Bang for your buck

Success on the racetrack does not always lead to success in the breeding shed. El Aleman, by Point Given, is led around the Keeneland saddling area. 

Success on the racetrack does not always lead to success in the breeding shed. El Aleman, by Point Given, is led around the Keeneland saddling area.

Word came out yesterday that Curlin will stand at Lane’s End in Kentucky for a $75,000 stud fee.

When news like this comes with hard numbers, it is pretty safe to assume the horse in question is probably done racing. I guess no one could provide Jess Jackson with the “appropriate venue and purse” he was looking for. There goes my post-Thanksgiving farewell excursion to Churchill Downs.

Oh well. I’ll probably still end up reviving the Haiku Handicapper for the Clark Handicap (G2) regardless. I have to have some kind of product to put out there to keep things fresh and interesting during the slow winter months. 

Anyway, back to the business at hand. I was a bit surprised at the tag set for Curlin’s inaugural year in the breeding shed. It is understood that times are tough in the economy and he has proven nothing yet as a sire, but for a horse with his accolades and bloodlines, $75,000 seems a tad low.

To put it in perspective, Street Sense, a fellow 2004 foal who retired as a three-year-old, stood for the same price in his first season. Sure, one could give the argument that Street Sense ran huge as a two year old while Curlin did not even start and the case could be made that Darley may have been capitalizing on the fact that Street Sense is by a hot sire, Street Cry (Ire), but the fact remains that Curlin holds the advantage in career wins, money earned and perhaps most importantly, head-to-head matchups (2-1). This alone should put Curlin at least a couple thousand bucks ahead of his old foe.

Then again, we have the example of dual classic winner Smarty Jones, who began his stallion career with a tag of $100,000 after finishing no worse than second in a roughly seven month long racing career. Though a sire can not be defined by a single crop, Smarty’s first career winner came in Puerto Rico. Not exactly a hotbed for up and coming juveniles. He has sired one Grade 1-placed foal from his freshman crop, which is more than most can claim, but on the whole, Smarty Jones has yet to live up to the hype that followed him into the Three Chimneys stud barn.

With all of this in mind, I began to look back at the initial stud fees of other high-profile horses in recent years to see how the newest big names to go to the breeding shed stack up. Then, I compared those figures to their current stud fees to see how things have changed. Have a look for yourself…


Horse Year Entered Stud Accomplishment Initial Stud Fee Most Recent Stud Fee
Real Quiet 2000 1998 Champion 3yo Male $25,000 $7,500
Silver Charm 2000 1997 Champion 3yo Male $25,000 $7,324.10*
Charismatic 2000 1999 Horse of the Year $35,000 $7,324.10*
Fusaichi Pegasus 2001 Ky. Derby winner $200,000 $45,000
Tiznow 2002 2000 Horse of the Year $30,000 $30,000
Point Given 2002 2001 Horse of the Year $125,000 $15,000
War Emblem 2003 2002 Champion 3yo Male $66,000* Private
Smarty Jones 2005 2004 Champion 3yo Male $100,000 Private
Afleet Alex 2006 2005 Champion 3yo Male $40,000 $25,000
Ghostzapper 2006 2004 Horse of the Year $200,000 $150,000
Invasor (Arg) 2008 2006 Horse of the Year $35,000 $28,000
Hard Spun 2008 G1 Winner $50,000 $40,000
Street Sense 2008 Ky. Derby winner $75,000 $60,000
Big Brown 2009 Dual Classic Winner $65,000 $65,000
Curlin 2009 2007 Horse of the Year $75,000 $75,000
* Converted from Japanese Yen 

All current stud fees taken from
Thoroughbred Times Stallion Directory

As you can see, not one of the sires listed has seen an increase in his stud fee from his initial season. While the economy and inflation could skew these numbers a tad, Wall Street can not be entirely at fault for a drop the caliber of Point Given’s or for being shipped off to a remote outpost in Japan never to be heard from again like Charismatic and Silver Charm. Of the sires listed, Tiznow is the only non-freshman to remain at his initial fee. As the only one on the list to sire a classic winner, 2008 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Da’Tara, the consistency appears warranted.

I will be curious to see how Curlin and his Cold War-like rival Big Brown do in the breeding shed. In a sense, their performance as sires will be the first time the pair will directly compete against each other. Based purely on pedigree, injury history and general impressions, I would probably give the edge to Curlin. Big Brown’s ouchy hooves just scare me too much for me to send a mare to him and dump that much money on an unproven sire; at least until he shows the trait will not be passed on to his foals. 

Either way, after looking at this chart, I will be taking a  “wait and see” approach before drinking the Kool-Aid for either of this year’s big two in the breeding shed. History shows they both have their work cut out for them.


Filed under Commentary

2 responses to “Bang for your buck

  1. great post, I also found that “do studs make winners” related post interesting.

  2. Lawman

    I have stumbled upon the greatest website ever! Big Joe, keep up the good work, and keep writing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s