The world’s top ten most expensive sires for 2020

Fast starter: 2015 Triple Crown hero American Pharoah, who stands at Ashford Stud, was the leading first-crop sire in North America last year. His fee, now up to $175,000, makes him the joint tenth most expensive stallion. Photo: Coolmore

The changing nature of the international bloodstock landscape is reflected in the line-up for the most expensive sires of 2020.

Galileo remains the most expensive name, a position he has held for many years. However, he will be 22 years old in 2020, while another stalwart of the European industry, Dubawi, turns 18. War Front, the leading light of North America, is 17.

Thankfully, there are some younger names coming through, not least the Juddmonte pair of Frankel and Kingman. It wouldn’t be surprising to see either climb again in 2021, alongside Coolmore’s No Nay Never, who narrowly misses out on making this year’s top ten on an official fee of €150,000 (off-the-record reports, however, suggest that some breeders are actually paying more to secure his services this season).

As for Japan, that nation lost a giant of the breed with the death of Deep Impact in July. Hopes will be high that Almond Eye’s sire Lord Kanaloa can go some way to filling the void.



1998 Sadler’s Wells - Urban Sea (Miswaki)
Stands: Coolmore Stud, Ireland. Fee: private

It was business as usual for Galileo in 2019, as an 11th British and Irish sires championship came his way. The actual extent of his domination can be gauged by his staggering European prize money total of £16.145 million - over £10 million clear of the chasing pack.

Galileo’s world is one where superlatives flow freely as records continue to fall. 2018 was a season that had featured several landmark moments for the stallion, notably that afternoon when Magical’s victory in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes pushed him past Sadler’s Wells’ mark of 73 G1 winners. 

Magical was once again a key cog in Galileo’s year as one of his 11 G1 winners worldwide. 

The run began in May with a third 1000 Guineas winner in Hermosa. That was followed by a fourth Epsom Derby hero, Anthony Van Dyck, whose powerful late run saw the Ballydoyle colt come out on top of a field that included five other colts by Galileo, five grandsons and one great-grandson, in runner-up Madhmoon. 

Among the vanquished Galileos that day were Sovereign, who went on to land a shock win in the Irish Derby, Circus Maximus, who cut back to a mile to win the St James’s Palace Stakes and Prix du Moulin, and Japan, who would go on to win the Juddmonte International and run fourth in the Arc. And the winner at Longchamp that day? Waldgeist, one of Galileo’s older stalwarts.

With that lucrative victory in the books, Galileo was also crowned France’s leading sire of 2019.

He also came close to landing European champion 2-year-old honours, finding only Shamardal too good at the head of proceedings. Still, he broke the million pound barrier by earnings as Moyglare Stud Stakes heroine Love headed the way among five juvenile stakes winners.

As the Derby showed, Galileo’s influence today stretches across all areas of the breed. His legacy as a sire of sires is growing all the time, whether through the deeds of Frankel, who sired a pair of Classic highlights during 2019 in Anapurna and Logician, or other proven G1 sires such as Teofilo, New Approach and Ruler Of The World. Nathaniel, of course, has given us the wonderful Enable. And in the U.S., Frankel’s brother, Noble Mission, has served notice that he could become a valuable part of the Kentucky landscape as the sire of Code Of Honor in his first crop.

Galileo also continues to go from strength to strength as a broodmare sire. Over £8.4 million in European prize-money came his way in this sphere during a year that featured Classic victories by Magna Grecia in the 2000 Guineas and Sottsass in the Prix du Jockey Club. It was also another banner year for Sottsass’ star older half-sister, Sistercharlie, whose haul included the G1 Flower Bowl Invitational, Beverly D and Diana Stakes.

Galileo has become the benchmark by which excellence in the stallion world is measured.

Yet there remain further chapters to be written. It doesn’t take too much imagination to envisage him playing a major role in next year’s Derby and, should any representative prove successful, he will become the most successful sire in the race’s 240-year history. 

There is also the matter of Danehill’s record of 84 G1 winners to surpass, a figure that was matched when Magic Wand won the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington in November.

Galileo has long been primarily the domain of Coolmore and its associates, and has been listed as ‘private’ since 2008. As such, it is well known that any breeders wishing to pay for his services are required to dig deep, with recent off-the-record reports suggesting that his fee now sits around the €600,000 mark.

2nd in the TRC Global Sire Rankings


2002 Dubai Millennium - Zomaradah (Deploy)
Stands: Dalham Hall Stud, Newmarket, UK. Fee: £250,000

Darley’s flagship stallion retains his position as Britain’s dearest name, with his fee unchanged at £250,000 for the fourth consecutive season. 

The earners of approximately £5.7 million places him well adrift of Galileo in terms of European sire standings yet he still sits in second, narrowly ahead of Sea The Stars.

A tally of 24 European stakes winners was led by Too Darn Hot, for whom a golden midsummer took in victories in the Prix Jean Prat and Sussex Stakes before injury intervened. John Gosden’s colt had, of course, been a brilliant, unbeaten 2-year-old, but one of the great aspects of Dubawi is also the soundness and mental durability that he tends to impart to his offspring; and for that, look no further than Too Darn Hot’s stablemate Coronet, who gained a deserved G1 breakthrough in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and Prix Rothschild as a 5-year-old in 2019. 

Older Godolphin flagbearers Ghaiyyath and Old Persian also struck at G1 level, in the Grosser Preis Von Baden and Northern Dancer Stakes respectively, to bring Dubawi’s overall number of G1 winners to 41. Indeed, Dubawi is the only British-based stallion to have sired 100 Group/Graded winners.

All of which continues to translate to an immense popularity in the sale ring - there were six seven-figure lots in 2019, led by the Tattersalls October Sale-topper, a 3.6 million guineas colt bought by Godolphin.

Now the son of Dubai Millennium is gaining real momentum as a sire of sires. Early sire sons Makfi, Poet’s Voice and Al Kazeem have each sired G1 winners but for now the plaudits belong to another top miling son, Night Of Thunder. The 2014 2000 Guineas winner fired in seven stakes winners - a joint European record for a freshman sire - in his first crop, making him one of the hottest young names in Europe.

1st in the TRC Global Sire Rankings


2003 Danzig - Starry Dreamer (Rubiano)
Stands: Claiborne Farm, Kentucky, USA. Fee: $250,000 (£191,000)

The regard in which Coolmore and their associates hold War Front is well known, and in turn has contributed to a bold showing for the stallion in Europe that features the likes of Declaration Of War, Air Force Blue, War Command, US Navy Flag and Lancaster Bomber.

However, the stallion is also a very capable dirt influence if given the chance, an aspect that really came to the fore in 2019 as 3-year-old sons War Of Will and Omaha Beach swept four G1 races on the surface between them; for War Of Will, that moment came when he won the Preakness Stakes, while Arkansas Derby winner Omaha Beach made light of a lengthy layoff to win the Santa Anita Sprint Championship en route to a facile win in the Malibu Stakes. Omaha Beach is set to return for more in the Pegasus at Gulfstream later this month prior to his retirement to Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky.

2020 sees War Front embark on his fourth season at a fee of $250,000 at Claiborne Farm. The son of Danzig, winner of the G2 A G Vanderbilt Breeders’ Cup Handicap for breeder Joseph Allen, is a typical Claiborne inmate in that his stud career has been carefully managed; he rarely covers more than 110 mares a year and, as such, off-the-record reports suggest that breeders have sometimes paid far more to secure a nomination to the horse as demand outweighs supply. 

The fact that he consistently returns strong figures at the yearling sales - the presence of three million-dollar yearlings contributed to a yearling average of $571,062 in 2019 - only serves to fuel his popularity even further.

The War Front influence now stretches worldwide, particularly via a number of promising sons. They include former Coolmore shuttler Declaration Of War, for whom a recent purple patch included Melbourne Cup hero Vow And Declare, Victorian Derby winner Warning and Canadian G1-winning 2-year-old Decorated Invader. Bright starts were also made in 2019 by younger sons Whitsbury Manor Stud’s Due Diligence and Airdrie Stud’s Summer Front, both of whom ended the year as multiple stakes-producing first-crop sires.

Joint 30th on the TRC Global Sire Rankings (joint 9th in the dirt rankings)


2008 Galileo - Kind (Danehill)
Stands: Banstead Manor Stud, Newmarket, UK.  Fee: £175,000

Special as a racehorse, Frankel is now carving out a special reputation as a stallion, something that sees his fee hold steady at £175,000 for the third year running.

There were five G1 winners in 2019, led by a pair of British Classic scorers in Anapurna, successful in the Oaks, and Logician, who capped his unbeaten season by running away with the St Leger. In between, Veracious also took the Falmouth Stakes, while Quadrilateral looked a filly of the highest order when taking the Fillies’ Mile, all victories that helped Frankel end the year as the leading British-based sire by earnings in Britain and Ireland. Dream Castle also took the G1 Jebel Hatta at Meydan in March.

In all, Frankel’s first four crops have yielded ten G1 winners, including another real star in Cracksman. He is also currently operating at a figure of 14 percent when it comes to Group winners to runners and can boast to be the fastest stallion in history to hit 30 Northern Hemisphere Group winners.

As such, respect continues to be forthcoming in the sale ring, where he was represented last season by a 3.1 million guinea half-brother to Golden Horn, sold by Norelands to Godolphin. 

With Logician staying in training and Quadrilateral among the favourites for next year’s fillies’ Classics, not to mention the promise of lightly raced maiden winners such as Highest Ground, Melnikova and Restiany, Frankel’s reputation looks poised to strengthen even further in 2020.

5th in the TRC Global Sire Rankings

5 (joint) MEDAGLIA D’ORO

2000 El Prado - Capuccino Bay (Bailjumper)
Stands: Jonabell Farm, Kentucky USA. Fee: $200,000 (£153,000)

Darley America’s flagship sire remains at $200,000 for 2020 as he heads into his 16th season at stud.

That figure is reflective of an ability to throw performers of an elite calibre with great regularity. No-one would have begrudged him if he didn’t produce another runner of the iconic standing of Rachel Alexandra yet just five years on from her retirement and there was another one in Songbird, the winner of nine G1s.

In all, there have been 25 G1 winners, seven of whom came during a single outstanding season in 2017; only Mr Prospector can boast such an achievement within a single year. 2019 didn’t hit such heights but it was still extremely productive, highlighted by the victories of Cambier Parc in the G1 Del Mark Oaks and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup and Higher Power in the G1 Pacific Classic. G1 wins by the Australasian-based pair Flit and Crown Prosecutor have also meant that Medaglia d’Oro’s name has never been far from the headlines during 2019 in the Southern Hemisphere.

Medaglia d’Oro’s sale year featured four million-dollar yearlings. There are also well over 25 sons of the stallion at stud worldwide, including Violence and Bolt d’Oro, alongside the Darley-based pair Astern and Enticing in Kentucky, Australian champion juvenile Vancouver in Australia and Talismanic in Japan. His legacy would appear to be in safe keeping.

16th in the TRC Global Sire Rankings (joint 6th in the dirt rankings)

5 (joint) QUALITY ROAD

2006 Elusive Quality - Kobla (Strawberry Road)
Stands: Lane’s End, Kentucky, USA.  Fee: $200,000 (£153,000)

Quality Road’s year got off to a rousing start when his third-crop son City Of Light won the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, worth $4 million to the winner. Such an injection of earnings placed Quality Road at the head of the leading North American sire standings, and, although he ultimately wound up in fifth behind Into Mischief, he could boast a total of $13 million, supported by the presence of four G1 winners - no stallion in North America sired more in 2019.

In addition to City Of Light, the quartet comprised Alabama Stakes heroine Dunbar Road, Santa Anita Derby winner Roadster and Santa Anita Oaks scorer Bellafina.

So far, there has been a G1 winner in all bar one of Quality Road’s first five crops, all of which were bred off fees no greater than $35,000. 

A first crop of 109 foals was highlighted by a top European performer and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner in Hootenanny. Champion Abel Tasman followed in 2014 in the same powerful crop as fellow G1 winners City Of Light, Klimt and Salty, ahead of a 2015 crop headlined by another champion in Caledonia Road, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. As for Bellafina, Dunbar Road and Roadster, they each belong to the crop of 2016.

As those results show, Quality Road’s rise to the top has been swift. The strapping son of Elusive Quality, himself the record-setting winner of the G1 Donn Handicap and G1 Florida Derby, has naturally caught the attention of the major players and now appears championship-sire material in waiting; he didn’t stand for six figures until hitting $150,000 in 2019 and so, with the prospect of even bigger and better crops to come, looks well placed to continue upholding the legacy of his late owner-breeder Edward P ‘Ned’ Evans.

23rd in the TRC Global Sire Rankings (3rd in the dirt rankings)

5 (joint) TAPIT

2001 Pulpit - Tap Your Heels (Unbridled)
Stands: Gainesway Farm, Kentucky, USA. Fee: $200,000 (£153,000)

Despite the absence of a G1 winner, 2019 was still an important year for former three-time champion North American sire Tapit, who drops from $225,000 to $200,000 for 2020.

Firstly, a major landmark came his way in mid-December, when he broke through the $150,000 million barrier in cumulative progeny earnings. In the process, he became only the third North American sire to reach such a milestone after Smart Strike and Giant’s Causeway.

However, more importantly, 2019 was the year that Tapit came of age as a sire of sires.

In WinStar Farm’s Constitution, winner of the G1 Donn Handicap and Florida Derby during his time with Todd Pletcher, the Tapit sire line might just be represented by a really important sire of the future. At the time of writing, he is responsible for 26 first-crop winners, four of whom are already Graded stakes winners, among them G1 Champagne Stakes hero Tiz The Law. In all, quite a start for a stallion who didn’t even race at two.

Tapiture has also made an excellent start as the sire of 27 first-crop winners; no other freshman can boast more in North America. Other sons Race Day and Tonalist have also made valuable stakes breakthroughs with their first runners this year.

As for Tapit himself, he ends the year in third on the leading sires’ list thanks to the winners of $14.1 million. Along the way, there were 26 stakes winners and 13 Graded winners, among them Tacitus, who came close to Classic success when second in the Belmont Stakes. Two-year-old fillies Lake Avenue, who recently landed the G2 Demoiselle Stakes, and Maedean, winner of the G3 Tempted Stakes, have also flown the flag.

34th in the TRC Global Sire Rankings (joint 6th in the TRC dirt rankings)


2011 Invincible Spirit - Zenda (Zamindar)
Stands: Banstead Manor Stud, Newmarket, UK. Fee: £150,000

Kingman’s fee doubles to £150,000 for 2020 as breeders clamour for his services off the back of an excellent start at stud.

A top miler gifted with a potent turn of foot, Kingman ended 2019 as Europe’s leading second-season sire; prize-money of close to £2.9 million was enough to not only overwhelm his contemporaries but also push him within the top 15 European sires. 

Along the way there were 15 stakes winners, including a Classic scorer in Persian King, successful in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, and a dual G2 winner in Headman. Juddmonte’s Calyx, the brilliant winner of last year’s Coventry Stakes, also looked a G1 winner in waiting when making a winning return in the Merriebelle Stakes only for injury to later curtail his career; he is likely to be very popular in his second career at Coolmore, where he stands for €22,500.

As such, Kingman’s yearling average leapt again to 316,390gns during 2019. His popularity now extends worldwide, as illustrated by the sales of yearlings in Newmarket to the likes of Godolphin (paid 2.3 million guineas for a colt out of Grace And Favour), Coolmore (M V Magnier paid 1.8 million guineas for a colt out of One Last Dance), Japan (Big Red Farm) and America (Klaravich Stables).

Kingman covered 235 mares in 2019 and, with his reputation as one of Europe’s most exciting sires now sealed, a rise to £150,000 is unlikely to temper his popularity.

38th in the TRC Global Sire Rankings


2008 King Kamehameha - Lady Blossom (Storm Cat)
Stands: Shadai Stallion Stakes, Japan. Fee: 20,000,000yen (£140,500/$182,700)

The death of Deep Impact back in summer left an immense void within the world of Japanese breeding and hopes will be high that Lord Kanaloa can go some way to filling it.

A brilliant sprinter who won two renewals of the Hong Kong Sprint and was crowned Japanese Horse of the Year, Lord Kanaloa has swiftly become an important stallion for Japanese breeders, not least because he clicks so efficiently with Sunday Silence mares. 

Aided by large crops, he came up with a true champion in his first crop in Almond Eye, last year’s Horse of the Year, who swept the Japan Cup and Fillies’ Triple Crown during a glittering 3-year-old campaign and followed up by taking the Dubai Turf and Tenno Sho (Autumn) in 2019. Then there is Saturnalia, the highlight of his second crop, who won this year’s Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) prior to running second in the Arima Kinen. 

As such, Lord Kanaloa has led the way among his contemporaries throughout his stud career to date, whether as the nation’s leading first or second-crop sire (achieved in 2017 and 2018) or as an established name within the general elite; he finished second to Deep Impact on the leading juvenile sires’ list in both 2017 and 2018 and currently looks likely to finish third behind Deep Impact and Heart’s Cry on the 2019 general sires’ list. 

Deep Impact’s enforced absence from stud duty earlier this year prior to his untimely death meant that Lord Kanaloa received an exceptionally large book in 2019 at a fee of 15,000,000yen (£105,000). Intriguingly, they included several well-known European names, notably Coolmore’s Classic/G1 winners Winter and Happily, alongside G3 winner Promise To Be True, a sister to Saxon Warrior’s G1-winning dam Maybe. 

Joint 6th in the TRC Global Sire Rankings

10. The $175,000 club

The start made at stud by North American Triple Crown hero American Pharoah (Ashford Stud, Kentucky) has justified those high expectations held of him to prompt a fee rise from $110,000 to $175,000 for 2020. The move means that Coolmore’s son of Pioneerof The Nile now sits among a high-flying trio of $175,000 stallions that also comprises Curlin and Into Mischief.

American Pharoah ends 2019 as North America’s leading first-crop sire with the winners of almost $2.7 million. It’s a total buoyed by a particularly bold showing at the Breeders’ Cup meeting, at which Four Wheel Drive took the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint and G2 winner Sweet Jessamine ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. But it also takes into account a consistently successful year that also featured G3 winner Maven and the G1-placed pair Monarch Of Egypt and American Theorem among a tally of 11 black-type performers and 27 winners. Interestingly, much of his success has so far been achieved on turf.

Into Mischief (Spendthrift Farm, Kentucky) continues to go from strength to strength. The son of Harlan’s Holiday landed his first North American sires’ championship in 2019 thanks to an outstanding total of $18.7 million and 217 individual winners. A total of 23 stakes winners included the brilliant Covfefe, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and G1 Test Stakes, and fellow G1 winner Mia Mischief.

Into Mischief’s rapid development into one of the world’s most sought-after stallions is quite remarkable when you consider that he didn’t stand for a figure north of $45,000 until 2017. He was North America’s busiest stallion in 2019, when he covered 245 mares and his book has long been closed for 2020.

Lying in second on the champion sires’ list thanks to the winners of $15.34 million is Curlin (Hill ’n’ Dale Farm, Kentucky), the sire of Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Vino Rosso. The sire of nine G1 winners in all, Curlin also made inroads as a sire of sires in 2019 thanks to the fine start made by his Classic-winning son Palace Malice, something which bodes well for his next representative in the pipeline, Exaggerator.

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