By Darren Rovell, ESPN Senior Writer
With his Triple Crown victory Saturday, Justify became one of the most valuable horse in racing history.
Before the Belmont Stakes, the horse’s owners, primarily WinStar Farm, China Horse Club & SF Racing, negotiated a deal with Coolmore to sell the horse’s breeding rights for $60 million. The Triple Crown was worth an additional $15 million, sources said, making the total deal $75 million.
WinStar’s Elliott Walden declined to discuss the deal after Justify’s win.
The undefeated horse’s value tops the $70 million that Coolmore paid in 2000 for Fusaichi Pegasus, who won five of his seven starts. That figure, through an inflation-adjusted price, would be $104 million.
What makes Justify’s accomplishment more remarkable is that the horse became so valuable just 111 days after his first race on Feb. 18. Justify, who became the 13th Triple Crown winner, was purchased as a yearling for $500,000.
While the deal might seem rich, sources said Coolmore would make it up by breeding in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, making the horse capable of breeding at least 250 times in his first year. At an average of $150,000 per live foal, half the deal would be covered in Year 1.
Coming so close to American Pharoah’s Triple Crown win has its advantages. Coolmore owns that horse’s breeding rights as well, and his first crop hasn’t even raced yet. A flop at the track for that crop could negatively affect Justify’s stock as well.
Coolmore agreed to a deal to buy American Pharoah for $10 million before the Triple Crown campaign even began, but the three wins tripled the investment, counting bonuses. In 2008, Triple Crown hopeful Big Brown’s breeding rights were sold for $50 million before the horse had a lackluster Belmont Stakes race.
Being that valuable might make it difficult for Justify getting back on the track again, though ownership seemed optimistic after the win that it was possible.