Over 80% of Stallions which go to Stud are going to fail. That is the first hurdle that new prospects face. Those that do make it beyond these rather long odds then face a truly daunting prospect – replicating themselves genetically. Very few Stallions ever go on to sire a son who becomes a sire of sires himself. Some Stallions are unlucky, their potential top son died young or tragically like Barbaro. If Barbaro had not died and had been successful as a sire would we now be talking about Dynaformer in a different manner? But because of this twist of fate who has Dynaformer left? Some are unlucky in that their best horses were fillies. Medaglia d’Oro comes to mind. Clearly Rachel Alexandra had genetic talent both Rachel’s Valentina and Jess’s Dream showed talent. Whom might she have sired if she had been a he? Then his next best horse is Songbird. As it stands now MdO is going to need a hail mary to come up with a sire to pass on his prowess.
Stallion lines rise and fall like Noble Houses of old. We might view the Northern Dancers as Hapsburg’s and the Mr. Prospectors as Windsors. Man O’War went the way of the Romanovs. Northern Dancer will live on directly through Sadler’s Wells (Galileo and Montjeu and their sons) and Danzig (Danehill and his many sons, War Front maybe Hard Spun). Mr. Prospector is an interesting case as many of his top sons failed to replicate themselves in the sire line – Fusaichi Pegasus was a spectacular failure at stud. Seeking the Gold left no son behind. Gone West has Elusive Quality (will need Quality Road to succeed) and Speightstown (struggling to get that son) which right now looks like it might be a dead end. Forty Niner gave us Distorted Humor whose sons have largely failed at stud. Machiavellian who was best as a broodmare did leave one major sire behind in Street Cry who soared to the top of the charts, then died a bit too early, but seems to have done just enough maybe leaving behind potential prospects in Street Boss and Street Sense, though to be honest, I would bet against them passing on a son and I like Street Boss quite a bit. Smart Strike seems like the one who did it, giving the industry the emerging monster Curlin. There is of course also the case of Fappiano, who might argue that he is his own well spring tracing through to Unbridled then the dual sources of Unbridled’s Song (who is struggling to get that son of his own and relying a lot on Arrogate) and Empire Maker who, while a bit of a failure at stud himself, did get two gems, Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister both of whom have sired Kentucky Derby winners.
Recent giants of the breed like A.P. Indy struck early and often. One of his first sons Pulpit gave us the amazing Tapit. Indy was able to endure the early death of fast sons like Old Trieste and Vindication while still turning out high profile sires like Malibu Moon, Mineshaft and Bernardini. The three of those have work ahead of them to produce a top son though all have sent numerous prospects to stud. Storm Cat who topped out at $500,000 for his stud fee was producing scores of stallion prospects, in fact he still has 146 stallions at stud, and while some achieved success it will be Giant’s Causeway who is his most enduring. The Giant himself has sent over 5 dozen sons to stud and can rest assured his line is intact with Shamardal though it seems his influence will be one on turf.
Once we venture out of territory that breeders are comfortable with the Stallions face an even more difficult challenge. Remember Man O’War? His line holds onto the precipice of relevance through Tiznow. And while Tiznow has 27 sons at stud, it is going to take a small miracle for him to push his genes forward. Gemologist, Morning Line or Strong Mandate have a lot of work to do. Awesome Again couldn’t get any sons to stick except the brilliant Ghostzapper who has had a perplexing stud career that deserves its own column. Maybe Ghostzapper will get a son, maybe he won’t, there are no sure things in the lottery of genetics. Candy Ride, far enough removed from Fappiano that he could likely claim to be his own man, is producing many good race horses and is just now starting to send sons to stud. Since he is a bit under-valued in the market he too will require a Herculean effort to establish his legacy beyond one generation.
Sometimes you need luck. Prized stallion Dubai Millennium died young and in his last crop he sired Dubawi. Imagine how fragile bloodlines are. That whole contribution to the breed would have been lost had Dubawi had not come along. Europe is a strange beast at the moment flooded with sons of Galileo and Urban Sea, the odd Cape Cross tossed in along with a swarm of sprinters who make up 75% of the earnings chart. Galileo, arguably the best sire in the world, has 45 sons at stud, which is a rather small number considering Storm Cat still has 146. He has perhaps 3-4 crops remaining and is still looking for that son which will continue on for him. Currently not a single son of Galileo stands for over $50,000 except for Frankel. How is that for pressure? Of course you never know who will rise up and sires like Australia or Gleneagles don’t have runners yet, then there is the tantalizing unholy alliance between Galileo and Storm Cat which has produced recent Irish and English 2000 Guineas winner Churchill. Will the union of two great bloodlines, one European and one American be the combination that ensures the legacy of Galileo? And while we are at this, can we send some Tapit mares to Galileo and some Galileo mares to Tapit? Millionaires are looking into this right? Note – While Galileo has yet to see a Tapit mare, Tapit has been bred to three Galileo mares and 2 of the 3 have made over $100K though the unfortunate Reach the World died in training – fate rules all.
With the globalization of breeding stallions now have chances they might not have had in years past. Sunday Silence began this trend by forging the Japanese stud book through his own breeding prowess. Another Halo line Stallion, More Than Ready found great success in Australia and even if USA based sons like Daredevil or Verrazano don’t succeed he has already sired the potential star Sebring down under. Flower Alley has found a second life in the emerging South African market and California Chrome is shuttling to Chile this offseason in an effort to get more runners out there. Remember that is the big rule of thumb – you need runners to get winners. This survey if of course just a brief journey through the stallions across the world. There are enough stories here to fill a book and there are plenty of books out there for those inclined to delve a bit deeper into who has a long term influence on the breed and who does not.
Note – since I mentioned many, many stallions in this article I couldn’t bold them all so I threw in bold where it looked pleasing to they eye.