to stay that low next season.
“I’d predict the stud fee will go up 250 to 300 percent,” said Greg Avioli, president and CEO of the Breeders Cup, which takes place at Santa Anita on Nov. 6 and 7, where Mine That Birdcould race again.
Antony Beck, president of Gainesway Farm, told us that he tends to “slightly underprice” stud fees because he takes a long-term view on the thoroughbred industry. By that, we trust Beck means that a slightly lower price makes it easier to get a more satisfied customer the next time around.
The odds of satisfaction from someone that got in on the $10,000 fee are obviously high. Gainesway Farm boasts on the front of its Web site that Birdstone is now “booked full” for the 2009 season, which Beck said includes breeding with about 100 mares.
The story of how Birdstone’s price was set at $10,000 is probably the best part of the tale.
Birdstone won the 2004 Belmont. His sire Grindstone won the 1996 Kentucky Derby. And Grindstone’ sire Unbridled won the 1990 Kentucky Derby.
“It’s the most unheralded, great family story you’ve ever heard,” Avioli said. “It’s like finding out that Michael Jordan and Dr. J were related.”
Despite the lineage, Birdstone’s stud fee plummeted because his father’s crop was a bust. With two wins in this year’s Triple Crown races, it’s clear that Birdstone will have a market value that once again relies on his great family history.
Beck said the stud fee price for Birdstone’s 2010 season will be set in October.
Said Beck: “It’s a fantastic thing for us that we have the blood back.”
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