It is now just over three years since Roberto’s veteran son Dynaformer died at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, days after he had suffered an aortic valve rupture.
It is a measure of Dynaformer’s achievements that his fee at the age of 27 in 2012 had stood at $150,000, whereas he had started his career at a mere $5,000 in 1990. Unfortunately the American Jockey Club’s statistics record that only one live foal was produced by the 21 mares he had covered in 2012, so we are rapidly approaching the end of a glorious era.
One of Dynaformer’s obituaries, by Janet Patton, made it clear that he had inherited a fair degree of the high-mettled temperament sometimes associated with his sire Roberto and especially with Ribot, the grandsire of Dynaformer’s dam. Indeed, Patton described the stallion’s temperament as “surly”.
He reminds us that looks aren’t everything, and that the will to win is that intangible ingredient we are all striving to find
Patton continued: “His trainer, D Wayne Lukas, allegedly called Dynaformer ‘the most difficult horse I ever trained.’ And Dynaformer’s stall at Three Chimneys added credence to that reputation: the iron bars were distinctly bent out at the bottom, the result of displeasing the great Dynaformer.”
Robert Clay, co-owner with his wife Blythe of Three Chimneys Farm, said: “‘Dynaformer’s tough spirit will continue to influence our breed for many years to come. He reminds us that looks aren’t everything, and that the will to win is that intangible ingredient we are all striving to find.”
Three Chimneys stallion manager Sandy Hatfield said: “He commanded respect and total attention at all times. He had earned every bit of his reputation as being one of the toughest stallions in the industry, but when it came to his job in the breeding shed he was a total professional. In my opinion, our industry has lost one of the greatest sires it will ever see.”
When I mentioned Dynaformer’s demise in the September 2012 Caulfield Files, I wrote that the saddest aspect of his death was that he did not have any Grade 1-winning stallion sons in Kentucky, despite having racked up the magnificent total of 23 Grade 1 winners on the Flat. It would have been a very different story, I speculated, had his 2006 Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro not suffered such a catastrophic injury in the Preakness Stakes.
Consequently, it became all the more important that one of his youngest Grade 1 winners, Point Of Entry, should build on his reputation. Handicapped by a May 10 birthday, this big horse began to shine as a four-year-old in 2012. By the end of the year he had landed three Grade 1 victories on turf at up to a mile and a half, plus a close second after a troubled passage in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He kept up the good work in 2013, adding two more Grade 1 victories on his first two starts, this time over nine furlongs and a mile and a quarter. By this time Frank Stronach, of Adena Springs, had purchased a majority interest in him.
Stronach, of course, had every justification for adding a turf horse to his roster, having previously enjoyed considerable success with El Prado. Not every American breeder, though, shares his enthusiasm for turf performers, so I wondered how well Point Of Entry would be accepted by the breeding community. It appears I shouldn’t have worried. No doubt helped by having a first-rate female line – and perhaps by the scale of success being enjoyed by Kitten’s Joy, a turf horse with a similar background – Point Of Entry covered 112 mares at a fee of $25,000 in his first season in 2014. It transpires that the quality of his first book was also high, so I am hopeful that the numerous Europeans who did so well with Dynaformer’s progeny will be taking a close look at Point Of Entry’s first yearlings next year.
Fortunately, Dynaformer’s male line isn’t entirely dependent on Point of Entry. Three Chimneys Farm – so long the home of Dynaformer – is now standing his son Brilliant Speed. Good enough to win the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and to finish third in the Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf, this versatile horse is well qualified but has been struggling for support, with each of his first two books numbering fewer than 50 mares. However, Dynaformer had to make his name with comparatively small crops, so this may not prove an insurmountable obstacle for Brilliant Speed.
Another inexpensive Kentucky-based son of Dynaformer has recently made a bright start. This is Temple City, whose only Graded stakes success in 15 starts came in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap on the all-weather, although he was narrowly beaten at Grade 1 level on turf. Part of his appeal was that he is out of a half-sister to Malibu Moon, whose stallion career has been one of rags to riches, and Temple City may be destined to follow in his relative’s footsteps. Starting out at a fee of $5,000, he has earned an increase to $12,500, thanks to having sired four Experimental Free Handicap horses and six Triple Crown nominees from a first crop of 83 named foals.
European breeders now have the chance of using Dynaformer’s well-travelled son Americain, who has moved to the Irish National Stud. It will be interesting to see whether this winner of the Melbourne Cup proves more popular on this side of the Atlantic than he was in Kentucky. As a stayer who raced on turf, Americain was never going to find it easy going in Kentucky, where he covered 58 mares in his first season and 41 in his second.