I’ve never subscribed to the notion that older stallions tend to become lesser sires because of some breakdown in the quality or composition of their sperm — quantity maybe, but not quality. Rather, I believe it is the quality of mares booked to older stallions that make the difference. Fertility problems and/or fashionable new stallions retiring to stud each year are just two of the reasons why most older stallions are bred to lesser mares late in their stud careers.
But, this is not the case with the very best stallions. Mr. Prospector, for example, still covered top-quality mares right up to the time he died. His only Kentucky Derby winner, Fusaichi Pegasus, was conceived when he was 26.
The inspiration to mention this again now is that Danzig had a French Classic winner over the weekend when his 3yo son Astronomer Royal captured the prestigious G1 Poule D’essai Des Poulains at Longchamp on Sunday. And, just a week ago, Danzig’s 3yo son Hard Spun, already a G2 winner, ran a game second in the Kentucky Derby. Both Astronomer Royal and Hard Spun were conceived when Danzig was 26!
It would be unimaginable to believe that Storm Cat or A.P. Indy will be bred to lower-quality mares during the twilight of their stud careers, which will not be the case for much of the rest of the stallion population. The lesson here is that older stallions can be a bargain for breeders. As demand drops, so do the stud fees!