Saturday, June 13, 2009

New York stallion on the market: Badge

As the breeding season comes to a close, a New York stallion whose connections have put considerable effort into marketing him, appear ready to move him along to other ownership.

Badge (Air Forbes Won-Revenge Time, by Raja's Revenge) is listed for sale at at an auciton-starting price of $25,000, though the page says offers would be accepted. I presume an "offer" is what will buy the horse.

The stallion has been standing at Foggy Bottom Farm in Geneseo, N.Y. His fee this year was advertised as "private" by the Stallion Register online, but is valued at $4,000 according to the farm's Web site. (Edit: It's worth adding that numerous discounted seasons have been available through sources including for the past couple of years.)

Badge was a fairly accomplished runner, winning the Gotham S.-G3 at Aqueduct and finishing a game third behind Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic and the brilliant Menifee in the Preakness in 1995. At stud, the solidly built chestnut horse has been workmanlike, but unspectacular, over his first four very small crops of 40 total foals of racing age.

One might blame his mares. I haven't seen updated stats for 2009, but from his first four crops going into 2008, Badge's progeny posted a pretty good Average Earnings Index of 1.19 -- that's essentially 19 percent more in earnings than the average racehorse (which is quantified as 1.00), for those fans who aren't into the breeding side of the business and don't follow such numbers. But that 1.19 AEI has been achieved with foals from mares whose Comparable Index (foals by other sires) is merely 0.70. That discrepancy -- 1.19 AEI vs. 0.70 CI -- suggests that Badge's foals are a little better than average even though the mares he's been mated to produce foals that are usually much worse than average.

Put in breeders' terms: Badge upgrades his mares.

Again, going into 2008, Badge had sired 26 starters from 40 foals of racing age, a respectable 65 percent. Of those starters, 16 had become winners; that's 62 percent of his runners to that point, and 40 percent of all foals. Their average earnings per raced horse at the beginning of last year totaled $38,168, and from such small crops, Badge had already posted nearly $1 million ($992,363) in progeny earnings, obviously a figure well-eclipsed by now.

Badge still has sired no stakes winners, just competitive, professional runners. Among his best are: filly Heathersdaddysbaby, 12 wins from 37 starts and twice stakes-placed for $306,059 (still active in 2009); filly Pretty Partisan, who won 11 races from ages 2 to 5 and was stakes-placed at Aqueduct for $255,730; and No Badge, a filly who won 17 of 66 for $194,679.

But the fellow apparently can't get enough business to remain employed in New York.

Some might suggest he just wasn't a good enough runner to merit standing at stud, or at least to attract attention from outside (particularly commercial) breeders. But it isn't the race-record that has cursed him -- plenty of horses who proved to be mediocre racehorses or even winless busts at the track have been sent to stud and actually gotten business. (I hear you up in that tree, Green Monkey; stop throwing banana peels. I know you'll probably serve 40 mares this year alone.)

It's pedigree that's the problem. Badge has neither a noted blacktype tail-female line nor particularly fashionable sirelines.

With breeders so enamored of certain lines -- particularly those stemming from Storm Cat, A.P. Indy and Mr. Prospector -- it's hard for a horse from outside those lines to get any traction as a stallion prospect, even one with a halfway decent race record.

Badge was given a chance, albeit a brief one. Without a "big horse" or two in those first crops -- not just a stakes winner, but preferably a graded one -- this is probably the end of the line for Badge in a first- or second-level breeding state.

Which leads me (and plenty of others) to wonder: What are we breeding for?

It is not to get racehorses?

All Badge did on the track was win at 2 (like breeders hope), win a Grade 3 mile at Aqueduct and then run his guts out finishing a close third to truly brilliant horses in the Preakness at 3, and earn a G2-placing at age 4, earning $380,630. His first four years at stud produced 65 percent runners from extremely marginal opportunity, foals that had won 17 percent of their lifetime starts and earned $2,335 per start coming into 2008.

Badge's numbers are very similar to those posted during the career of another stallion who started his career at the same time and is now standing in New York, the A.P. Indy son Golden Missile. A Grade 1 winner in the Pimlico Special at age 5, this son of A.P. Indy had five crops of racing age going into 2009, compared to Badge's four crops from the 2008 report.

Golden Missile's get far exceed Badge's in sheer weight of numbers -- a stunning 398 foals. But of those, 263 were runners (66 percent, just 1 percent higher than Badge), only 157 were winners (39 percent, 1 percent below Badge), and Golden Missile's present AEI of 1.14 is not only less than that of Badge (entering 2008), it was produced by foals from mares with a Comparable Index of 1.91 -- females that usually produced much, much better than what they've done with Golden Missile.

Sure, Golden Missile has produced some splendid runners, including Gazelle S.-G1 winner In The Gold, Merv Griffin-owned San Felipe S.-G2 winner Cobalt Blue and Sorrento S.-G3 winner Inspiring, who made only four lifetime starts. But given nearly 400 mares, and mares nearly twice as good as the average producer, I'd venture to say Badge would've thrown a graded-stakes winner or three by now, as well.

Yet Golden Missile now stands in New York for nearly twice the price of Badge at $7,500 (though he started out in Kentucky) and I doubt that he's going anywhere anytime soon. Golden Missile covered 62 mares in New York in 2008, that's plenty of business; Badge 18, I suspect mostly at sharp discounts.

It won't be for $25,000 (in my opinion), but perhaps Badge will wind up in a state where he has a second chance. Maybe Louisiana, where breeders seem to have a greater appreciation for a sturdy, workmanlike stallion even if he isn't descended from fashionable lines; horses like Afternoon Deelites and Time Bandit from the dwindling Damascus line, Richter Scale (Habitony) or the late Zuppardo's Prince. Or maybe in the Southwest; New Mexico might be a good home.

And, you can't rule out a trip overseas.

Wherever he goes, I suspect Badge will continue throwing sturdy foals who race, and who win.

I just hope he gets that chance.


  1. i wish that horse the best.where did he end up....

  2. A good question; I'm not sure. Maybe I can scrounge up that information.


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