MIDWAY, Ky. — On the eve of their first son's impressive Kentucky Derby victory, Barbaro's parents were busy working on offspring number three.
Although the colt or filly conceived May 5 likely will fetch a sky-high sale price -- siblings of Derby winners always do -- Barbaro had especially good genetic luck. He inherited his father's stamina for distance running and his mother's good looks.
Barbaro's sire, Dynaformer, is one of the nation's top stallions and gets $100,000 every time he helps create a foal. But a beauty he is not.
Now 21, well past middle age for a thoroughbred, Dynaformer's coat is splotched with uneven shades of brown. Several veins are visible on his legs, and he's developing a bit of a gut. With his newfound publicity after his son's Derby conquest, Dynaformer's groom trimmed his frizzy mane, hoping to make him somewhat more presentable for the cameras.
"Horse racing is not a beauty contest," said Dan Rosenberg, president of Three Chimneys Farm, where Dynaformer lives. "If your nose gets to the wire first, you're a good horse. If you produce good race horses, you're a good horse, regardless of what you look like."
And Dynaformer certainly produces good race horses. Last year, no sire in the United States had offspring that earned more money. He has been ranked in the top five stallions several years in a row.
George Krikorian, a Los Angeles businessman who owns a chain of movie theaters and breeds horses on the side, is a regular buyer of Dynaformer offspring. With Barbaro's success, he's anticipating a huge price hike.
Dynaformer gets about 110 mares a year, and while Three Chimneys managers haven't set next year's prices yet, they acknowledge demand is beginning to exceed supply.
"No offense to Smarty Jones, but he hasn't proven what he can produce yet as a stallion," Krikorian said. "Dynaformer's a proven commodity. I'd rather invest my money in a proven commodity."
Dynaformer never won a Grade I stakes race, but plenty of offspring have had success -- particularly in turf and distance runs. He sired two third-place Derby finishers, Blumin Affair in 1994 and Perfect Drift in 2002, as well as McDynamo, the top steeplechase horse three years running.
But while Dynaformer is a star within the breeding industry, thousands of tourists visit Three Chimneys each year to see someone else. Smarty Jones, perhaps the nation's most beloved living thoroughbred after his victories in the 2004 Derby and Preakness, now stands at the farm.