When the illustrious career ends, usually not long after it begins, the young boys of the Thoroughbred racing world often have a second career to “fall back” on, as a breeding stallion. To most human men, that life seems pretty fantastic, put in a few years working at a job you’re created to do, then spend the rest of your days entertaining the ladies. What’s not to love? Well, given modern breeding technology, there’s even less “love” involved than one might think.
This reminds me of a phone call I got from a friend once, on her way home from a stud farm, with a child’s thermos containing “straws” of semen from the chosen sire, praying to not get pulled over and have to explain what she was transporting. “Never breed to a stallion you can’t drive to in a pinch!” Solid advice.
Decades ago the typical number of mares a stallion might cover per annum was in the range of 40 to 50; during the explosion in breeding numbers in the 80′ and 90’s this number escalated to 150 to 160 and in today’s realm of the breeding shed covering as many as 200 mares is not uncommon. That’s just the ones he actually meets in person! Imagine how many samples of him are being shipped all over the world, in the hopes of hitting the equine genetics lottery.
More impressive though than the number of opportunities to produce offspring, are the fees incurred for the honor of a chance at one of their babies. To my knowledge, Thoroughbred stallions are the highest earning for their task, and the numbers are remarkable…
Tapit, Leading Sire in North America, 2014, 15 and 16 $300K
War Front, Northern Dancer offspring, 2006 winner of the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap $250K
American Pharoah, 2015 Triple Crown winner Private Treaty only (so you know that’s a hefty price tag, if they don’t even advertise it!)
Curlin, 2007 Preakness winner $150K
Storm Cat, Leading Sire in North America 1999 and 2000, Leading Broodmare Sire in North America 2012, 13 and 14 (unsure of the distinction there?) in 2007 a record setting $500K
I guess Daddy really does bring home the bacon. Wow. Not that the stallion has an idea what kind of tax bracket he falls in to, or what kind of impact he’s making on the racing world. To him, it’s just another day at the office. Be sure to show your favorite “big daddy” some love this weekend, remember how hard he works too. It isn’t easy carrying the future of a breed or industry on your broad shoulders, but they handle it well.