Who could have predicted that a horse who stood his first four seasons at a fee of only $7,500 at Airdrie Farm was destined to leave such a rich legacy? The horse in question was El Prado, who became the first Group 1-winning son of Sadler’s Wells available to American breeders.

Although his fee once fell as low as $5,000, El Prado became champion sire and has earned an enviable reputation as a leading sire of sires. His champion turf horse Kitten’s Joy has recently had his fee doubled to $100,000 in 2014, following a stellar year with five Grade 1-scoring progeny. Kitten’s Joy was still heading North America’s general sires’ list after the Breeders’ Cup, even though he is essentially a turf sire.

Although his fee once fell as low as $5,000, El Prado became champion sire and has earned an enviable reputation as a leading sire of sires

Another of El Prado’s sons, Medaglia d’Oro, had his fee boosted to $100,000 in 2010, following the exploits of his exceptional daughter Rachel Alexandra. And now there’s another son, Artie Schiller, emerging from the pack. Having stood at $10,000 in 2013 at WinStar Farm, this Breeders’ Cup Mile winner has been represented by six juvenile stakes winners during 2013. Among them are the colt Wee Miss Artie and the filly My Conquestadory, both of whom became Grade 1 winners over Keeneland’s Polytrack. The chances are Artie Schiller’s star should now be in the ascendant, as is his fee.

There are still some unproven stallion sons of El Prado, led by Paddy O’Prado, who will be standing his third season at Spendthrift Farm at a fee of $15,000 in 2014. Although his five Graded stakes victories were all gained on turf, Paddy O’Prado was sufficiently versatile to finish second in the Blue Grass Stakes on Polytrack and third in the Kentucky Derby on dirt. This widens his appeal and he attracted more than 140 mares in his first season and 171 this year.

The latter figure ranked Paddy O’Prado among the ten busiest stallions in Kentucky in 2013. Those ten also included Kitten’s Joy (184 mares), and Medaglia d’Oro’s fast son Warrior’s Reward (165). With Medaglia d’Oro also being much in demand in 2013, covering 146 mares at $100,000, it isn’t hard to envisage 2017 being the Year of El Prado, rather than the official Year of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac.

The 2017 season will also see the first two-year-olds sired by Medaglia d’Oro’s son Violence, one of the best American juveniles of 2012. Violence’s initial fee is $15,000 at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, which was where Medaglia d’Oro stood his first season.

El Prado’s broodmare daughters are also having their moments, as was demonstrated so vividly when Outstrip cut down Giovanni Boldini and Bobby’s Kitten to take the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

As mentioned, El Prado spent his early years as a modestly-priced stallion. Although this proved no barrier to success, this type of stallion can be slower to make an impact as a broodmare sire, simply because his eldest daughters don’t have a great deal of depth to their pedigrees. However, Outstrip is the fifth winner at the highest level out of an El Prado mare, one of his predecessors being another Breeders’ Cup winner in Laragh (2008 Juvenile Fillies’ Turf). The quintet is completed by the fillies Believe You Can (Kentucky Oaks), Bit Of Whimsy (Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup) and Hilda’s Hurricane (Ballerina Stakes).

There will surely be plenty more to come, especially from the daughters sired after El Prado’s fee rose to $75,000 or more for the later years of his career. His fee peaked at $125,000 in 2006 and 2007, with the broodmare daughters from these crops still being unproven at the ages of five and six in 2013.

El Prado obviously wasn’t everyone’s idea of a potentially high-class stallion when he first retired, but there were reasons for optimism. For a start, both his parents – Sadler’s Wells and Lady Capulet – were Classic winners in Ireland and his half-brother Entitled failed by only half a length to win the Irish 2,000 Guineas. You can gauge the family’s reputation from the fact that Turkish Treasure, a Group-winning three-parts-sister to Lady Capulet, sold for the equivalent of more than 1,000,000gns as long ago as 1985.

Also, Lady Capulet was a three-parts-sister to Drone. Unbeaten during a short career, Drone had to be retired before he’d had the chance to tackle stakes company. Drone justified the opportunity by siring 9% stakes winners and he found lasting fame as the broodmare sire of the great Dancing Brave and the Kentucky Derby winners Grindstone and Charismatic.

As this female line has produced generation after generation of quality performers, it was inevitable that someone would experiment with inbreeding to it. This happened when Turkish Treasure’s daughter Siempre Asi became a fairly regular visitor to El Prado. Mating these two together produced 3 x 3 inbreeding to the 2,000 Guineas and Derby winner Sir Ivor and 3 x 4 to Cap And Bells, the second dam of El Prado.

These duplications worked their magic with Siempre Asi’s 2002 filly. Unimaginatively named Asi Siempre, the filly became a Group-placed Listed winner in France before being returned to her native land. After racing exclusively on turf, she tackled the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes over Keeneland’s Polytrack. Up against several Grade 1 winners on dirt, Asi Siempre came out on top and she later ran with credit on dirt.

Sent to Fasig-Tipton sales, Asi Siempre sold for $3,000,000 to Sheikh Mohammed. She is well on her way to justifying that price, as Outstrip – her second foal – collected $550,000 for his Breeders’ Cup success. Next in line are Asi Siempre’s 2012 and 2013 fillies by Dubawi. Someone arguably got a bargain when they picked up Asi Siempre’s first foal, an unraced Distorted Humor filly called Sapporo, for 13,000gns at the 2012 December Sales.