Holy Roman Emperor, just turned 3, has been retired to stud at Coolmore in Ireland to replace George Washington following the discovery that the latter, last year's top turf miler, has fertility problems.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Holy Roman Emperor was second favorite for this year's Newmarket, England, classic, the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I), in early May behind the only horse to have beaten him, Teofilo. He was rated the second best European 2-year-old of 2006 by official handicappers, a pound behind Teofilo.
A statement from Coolmore on the afternoon on March 10 said: "In the very early stages of George Washington’s stud career, his fertility has been questioned. Coolmore today brought in veterinary expert Dr. Dickson Varner from the U.S.A .to consult on the matter and are awaiting prognosis.
"George Washington has been suspended from covering and Holy Roman Emperor, another dual group I winning 2-year-old by Danehill and Ballydoyle's leading Two Thousand Guineas prospect, has been retired to take his place."
Coolmore’s Christy Grassick added: "We are fortunate to have a horse of Holy Roman Emperor’s caliber to take over in order to facilitate our clients with mares booked to George Washington."
Holy Roman Emperor was beaten twice by the Jim Bolger-trained Teofilo last year, by a length and a quarter in the National Stakes (Ire-I) at the Curragh and by a head in the Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket in October.
His four wins included the Phoenix Stakes (Ire-I) at the Curragh and the Grand Criterium (Fr-1) at Longchamp.
George Washington, Europe’s champion 2-year-old of 2005, won the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes(Eng-I)) at Ascot last year before finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), his first race on dirt. He was rated the world’s joint top turf horse last year with Rail Link by the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings.
O'Brien said: "The lads and the boss (John Magnier) had to try and replace him. We were shell-shocked about it here because Holy Roman Emperor was our best horse.
"He was the horse we were looking forward to for the Guineas and the St James's Palace. Paul Shanahan was here at 11:30 a.m. and the box came and picked him up at 11:50 a.m. I spoke to the boss in between and the more I tried to persuade him not to retire him, the more he was convinced he had to retire him.
"The boss has his clients there and has to take care of them and obviously they are trying to replace like with like. It's a big shock to everyone here. We are a racing stable and everyone here does their best every day to make it happen.
"We have been very happy with Holy Roman Emperor and we were looking forward to the Guineas. What can I say? It was really out of our hands and there was nothing we could do about it.
"It's a bit like having a team getting ready for the premiership (soccer) and your striker is being taken away. He was by far our best horse, the others have to make the jump still. He handled all types of ground, he ran in the Dewhurst on soft when we were nearly not going to run him. He got into traffic trouble on soft ground and still only just got beat and looked very unlucky.
"Obviously, we were looking forward to going back for the Guineas and we thought he was ready made for the St James's Palace after that. That was made for him.
"It’s a sickener, but it’s a business decision. The lads have been in business a long time and have a lot of very important clients. He is a Danehill with a super physique, he has everything. With all the mares booked to George, they felt they had to pull out all the stops for the people.
"He had speed, he had everything. He was well forward, we were going along lovely. Hopefully, some of the others will improve - we'll keep trying."