Thoroughbred Times: Northern Afleet off to fast start in '11
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
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Courtesy Thoroughbred Times Today
by Ed DeRosa

The Sunshine Millions provided a thrill for fans of Northern Afleet progeny, as the 18-year-old Afleet stallion sired half of the winners on the six-race program for Florida- and California-breds to move into second among North America-based stallions by progeny earnings.

Evening Jewel, who already was a multiple Grade 1 winner before annexing the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff Stakes in her second start as a four-year-old, led the way in earnings while Amazombie and Aegean won a pair of races worth $200,000 each: the Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes and Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint Stakes, respectively.

“These were restricted races, but if you look at the horses who won, they’ve been successful in other races as well,” said Ben Taylor, vice president of Taylor Made Stallions where Northern Afleet stands for an advertised stud fee of $12,500, up 25% from $10,000 in 2010. “He has live horses who are sound on the track and there are a lot of foals in the pipeline. He’s booking up, so people are finding real value in him.”

Taylor Made brought Northern Afleet to its Nicholasville, Kentucky, farm from Double Diamond in Ocala following the 2004 breeding season, when Afleet Alex burst on the scene as a Grade 1-winning two-year-old. Afleet Alex rewarded that move as a three-year-old by winning the Preakness (G1) and Belmont (G1) Stakes en route to the Eclipse Award as champion three-year-old male.

Northern Afleet stood at Double Diamond for six seasons, 1999-2004, for an advertised fee of $5,000 each year. Taylor Made more than doubled his fee for 2005 to $12,500, and Afleet Alex’s continued success helped that fee increase to $20,000 for 2006. He then decreased for each of the next three years to $7,500 for the 2008 season, but Taylor said Northern Afleet has weathered the tough economic climate beautifully to have had his fee increase in each of the past two years.

“To stay where you’re at stud-fee wise or even go up, you have to be doing something out of the ordinary,” Taylor said. “Since this weekend [and the Sunshine Millions] we’ve had a lot of calls, too. He’s definitely caught the attention of a lot of people and is booking up quicker than last year. People see you can get a racehorse out of him or if it looks good then they sell pretty well, too.”

One of the colts for 2011 that Taylor is most excited about is only a maiden winner, but he expects big things from Sovereign Default, who defeated Stay Thirsty to win his career debut before not racing for another 6 1/2 months. He returned Saturday at Gulfstream Park in a first-level allowance race and finished second to Crossbow.

“I think a lot of people are overlooking that race, but if [Sovereign Default] stays good, he can be a graded stakes winner before his career is over,” Taylor said.

In addition to the aforementioned Afleet Alex and Evening Jewel, Northern Afleet is the sire of two other Grade 1 or Group 1 winners in Negligee and Big City Man. From nine crops age three and older, Northern Afleet has sired 35 stakes winners among 385 winners from 494 starters that have earned $34,702,975 through January 30.