Bill Oppenheim's "In My Opinion"
Monday, March 23, 2020

An excerpt of Bill Oppenheim's "In My Opinion" column in BloodHorse Daily, posted on March 22.

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Under the RADAR: Fourth-Crop Sire Paynter

It's not easy for sires to keep their spots on the Kentucky stallion roster. The top 10 North American sires who went to stud in 2014 (first foals in 2015, first 5-year-olds in 2020) by cumulative progeny earnings all started off in Kentucky, but only five of the 10 still stand there. Interestingly, four of the five no longer in Kentucky—New Year's Day (via Brazil), Declaration of War, Shanghai Bobby, and Animal Kingdom—are in Japan; Flat Out  is now in Oklahoma.

Of those who remain, only Violence , second by cumulative progeny earnings to New Year's Day, the sire of Maximum Security, stands for more than $20,000, and only Declaration of War has more than one grade/group 1 winner. Take Charge Indy , third by cumulative progeny earnings, was justifiably repatriated from South Korea by WinStar and stands for $17,500; but it is another WinStar stallion, fourth-ranked Paynter, whose name keeps popping up on the score sheets, to the point where he is looking exceptionally good value at his current $10,000 stud fee. 

Paynter was a $325,000 yearling trained by Bob Baffert for Zayat Stables and was a frontrunning, two-turn 3-year-old in 2012 when he set the pace and finished second, a neck behind Union Rags, in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and kicked clear off a contested pace to win the Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1).

By Ghostzapper's sire, Awesome Again, out of a full sister to Tiznow , Paynter went to stud at WinStar Farm, where he stood his first two seasons for $25,000, then the next two for $20,000, and registered over 340 named foals in his first four crops. Unfortunately, he was ninth on the 2017 freshman sire leaderboard and dropped to $12,500 for 2018, resulting in only 23 foals in 2019, yearlings of 2020—so even if we have sales, there won't be many yearlings by Paynter offered.

Things started to improve for Paynter in 2018. He finished third on that year's second-crop sires list behind Violence and Take Charge Indy with help from his grade 1-winning 2-year-old son Knicks Go. In 2019, when he covered 97 mares at $12,500, he was the No. 3 third-crop sire behind Take Charge Indy and Declaration of War, with four black-type winners, 12 black-type horses, and 2019 earners of $6 million, and he finished 2019 with a very respectable 1.71 APEX A Runner Index, the highest among F2015 sires still standing in North America.

In 2020, he is the second-leading North American fourth-crop sire behind only New Year's Day and already has four black-type winners and seven black-type horses, including 3-year-old fillies Queen of God, the winner of the Maxim Crane Works Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park, and Ring Leader, the winner of the Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Verdict: After blowing the start, Paynter has consistently notched up respectable figures for a $10,000 stallion. For breeders who still have a mare seeking a mate, he is exceptionally good value right now. In my opinion.

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