Some of the very best stallions in the business have started from the humblest of beginnings. Late greats like Mr. Prospector, Storm Cat, Dynaformer and Kris S., as well as current standouts like Tapit and Malibu Moon, started out at modest stud fees before working their way to the top by turning out quality runners year after year.

That’s been the story of our own CITY ZIP, too, whose daughter Dayatthespa recently showcased her sire’s prowess by winning the most prized turf race for 3yo fillies in the country, the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

Bred by Castellare DiCracchiolo Stable, Cracchiolo and Goldsher, Dayatthespa has won six of her eight starts, including her last five straight, all in stakes company. “As she grows and matures, she’s become more settled, and I think her best days are ahead of her,” said her trainer Chad Brown. Dayatthespa is owned by Jerry and Ronald Frankel, Steve Laymon and Bradley Thoroughbreds.

The performance of runners like Dayatthespa is why the TDN’s Bill Oppenheim has trumpeted CITY ZIP for years.
“The number one rule of stallion analysis is: find the horses on their way up and follow then until they hit the ceiling–which most of them don’t,” wrote Oppenheim recently. “He may be 14 years old, but CITY ZIP may also be the next horse to jump the line from ‘useful’ to ‘leading’ sire.”

In fact, it could be argued CITY ZIP has already made that jump. He is currently ranked #4 on the General Sire List with 2012 earnings of $7,144,688, ahead of Tapit, Distorted Humor, Street Cry (Ire), Bernardini, Medaglia d’Oro, et al. Of CITY ZIP’s 9 stakes winner in 2012, an impressive 6 are of the graded variety.

CITY ZIP is #3 on the Turf Sires List by number of 2012 stakes winners (7), and is #5 by turf earnings.

On the All-Weather Earnings List, he is ranked #4 among Kentucky stallions by earnings, and he is ranked #7 on the Juvenile Sire List.

CITY ZIP is indeed making himself comfortable among the elite of stallions.

In addition to Dayatthespa, CITY ZIP is the sire of 2012 standouts including:

* Reneesgotzip – 3yo filly won the G2 Santa Ynez S. and ran second in the G1 Santa Anita Oaks, and most recently captured Del Mar’s C.E.R.F. S. at Del Mar
* City to City – 5yo mare won the G2 John C. Mabee S and Buena Vista H., and ran second in the G2 Yellow Ribbon H.
* Get Serious – 8yo millionaire captured his third renewal of the G3 Red Bank S.
* Gitchee Goomie – 5yo mare captured the $250,000 G3 Dr. James Penny Memorial H. at Parx
* Dene Court – 3yo filly won the $150,000 Ontario Damsel S. and $116,000 Alywow S.
* Mystic City – 5yo mare won the $100,000 Windward S. at Presque Isle
* Unzip Me – 6yo winner and 10x SW won Santa Anita’s Wishing Well S.
* City Style – 6yo Godolphin colorbearer ran third in the G1 Dubai Duty Free and second in the G1 Jebel Hatta and G2 Al Rashdiya

CITY ZIP’s juveniles, meanwhile, include the likes of the Grade 1-placed Mechaya, the G3 Mazarine S. third Every Way, stakes winner Zip Cash Back, and the black-type performers Evangeline’s Hope, Manewal, Speedinthruthecity, Urban Renewal, and Zippy Request.

CITY ZIP is increasingly coming up with the “home run” sales horse, too. In 2009, his top yearling sold for $25,000. In 2011, he had yearlings sell for $180,000, $140,000, $120,000, etc.

At the 2012 Keeneland September Sale, yearlings have included a $170,000 son of Head for Home (Whiskey Wisdom), a half sister to SW & MGSP Mousse Au Chocolat (Hennessy) and to the dam of MGSW Bay to Bay; a $125,000 daughter of Velvet World (Empire Maker), herself daughter of SW & MGSP Her She Kisses (Dehere); a $115,000 New York-bred daughter of SW Aces (Housebuster); and a $110,000 filly out of Glitter Man.

Astute breeders first took notice of CITY ZIP when members from his early New York crops began winning in droves, and after the talented Grade 1 winning half-brother to Ghostzapper moved to Kentucky, his stream of stakes horses turned to a torrent. Horses like G1SW Bustin Stones, Grade 2 winners With a City, Run Away and Hide, and Workin for Hops, and further graded winners like Acting Zippy, Gleam of Hope and the current 3yo standout Majestic City have time and again proven CITY ZIP’s worth in the breeding shed.

What’s most exciting is that the best is yet to come, given the vast improvement in mares coming CITY ZIP’s way. In 2009, CITY ZIP bred 131 mares with an average Comparable Index (CI) of 1.46. A year later, when he bred 150 mares, the figure jumped 11.6% to 1.63. In CITY ZIP’s 2011 book of 149 mares, it jumped another 18.4% to 1.93. By way of comparison, that’s a higher-quality book of mares than Dynaformer received, according to The Blood-Horse’s MarketWatch.

Class Performance Index gauges the racing ability of mares, and the CPI of mares sent to CITY ZIP is on a steep trajectory, as well. In 2009, the CPI of CITY ZIP’s mares was 1.95. In 2010, it advanced 12.3% to 2.19. Last year, it skyrocketed 38.8% to 3.04. That’s a better figure than Tale of the Cat, Kitten’s Joy, Congrats, etc.

CITY ZIP’s success in the sales ring has followed a parallel journey. His 2009 yearling average jumped a whopping 79% in 2010, and another 57.2% in 2011. In 2012, it rose another 22.3%. That means over the span of three years, CITY ZIP’s yearlings increased in value by 244%!

Likewise, his weanling average went up 55.8% from 2009 to 2010 and then up 40.9% in 2011. So, from 2009 to 2011, CITY ZIP’s weanlings increased in value by 119%.

Over a three-year stretch of juvenile sales, from 2010 to 2012, CITY ZIP’s 2-year-olds gained 18.5% from 2009 to 2010 and 36.7% in 2012. There was a 29% gain in value of CITY ZIP’s juveniles in that span.

One figure good breeders pay attention to is a sire’s ability to “improve” his mares, evidenced by a sire’s Average Earnings Index (AEI) vs. CI. One way to look at it: what is the earning capacity of CITY ZIP’s runners when compared to their half-siblings by other sires? CITY ZIP’s AEI is 1.79, meaning his runners, on average, earn 79% more than the industry standard, which puts him on par with Malibu Moon (as of May 9, 2012), and ahead of Sky Mesa, Kitten’s Joy, Hard Spun, Tale of the Cat, Congrats, etc. That he improves his mares at all puts him in a special class (big-ticket horses like Giant’s Causeway, Empire Maker, Unbridled’s Song and Speightstown do not), and that he improves them by a 27% margin means he improves them at a better rate than respected horses like Medaglia d’Oro, Distorted Humor, Awesome Again and Arch.

Bill Oppenheim’s APEX ratings are another valuable tool when gauging a sire’s worth, and Oppenheim has been so consistently impressed with CITY ZIP’s performance that he dedicated an entire article to him in late March. Wrote Oppenheim:

“[CITY ZIP is] just 14 years old [and has] ranked in the top 35 on the North American General Sire List each of the last three years (21st in 2010, 28th in 2011), [and] after last weekend’s racing he ranks fourth on the 2012 North American General Sire list. He’s had nine black-type horses already this year, including, just this month, a new Grade III winner and five horses which were second in black-type races, two in Grade I’s and two in Grade II’s. He now has three graded stakes winners from his 2009 crop, now 3-year-olds. The workingman’s $20,000 stallion is in danger of busting out into the big time.

CITY ZIP has long been a favorite of this column, of course, because of a combination of high APEX ratings and low five-figure stud fees which ensure he is a mortal lock for any list of value stallions. His A Runner Index has never been lower than his current rating of 2.54 (ranks 37th, tied with Street Cry), and his ABC Runner Index stands at 1.97 (31st)– just under 16% of his runners. He is in the top 10 by 2-year-old ABC Index (2.97, ranking seventh), and his 2.00 rating for 3-year-old ABC Runners ranks him equal 33rd in that category. Whereas after his first crop he looked like a classic sprint stallion whose runners were better earlier (2008 age indices after first crop of 5-year-olds in 2008: 3.25 B 2.34 B 1.47 B 0.46), with each year his rating for 5-year-olds+ has improved; at the end of 2011, both his 4-year-old ABC rating (1.65) and his 5-year-old+ ABC rating (2.13) were at their highest points ever.”

So what do these numbers say? They say CITY ZIP is a confirmed rising star in the stallion ranks, a horse on the verge of big things. And if we’ve learned anything from the likes of Mr. Prospector, Storm Cat and Dynaformer, it’s that getting in before the ship sails can yield big windfalls. Some of the most successful breeders have chosen CITY ZIP for their mares in the last couple of years, including the late Edward P. Evans, Phipps Stable, Live Oak, G. Watts Humphrey, Pin Oak, the Wygods and Southern Equine Stables.

Don’t miss the boat with CITY ZIP.

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