After ending his career a perfect 14 for 14 Frankel (Galileo x Kind by Danehill) will stand for his Juddmonte ownership at Banstead Stud in New Market for a fee just shy of $160k.
The unbeaten and unblemished star has been hailed by many as the greatest racehorse of all time and his entry to the breeding scene will cause tremors felt thoroughbred the world.
Frankel isn’t the first start to be met with extraordinary expectations. Let’s take a look at some other horses that had great hype entering their first season at stud.
#1 Secretariat (Bold Ruler x Somethingroyal by Princequillo) It is my belief that “Big Red” is the greatest horse that ever set foot on any racetrack, ever; period. Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes win is arguably the best performance by any athlete in the history of sports, not just horse racing. He was dominant on turf as well as dirt as proved by a career ending win in the
His sire, Bold Ruler, was leading sire in North America nine times and his broodmare sire, Princequillo was the leading broodmare sire in North American eight times. Throw in the fact that his dam, Somethingroyal, produced two other stakes horses and the hype was out of this world.
In the end, Secretariat produced a few nice horses, but nothing that rivaled the unreachable expectations placed upon him. His best progeny include 1986 Horse of the Year Lady’s Secret and dual classic winner Risen Star. His mark has been left as a broodmare sire. A.P. Indy and Storm Cat, unarguably the best two stallions of the 1990s and early 2000s are both out of Secretariat mares.
#2 Deep Impact (Sunday Silence x Wind In Her Hair by Alzao) The Land of the Rising Sun has made its presence felt on the international scene in recent years and no horse has been a bigger star in Japan than Deep Impact. Son of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Sunday Silence, the bay colt won 12 of 14 career races, including the Japanese Triple Crown and the Japan Cup. He finished third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but was disqualified for a very minor medication violation. Over 21 million fans watched him compete in that French race. That is all the more impressive given the fact that he race took place at 3 a.m. Japanese time!
Deep Impact was syndicated for 5.1 billion yen, which at that time was equivalent to about $42.7 million. To put that into perspective, 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Big Brown was sent to stud with a $50 million syndication deal. There has never been a bigger star in Japan and given his regal bloodlines the record breaking syndication made sense. Deep Impact is a half brother to two graded stakes winners and is out of a German champion that was classic-placed in England.
Thus far, the results have been flattering for Deep Impact. He is producing 51% winners and a remarkable 20.34% stakes winners. I would love to see American breeders head to the Japanese auctions and bring back some Deep Impact mares. It would certainly help strengthen our breed.
#3 Ribot (Tenerani x Romanella by El Greco) When Italian bred Ribot retired from racing in 1956 he had never lost a race in 16 trips to the track. His best efforts include dominating performances to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on two occasions as well as the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He was without rival. Timeform rated him at 142, which ties him with King George Stakes champion Abernant as the fifth highest rated horse of all time. Only Frankel, Sea Bird, Brigadier Gerard and Tudor Minstrel rank higher.
After his racing career was over, John W. Galbreath of Darby Dan Farm acquired Ribot on a five year lease for a whopping sum of $1.35 million. It was the largest person to person sale of a horse in the history of racing. Adjusted for inflation and time the purchase of Ribot was about $10.7 million by today’s standards.
After arriving in America, Ribot revealed himself to have a fiery and even violent temper. He could not stand the sight of other stallions. His temper was so bad in fact that no insurance agency was willing to take the risk of covering him on his journey back to Europe after his five years were up. So, he stayed in the United States for the rest of his day.
Ribot was worth every penny. A smashing success at stud, he produced two Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners in the form of Molvedo and Prince Royal as well as multiple Group 1 winner Ragusa. In the U.S. his best progeny were champion three-year-old Tom Rolfe and 1969 Horse of the Year, Arts And Letters.
#4 Cigar (Palace Music x Solar Slew by Seattle Slew) Blood-Horse ranked Cigar as the 18th best horse of the twentieth century. His accomplishments include a sixteen race win streak in which he won races like the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Hollywood Gold Cup, Donn Handicap, Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup. He delivered excitement far and wide for his fans and was the world’s richest racehorse upon retirement with earnings of $9,999,813.
75% of Cigar was purchased from owner Allen Paulson for $25 million by Coolmore and the brilliant horse was to begin his new stallion career at Ashford Stud. However, it wasn’t meant to be. After covering 34 mares twice none of them were found to be pregnant; Cigar was infertile.
In the end, Cigar wound up in the Hall of Champions at the Kentucky Horse Park where you can visit him anytime you like.
#5 Big Brown (Boundary x Mien by Nureyev) If an allowance turf race at Gulfstream had not come off the grass the world might not have ever known how truly brilliant Big Brown was. The big and athletic horse was so impressive in winning that race that his connections jumped him up to the Florida Derby for his next start. He won that race with an equal amount of ease.
Big Brown was the favorite in the Kentucky Derby and he showed why after toying with the field for yet another easy win. He dropped the competition in the Preakness like a bad habit and it looked like the Belmont Stakes was a foregone conclusion. After all, he had never even been tested. Never had to fight or battle for a win. This is horse racing though and the colt inexplicably did not fire in the Test of Champions. He would win the Haskell Invitational and Monmouth Stakes before retiring.
The syndication for this star colt was worth a record $50 million. Three Chimneys Farm was the lucky winner. I have had the pleasure of personally inspecting Big Brown and he is by far the most correct and beautiful looking stallion I’ve ever seen. Judging by what I’ve seen at the sales and on the track it looks like he is well on his way to becoming one of the best sires in the country. His first crop of babies hit the track in 2012 and so far the best one appears to be stakes winner Brown Almighty.
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