By Bill Heller
Breaking Kentucky’s stranglehold on any stallion list is impressive, and that’s exactly what 10-year-old New York stallion Central Banker has accomplished. In two consecutive years.
In 2018, Central Banker, who stands for $7,500 at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, ranked fourth nationally in progeny earnings among first-crop sires, with more than $1 million. He was the only member of the top nine first-crop sires standing outside Kentucky.
This year, through November 25th, Central Banker ranks fifth among second-crop sires with more than $2.8 million in progeny earnings. And he is the only sire in the top seven who isn’t standing in Kentucky. That he’s also the lowest priced of those seven stallions makes his success even more noteworthy.
There’s more. He also ranks very high among second-crop sires with repeat winners. “I believe that he has more repeat winners than any second-crop sire,” Joe McMahon said. “I believe he has 50 percent winners who win a second time. That’s a very high number.”
Central Banker also has a higher Average Earnings Index than a Comparable Index which, according to Blood-Horse Magazine, only occurs in 32 percent of all stallions. The Average Earnings Index measures progeny earnings in relation to the average earnings of all runners in the same year. The Comparable Index indicates the average earnings of progeny produced from mares to one sire when those same mares were bred to other sires. Central Banker’s Average Earnings Index is 1.40; his Comparable Index is 1.22. “That means, on average, he ups his mares 20 percent, which is a very big indicator of sire success,” McMahon said.
On the racetrack, Central Banker – a son of $1.25 million earner Speightstown out of the Go for Gin mare Rhum, who won seven races and earned more than $300,000 – won four of 13 starts, including the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes and the Quick Call Stakes, and finished second in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes.
“We were looking for a speed horse that had run in top company,” McMahon said. “When we went and saw him, we were very impressed. He was very balanced and he had great bone. He would get a lot of mares, and he could pass on his precocity. He’s by Speightstown, who’s already had Munnings. We thought Central Banker could be a horse who would do very well in New York.”
And he has. Last year, he sired 75 starters with 36 victories. His most successful horse was Bankit, who earned $329,625 as a two-year-old in 2018 thanks to a victory in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes. At three, Bankit won the New York Derby and finished second in the Albany Stakes, increasing his earnings to more than $530,000.
Through November 5th of this year, Central Banker has had 87 starters with 43 victories, led by Newly Minted ($362,100), whose four victories in five dirt starts included the Park Avenue Division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series, the Bouwerie Stakes and the Fleet Indian Stakes. She finished fourth as the 6-5 favorite in the $260,000 Empire Distaff on October 19th at Belmont Park. She fell after the wire, but trainer Linda Rice said she was just exhausted from the race. Since then, Newly Minted has shown no after effects, working a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 on November 3rd, the fastest of 26 horses working on the Belmont Park training track that day. Newly Minted also finished third as the 3-5 favorite in her lone turf try in a division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series. Horses competitive in stakes on both dirt and turf are rare, and Newly Minted has a bright future.
Only offspring of registered New York stallions are eligible to compete for the $2.3 million offered in the New York Stallion Stakes Series, which culminates in the $500,000 Great White Way Division for two-year-olds on December 14th and the $500,000 Fifth Avenue Division for two-year-old fillies on December 15th. They are the biggest purses offered in stallion stakes for two-year-olds in the country.
Newly Minted wasn’t Central Banker’s lone hit this season. Dark Money, a three-year-old gelding, posted four victories and two seconds in eight starts this year. Moonachie, a two-year-old gelding, won his debut in a maiden special weight at Saratoga by 10 lengths, then finished fourth in the $145,000 Bertram F. Bongard Stakes. Bank On Shea, a two-year-old colt, won his maiden special weight debut at Saratoga, then finished third in the $100,000 Notebook Stakes.
Despite Central Banker’s considerable success, McMahon said that Central Banker will stand for the same $7,500 in 2020. “Last year he bred 130 mares and he had so much success,” McMahon said. “If I keep him at $7,500, he’ll attract better mares than the ones he had.”
Of course, being part of the rich New York-bred program is just an added incentive. “I think that on the whole, breeders around the country don’t recognize the value of the New York program, to get a 30 percent breeder award,” McMahon said. “That’s a huge incentive. For the life of me, I don’t understand why more breeders don’t take advantage of that. I just don’t get that.”
He certainly does, and standing horses as prolific as Central Banker can only draw more attention to the New York-bred program. And Central Banker could become even more successful next year.
“Every once in a while, you get lucky,” McMahon said.
When it happens two straight years to begin a stallion’s career it’s long-term lucky, or simply a reward for McMahon’s faith in him and in the rich New York-bred program.