The stallion market has seen its share of ups and downs over the years and by all measures it has finally stabilized. Gone are the days when Northern Dancer commanded a stud fee of $1 million (with no guarantee!) and even the $500,000 that Storm Cat went for during the peak of his time in the breeding shed. There is no telling if we will ever reach that height again, but a review of the current top ten stallions’ stud fees in North America reveals an upward trend.
Topping the list is the popular Tapit who stands at Gainesway Farm with a stud fee of $300,000 and is easily the highest in the United States. It is hard to believe that his stud career started with a fee of just $15,000 in 2005 and even dipped to $12,500 at one point. The stud fee may seem somewhat exorbitant but the yearling sales say otherwise. In 2015 the yearling median price for a Tapit offspring was $475,000 and that figure should only increase with the recent success of so many of his runners this year. Notable offspring include Frosted, Creator, Mohaymen, Cupid, Tonalist and Untapable. In 2016 alone he was the world-wide two year old sire with an average of $870,000.
War Front stands at Claiborne and completes the exacta with a stud fee of $200,000, up from $150,000 in 2015, but ranks first in terms of 2015 yearling median sales prices with an average of $500,000. While his offspring haven’t been quite as successful as Tapit, they are no slouches either. Some of his most successful offspring include Lines of Battle, Departing, and Hit It A Bomb.
Medaglia D’Oro finishes the trifecta currently standing at Darley and is another stallion on the rise with a stud fee of $150,000 up from $125,000 in 2015. 2015 median yearling sales come in around $340,000 and he has sired the likes of Valid, Mshawish, Songbird, and arguably my all-time favorite Rachel Alexandra. For the record, she would have dusted Zenyatta. Moving right along.
Pioneer of the Nile is another hot sire based off the recent success of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and LRF’s own Midnight Storm! Pioneer stands at Winstar with a stud fee of $125,000 up from $60,000 in 2015. While not in the top ten this year, Uncle Mo certainly will be next year based on the smashing success of his recent runners Nyquist, Outwork, Laoban and Mo Tom. Uncle Mo began the season with a stud fee of $75,000 up from $25,000 and stands at Ashford. Most are expecting this fee to double for 2017 to around $150,000.
I will admit I was quite shocked to see the prices of some of the stud fees. When you think about it, it is entirely possible to spend $300,000 to breed to Tapit and have a horse that never even makes it to the races. On the flip side, some people will spend any amount to win the Kentucky Derby. The old saying of breed to the best and hope for the best certainly holds true. For every Fusaichi Pegasus (purchased for $4 million as a yearling), there is a California Chrome (homebred for a couple grand). Fu Peg ended his career just short of $2 million while CC has just over $12.6 million and still racing.
The economics are such that a horse stands to make a significant amount of money in the breeding shed when compared to the racetrack. American Pharoah earned about $8.7 million on the racetrack. His first year stud fee is $200,000, a figure that is almost unheard of for an unproven stallion. It is safe to assume he will cover roughly 200 mares a year and at a fee of $200,000 per session, that is almost $40 million each year. That is a figure that could increase or decrease based on the success of his first crop on the track, but until that happens the money will continue to pour in. Tapit earned just over $550,000 on the track and with his proven track record as a stallion and high stud fee the sky is the limit. One thing is for sure, these stallions will be “producing” in the both the breeding shed and the bank! Not a bad day for a roll in the hay!