Triple Crown winner American Pharoah will stand his first season at Coolmore's Ashford Stud for an advertised fee of $200,000, the farm announced Friday.
American Pharoah's fee is the highest for a first-year stallion since 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper entered stud at Adena Springs in 2006 at the same fee. Ghostzapper's $200,000 fee was believed to be a North American record for a first-year stallion.
Trained by Bob Baffert and owned and bred by Zayat Stables, American Pharoah became the first horse in 37 years to sweep the American classics when he won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes this season and concluded his career with a 61/2-length win in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland last Saturday.
American Pharoah's fee also ties him with proven, Claiborne Farm stallion War Front as the second-most expensive stallion in North America for 2016 behind only leading sire Tapit, who will again stand for $300,000 at Gainesway.
Owner Ahmed Zayat announced he had sold American Pharoah's breeding rights to Coolmore prior to the Belmont Stakes, but he does retain an undisclosed interest in his champion colt's stallion rights.
WinStar Farm, which stands American Pharoah's sire Pioneerof the Nile, announced before the Breeders' Cup that the son of Empire Maker would command at least $125,000 for 2016, though that fee could be adjusted upward. Empire Maker, who recently returned from Japan to stand at Gainesway, will stand for $100,000 this coming year.
The last Triple Crown winner to enter stud before American Pharaoh was 1978 hero Affirmed, who retired to Spendthrift Farm in 1980 after his syndication rights were sold for $14.4 million. Though a solid sire, Affirmed never reached the upper tier of stallions and stood his final season at Jonabell Farm for $30,000 in 2000. He was euthanized in 2001 due to complications that developed after surgery to realign an ankle joint.
Starting stallions off at a lofty price can result in a quick payoff but has a spotty history of long-term success. After starting at $200,000, Ghostzapper's fee steadily declined, though he worked his way back up to the $60,000 he commanded for 2015.
Dual classic winner Smarty Jones began his stud career at Three Chimneys in 2005 for a $100,000 fee. By 2011, his fee had dropped to $10,000 and he had been relocated to Pennsylvania. The champion horse currently stands at Northview Stallion Station in Pennsylvania and had an advertised fee of $4,000 for 2015.
By contrast, Tapit began his stud career in 2005 with a fee of $15,000. The late Storm Cat, who once commanded $500,000 as the flagship sire for Overbrook Farm, also got off to modest beginnings when he stood for $30,000 during his initial season in 1988.
One stallion who started off near the top and has stayed there, however, is Darley sire and champion, Bernardini. The son of legendary sire A.P. Indy entered stud for an advertised fee of $100,000 for 2007. By 2012, Bernardini's fee was up to $150,000 and he is set to stand the 2016 season for $100,000.
Two-time Horse of the Year Curlin is another recent example of success. The son of Smart Strike entered stud in 2009 at a fee of $75,000. After standing the 2015 season at Lane's End for $35,000, Curlin was recently relocated to Hill 'n' Dale Farm, and will command a $100,000 fee for 2016.
American Pharoah retired with nine wins, including eight Grade I triumphs, from 11 career starts and $8,650,300 in earnings.