The world’s most expensive stallions are an international group, ranging from the European stalwarts Galileo, Dubawi and Frankel to seasoned Americans such as War Front and Tapit and the Japanese phenomenon Deep Impact. This year’s dectet, however, also includes an increasingly powerful Australian influence in Snitzel, who continues to rewrite the record books in his native land.
Once again, this year’s also pays a fine tribute to Urban Sea, the dam of Galileo - himself sire of Frankel - and Sea The Stars.
1998 Sadler’s Wells - Urban Sea (Miswaki)
Stands: Coolmore Stud, Ireland. Fee: private
It’s a measure of the level of dominance that we have come to expect from Galileo that the figure of £6,868,424 earned by his progeny across Britain and Ireland in 2018 is suggestive of an average year.
That, however, is ‘average’ in the context of Galileo’s world, where records tumble and classic winners flow with clockwork regularity.
2016 and 2017 had both been exceptionally strong for Galileo, each yielding the stallion in excess of £10 million in prize money in Britain and Ireland (£11,916,878 over the course of 2017, to be exact). 2018 couldn’t quite keep pace with those staggering totals, yet that £6.9 million achieved by his progeny was still almost £2.8 million ahead of his closest pursuer Dubawi.
Not only that, 2018 was a year of landmarks.
Galileo surpassed the mark of 73 G1 winners set by his sire, Sadler’s Wells, when Magical, a sister to Lockinge Stakes winner Rhododendron, struck in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot in October. Danehill’s figure of 84 now lies on the horizon, ready to be overwhelmed.
In August, meanwhile, he toppled Sadler’s Wells’ mark of 327 progeny wins in European Pattern races when Sizzling landed the G3 Give Thanks Stakes at Cork.
There were also a pair of British classic winners in Forever Together (Oaks) and Kew Gardens (St Leger) to bring that particular tally to 12. And, in November, there was another landmark of sorts when Line Of Duty, part of the first clutch of Galileo yearlings to be bought at auction by Godolphin, won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Overall, he sired 31 stakes winners in Britain and Ireland (Dubawi was next best with 13) and 34 across Europe in total.
They came during a year in which Galileo also featured as the grandsire of Cracksman (by Frankel), Enable (by Nathaniel), Masar (by New Approach) and Cross Counter (by Teofilo) as well as the damsire of Saxon Warrior, US Navy Flag, Sistercharlie, Magna Grecia and The Autumn Sun.
We are at stage now where many superlatives don’t do Galileo justice. He has become the benchmark by which excellence in the stallion world is measured and will undoubtedly continue to fill that role long after he ceases to be in active service.
Today, Galileo is primarily the domain of Coolmore and its associates, meaning that those outside breeders wishing to pay for his services naturally have to contend with a hefty fee; although listed as ‘private’ since 2008, recent off-the-record reports suggest his fee now sits around the €600,000 mark, a figure that easily makes him the world’s most expensive sire.
Given he has just turned 21 years old, demand for his services is likely to become only even more intense.
Galileo was 2nd in the TRC Global Sire Rankings at the end of 2018
2. DEEP IMPACT
2002 Sunday Silence - Wind In Her Hair (Alzao)
Stands: Shadai Stallion Station, Japan. Fee: 40 million yen (£289,000)
Deep Impact remains Japan’s answer to Galileo, and is by far the most expensive sire in his homeland as a result.
A year-end total of 6,926,712,000 yen was enough to see him land his seventh consecutive Japanese sires’ championship, while a group of 47 juvenile winners played their part in Shadai’s supersire gaining his eighth champion 2-year-old sire title. All the while, his standing as a major international force continues to grow, as does the idea that he is on the cusp of becoming a broodmare sire of note.
Domestically, the star players covered the racing spectrum, ranging from classic winners Wagnerian, his fourth winner of the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), and Fierement, successful in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger), to top 2yo Danon Fantasy (won Hanshin Juvenile Fillies) and milers Jour Polaire (won Victoria Mile) and Keiai Nautique (won NHK Mile Cup).
Their victories came amid a season in which Deep Impact was also represented internationally by Newmarket 2000 Guineas hero Saxon Warrior and Prix du Jockey-Club winner Study Of Man; while the latter stays in training for the Niarchos family, Saxon Warrior is bound to be busy at a fee of €30,000 at Coolmore in Ireland this season.
There is now a slew of sons of Deep Impact at stud worldwide. A handful have runners, among them Danon Ballade, whose encouraging start prompted his repatriation from the UK to Japan for the 2019 season. Now the focus switches to the likes of Kizuna, Real Impact (who also shuttles to Arrowfield Stud in Australia) and Spielberg as their first 2yos take to the track, meaning that by this stage next year we will have a much better idea of how Deep Impact’s legacy as a sire of sires is set to unfold.
Nor does it take too much imagination to envisage fellow Shadai stallion Lord Kanaloa breaking into the world’s top ten most expensive stallions for 2020. Shadai hoisted his fee to 15 million yen (£107,000) for 2019 off the back of a year that featured the standout 3yo filly Almond Eye, Kyoto Mile winner Stelvio and top 2yo Saturnalia.
The fact the son of King Kamehameha is already a proven outlet for Sunday Silence blood only serves to underline his importance to Shadai and the Japanese industry as a whole.
Deep Impact was 4th in the TRC Global Sire Rankings at the end of 2018
2002 Dubai Millennium - Zomaradah (Deploy)
Stands: Dalham Hall Stud, UK. Fee: £250,000
Darley’s flagship stallion Dubawi hit an important milestone in July when becoming the only British-based stallion to reach 100 Group/Graded winners. Along the way there have been 38 G1 winners led by the Newmarket 2000 Guineas winners Makfi and Night Of Thunder, a leading light of the Hong Kong sprint ranks in Lucky Bubbles, popular older horses such as Al Kazeem and Postponed, and even a pair of Dubai World Cup winners in Monterosso and Prince Bishop.
2018 provided more of the same. The sextet of G1 winners included older horses such as Benbatl (a G1 winner in Dubai, Australia and Germany), Kitesurf (won Prix Vermeille) and North America (won Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3) alongside leading 3yo filly Wild Illusion (won Nassau Stakes and Prix de l’Opera). Yet the real beauty of the past season lies in the potential of 2yos Too Darn Hot and Quorto, who between them swept the Dewhurst, Solario and National Stakes.
Too Darn Hot’s victory in the Dewhurst placed an exclamation point on Dubawi’s excellent season, one that saw him reach second spot on the leading British and Irish sires’ table with just over £4 million in earnings. His popularity unsurprisingly also soared to lofty levels in the sale ring, as illustrated by a yearling average of 767,632gns, a figure buoyed by the presence of five seven-figure youngsters, led by the 3,500,000 gns brother to Too Darn Hot; knocked down to David Redvers on behalf of Qatar Racing, he is set to join his older brother in John Gosden’s yard.
Dubawi was top of the TRC Global Sire Rankings at the end of 2018
4. WAR FRONT
2003 Danzig - Starry Dreamer (Rubiano)
Stands: Claiborne Farm, USA. Fee: $250,000 (£197,000)
War Front embarks on his third season at a fee of $250,000, although off-the-record reports suggest that breeders have often paid far more to secure a nomination to the horse, who rarely covers more than 110 mares a year.
Officially, however, War Front heads into 2019 as America’s most expensive stallion, a far cry from the days when he was standing within the $10,000 - $15,000 bracket.
Out of those cheap crops, he sired the likes of Declaration Of War and War Command, two horses who were influential in consolidating Coolmore’s interest in War Front.
Now we’re starting to see those first $150,000 - $200,000 crops filter through; indeed it was those $150,000 crops that yielded US Navy Flag, the 2017 Dewhurst and Middle Park Stakes winner who followed up in last year’s July Cup, and Fog Of War and War Of Will, who ran first and second in the G1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine in September.
Other stand-outs of the past season included Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Lancaster Bomber and Underwood Stakes winner Homesman, another good one by the stallion to be bred by War Front’s owner-breeder, Joseph Allen.
With his status as one of the world’s leading sources of turf speed well established, War Front has long been a darling of the sale ring, something that was once again on show at Keeneland in September when he accounted for five million-dollar yearlings. One of them, a colt out of Streaming, made $2.4 million to MV Magnier to not only top the sale but become the most expensive yearling sold in America in 2018.
That colt is among a crop of juveniles for War Front that also includes the progeny of G1 winners Bracelet, Chicquita, Cursory Glance, Emollient, Immortal Verse, Marvellous, Tapestry, Together Forever and Was, as well as the full or half-siblings to US Navy Flag, Brave Anna, Lancaster Bomber and Muhaarar.
2019 will also offer further insight into War Front’s legacy as a sire of sires as the first runners by Summer Front, Jack Milton and Due Diligence come under scrutiny.
War Front was 29th in the TRC Global Sire Rankings at the end of 2018
2001 Pulpit - Tap Your Heels (Unbridled)
Stands: Gainesway Farm, USA. Fee: $225,000 (£178,000)
Three-time American champion sire Tapit drops to $225,000 from $300,000 for 2019. Tapit stood his first $300,000 season in 2015 when in the midst of a golden era that peaked in 2016 with a whopping prize-money haul of $19.2 million.
The son of Pulpit checked in at $12,864,453 this time around. It’s a very respectable figure but one that places him in fifth on a leading sires’ list that has come to be skewed by the Pegasus World Cup.
Unique Bella, the G1 Clement L Hirsch Handicap and Beholder Mile winner, led the way. However, the year also provided much encouragement for the future, notably via Chasing Yesterday, the half-sister to American Pharoah who won the G1 Starlet Stakes.
2018 was also the year that Tapit’s son Tapizar was represented by the brilliant Monomoy Girl. While various other sons have also enjoyed their share of success at a lower level, 2019 promises to be a pivotal year in that regard for Tapit as the first crops of other sons Constitution, Tonalist, Tapiture, Normandy Invasion and Race Day take to the track.
Tapit was 32nd in the TRC Global Sire Rankings at the end of 2018
2008 Galileo - Kind (Danehill)
Stands: Banstead Manor Stud, UK. Fee: £175,000
Juddmonte took the decision to raise Frankel’s fee from £125,000 to £175,000 for the 2018 season, and 12 months on the move looks vindicated.
Cracksman, winner of the Qipco Champion Stakes, Coronation Cup and Prix Ganay, led the way among a quartet of G1 winners in 2018 that also ranged from G1-winning miler Without Parole to stayer Call The Wind, winner of the Prix du Cadran. As such, he finished fourth on the leading European sires’ table, despite having fewer crops on the ground than many of his rivals.
He was also represented in Japan by the G1-winning miler Mozu Ascot.
Few stallions have come under as much scrutiny as Frankel, whose unblemished record for Sir Henry Cecil included 11 victories at the top level. Granted exceptional support from Juddmonte Farms and many of the world’s elite breeders from the outset, he has had every chance to do well. However, as the quickest European stallion to reach the landmark of 20 Northern Hemisphere Group winners, not to mention an overall tally 34 stakes winners from 420 foals of racing age, he himself is now entering elite territory.
So what can we expect from Frankel in 2019? While Cracksman is about to cover his first book at a fee of £25,000 at Dalham Hall Stud, St James’s Palace Stakes winner Without Parole stays in training as does Call The Wind. Meanwhile, a clutch of exciting juveniles includes East, who ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, the G3-placed pair Old Glory and Syrtis, and promising minor winners Cap Francais, Frankellina, Suphala, Obligate and Ginistrelli.
Frankel was 5th in the TRC Global Sire Rankings at the end of 2018
7. MEDAGLIA D’ORO
2000 El Prado - Capuccino Bay (Bailjumper)
Stands: Jonabell Farm USA. Fee: $200,000 (£158,000)
The 2017 season, with the presence of seven G1 winners, was always going to be an incredibly hard act to follow for Medaglia d’Oro. Nevertheless, 2018 was peppered by a number of highlights for the Darley American stalwart, notably Wonder Gadot’s sweep of the Queen’s Plate and Prince Of Wales’s Stakes following her runner-up effort to Monomoy Girl in the Kentucky Oaks.
Bolt d’Oro, a dual G1-winning 2yo in 2017, also acquitted himself well when coming up against a monster - Justify - in the G1 Santa Anita Derby, while Elate fell only a neck short of Abel Tasman in the G1 Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga.
All the while, his influence continues to extend into the next generation. Son Violence ended 2018 as America’s leading second-crop sire, while daughter Devil By Design is the dam of G1 Belmont Oaks heroine Competitionofideas. Stellar Agent and Mr Havercamp were other G1 performers of 2018 out of Medaglia d’Oro mares.
Now the sire of 21 G1 winners, among them the iconic fillies Rachel Alexandra and Songbird, Medaglia d’Oro will cover a strong book of mares in 2019 that includes champions and/or G1 winners Unique Bella, American Gal, Forever Unbridled, Lemons Forever and Dayatthespa.
Medaglia D’Oro was 26th in the TRC Global Sire Rankings at the end of 2018
2004 Smart Strike - Sherriff’s Deputy (Deputy Minister)
Stands: Hill ’n’ Dale Farm, USA. Fee: $175,000 (£138,000)
Curlin’s switch to Hill ’n’ Dale Farm in 2016 came in the aftermath of the sale of a 20 percent share in the horse for approximately $6.2 million to John Sikura’s Hill ’n’ Dale Farm and Elevage II. Curlin had just completed his seventh season at Lane’s End Farm, that year at a fee of ‘just’ $35,000.
This season, the two-time American Horse of the Year is due to stand for $175,000, up from $150,000 in 2018.
As those figures suggest, the switch coincided with a shift in gear for Curlin’s stud career that began with the 2015 season, when Keen Ice lowered the colours of American Pharoah in the G1 Travers Stakes, Stellar Wind captured the first of her six G1 races and Curalina took the G1 Acorn Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks.
He has maintained that kind of momentum since then as well, with Exaggerator landing the 2016 Preakness Stakes and Haskell Invitational, Connect taking the G1 Cigar Mile and Good Magic and Solomini running first and second in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Good Magic was again among the leading acts of the past season, notably when winning the Haskell Invitational and running second to Justify in the Kentucky Derby.
Curlin is now well established among Kentucky’s elite, an increasingly important influence with a growing number of sons now carving out their own careers at stud. And, with those six-figure crops in the pipeline, starting with a $100,000 crop of newly turned 2yos that realised an average of $438,738 at auction in 2018, he would appear poised to assume a greater standing.
Curlin was 13th in the TRC Global Rankings at the end of 2018
9 (tied). SNITZEL
2002 Redoute’s Choice - Snippets’ Lass (Snippets)
Stands: Arrowfield Stud, Australia. Fee: A$220,000 (£122,000)
Snitzel continues to rewrite the history books in Australia.
The Arrowfield resident, winner of the 2006 G1 Oakleigh Plate, won his first championship in 2017 with an all-time record Australian earnings of A$16.2 million. That same year, he also led the way among all 2yo and 3yo sires while equalling Danehill’s record of 26 Australian stakes winners.
Better was to come during the 2017-18 season as, aided by Redzel’s win in the inaugural A$10 million running of The Everest, not to mention other G1 winners Estijaab, Trapeze Artist and Russian Revolution, Snitzel smashed the Australian earnings record yet again, this time with a figure A$29,243,613 - approximately A$13.3 million more than his closest pursuer, I Am Invincible. He was also Australia’s leading sire of 2yos and 3yos as well as overall by number of winners and stakes winners.
As a result, Arrowfield raised Snitzel’s fee to A$220,000 for the 2018 Southern Hemisphere season and, given he is way out in front again this time around - with Redzel’s second win in The Everest laying a healthy foundation, he is already responsible for the winners of approximately A$13.5 million, a further fee rise for 2019 may well be on the cards.
Snitzel was tenth in the TRC Global Rankings at the end of 2018
9 (tied). SEA THE STARS
2006 Cape Cross - Urban Sea (Miswaki)
Stands: Gilltown Stud, Ireland. Fee: €135,000 (£122,000)
Sea The Stars’ fee holds steady at €135,000 following a year that arguably marked a personal best for the stallion.
The Tsui family’s homebred was represented by two of the leading lights of the British scene in Sea Of Class and Stradivarius, both runners in possession of the class and tough constitution often associated with their sire.
Sea Of Class made a rapid rise through the ranks for William Haggas to win the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks before falling agonisingly short of Enable in the Arc, while Stradivarius swept the inaugural Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million - namely the Yorkshire, Ascot Gold, Goodwood and Lonsdale Cups. This likeable character went on to sign off his year with a victory in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot.
Their achievements helped provide Sea The Stars with European earnings of close to £6 million, enough to see him fill third on the European sires’ table. The fact that his first six-figure crops are also now starting to filter through only serves to encourage the notion that the best is probably yet to come.
Granted, Sea The Stars is not exerting the level of power that we have come to expect from his half-brother, Galileo. But to fall in the shadow of the greatest stallion of the recent era is certainly no disgrace and indeed, prior to this year, Sea The Stars already had two British classic winners to his credit in Harzand and Taghrooda, alongside German Derby winner Sea The Moon, who himself made a highly promising start with his first 2yos in 2018.
Sea The Stars was 8th in the TRC Global Sire Rankings at the end of 2018
On the cusp ...
Triple Crown winner Justify is the most expensive stallion to retire to stud worldwide this year at a fee of $150,000 (£118,000) to Ashford Stud in Kentucky.
The son of Scat Daddy is joined in the $150,000 club by Into Mischief (TRC ranked 43) at Spendthrift Farm and Quality Road (TRC rank 10) at Lane’s End Farm, both rapidly ascendant stallions whose fees could well hit the top ten come 2020.