The meteoric rise of Into Mischief featured another milestone in 2019 as Spendthrift Farm’s flagship stallion landed his first North American sires’ championship.

Into Mischief’s relentless march towards elite territory has been well documented; although a two-year-old Grade 1 winner, the son of Harlan’s Holiday was once available for as little as $7,500 in the era that his crop sizes dropped to as low as 27. Then the winners started rolling and the floodgates opened.

That first crop of 42 foals contained seven black-type winners led by the Santa Anita Derby and dual Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile hero Goldencents. Dual Grade 2 winner Vicar’s In Trouble emerged out of his second crop of 27.

As the quality and size of his crops improved, so did the results. His first large $20,000 crop, foaled in 2014, was highlighted by the excellent two-year-old Practical Joke, who supplemented his juvenile victories in the Champagne and Hopeful Stakes with that in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at three.

Fellow Grade 1 winners Audible and Mia Mischief followed to highlight his 2015 representatives while last year’s three-year-olds already include 11 stakes winners, led by the brilliantly fast Covfefe, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint heroine.

None of these horses were bred off a fee greater than $45,000, which poses the question exactly what Into Mischief might be capable of once his $100,000-plus crops start to filter through; the first crop in question are yearlings of 2020.

“Into Mischief reigns as one of North America’s busiest stallions”

As it is, he ended 2019 as North America’s champion sire thanks to a total of $18,916,923.

He was also out on his own in terms of winners, with 218 to his credit, while his tally of 23 black-type winners fell second only to Tapit.

In a rare sweep of achievements, Into Mischief was also crowned North America’s champion sire of two-year-olds thanks to the winners of approximately $3.4 million.

Today, Into Mischief reigns as one of North America’s busiest stallions – he covered 241 mares at a fee of $150,000 in 2019 and was booked full for 2020 at $175,000 by September last year – while demand for his progeny at auction is growing stronger by the year, as a 2019 yearling average of $329,006 demonstrates.

He is also making inroads as a sire of sires, with his first major son to stud, Goldencents, ending 2019 as North America’s leading second crop sire. Fittingly, he stands alongside Into Mischief at Spendthrift.

Into Mischief is still relatively young at 15-years-old and has the prospect of a series of large, expensive crops to work for him. Therefore, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that 2019 marked the first in a line of championships.

Indeed, he has already made his presence felt in 2020 as the sire of Authentic and Sound Machine, successful in the Grade 3 Sham and Listed Glitter Woman Stakes within hours of each other on January 4.

Deserved runner-up spot for Curlin

Also on a rapid upward trajectory is Curlin (Hill ’n’ Dale Farm: stands for $175,000), whose seasonal earnings total of $15,392,811 placed him in a clear second ahead of Tapit.

2020 promises to be an important year for Curlin given his first $100,000 crop, sired in his first season at Hill ’n’ Dale Farm following his switch from Lane’s End, turn three.

Vino Rosso winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2019 – Photo: George Selwyn

Curlin is well regarded as a source of quality two turn performers – think Vino Rosso, Palace Malice, Exaggerator, Stellar Wind, Good Magic and Keen Ice – and hopes will be high that this particularly well-connected group, which already includes Canadian Group 3 scorer Curlin’s Voyage, will follow suit.

Curlin’s year in 2019 was highlighted by the performances of older horse Vino Rosso, a member of his 2015 $25,000 crop who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

In all, the son of Smart Strike sired 141 winners, 11 of whom were Graded stakes scorers.

Tapit continues to reign

In terms of black-type winners, however, no stallion in the US could touch Tapit (Gainesway Farm; $200,000). Although the former three-time champion sire, who set an earnings record of $19,245,198 in 2016, failed to muster a Grade 1 winner during 2019, he ended the year with an impressive total of 26 stakes winners, among them 13 in Graded stakes company.

In turn, those horses contributed to an earnings total of $14,331,109 to place him in third ahead of another former champion sire in the late Giant’s Causeway, whose figure of $13,244,954 was heavily enhanced by five-time Grade 1 winner Bricks And Mortar.

Such was Bricks And Mortar’s influence that Giant’s Causeway was able to wrest the North American leading turf sire title away from Kitten’s Joy (Hill ’n’ Dale Farm: $75,000) thanks to a total of close to $10.4 million.

Turf hero Bricks And Mortar is by Tapit

More to come from Quality Road

Another stallion to benefit from the lucrative achievements of a single horse was Quality Road, whose first top five finish was aided by the $4 million earned by City Of Light for his win in the Pegasus World Cup. Having said that, Quality Road fired in four Grade 1 winners during the course of 2019, namely Alabama Stakes heroine Dunbar Road, Santa Anita Derby winner Roadster and Santa Anita Oaks scorer Bellafina in addition to City Of Light – no stallion sired more in North America last year.

Quality Road (Lane’s End Farm; $200,000) didn’t stand for more than $35,000 until 2018 so rather like Into Mischief, there is the promise of much greater to come, something that marks the Lane’s End stallion as potential championship material.

Special mention must also go to Darley’s Hard Spun ($40,000), whose first crop of three-year-olds following his return from Japan featured three Grade 1 winners led by Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile hero Spun To Run.

Hard Not To Love also took the La Brea Stakes while Out For A Spin struck in the Ashland Stakes to help push Hard Spun to a figure of $11,262,498 in sixth position, narrowly ahead of his stud mate Medaglia d’Oro ($200,000) in seventh.

Pharoah reigning as first-crop sire

The victory of Four Wheel Drive in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint sealed American Pharoah’s place as North America’s champion first-crop sire of 2019. With a final total of $2,703,916, not to mention 27 individual winners, four black-type winners and 11 black-type performers registered in North America, American Pharoah (Coolmore America: private fee) emphatically justified those high expectations of held of him since the Triple Crown winner took up stud duty at Ashford Stud in 2016.

Among those black-type performers are a significant number of turf runners, notably Four Wheel Drive, Monarch Of Egypt, Maven and Sweet Jessamine, making him an increasingly interesting option for Europe going forward.

Even so, in a nod to Tapit’s growing legacy as a sire of sires, particular credit must go to the runner-up Constitution (WinStar Farm: $40,000). The Florida Derby and Donn Handicap hero didn’t even race at two yet enjoyed a spectacular debut showing with his first crop of juveniles as the sire of five stakes winners among his 27 scorers.

American Pharoah – Photo: George Selwyn

They include the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes winner Tiz The Law, the unbeaten Grade 3 winner Independence Hall, who recently resumed with a runaway win in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct, and Grade 2 winner Amalfi Sunrise.

Constitution is one of two sons of Tapit within the top five first-crop sires alongside Darby Dan Farm’s Tapiture ($7,500), also the sire of 27 winners.

Also worthy of mention is Palace Malice (Three Chimneys Farm: $25,000), Curlin’s first major son to stud whose first crop of 20 winners included Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf hero Structor, and Liam’s Map (Lane’s End: $35,000), the sire of Grade 1 winners Basin and Wicked Whisper.