$200,000 American Pharoah Stud Fee? Interesting...

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D.S. Williamson

January 13th, 2016

Wow. That's the first thing that I thought of when I read that American Pharoah's stud fee was going to be $200,000 per live foal. It's taken me this long to really put it in perspective because, well...wow. That's a lot of coin for a horse who hasn't proven himself in the breeding shed yet.

On one hand, it makes sense. After all, Pharoah ended a 37 year drought. He stopped it in brilliant fashion. Not to mention that he added a Breeders Cup Classic victory to his Triple Crown resume. There's no question that he was supremely talented on the race track.

But, one of the things that I've been painfully aware of as a horseplayer is that supreme talent doesn't always translate into breeding great race horses. In order to win the Triple Crown, or even a Breeders Cup race in a lot of instances, you have to have an edge that other horses don't have. That's why special thoroughbreds, more often than not, win the biggest races. That special something is hard to define. It's a competitive edge that separates the Tom Bradys from the Ryan Fitzpatricks.

With that in mind, I've compiled a Top 5 list of 2015's most successful stud horses. I've added their record on the race track to put talent on the track to talent as stud in perspective. Here's the full list from Bloodhorse if you want to take a look.

Top 5 Stud Horses of 2015

1. Tapit - Most of us know that Tapit's stud fee is $300,000. His top progeny in 2015 was Frosted who became American Pharoah's biggest competition for three-year-old honors. If Frosted comes out and starts winning the big races as a four-year-old, Tapit's stud fee will rise. Tapit's best win was the Wood Memorial Stakes in 2004. His son, Mohaymen, is the Top Derby Prospect on almost every horseplayer's list.

2. Medaglia d'Oro - The former Bobby Frankel trainee is doing just fine at Darley in Kentucky. He charges a cool $150,000. This guy was a stud on the race track, but he was a bridesmaid in the Belmont Stakes to huge long shot Sarava in 2002. He was also a bridesmaid to Pleasantly Perfect in the 2004 Dubai World Cup. He did win the 2002 Travers and the 2004 Donn Handicap. His top progeny in 2015 was the filly Songbird.

3. Pioneerof the Nile - American Pharoah's papa won the Santa Anita Derby and finished second in the Kentucky Derby in 2009. He probably would have won the Kentucky Derby if not for Mine That Bird sneaking up on the rail. The former Bob Baffert trainee charges $125,000 per live foal. Since Mine That Bird is a gelding, he never got a chance to show what sort of horses he could produce. He also never won another race in his career after the Derby.

4. Kitten's Joy - Ramsey Farms, Inc. has the top grass stud horse in North America in Kitten's Joy. Ramsey Farms charges $100,000.  Stephanie's Kitten was his top horse in 2015. Kitten's Joy was a monster on the turf in 2004. I'll always remember him as the horse that blew up my Pick 6 and Pick 4 tickets at the 2004 Breeders Cup. I had every exotic imaginable keyed to Kitten's Joy in the Breeders Cup Turf. He finished second to Better Talk Now. Kitten's Joy just couldn't split Powerscourt and Better Talk Now. Damn. I still love the horse!

5. Candy Ride - Trained by the legendary Ron McAnally, Candy Ride has been great at producing both terrific dirt horses as well as terrific grass horses. In what amounted to a match race Candy Ride and Julie Krone out ran Medaglia D'Oro and Jerry Bailey to the wire first in the 2003 Pacific Classic. Candy Ride's top horse in 2015 was the ill-fated Shared Belief. Lane's End charges $60,000.

The first thing to notice is that neither a Triple Crown race win nor a Breeders Cup win means all that much when it comes to being a great stud horse. One thing I did notice, just from a horseplayer's perspective, is that with the exception of Tapit all of the horses on the list had a stalk and pounce style. That bodes well for American Pharoah. If he can just translate his style and some of his talent, he'll produce graded race winning horses. Only time will tell.

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