Sunday, December 1, 2013

Germany's new stallion Maxios has maximum sire potential in his genes

It was announced today that Germany’s Gestut Fahrhof will stand an exciting new stallion in 2014: the Niarchos Family’s British-foaled Maxios, a quality racehorse and exquisitely bred son of Monsun who will cover mares for €10,000.

At two in 2010, Maxios won a debutant maiden race at Longchamp and the Group 3 Prix Thomas Bryon, his only starts that season and both over a distance of eight furlongs. He followed up on his promising start with a forgettable three-year-old campaign, in which he ran off the board in four-of-four starts -- a Group 3, Group 2, and two Listed events, from ten to 13 furlongs.

Returning at four, Maxios won half of his six starts, including the ten-furlong La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte-G3, and was placed second in the 12-furlong Grand Prix de Chantilly-G2. His breakout year was 2013, when as a five-year-old he won two Group 1s: the Prix d’Ispahan (nine furlongs) and the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (eight furlongs). He also won the ten-furlong Prix d’Harcourt-G2 and was second in the 11-furlong Prix de Ganay-G1.

Maxios’s sire Monsun (by Konigsstuhl) passed away in September of 2012 -- less than a week before Maxios’s Prix du Moulin win -- having made an indelible mark on the international racing industry with 98 stakes winners, equating to 14% of his foals. Where such a high percentage was once expected of top sires in the 1980s and 1990s, stakes-winners-to-foals figures in the teens is, without getting too involved in the discussion, a rarity with today’s breeding practices.

[As an aside, notable sires who stood in the ’80s and ’90s and up to the 2000s include: Northern Dancer (23% stakes winners), Blushing Groom (18%), Danzig (18%), Nijinsky II (18%), Nureyev (17%), Roberto (17%), Mill Reef (16%), Mr. Prospector (15%), Danehill (14%), Native Dancer (14%), Lyphard (13%), Riverman (13%), Sadler’s Wells (13%), Acatenango (12%), A.P. Indy (12%), Caerleon (12%), Caro (12%), Sir Tristram (12%), Storm Cat (12%), Alydar (11%), Sunday Silence (11%), Alleged (10%), Darshaan (10%), Kris S. (10%), Rainbow Quest (10%), Seattle Slew (10%), Irish River (9%), Konigsstuhl, (9%), Machiavellian (9%), Linamix (8%), Deputy Minister (8%), Halo (8%), Miswaki (8%), Montjeu (8%), Unbridled (8%), Zabeel (8%), etc. **This list is off the top of my head and not meant to be comprehensive!!**

Comparing Monsun’s figure of 14% to some top active sires of 2013, we find War Front, currently with 27 black-type stakes winners, at 11%; Distorted Humor, 10% (114 stakes winners); Speightstown, 10% (53); Dubawi, 9% (64); Galileo, 9% (154); Dansili 9% (86); Oasis Dream, 9% (74); Redoute’s Choice, 8% (108); Smart Strike, 8% (93); Deep Impact, 7% (37); Giant’s Causeway, 7% (136); Kitten’s Joy, 7% (41); Tapit, 7% (44); Unbridled’s Song, 7% (99; not an active stallion but included here because he has some crops yet to race); Awesome Again, 6% (53); Exceed and Excel, 6% (75); More Than Ready, 6% (120); and Fastnet Rock, 5% (52).]

All this is is a long-winded way of pointing out that Monsun, who stood at Gestut Schlenderhan, was an exceptional, very significant sire, although comparing the restrictive German market with the far broader English, Irish, and North American markets probably gives Monsun a bit of an advantage. Either way, 14% is major and Monsun left us with some decent sire sons in Samum, who has sired four Group 1 winners, and Manduro, with two winners at that level from three crops of racing age. Shirocco is also doing well, with 2013 British Group 2 winner Brown Panther.

Maxios comes from a powerful female family: his dam Moonlight’s Box is an unraced (due to a pelvis injury) daughter of Nureyev and French highweighted filly Coup de Genie, who won the Prix Morny-G1 and Prix de Salamandre-G1 against colts. Moonlight’s Box is also the dam of Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Bago (by Nashwan), a sire in Japan; and Listed stakes winner Beta (by Selkirk), a broodmare.

Coup de Genie with her first foal, the Nureyev filly Moonlight's Box.
Second dam Coup de Genie (by Mr. Prospector) produced four stakes winners: Denebola-G1 (by Storm Cat), Snake Mountain-G3 (by A.P. Indy), Loving Kindness-G3 (by Seattle Slew), and Glia (by A.P. Indy). Glia is the granddam of Emollient (by Empire Maker), who won three Grade 1 races in 2013.

Moonlight’s Box (aged 17 years) and Coup de Genie (22) are still actively producing -- each is the dam of a yearling filly by Galileo.

Coup de Genie is a full sister -- out of Group 3 winner Coup de Folie -- to champion Machiavellian, who like Coup de Genie won the Morny and the Salamandre; and Group 3 winner Ocean of Wisdom. Another full sister Houdini’s Honey was a winner and has produced two stakes winners, one graded, to date. Exit to Nowhere, an Irish River half-brother to Coup de Genie et al, won the Prix Jacques Le Marios-G1, and their half-sister Hydro Calido (by Nureyev) was a Group 2 winner and stakes producer. (There are three Thomas Bryon winners within the first three generations of Maxios’s family: Maxios, Nureyev, and Exit to Nowhere.) Machiavellian was a 9% sire with 71 stakes winners, including Street Cry (sire of U.S. Horse of the Year Zenyatta) at the forefront of his 13 Group 1/Grade 1 winners. Exit to Nowhere sired six group winners before his death in October of this year.

Machiavellian at Dalham Hall Stud in England in 1997.
Coup de Folie, the third dam of Maxios, was by Halo out of Raise the Standard (by Hoist the Flag), making her inbred 3x3 to Almahmoud (granddam of Halo and Raise the Standard). More significantly, Raise the Standard was a daughter of Natalma and thus a half-sister to Northern Dancer. Another direct female-line descendant of Natalma was the sensational sire Danehill (inbred 3x3 to Natalma, the granddam of his parents Danzig and Razyana). The dam of leading sire Halo was a half-sister to Natalma.

Monsun sired 14 stakes winners, including Maxios, out of mares from Northern Dancer’s male line. It will be especially interesting to see the result of Danehill-line mares crossed with Maxios. Monsun has four stakes winners (by either him or his sons) out of mares from the Danehill male line, and Maxios’s close relative Machiavellian has 15 stakes winners (all by his sons) -- including Melbourne Cup-G1 winner Shocking; Siyouma-G1; Nannina-G1; and December Draw-G1 -- bred on this cross.

Bago’s best foal is Big Week, Classic winner of the Kikuka Sho-G1 (Japanese St. Leger). Big Week was produced from a daughter of Sunday Silence -- whose sire Halo is from the same female family as Bago and Maxios.

Between Danehill, Northern Dancer, Halo, and even perhaps Machiavellian and Exit to Nowhere, there are many possibilities to tap into the quality in Maxios’s female family. Per a news item in the Racing Post, the Niarchos Family, who bred and raced most of Maxios’s above-mentioned relatives as far back as Nureyev and Coup de Folie -- either under the Niarchos name or nom de course Flaxman Holdings -- looks to be moving in that direction after purchasing French Group 1 five- and six-furlong specialist Gilt Edge Girl (her sire Monsieur Bond is a paternal grandson of Danehill) for 550,000 at Goffs in November, with intention of breeding her to Maxios.