Secretariat stands at stud at Clairborne Farm. So does his former stablemate, Riva Ridge, along with such brilliant sires as Round Table, Damascus, Sir Ivor, Nijinsky II, Hoist The Flag, Buckpasser and Forli, plus Ack Ack, Avatar, Bagdad, Bod Reason, Drone, Fiddle Isle, Hawaii, Jacinto, Judger, Le Fabuleux, Navajo, Pago Pago, Reviewer, Sir Gaylord, Tell and Tom Rolie.
This roster of 25 throughbred stallions is unmatched by any other breeding establishment in the world today. No one else comes close. But things could always be better, even out here on the Paris Pike. Even Caliborne has its little problems from time to time in the chancy business of breeding race horses.
For example: Bold Reasoning, the sire of Kentucky Derby favorite Scattle Slew, died after having sired only 2 1/2 corps, or 62 foals to be exact. And Secretariat, the great runner who now grazes in the paddock once reserved for his sire. Bold Ruler, has not received rave notices for his early efforts as a progenitor.
Seth Hancock, the young man who took over Claiborne upon the death of his father, was honest enough to assess Secretariat's first foals as something less than sensational, from a physical standpoint. Those comments did not endear him to syndicate members, or to yearling buyers who had forked over large sums of money for Secretariat's sons and daughters at the sales last summer.
"I know everything I said wasn't appreciated, but I'm not going to lie to people," Hancock said today, then added in his wry manner: "They don't listen to me, anyway."
Secretariat has an identity problem. His offspring don't look like the old man, in too many instances. His one 2-year-old to have competed thus far on the race track hasn't run like him, either.
"We'll get the answers as we go along, in the next two to six months, as his 2-year-olds come to the races," Hancock said. "Performance tells. And I've also said that secretariat's second crop of foals looks much better than his first.
"What amazes me is how much attention his first runner received. The newspapers the television everybody was interested in the filly. I'm the syndicate manager for Riva Ridge, too, and his first 2-year-old - out of a full sister to Cougar - ran in a short sprint down in Florida and it was weeks before I found out about it."
Perhaps the appearance of Secretariat's sons and daughters will improve as their young sire ages?
"You never know," Hancock replied, "Tom Rolfe's first crop was dynamite, but it's been downhill ever since."
There are breeders here in the Blue Grass who believe Sham is going to out-do Secretariat at stud. Sham couldn't beat Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, although he gave it a great try. Who knows? Genes and chromosomes don't always perform to expectation.
Bold Reasoning went to stud here without ever being accused of being Bold Ruler's best grandson, through Boldnesian. He was a longshot in the Siring Sweepstakes, but was off to an excellent start with comparatively moderate mares.
"I'd describe him as a middle-distance horse," Hancock said. "He had won up to a mile and an eighth. He was undefeated early, through seven or eight races. I remember he once ran in 1:08 and change at Aqueduct, and he ran a big race when Executioner beat him in the Metropolitan Mile."
Bold Reasoning died of colic.
"He was covering a mare, fell off, and broke his pelvis," Hancock informed. "The impaction of his guts caused the colic. In getting up and down, the cracked pelvis had severed a little blood vessel. One of his legs filled with blood."
So Bold Reasoning is not around to be bred to My Charmer, the dam of Seattle Slew, or to any other mare this spring. He would have had it made, early, because of Slew's efforts. A classic winner in one of the first crops guarantees an enjoyable career and being booked to better and better mares for any young stallion.
"It's a shame it happened, the way it did to Bold Reasoning," a member of the Claiborne staff remarked. "But it's fair to say he was awful happy just before he got hurt."