Regardless of what measure you use to take stock of a competitive, diverse group of freshman sires in 2018, Spendthrift Farm comes out on top. Cross Traffic and Goldencents, both of whom retired to the Kentucky farm for 2015, finished atop the earnings list, with bankrolls of $2,115,603 and $1,395,833, respectively.
Goldencents, the heir apparent to Spendthrift's leading sire Into Mischief, recorded far more individual winners than any freshman, with 29, compared to 18 for Cross Traffic. But one of those winners for the latter was Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies heroine Jaywalk, whose multiple Grade 1 victories rang up to the rung of more than $1.3 million. Still, Cross Traffic was far from a one-hit wonder, with five black-type stakes winners compares to two for Goldencents.
Cross Traffic is by the late Unbridled's Song, who thus far had been disappointing as a sire-of-sires. Still, many experts have noted that Unbridled's Song got better mares later in his career, and the majority of those resulting stallions, perhaps the stallion's best sons, are just coming to stud now. This is borne out by Cross Traffic and by champion Will Take Charge, who finished fifth on this earnings list for Three Chimneys - and the latter's foals are likely to develop this coming season, as their sire did. With Liam's Map coming up on his first crop of juveniles and Arrogate's first foals about to arrive, Unbridled's Song's branch of the Unbridled line could be ready to take off.
Following Cross Traffic and Goldencents on the freshman earnings list is Airdrie's Cairo Prince, at $1,246,865 from runners including Grade 3 winner Cairo Cat. Cairo Prince's commercial results indicated that the industry thought highly of this young stallion - and, being by classic influence Pioneerof the Nile, he would seem to have continued potential this year.
Grade 2-winning sprinter Central Banker, who stands for McMahon of Saratoga, did well both with his New York-breds and in open company to finish fourth on the list at $1,023,308. He was followed by Will Take Charge, Noble Mission (Lane's End), Fed Biz (WinStar), Verrazano (Ashford), Mucho Macho Man (Adena Springs), Tritap (deceased, in Maryland), and Uncaptured (Ocala Stud). As you can see, it's a diverse group scattered among Eastern regional markets, and from a variety of sirelines that have found success both domestically and internationally. Fed Biz is a tremendous physical, and I'm curious to see how his foals continue to perform. I was surprised to see Noble Mission and Mucho Macho Man so high on this list - both were at their best as older horses, and anything their foals have accomplished early is simply a bonus, in my opinion.