Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Mr. Prospector - 1970-1999

Mr. Prospector would easily be one of the best sires of all time. His total of 165 stakes winners is a record. He was leading sire and broodmare sire twice during his stud career from 1977 to 1999. There is no doubt that his influence as a stallion and as a broodmare sire will last for years to come in the thoroughbred industry. His sons and grandsons as well as his daughters have already made an impact on the racetracks as well as at stud.

Mr. Prospector was bred by Leslie Combs II at the Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky and was sent to the Keeneland July Yearling sale of 1971. Bought by Mr. Savin in 1971 at the Keeneland July Yearling sale, Mr. Prospector was the sale topper that year at $2,20,000. Later at the Keeneland July Yearling sales, he was leading sire by average 5 times.

By Raise A Native, whose son Majestic Prince had won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in 1969, out of Gold Digger, who was a stakes winner by the great Nashua. Gold Digger visited Raise A Native 7 times. The last 4 foals were cripples, the first foal ran once and broke down. The third won only once. The second result of the mating was the swan among the ducklings - Mr. Prospector!.

As a racehorse, he was unraced at 2. At 3 and 4, he went on to win 7 races and $1,12,171 when a fractured sesamoid ended his racing career.

He started his stud career in Florida in 1977 Mr. Prospector wasted no time in getting stakes horses and in his very first crop came the stakes filly Its In The Air, who went on to win a Group 1 race at Saratoga the following year.

In 1980 he was relocated to Seth Hancock's Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. The man responsible for the move was Peter Brant who owned a couple of shares in the horse at that time, which he had bought on the retirement of the horse in 1977, the year when he stood for $7,500. At Claiborne, he went from strength to strength siring the likes of Conquistador Cielo(Belmont Stakes Gr.1), Gold Beauty(Fall Highweight Handicap Gr.2). Conquistador Cielo was voted Horse of the Year and champion 3 year old and syndicated for a record $36 million at Claiborne!. Soon came Woodman, a $3 million yearling at Keeneland who went on to be champion 2yr old 1985 in Ireland. Mr. Prospector has had a great record in the Kentucky Derby this decade with Forty Niner, Unbridled, Thunder Gulch, Grindstone, Real Quiet all being sons or grandsons of Mr. Prospector. In 2000, Fusaichi Pegasus, a direct son of Mr. Prospector , the 1998 $4 million record priced yearling at the Keeneland July Yearling Sale went on to win the 126th running of the Kentucky Derby justifying his purchase price. Mr. Prospector's fee rose from $7,500 in 1977 to $40,000 in 1980, a $1,00,000 in 1981, to $3,25,000 in 1986.

For a long time, there was a prejudice against him in Europe where some of his earlier progeny didn't do too well. Mr. Prospectors are very plain looking and not very well conformed and tended to be slightly soft. Although later on some of his horses like Machiavellian, Woodman etc did do well in Europe, the best were seen in North America.

His influence reached India a little late, in fact as late as 1988, 11 years after he stood at stud, when his first son Meteorologist arrived. A winner of one race, he managed to get only handicappers and one black type placed horse down south. It was only recently  when the Poonawalla Stud, Usha Stud, Manjri Stud, Nanoli Stud brought down sons or grandsons of Mr. Prospector, have we felt the impact of this genetic dynamo.

The well bred, well performed Poonawalla horse Placerville was bred by the Juddmonte Farm, Kentucky. His Dam is the Gr.1 winner Classy Cathy. Placerville himself won 3 races out of 5 starts in England at 2 and 3, from 7 to 10 furlongs incl. a Gr.2 race. He has had a phenomenal start at stud siring the likes of the Vijay Mallya-Poonawalla  owned unbeaten Continual(Indian 2000 Guineas Gr.1) who unfortunately brokedown few weeks after his sensational 2000 Guineas victory. Then the ill-fated Indian 1000 Guineas winner Her Excellency, who had an accident after the Guineas triumph. The Y2K saw him sire the breathtaking horse Smart Chieftain, who with his blinding turn of foot, conquered the Indian Triple Crown. Placerville has already topped the sires lists on various counts and has sired host of other Group horses. No bounds are set to the extent of Placerville's impact on Indian racing and breeding in the years to come.

The Manjri owned Gr.3 winner Portroe was a good horse and sired the 1999 Pune Derby Gr.1 winner Ray of Light and this year's good juvenile filly Starshine and a host of other good horses. Sadly though, Portroe died prematurely earlier this year, as did the dual Gr.1 winning Kehelan Stud horse, Procida, who has only 3 crops in the pipeline. Procida stood at stud abroad before being relocated to stand in India, where he sired the Gr.1 winners Partipral, Shanghai etc. However, his Indian born foals are yet to make an impact for him to be really missed.

Steinbeck is another well bred son of Mr. Prospector who has made an impressive start to his stud career at the leading Usha Stud. His dam is the Gr.1 winner Femme Elite who comes from the family of the great Native Dancer, Bold Lad etc. Steinbeck himself won 3 races at 2 and 3 in France, from 5 to 9.5 furlongs incl. 2 Gr.3 races. With 2 crops of racing age, he has already sired the superb filly Running Flame who won the Kingfisher Indian Oaks Gr.1 and the Wills Indian Turf Invitation Gr.1 among other group races. Steinbeck's other group winners include Forest Treasure, Star Fortune, Averoff, Secret Treasure, Kamarg, etc. With the good fortune of standing at the legendary Usha Stud, home of Grey Gaston, Razeen, etc, a lot will be heard of Steinbeck.

Nanoli Stud's Cristofori, a son of Mr. Prospector's Gr.1 winning son Fappiano, out of Somfas which makes him a half brother to Snadee, won 2 races himself at 2 incl a Gr.3 and ran 4th in the last leg of the American Triple Crown - The Belmont Stakes Gr.1. Cristofori had a bright future and started off well by siring Absolute Power and the speedy Prince Nicholas, but unfortunately his stud career has been hampered by bad health.

The other son of Mr. Prospector in India is Bin Hussain Stud's Hadaaf, himself a maiden, and never really amounted to much at stud either.

Then we have 2 Listed winners from the Mr. Prospector sire line. The Nakul Stud Machiavellian horse Don Micheletto whose first crop are foals of 2000 and the Sholavaram Stud horse Always A Rainbow, by Mr. Prospector,  a listed winner himself, is out of the Halo mare Rainbow Connection.

A new one from this sireline is Western Verse who is by Gone West by Mr. Prospector.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Prospector's full brother stands at stud in India. Vaal Reef (Raise A Native-Gold Digger), who did not race, retired to stud in the U.S. in 1988 at the age of 4. He sired 3 black type performers from 6 crops and 73 foals in the U.S. and was then relocated to India in 1994, where he has managed to sire a handful of handicappers!.

Mr. Prospector was put down at Claiborne Farm on June 1st, 1999 due to chronic peritonitis at the age of 29.

Mr. Prospector's impact on the thoroughbred industry has been phenomenal. He is a brilliant source of speed and precocity. Mr. Prospector is the all-time U.S. leader by progeny earnings in excess of $80 million. In India, horses like Placerville, Steinbeck will keep the fire burning for years to come. His influence the world over will live on for years to come through his many stallion sons/grandsons and also his daughters.

Mr. Prospector has shown that he can upgrade his mares to a large extent. He has nicked particularly well with Northern Dancer and his sons. It would be interesting to see what Placerville would sire from a Razeen/Warrshan mare, whereby we introduce Northern Dancer as well as Numbered Account - second dam of Razeen/Warrshan and also the dam of Placerville's damsire - Private Account !. With  Always A Rainbow it would be interesting to see the produce from a Batzushka mare, where we introduce Northern Dancer as well as Always A Rainbow's damsire's half sister Queen Sucree and also have 3 strains of the one and only blue hen Almahmoud!.

Gautam Lala