A problem that faces many sports stars is what do they do after retirement? For a horse that has had a highly successful career, the next move is into breeding. As you will read, this can see them making far more for their owners than they ever did in their career, and it helps keep the sport alive.
The next time you look at a race card, do not just look at the current form of the horses. An key factor is to look at their breeding. A successful horse can, once their career is over, be retired to stud and breed the stars of the future. Charges for stud fees regularly see the very best racehorses making millions more at stud than they ever did on the track.
Take Galileo, for example, who won six of his eight races, including the Epsom Derby in 2001. He was retired at the age of three and won £1.6m in his career. Since going to stud, he has become a sire that is very much in demand and earning far more than he ever did on the racetrack.
That’s not surprising as he has sired horses that equaled his achievement in winning the Epsom Derby, including the winners in the past two years. 2020 saw the Derby and the Oaks held on the same afternoon. Both the race winners were sired by Galileo, so that stud fee might just be going up. Just how much is charged has been kept private for the past 12 years, but it’s rumored to be $700,000.
The 2020 horse racing season in Europe has already seen new stars being created. It was a big shock when Serpentine won the Epsom Derby this year and in October will bid to win the Arc. Those wanting to back horse racing favorites will hope he can repeat his Epsom success in France. Imagine his potential stud fees rise if he does finish first. Just one big win for a horse that has an impressive pedigree can lead to a more successful career at stud.
Mohaather has won five of his eight races, but his last two have produced victories in Group 2 and Group 1. He may not be a superstar yet, but a win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in November would do his eventual stud fees a power of good.
Sea the Stars had a fantastic racing career, and that success has continued at stud. He won the Epsom Derby, Eclipse Stakes, and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Mind you, he is the half-brother of Galileo. He covers approximately 100 mares a year at around $150,000 a time. That’s a fee worth paying; ask the owners of one of his progenies, Stradivarius, who has won the Goodwood Gold Cup four times and the Ascot Gold Cup on three occasions. You can also add two winners of the Epsom and Derby Oaks.
Galileo also sired a horse called Frankel – not a Derby winner but considered one of the best competitors in horse racing. On the track, Frankel won nearly $4m, and he was retired to stud after winning every one of his 14 races, including ten Group 1 races. It’ll cost at least $175,000 to make a booking, but it’s already proved to be successful. His progeny includes Anapurna, who won the 2019 Oaks and Logician, who won the St Leger Stakes later that year.
It’s not just racehorses that go to stud. Horses such as Vitalis, Dream Boy, and Taloubet Z that have enjoyed success in dressage and eventing can retire to stud. The fees that are charged aren’t quite as high as that in horse racing, often just over $1000. Just like in horse racing, though, the offspring can often go on to do their parents proud and achieve great success.
As soon as a horse begins to win Group 1 races, the possibility of being retired to stud is considered. Galileo was retired after racing for just two seasons. He’d been tremendously successful as a three-year-old, but what if another year of racing wasn’t so triumphant? That would affect the fees that could be charged at stud.
It’s a difficult decision for sure and can be the same in dressage and eventing. Do you keep a successful horse competing or call it a day and then retire the competitor to stud? Although breeding helps create the future champions in horse racing, eventing and dressage, there are millions of dollars at stake.