New to the ranksThe most talented and diverse group of stallions to retire to stud in the United States over the past decade are readying for their first season of service in 2016, and breeders made the most of farm open houses during recent breeding stock sales to inspect the horses before making mating decisions for their mares, writes Michele MacDonald.
While Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup Classic winner American Pharoah towers over all others in both racing achievement and stud fee, standing for an advertised fee of $200,000 live foal at Coolmore's Ashford Stud, there are 14 other notable Grade 1 winners who will stand their first season in Kentucky. Others have particularly outstanding pedigrees or competed at the highest levels during their careers.
In addition, the upcoming season features the return of former leading sire Empire Maker from Japan - he will stand at Gainesway Farm alongside reigning American sire leader Tapit and newcomer Karakontie, the 2014 Breeders' Cup Mile winner.
Bayern, who captured the 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic, and Secret Circle, who prevailed in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint, will join other Breeders' Cup winners Curlin, Midnight Lute and New Year's Day at Hill 'n' Dale Farm.
A trio of Grade 1 winners will be new at both Spendthrift Farm, which will stand Danza, Palace and Wicked Strong, and at WinStar Farm, which will host Carpe Diem, Constitution and Daredevil.
Lane's End will offer impressive Grade 1 winners Liam's Map, who capped his career with triumph in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile; Honor Code, a son of A.P. Indy, and Mr. Speaker, a grandson of the incomparable mare Personal Ensign.
The following photo gallery features some of these promising new stallions and the farms at which they will stand, along with images of a few of America's most successful established sires.