Value Sires for '23: Part V, First Sophomores

Thu, 01/05/2023 - 15:41

SILVER: ACCELERATE (Lookin At Lucky-Issues by Awesome Again)

$10,000 Lane's End Of the three stallions launched into this intake at Lane's End, CITY OF LIGHT was always the golden boy. Though slow to get going, his 11 winners since midsummer already feature three at stakes level. Nobody, in short, still needs telling what he can still hope to achieve at $60,000.

At the sales, however, it has meanwhile proved much tougher going for the second crop of yearlings by the pair who started alongside him. Nonetheless I am unhesitatingly keeping the faith with the one I have liked all along.

In this series we've already nailed our colors to the Lookin At Lucky mast with Country House, believing the Ashford stalwart as likely to be underestimated as a potential sire of sires as he has always been in his own right. And there's no doubt in my mind that Accelerate is an absolutely astounding amount of horse for just $10,000.

Did anyone for a moment think that Accelerate was going to start off with a cavalcade of sprint maidens at the Keeneland spring meet? Yet having looked after his supporters very nicely with his first yearlings, he found himself childishly neglected with his second crop. 

Accelerate did muster 14 juvenile winners, including one at stakes level, which is as much as could have been sensibly expected for a horse that himself required four sophomore starts to break his maiden in high summer. He then rolled on to win a stakes and the GII Los Alamitos Derby before finishing third in the GI Dirt Mile at the Breeders' Cup. Lest we forget, runner-up in that race was another sophomore who was only laying down foundations: horse name of Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}).

Nobody should need reminding of the heights Accelerate achieved in his own maturity, winning five Grade Is at five. His only defeat that year? By a neck to none other than City Of Light, giving weight, the pair 10 lengths clear.

Accelerate laid down a perfect marker with his first sophomore runner, on New Year's Day at Laurel, where a filly making her fourth start broke her maiden easily over a bare six furlongs. That's a similar template to Winters Lion, who had run fifth, third and second in Churchill maidens before putting it all together to romp by 6 1/2 at Oaklawn in December. Anyone can see that all this is pure groundwork and breeders blessed with that rarest of commodities, patience, will recognize the value they're getting if their primary objective is to put a winner under their mare. (Which should, after all, be just about the most commercial thing anyone can do…)

Remember that Accelerate is out of an Awesome Again mare (representing the distaff gold of Deputy Minister) who also produced siblings, respectively, placed at Grade I and Grade III level, her own dam being a half-sister to a Grade I winner. (And the line traces to a fifth dam, Smartaire, whose son Smarten gave us the dam of Accelerate's grandsire Smart Strike.)

It's a dismal measure of the world we live in that Accelerate was retired at a fee as accessible as $20,000, lower than several horses he had left gasping in his wake-and that he has since taken three cuts in three years. What exactly are people after? This horse earned $6.7 million by dint of class, constitution and a physique prized at $380,000 as a yearling, despite his ostensibly uncommercial paternity. Bar a historic Triple Crown winner, Accelerate would have been a lock for Horse of the Year and I remain confident that he will, gradually and cumulatively, retrieve respect in his second career.

He actually has a very solid numerical base, with as many as 380 mares across his first three books. Given that his opening crops seem very likely to keep thriving with time, he could wind up with plenty of headlines overlapping in the coming years. As such, this feels like a very good moment to get ahead of the game with Accelerate. Sure, that suggestion might irritate those who suffered from the myopic treatment of his second crop at the sales. But someday people may look back at this horse, at this fee, as one of the great missed opportunities.