Recipe for Success

Managing older stallions means accommodating their quirks with excellent care

by Kimberly A. Rinker

In 2023, there were 1,233 commercial stallions standing in North America, with an average age of 9.4 years old and a median age of 8. Of those 1,233 stallions, 458—or 37.1 percent—were between the ages of 10 and 19, 76 (6.2 percent) were age 20 or older, and 12 were 25 or older.

What makes a stallion successful after the age of 10? Or 20? Or even 25? It might be a combination of many factors: genetics, environment, daily sperm output, ejaculatory capability, fertility and breeding management, as well as to whom the stallion is being bred.

North America’s oldest breeding stallion in 2023 was Party At Artsplace p,4,1:51 ($66,077), who bred nine mares last season at age 29. The son of Artsplace stood in Illinois, while Artiscape p,3,1:49.3z ($1,469,461), also by Artsplace and 28 last year, bred three mares in New York.

The phenomenally prolific Bettor’s Delight p,3,1:49.4 ($2,581,461), who was 25 in 2023, was also part of that dozen of senior stallions, having bred a total of 116 mares last season. Now 26, the son of Cam’s Card Shark-Classic Wish will remain in New Zealand at the end of this breeding season. No other stallion in the 25-and-older bunch came close to Bettor’s Delight’s numbers.

From 22 seasons at stud, Bettor’s Delight produced 2,152 starters stateside who have earned $340.7 million, including 88 freshman who earned $2.6 million; 96 sophomores who earned $3 million; and 474 older horses who earned $18.5 million in 2023. His top 2-year-olds last season included the filly It’s A Love Thing p,2,1:50.2s ($428,927), who captured both her $25,900 elimination and the $399,600 final of the She’s A Great Lady at Woodbine Mohawk Park as well as multiple Ontario Sires Stakes legs; and the colt Storm Shadow p,2,1:51.1s ($299,160), who won the $219,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final at Mohawk and was third in the $700,000 Breeders Crown 2-Year- Old Colt and Gelding Pace at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.

However, the Buckeye State was home to three successful older stallions in that same age group, including 27-year-old The Panderosa, who bred 22 mares in 2023; 26-year-old Band’s Gold Chip (11 mares); and 28-year-old Memphis Flash (five mares). The Panderosa is a classic example of the successful older stallion, as evidenced by the 2023 Ohio 2-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year Clever Cody, who won six of 10 starts and earned $383,372 for trainer Dr. Ian Moore.

 

Like many other aspects of life, it could be that genetics play the most significant role when it comes to the longevity and vitality of a successful stallion. Breeder Marvin Raber, who has managed The Panderosa since 2013 at his Baltic, Ohio, farm, thinks genetics are important, but that environment is equally as important.

“The key is to keep these horses happy,” Raber said. “Stallions are all different, and, as a breeder, you have to be flexible. And as they get older and their needs change, you have to be able to change with the horse.”

The Panderosa, a son of Western Hanover-Daisy Harbor foaled in 1996, had a phenomenal racing career, taking a 3-year-old record of 1:49.3 and earning $1,452,418. He stood in Pennsylvania from 2000 to 2012 before transferring to Ohio in 2013, where he has been housed at Raber’s facility for 11 years. To date, he has sired 1,384 registered foals who have earned $120 million. Some of his top progeny include Shadow Play p,4,1:47.4 ($1,549,881), Ponder p,5,1:48.1 ($1,522,936), Mypanmar p,5,1:48.3s ($1,490,996), Yagonnakissmeornot p,5,1:49.3 ($1,458,850), Dapper Dude p,3,1:49f ($1,395,297), Metropolitan p,3,1:50.1 ($1,175,630) and P-Forty-Seven p,3,1:48.2 ($707,660).

The Panderosa’s sire, Western Han-over, stood from 1993 through 2007, siring 1,974 foals who earned $210.9 million. Western Hanover’s sire was No Nukes, a foal of 1979 who stood in New Jersey from 1983 through 2003, siring 2,544 registered foals who earned $132.5 million. The Panderosa’s dam, Daisy Harbor, is a daughter of Coal Harbor and a granddaughter of Albatross, who stood from 1973 through 1998 and sired 2,642 foals who earned $148.3 million.

 

Raber, who has been breeding and raising Standardbreds for more than five decades, agrees that genetics are an important part of a stallion’s length of servicing mares, but he also stresses that stallion management is an integral part of the process.

“It’s partly the individual,” he said. “The stallions have to stay happy, and they have to have the care to keep them happy. A stallion that is unhappy in his environment will not do well. When we first got The Panderosa in 2013, we had him in a barn with other stallions, and that really upset him. He was not happy at all, so we moved the other stallions out and he’s a different horse now.

“The Panderosa is the only stallion in the barn,” Raber continued. “He’s surrounded by mares, and that’s the way he likes it. He’s top dog in there and the king of his castle, and he
knows it.”

Raber employs artificial insemination with both The Panderosa and trotting stud Full Count—another stallion in the geriatric category—who bred 25 mares last year.

“You make concessions for these stallions,” Raber said. “For instance, The Panderosa has been having teeth issues, so we have him on a different feeding program to accommodate him. As far as his breeding scenario goes, we collect him three times a week and he’s very professional—it only takes a few minutes. He’s still very fertile and enjoys his work.”

Raber says he has also had to make adjustments for the now 23-year-old Full Count 4,1:55.4f ($238,692), a son of Striking Sahbra-Sibyl Score.

“Full Count’s suspensory ligaments have been bothering him, so we don’t have him jump the dummy anymore,” Raber explained. “He’s still very fertile as well, and we just collect him from the ground.”

 

Of the 2023 pacing sires in the 20-to-25-year-old range, American Ideal p,3,1:47.4 ($786,055) continued to have impressive numbers at age 21, covering 102 mares that season, which, sadly, was his last as a sire as he passed away in January 2024. The robust son of Western Ideal-Lifetime Success stood in New York at Blue Chip Farms since 2007 under Brittany Farms Stallion Management and produced 1,311 starters who earned $166.7 million stateside, while also shuttling to Australasia.

In 2023, American Ideal’s freshmen won 53 races and $1.3 million in earnings, his sophomores earned $2.9 million from 220 wins, and his older progeny scored 1,149 wins and amassed $12.2 million. His strength as a sire never wavered, and he was the all-time leading money-winning pacing sire in the New York Sire Stakes program.

Last season, American Ideal’s daughter Peace Talks, out of the Somebeachsomewhere dam Triple V Han-over, earned $229,329, and she recorded a seasonal mark of 1:55.4 via her win from the eight-hole in the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes 2-Year-Old Filly Pace Final at MGM Yonkers Raceway on Sept. 9, 2023.

Art Zubrod, Brittany Farms’ stallion manager, said he believes that a stallion’s personality also has a big impact on his success as an older stud, especially those horses who service mares in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

“American Ideal always looked good and stayed in shape, and he was not a high-strung horse, and I think that’s part of it,” Zubrod said. “He did so well shuttling back and forth, as a lot of stallions do. For instance, we ran into Bettor’s Delight when American Ideal was in quarantine, and he looked fabulous. Some stallions can handle the shuttling and others cannot, and if that’s the case, you’re better off keeping them in one spot.”

 

Another son of Western Han-over who has fared well since beginning his foray into the breeding shed in 2005 is Western Terror, p,3,1:48.3 ($1,164,174).

Now 23, Western Terror bred 21 mares last year, and to date has produced 964 starters who have career earnings of $106.5 million. In 2023, his progeny collected $3,012,115 from 91 winners. His daughter Western Time, p,3,1:56f ($63,372) captured several Ohio Fair Stakes last season as a 2-year-old. No slouch as a broodmare sire either, Western Terror is the sire of Dismissal, p,4,1:51f ($106,615), dam of 2023 Dan Patch Older Male Pacer of the Year Bythemissal p,4,1:47.1 ($2,153,591).

Western Terror, who is out of the Artsplace mare Arterra, stood in Ontario his first two seasons before moving to New York in 2007 and then on to Pennsylvania from 2008 through 2016. In 2017, Scott Hagemeyer acquired the stallion, and he still resides at Hagemeyer’s Clarksville, Ohio, facility.

“With stallions that have a proven genetic history, it’s likely their sons will also have a lengthy breeding career,” Hagemeyer noted. “Western Terror comes from a proven genetic lineage, so it’s not a surprise that we continue to have a successful breeding rate with him.”

Hagemeyer, like Raber, believes that stallion management and the horse’s personality are key to an older stud’s success in the breeding arena.

“Western Terror is very congenial toward people,” Hagemeyer said. “But all my employees know not to walk a horse—stallion, mare or otherwise—past his stall, which is at the end of the barn, near the door. If you do so, he loses his mind, and will destroy his stall trying to beat the snot out of any horse.”

Hagemeyer says that Western Terror spends “95 percent of his time outside,” where he can keep a watchful eye on everything happening at the farm.

“He’s in a big round paddock near the training track and will actually try to pace alongside the horses when we go by him,” Hagemeyer said. “He’s got a young soul and seems happiest when he is out of the barn and can oversee everything. Keeping a stallion happy is paramount to their success as a sire.”

Hagemeyer also believes that working with an older horse’s diet and providing additional supplements specifically geared to stallions, can help.

“We have our own custom feed that is high in Omega-3 and antioxidants, and Western Terror gets an additional stallion supplement,” he said.

 

It is clear from statistics that older stallions are no longer “verboten” in the breeding sheds across North America and in the wilds of New Zealand and Australia. Genetics, sound management, diet and the horse’s personality all play a vital role as a stallion ages into his 20s and continues to produce quality offspring.

Raber says he is thrilled when an older stallion produces a top stakes youngster.

“Clever Cody will be one of the top 3-year-olds in the country this year,” Raber said. “That says a lot about the capability of a stallion like The Panderosa and others like him. Even a young sire wants to produce a horse like Clever Cody and doesn’t often do so.” HB

 

Kimberly A. Rinker is a longtime Standardbred industry journalist and former Standardbred trainer. To comment on this story, email us at readerforum@ustrotting.com.

 

 

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