2001 Stud Fees: Up, Up, Up!

Stud fees seem to be going the same way that home runs were two years ago--up, up, and away. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Ken Griffey Jr. led the home run explosion in 1998, and their equine counterparts in the form of Storm Cat, Seeking the Gold, and A.P. Indy are doing the same when it comes to 2001 stallion fees. Storm Cat's advertised fee of $300,000 was the highest for 2000, and his fee of $400,000 for 2001 keeps him at the top of the market.

Open market seasons to Seeking the Gold and A.P. Indy are in hot demand as breeders decide which stallions best fit their mares. Open market seasons to Seeking the Gold are being quoted at $325,000 to $340,000, and ones to A.P. Indy are in the $325,000 range. Seeking the Gold stood for a private fee in 2000, and A.P. Indy's price was $150,000. Both stallions are listed as standing for private fees in 2001.

Overall, 15 stallions are being advertised at either $100,000 or more, or their open market value for a 2001 season is worth six figures to breeders. (Seattle Slew, who is recuperating from surgery at Robert N. Clay's Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky., is not among the 15, but is included on the accompanying list. If he stands at all, he most likely will cover only shareholder mares. He stood for $150,000 in 2000, and it's safe to say that if he were healthy, he would command a six-figure fee, especially since his 2000 yearlings have averaged $558,000.)

One thing is certain is that the $100,000 club keeps growing, and one part that plays a big role in the rise of stud fees is yearling average. For example, Saint Ballado's yearling average went from $82,117 in 1999 to $311,547 so far this year, and his fee increased from $40,000 in 2000 to $125,000 to 2001.

Two incoming stallions, Fusaichi Pegasus and Lemon Drop Kid, already are commanding six-figure fees. Open market seasons to Fusaichi Pegasus are going for $200,000, and Lemon Drop Kid's advertised fee is $100,000. For the 2000 breeding season, Forestry was the only incoming stallion to stand for an advertised fee as high as $50,000.

The recent rise in stallion fees has racing men and women reminding one another of the mid-1980s and its astronomical yearling prices and subsequent rise in stud fees. In 1984, for example, 40 yearlings were sold for $1 million or more--up from 29 from the previous year--and some stallion fees for 1985 were adjusted accordingly.

According to Racing Update, Northern Dancer's fee went from $650,000 in 1984 to $950,000 in 1985, and Seattle Slew's increased from $500,000 to $750,000. Danzig's fee zoomed from $40,000 to $275,000, then to $450,000 in 1986. Alydar stood in 1984 for $225,000, then $450,000 the following year. Mr. Prospector's fee went from $225,000 to $275,000, then to $325,000 for 1986. Among the heavyweights, Nijinsky II suffered a setback. His 1985 fee of $400,000 was $50,000 less than what he commanded the previous year.

It's too early to tell if stud fees will continue to rise, but don't be surprised if the $100,000 club continues to grow.