Sire vs. sire: battle to the wire Allen's Prospect, Two Punch in duel for progeny earnings

October 17, 1997|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

As sleek, glistening thoroughbreds compete tomorrow on Maryland Million Day, another competition -- much more subtle but no less intense -- takes place at two horse farms miles from Laurel Park.

The race for top Maryland sire rages between Allen's Prospect and Two Punch, two disparate stallions amazingly close in statistics. Although the sons and daughters of each have earned nearly $2.5 million so far this year, a mere $5,516 separates them.

As of Wednesday, the progeny of Allen's Prospect led Two Punch by a whisker. But tomorrow's Maryland Million races worth $1 million, restricted to horses sired by Maryland stallions, could reverse the order.

Eleven Allen's Prospect offspring race tomorrow -- including three in the $100,000 Maryland Million Distaff Handicap and four in the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint Handicap.

Only four Two Punch offspring compete. That puts the white stallion at a distinct disadvantage against the bay one, but it's a disadvantage Two Punch has dealt with for a decade.

"They're constantly shadow boxing each other," said Mike Pons, whose family runs Country Life Farm. "Each time one throws a blow, the other guy moves to counter."

Home to Allen's Prospect, Country Life Farm is near Bel Air in Harford County. It is the birthplace of Cigar.

Two Punch resides at Northview Stallion Station near Chesapeake City in Cecil County. Northview blossomed where Windfields Farm once stood. It was home to Northern Dancer, one of the world's greatest sires.

Although Allen's Prospect and Two Punch, both sons of Mr. Prospector, live and breed in different zip codes, their careers began mimicking each other from the moment they drove their hoofs into racetrack dirt.

Injuries cut short promising racing careers. Owned by Allen E. Paulson (named after him, too) and trained by Ron McAnally, Allen's Prospect raced only seven times, winning three. Trained by the legendary Woody Stephens, Two Punch competed eight times, winning four.

Since entering stud the same year, 1987, they've competed neck-and-neck.

The percentage of their named foals who started in a race is identical: 79 percent. The percentage of starters who have won is nearly identical: 81 percent for Two Punch, 79 percent for Allen's Prospect.

Those figures are phenomenal.

"If you breed your mare to either of them and don't get a runner, you'd better look long and hard at that mare," said Josh Pons, Mike's brother and president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. "Those stallions are odds-on to give you a winner."

Of the 435 named foals by Allen's Prospect, 271 have won at least one race. Of the 313 by Two Punch, 200 have won.

Their progeny earnings are remarkably similar -- $14,863,284 for Allen's Prospect, $14,030,972 for Two Punch, a difference of only $832,312.

And this year, they're sprinting toward a photo finish -- aren't they?

Richard Golden, president of Northview Stallion Station, said the stallions are not close in the most crucial category.

"Certainly their stud fee separates them," Golden said. "There really isn't a contest between the two horses."

Two Punch's fee for next year is $20,000, highest in the state. Allen's Prospect's is $12,500.

A sire of fewer foals simply because he's been bred to fewer mares, Two Punch makes up for lack of quantity in quality. He has sired six graded-stakes winners, compared to Allen's Prospect's one.

"Two Punch is clearly the best son of Mr. Prospector standing in Maryland," Josh Pons acknowledged. "Allen's Prospect is a very credible second. Clearly they're the two best stallions in the region, day in and day out."

Injuries have sidelined the fastest of Two Punch's offspring this year, including Smoke Glacken, K.O. Punch, Storm Punch and Two Smart. But his babies sell for top dollar. The average paid for four Two Punch yearlings in select sales this year at Saratoga and Keeneland was $187,500.

In 1994, Two Punch led Maryland sires with progeny earnings of $2.5 million. Last year, Allen's Prospect led with $3.2 million.

And two years ago, Allen's Prospect led all stallions in North America in two categories: 109 of his offspring won, and they won 214 races. Three years ago, he led the continent when his sons and daughters won 200 races.

For the teams at Northview and Country Life, this competition between stallions leads to good-natured ribbing.

"Clients who have interests in both horses tease me: 'Did you see Two Punch had a stakes winner in New York? Did you see what that Two Punch did at the sales?' " Josh Pons said.

"But we've got mares in foal to Two Punch, and Northview has mares up there in foal to Allen's Prospect. And Tom Bowman, one of Northview's owners, is our vet. In the spring he does all our reproductive work. It's good to bust his chops once in a while."

Tomorrow's Maryland Million is the ultimate competition for the state's thoroughbred racing industry: owner vs. owner, breeder vs. breeder, trainer vs. trainer, jockey vs. jockey, horse vs. horse -- and stallion vs. stallion.

If you're going

What: Maryland Million Day; 11 races for horses sired by Maryland stallions

Total purses: $1 million

Highlight: $200,000 Classic

Where: Laurel Park

When: Tomorrow; first race post time is 12: 30 p.m.

TV: Ch. 45, 4 to 6 p.m.

Neck and neck

A look at two stallions:

Allen's Prospect ..... ..... Two Punch

Year entered stud 1987 ..... 1987

No. of named foals 435 ..... 313

Starters 343 ............... 247

Winners 271 ................ 200

Stakes winners 25 .......... 23

Stakes placed 44 ........... 43

Gr.-stks wnrs 1 ............ 6

Prgny earn. $14.86M ........ $14.03M

1997 figures

Starters 151 ............... 99

Winners 85 ................. 50

Stakes winners 6 ........... 7

Stakes placed 12 ........... 9

Earnings $2.49M ............ $2.49M

Pub Date: 10/17/97

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