Galileo, the most successful European sire in racing history, was euthanized early Saturday morning after suffering a chronic, debilitating injury to his left fore foot.

Galileo-1998-2021
Galileo was the European Champion 3-Year-Old of 2001. As a stallion, he won 12 British-Irish sire titles in 13 years. He was euthanized Saturday after a chronic foot injury became non-responsive to treatment. (Image: Coolmore)

The son of Sadler’s Wells was 23.

Coolmore Farm, Galileo’s owners, announced the death after Galileo’s injury failed to respond to treatment.

“It is a very sad day, but we all feel incredibly fortunate to have had Galileo here at Coolmore,” said Coolmore’s owner, John Magnier, in a statement. “He was always a very special horse to us and he was the first Derby winner we had in Ballydoyle in the post-MV O’Brien era. I would also like to thank Aidan (O’Brien) and his team for the brilliant job they did with him. The effect he is having on the breed through his sons and daughters will be a lasting legacy and his phenomenal success really is unprecedented.”

Considering Galileo opened his racing career with six consecutive victories, that’s quite the statement. Galileo retired to the breeding shed at the end of 2001, after finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. His racing record of 6-1-0 in eight starts included three Group 1 wins: the Epsom and Irish Derbies and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Along with that came more than $2.24 million in earnings.

Galileo a great runner, incomparable stallion

And as impressive as that was, it paled in comparison to Galileo’s stallion record. His 91 Group 1-wininng progeny makes him the most prolific sire of Group 1 winners in racing history. That record came when daughter Peaceful won the 2020 Irish 1,000 Guineas. That marked Galileo’s 85th Group 1 progeny victory.

The winner of the 2001 Epsom Derby sired a record five Derby winners: New Approach, Australia, Ruler Of The World, Anthony Van Dyck and Serpentine.

Galileo’s other noteworthy offspring read like a Who’s Who of European racing standouts: Frankel, Magical, Waldgeist, Love, Found, Magic Wand, Seventh Heaven, Highland Reel, Magician and Red Rocks, among others.

Even Into Mischief looks up at Galileo’s stallion career

That explains how Galileo finished 2020 as Britain and Ireland’s champion sire for the 11th consecutive year. He put a virtual hammerlock on that title, winning it 12 of the last 13 years. Only Danehill Dancer in 2009 spoiled the run. Galileo’s offspring earned more than £5.27 million in 2020, more than double runner-up Dubawi’s £2.456,588.

Galileo’s stud fee has been reported as private since 2008. But the Racing Post reported it’s believed to be in excess of €500,000. By comparison, Into Mischief, North America’s leading sire, commands $225,000.

And Galileo’s impact is felt on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. The favorite for Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Derby, Bolshoi Ballet, is a Galileo progeny.

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