With the two-year-olds in training sales just around the corner and juvenile racing coming up in a few months, there is always plenty of debate on which stallions, with their first crops racing in the new year, will have instant success.

This is not an exact science although traditionally, stallions with large numbers of foals from the first crop will get many winners and some stakes winners. Stallions with higher stud fees also tend to be among the leaders each season.

Last year’s leading first crop sire in North America, Nyquist (a son of Uncle Mo) with 86 foals, 45 runners and 17 winners, led his rivals by progeny earnings thanks to the exploits of his daughter Vequist who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and accounted for more than half of her sire’s earnings total.

Nyquist was one of three sons of top sire Uncle Mo who finished in the top five in 2020 along with Laoban and Outwork.

Four of the top-10 first crop sires of 2020 had more than 100 foals including Not This Time (Giant’s Causeway) who landed third on the progeny earnings list but led all sires by number of winners with 28.

In Canada in 2020, Reload (Hard Spun) led a small group of first crop sires and also did well to be 13th in the North American list despite having the lowest number of foals at 45 and starters, 17. Reload had eight winners and six black-type runners, the latter number which led all North American stallions.

Breeders and prospective owners are fascinated by picking the next great sire early his career, handicapping you could say, which one will have quick success. Bettors want to know, too, since the maiden two-year-old races that begin at spring meetings such as Keeneland and Churchill Downs, among others, are filled with first-time starters, many by first-year sires.

Canadian Thoroughbred, with the assistance of Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer and bloodstock agent Reade Baker, presents a list of some of the stallions in North American whose first crop of foals will race in 2021.

(Notes: This is not an exhaustive list of stallions with first foals racing in 2021. Number of two-year-olds in first crop not available for all stallions.)


Passion For Action. (Michaels Burns photo)

Passion for Action (16), standing at Colebrook Farms, was a versatile graded stakes winner for owner Ben Hutzel and as a son of one of the world’s top sires, Speightstown, should have early winners. Speightstown is a successful sire of sires and his sons Speightster and Tamarkuz both did well with their first crop of runners in 2020.

Shaman Ghost (64), the 2015 Queen’s Plate winner and Grade 1 Santa Anitas Handicap and Woodward Stakes winner, is now in Ontario at Adena Springs North but his first crop of runners were born when he was in California. He has since moved to Kentucky and back to his birthplace. He has a reported 64 two-year-olds in this first crop.

Perfect Timber (9), also at Colebrook Farms, is a Grade 1-placed son of Perfect Soul (Ire) and this horse was a debut winner, which can signal a stallion whose foals might be precocious.

Iliad (4) is an Alberta first crop sire and he is a graded stakes winning son of Ghostzapper – Little Swoon and a three-quarter brother to millionaire Melmich. Iliad won the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita at seven furlongs. He stands at Delany’s Vet Clinic in Sherwood Park.

Black Eagle (3) is a son of the top sire Tapit and is a three-quarter brother to Tapit’s leading earner, champion three-year-old Filly Untapable (Mother Goose Stakes (G1), Kentucky Oaks (G1), $3.9 million). He stands at the JR Stud of Joe Humber in Ontario.


United States – over 100 two-year-olds in first crops

(additional comments by Reade Baker)

American Freedom (127) is by Pulpit and stands in Kentucky at Airdrie Stud. This eight-year-old was a graded stakes winner as a three-year-old and defeated Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, among others. “He has lots of two-year-olds, but the pedigree is filled with two-turn horses. He himself did not run as a two-year-old.”

Arrogate (107) tragically passed away in 2020 so there won’t be any more offspring of the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup winner. He has 107 two-year-olds for 2021. His best distances were at least one mile, but no doubt his mares were top-class.

Bal a Bali (105) was a Brazilian Triple Crown winner and is a son of speed influence Put It Back. Bal a Bali won from distances of 5 1/2 furlongs to 12 furlongs and was also a graded stakes winner on grass in the U.S. The horse stands at Calumet Farm in Kentucky.

Classic Empire (124) was the 2016 Champion 2-year-old in America, a Grade 1 winner who had speed and stamina. “He was a very good two-year-old,” said Baker. “His yearlings averaged $87,142 in the sales ring.” Classic Empire, a son of Pioneerofthe Nile, stands at Ashford Stud in Kentucky.

Connect (124) is a son of Curlin standing at Lane’s End in Kentucky. This Grade 1 winner of the Cigar Mile also took the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby and won his maiden at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Cupid (153) won six of 13 races, $1.7 million and captured races such as the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita and the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. This is a son of Tapit and he stands at Ashford Stud.

Gormley (123) was a precocious two-year-old winning his maiden at 6 1/2 furlongs and the Grade 1 Forerunner Stakes at Santa Anita at 1 1/16 miles. He won the Santa Anita Derby as a sophomore and is a son of Malibu Moon. He stands at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky.

Gun Runner. (NYRA/Adam Coglianese photo)


Gun Runner (130) earned over $15 million and was the 2017 Horse of the Year based on four Grade 1 wins that year including the Breeders’ Cup Classic. While this popular stallion was a route horse, he is a son of Candy Ride (Arg) who adds a speed influence. Gun Runner, at $50,000 for his stud fee, is one of the most expensive horses on the list and he stands at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky. “He’s my pick to be the leading first crop sire in 2021,” said Baker.

Keen Ice (137) won the Grade 1 Travers Stakes and like many of these stallions, excelled at two-turn distances. He is a son of top sire Curlin and stands at Calumet Farm.

Klimt (158) was a two-time graded stakes winner as a two-year-old at sprint distances and retired early in his three-year-old season. He is a son of Quality Road standing at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington. “He is very well bred and was a top two-year-old,” said Baker.

Mastery (119) was undefeated in his four-race career including the Grade 1 Cash Call Futurity at Los Alamitos as a two-year-old. This precocious son of Candy Ride stands at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky.

Practical Joke. (Coolmore photo)

Practical Joke (147) is a son of current leading sire Into Mischief and he won five of 12 races including a pair of Grade 1’s as a two-year-old including the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. As a three-year-old he won the Grade 1 Allen Jerkens at seven furlongs. He stands at Ashford Stud. “He was bred to be early and he is at the top of the list for me,” said Baker. “He has sired a lot of foals and the two-year-olds look fast.”

Unified (119) is by Candy Ride (Arg) and won four of seven races at three and four including the seven-furlong Bay Shore stakes (G3) and Gulfstream Park Sprint stakes (G3). He stands at Lane’s End.


More First-Crop Sires


Astern (Aus) (84) was a precocious two-year-old in Australia and a Group 1 winner as a three-year-old. This is a son of Medaglia D’Oro.

Battle of Midway (61) passed away in his second year at stud. A son of Smart Strike.

Behesht (Fr) (12) is by Sea the Stars (Ire) and is a half-brother to Group 1 winner Behkabad. A stakes winner in France.

Bird Song (25) is a grey son of Unbridled’s Song who won the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs. He was sold to Saudi Arabia in 2020.

Divining Rod (69) is a son of Tapit standing in Maryland. He was a Grade 3 stakes winner who liked route distances.

Hootenanny (41) won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and was a fast juvenile. He is a son of Quality Road.

Lord Nelson (78) was a Grade 1 winning sprinter and he is a son of Pulpit.

Midnight Storm (73) won 10 of 27 races and over $1.7 million. His wins included the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile. A son of Pioneerofthe Nile.

Mohaymen (76) was an unbeaten two-year-old with wins in the Grade 3 Nashua and Remsen Stakes. He also won the Fountain of Youth (G2). A son of Tapit.

Mr Z (42) is by Malibu Moon out of a Storm Cat mare and he won the Ohio Derby and was four time graded stakes-placed as a two-year-old.

Tom’s Ready (48) was a graded stakes-winning sprinter who stood for three seasons before being retired to Old Friends Retirement Center in Kentucky. He is a son of More Than Ready.

Tu Brutus (30) is a son of Scat Daddy now standing in Turkey. He was a graded stakes winner in Chile and the U.S. and excelled at route distances.

War Correspondent (53) was a graded stakes-winning miler and raced from ages three though seven. He is a son of War Front.

Wildcat Red (29) was a winner as a two-year-old and Grade 3 winner at age three of the Fountain of Youth Stakes He is a son of speed influence sire D’wildcat.