Galileo (30 March 1998 – 10 July 2021) was an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a racing career which lasted from October 2000 until October 2001 he ran eight times and won six races. He is best known for having won The Derby, Irish Derby Stakes, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2001, and for his rivalry with the Godolphin champion Fantastic Light. He was named the European Champion Three-Year-Old Colt of 2001.
|Foaled||30 March 1998|
|Died||10 July 2021(aged 23)|
|Breeder||David Tsui and Orpendale|
|Owner||Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor|
|Ballysax Stakes (2001)|
Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (2001)
Epsom Derby (2001)
Irish Derby (2001)
K. George VI & Q. Elizabeth Stakes (2001)
|European Champion Three-Year-Old Colt (2001)|
Leading sire in Great Britain & Ireland
(2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
Leading broodmare sire in Great Britain & Ireland (2020)
|Last updated on 17 July 2021|
After his retirement, Galileo became one of the most sought after sires in the world. He first became the leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland in 2008, then consecutively earned the title from 2010 through 2020. In 2020, he set the record for the number of Epsom Derby winners sired at five: New Approach, Ruler Of The World, Australia, Anthony Van Dyck and Serpentine. In June 2020, Galileo sired his 85th Group 1 winner, breaking Danehill's world record and becoming the most successful source of Group I winners in thoroughbred history. In addition to his Derby winners, his notable offspring include Frankel, Nathaniel, Found, Churchill and Minding. He is also a leading broodmare sire and an emerging sire of sires.
Galileo was euthanized on 10 July 2021, after a debilitating injury to his near foreleg, which failed to heal after surgery earlier that year.
Galileo was a 16 1⁄2 hh (64.5 inches, 164 cm) bay horse with a narrow white blaze and a white sock on his near hind leg. He was sired by Sadler's Wells out of the mare Urban Sea. His breeders were David Tsui, the owner of Urban Sea, and "Orpendale", a name used by the Coolmore Stud organisation for some of their breeding interests. He was described as a three-year-old as being "one of the most impeccably bred horses in training".
Sadler's Wells (1981–2011) won three Group One races in 1984 and went on to sire the winners of over 2,000 races, including more than 130 at Group One/Grade I level. He was the most successful sire in the history of British racing, being the leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland a record 14 times. Urban Sea (1989–2009) won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 1993 and went on to become an outstanding broodmare. Apart from Galileo, she was the dam of the Derby winner Sea the Stars, and the Grade I winners Black Sam Bellamy (Tattersalls Gold Cup) and My Typhoon (Diana Stakes), as well as All Too Beautiful (Group race winner, Group One placed) and Melikah (Listed race winner, Group One placed).
Owned by Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor, Galileo was sent into training with Aidan O'Brien, then just starting his tenure at Ballydoyle. Galileo was ridden in all but one of his races by Michael Kinane.
Galileo was known for his relaxed, professional behaviour and even temperament. Noel Stapleton, his long-time handler at Coolmore Stud, called him a creature of habit. "He is a true gentleman", said Stapleton, "and I think he knows how important he is." O'Brien noted that Galileo "prowled" when asked to walk. "Most horses when you ask them to go forward, up goes the head and they walk up, but he used to walk forward and walk out. His walking stride was so long and there was so much power from his front and back."
He was one of several horses to have borne the name of Galileo. The most notable "other" Galileo was a Polish-bred gelding which won the Grade I RSA Novices' Hurdle at the 2002 Cheltenham Festival.
2000: two-year-old careerEdit
Galileo's two-year-old debut was delayed by a cough that he developed over the summer of 2000. He did not appear on the racecourse until 28 October, when he was entered in a sixteen-runner maiden race at Leopardstown. He was made the even-money favourite, despite the field containing two runners each from the stables of the leading Irish trainers John Oxx and Jim Bolger. Mick Kinane tracked the leaders on Galileo before sending the colt into the lead in the straight. Although there were less than two furlongs to the finish, Galileo extended his lead to fourteen lengths by the end of the race.
2001: three-year-old careerEdit
As a three-year-old, Galileo was conditioned for a middle-distance campaign and was aimed at Derby trial races in spring. On his debut, he was made 1/3 favourite for the Listed Ballysax Stakes over a mile and a quarter at Leopardstown. Racing smoothly throughout the race, he took the lead two furlongs out and won "easily" by three and a half lengths. Runner-up Milan went on to win the St Leger and finish second in the Breeders' Cup Turf, while the third-placed Vinnie Roe won four consecutive Irish St. Legers. After the race, Galileo was offered at odds of 8/1 for the Derby. O'Brien was satisfied with the performance, especially as he believed the colt was some way from peak fitness ("[my horses]... are as big as bulls") and likely to improve.
Galileo had his third race at Leopardstown in May as he was stepped up in class for the Group Three Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial. He was made odds-on favourite, and was ridden for the first and only time by Seamie Heffernan, as Kinane was riding Milan in the Group One Prix Lupin on the same day. Galileo took the lead a furlong from home and stayed on to beat the John Oxx-trained Exaltation by one and a half lengths. Although Heffernan put Galileo under pressure before going clear, the colt's Derby odds were cut to 5–1.
At Epsom, Galileo started 11/4 joint-favourite alongside the 2,000 Guineas winner Golan. The 2001 Epsom Derby field was strong, with Tobougg, the previous year's champion two-year-old, and the winners of most of the major Derby trials, including Mr Combustible (Chester Vase), Dilshaan (Dante Stakes) and Perfect Sunday (Lingfield Derby Trial), all taking part. Kinane positioned Galileo just behind the leaders and turned into the straight in third behind Mr Combustible and Perfect Sunday. Two furlongs from the finish, Galileo moved past Mr Combustible and quickly went clear to record an "impressive" three and a half length victory over Golan, Tobougg and Mr Combustible. Following the race, Timeform assigned a figure of 130 to Galileo, making him, in their opinion, the best Derby winner for ten years. Kinane was reported to have called Galileo the best horse he had ridden, saying, "There is no weakness to him... He is a dream to ride." It was the first Derby winner for O'Brien as a trainer and Sadler's Wells as a sire.
In the Irish Derby at The Curragh, three weeks later, Galileo was made favourite at odds of 4/11, with Golan and Exaltation the only other horses starting at less than 20/1. Galileo led two furlongs from the finish and quickly went clear. Although Kinane eased the colt down in the closing stages, he won by four lengths from the Derby Italiano winner Morshdi, with Golan another four lengths back in third. Kinane, who was winning his first Irish Derby in seventeen attempts said that he was always in "complete control", while Morshdi's jockey, Philip Robinson described the winner as "a freak".
Galileo was then tested against older horses in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot in July. The betting suggested that the race would be a match between Galileo (1/2 favourite) and the Godolphin five-year-old Fantastic Light (7-2), who had won Group One races in four different countries. Such were the reputations of these two horses that the third choice in the betting, the Prix du Jockey Club winner Anabaa Blue, started at 18/1. Kinane took Galileo to the lead two furlongs out, but Frankie Dettori soon brought Fantastic Light to challenge. The horses raced together for a few strides before Galileo pulled ahead inside the final furlong and won by two lengths.
Galileo returned to Leopardstown in September for a much-anticipated Irish Champion Stakes in which he was matched against Fantastic Light again, this time over the shorter distance of one and a quarter miles. O'Brien entered Ice Dancer in the race to act as pacemaker and ensure a stamina test. The plan failed as the rest of the riders ignored Ice Dancer, who went ten lengths clear before stopping abruptly in the straight. Fantastic Light took the lead two furlongs out, and Kinane immediately moved Galileo up to join him. The two horses raced side by side throughout the last quarter of the mile, with the advantage appearing to fluctuate between them. On the line, Fantastic Light defeated Galileo by a head in a photo finish. The race has been described as one of the most exciting and memorable in the modern history of the sport. O'Brien praised the winner, but felt that he had "messed up" tactically.
For his final race, Galileo was sent to Belmont Park for the Breeders' Cup Classic. He was racing on dirt for the first time, although before traveling he was prepared by exercising on the artificial surface at Southwell. The Classic was expected to feature a third meeting between Galileo and Fantastic Light, but the Godolphin horse was switched to the Turf shortly before the race. In the Classic, Galileo raced behind the leaders for most of the way but was unable to quicken, staying on at the same pace to finish sixth of the fourteen runners behind Tiznow.
"With the benefit of hindsight", O'Brien later recalled, "it was an unrealistic target to ask him to do that after having such a tough season and racing against the older horses, but it was the belief that was in him, the belief that everyone had in him, that we thought it could be possible that it could happen. I remember when he came in, he was after trying so hard he was almost crying. He was so genuine."
Galileo's retirement was announced immediately after the race.
|Date||Race||Dist (f)||Course||Class||Prize (£K)||Odds||Runners||Placing||Margin||Time||Jockey||Trainer|
|28 October 2000||IBEC EBF Maiden||8||Leopardstown||M||8||Evens||16||1||14||1:48.20||Michael Kinane||Aidan O'Brien|
|16 April 2001||Ballysax Stakes||10||Leopardstown||L||20||1/3||7||1||3.5||2:20.10||Michael Kinane||Aidan O'Brien|
|13 May 2001||Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial||10||Leopardstown||3||39||8/15||5||1||1.5||2:08.50||Seamie Heffernan||Aidan O'Brien|
|9 June 2001||Derby||12||Epsom||1||580||11/4||12||1||3.5||2:33.27||Michael Kinane||Aidan O'Brien|
|1 July 2001||Irish Derby||12||The Curragh||1||411||4/11||12||1||4||2:27.10||Michael Kinane||Aidan O'Brien|
|28 July 2001||King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes||12||Ascot||1||435||1/2||12||1||2||2:27.71||Michael Kinane||Aidan O'Brien|
|8 September 2001||Irish Champion Stakes||10||Leopardstown||1||384||4/11||7||2||Head||2:01.80||Michael Kinane||Aidan O'Brien|
|27 October 2001||Breeders' Cup Classic||10||Belmont Park||1||1386||100/30||13||6||7.75||2:00.62||Michael Kinane||Aidan O'Brien|
Galileo was named European Champion Three-Year-Old at the Cartier Racing Awards.
In the 2001 International Classification (the forerunner of the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings), Galileo was assessed at 129 (equal with Fantastic Light), making him the third highest rated horse behind Sakhee and Point Given.
Galileo was retired to stand as a stallion for the Coolmore Stud. He originally operated as a "shuttle" stallion, standing at Coolmore's main farm at Fethard, County Tipperary Ireland during the Northern Hemisphere breeding season and moving to its Australian branch in the Hunter Region, New South Wales for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season. However, since 2012, he stood exclusively in Ireland.
Galileo earned his first title as the leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland in 2008 thanks to his first Derby winner New Approach. He regained the title in 2010 when Frankel made his debut, and repeated in 2011 through 2020 inclusive. Since 2008, his stud fee was privately negotiated, but in 2018 he was reputed to be the most expensive stallion in the world. For breeders who were not associates of Coolmore Stud, the fee had "long been north of €400,000" and was suggested to be as high as €600,000.
At the time of his death on July 10, 2021, he had sired 338 stakes winners, 228 of which were group winners. In August 2018, Sizzling gave Galileo his 328th European group race win as a sire, taking him past the record previously held by his own sire Sadler's Wells.
On 9 November 2019, Magic Wand became his 84th individual Group/Grade One winner, putting him level with Danehill for the most such winners sired. He broke this record when Peaceful won the Irish 1000 Guineas in June 2020. On the same day Galileo died, Bolshoi Ballet became his 92nd G1 winner.
In 2019, Anthony Van Dyck became his fourth Epsom Derby winner (with New Approach, Ruler of the World, and Australia). This tied him with Cyllene, Waxy, Sir Peter Teazle, Blandford and Montjeu for the number of Derby winners sired. He broke this record when Serpentine won the Derby in 2020. After Minding's victory in the 2016 1000 Guineas, Galileo became the sire of winners of all five British Classics. In the 2016 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, he sired the top three finishers (Found, Highland Reel and Order of St George). In the 2019 Derby, he was the sire, grandsire or great-grandsire of 12 out of 13 runners, and was the broodmare sire of the 13th. In 2020, he was the sire of the all-conquering Love, winner of the 1000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks and the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.
In September 2008, Galileo underwent surgery for colic.
In early 2021, Galileo injured his near-fore foot and underwent surgery. He failed to respond to treatment and was euthanized on 10 July. When announcing the death, John Magnier of Coolmore commented, ""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."
O'Brien noted that as a sire Galileo was notable for passing his own determination down to his offspring. "You would train a lot of horses," he said, "different types of horses who all have different traits, but very few of them, in fact none of them, put that mental trait into their horses the way Galileo did. What he put into their minds, that genuineness, was out of this world."
‡ Gleneagles was demoted from first to third in the 2014 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère, after stewards deemed him to have interfered with the horse that finished second (Full Mast) and third (Territories).
Sire of siresEdit
At the time of his death in 2021, Galileo had sired 20 sons who themselves became sires of Group/Grade 1 winners. Of these sons, Teofilio had sired the most G1 winners with 20, while Frankel was leading the sire list after having sired his first Derby winner. Both Australia and Gleneagles were in the top 20 of leading sires despite having just a few foal crops to represent them. In 2018, Frankel had finished fourth on the leading sire list, while Nathaniel finished fifth. New Approach was the sire of 2018 Derby winner Masar, while Teofilo sired Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter.
Entered stud in 2008.
|2009||Parish Hall||c||Dewhurst Stakes|
|2009||Voleuse de Coeurs||f||Irish St. Leger|
|2010||Havanna Gold||c||Prix Jean Prat|
|2010||Loch Garman||c||Critérium International|
|2010||Trading Leather||c||Irish Derby|
|2010||Happy Clapper||g||Canterbury Stakes, Doncaster Mile, Epsom Handicap|
|2012||Pleascach||f||Irish 1,000 Guineas, Yorkshire Oaks|
|2012||Humidor (NZ)||g||Australian Cup, Makybe Diva Stakes, Memsie Stakes,|
|2013||Twilight Payment||g||Melbourne Cup|
|2014||Exultant||g||Hong Kong Vase, Hong Kong Gold Cup, Hong Kong Champions & Chater Cup, Queen Elizabeth II Cup|
|2015||Cross Counter||g||Melbourne Cup|
|2016||Donjah||f||Preis von Europa|
|2017||Subjectivist||c||Ascot Gold Cup|
|2017||Tawkeel||f||Prix Saint Alary|
|2015||Gear Up||c||Criterium de Saint-Cloud|
Entered stud in 2009.
|2010||Dawn Approach||c||National Stakes, Dewhurst Stakes, 2000 Guineas, St James's Palace Stakes|
|2010||May's Dream||f||Australasian Oaks|
|2018||Mac Swiney||c||Vertem Futurity Trophy, Irish 2,000 Guineas|
Entered stud in 2013.
|2014||Soul Stirring||f||Yushun Himba, Hanshin Juvenile Fillies|
|2014||Cracksman||c||Champion Stakes (twice), Prix Ganay, Coronation Cup|
|2014||Mozu Ascot||c||Yasuda Kinen, February Stakes|
|2014||Call The Wind||g||Prix du Cadran|
|2014||Dream Castle||g||Jebel Hatta|
|2014||Mirage Dancer||c||ATC Metropolitan Handicap|
|2015||Without Parole||c||St James's Palace Stakes|
|2016||Anapurna||f||Epsom Oaks, Prix de Royallieu|
|2017||Hungry Heart||f||Australian Oaks, Vinery Stud Stakes|
|2018||Adayar||c||Epsom Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes|
|2018||Converge||g||TJ Smith Stakes|
|2018||Hurricane Lane||c||Irish Derby|
Entered stud in 2013.
|2014||Enable||f||Epsom Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (three times), Yorkshire Oaks (twice), Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (twice), Breeders' Cup Turf, Eclipse Stakes|
|2014||God Given||f||Premio Lydia Tesio|
|2016||Channel||f||Prix de Diane|
|2016||Burning Victory||f||Triumph Hurdle|
Like his sire Galileo has become a sire of excellent broodmares whose offspring have achieved Group 1 success. He was the leading broodmare sire in Great Britain and Ireland of 2020 after finishing closely behind Pivotal in the previous years.
|Hail To Reason|
|Raise a Native|
|Almyra (Family 9-h)|
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- Career 1-2-3 Colour Chart – Galileo