The legendary race that's a '£50M payday'

But that's just small beer compared with the riches on offer for the winner at stud. And if that winner happens to be the favorite Saxon Warrior, it could unlock a treasure trove for owner Coolmore, the Ireland-based breeding operation which has Ballydoyle as its racing arm.

A Derby win to back up the 2,000 Guineas victory in May, allied to his exceptional pedigree out of Japanese Triple Crown winner Deep Impact and champion mare Maybe, could render Saxon Warrior virtually priceless.

"You've got the odds-on favorite Saxon Warrior, who is already worth a fortune, and you've got the rest of the field," Tom Goff, of leading consultancy Blandford Bloodstock, told CNN Sport.

"Whatever the rest of them do they're worth £10-15 million but Saxon Warrior is such an exceptionally well-bred horse that if he wins he's probably worth in excess of £40-50 million."

Saxon Warrior is favorite to add the Derby to his 2,000 Guineas win.

Saxon Warrior is favorite to add the Derby to his 2,000 Guineas win.

Saxon Warrior is favorite to add the Derby to his 2,000 Guineas win.

Should he add the St Leger in September to become the first horse since Nijinsky in 1970 to win British racing's Triple Crown, he would seal his status as an "utterly unique racehorse," adds Goff.

"He has a very strong blend of Danehill, Galileo and Deep Impact in him," said his trainer Aidan O'Brien, who has saddled six Derby winners. "Those three strong traits make him a horse we haven't had before, so he is very different."

But should another horse triumph over the tough mile-and-a-half Derby course on the Epsom Downs south of London -- a test which requires both speed and stamina -- a lucrative career at stud still beckons. (Only six fillies have won the Derby, the last in 1916).

"The great Italian breeder Tesio said more than 50 years ago that the winning post at Epsom determines the future of the thoroughbred and it stands true today," says Sam Bullard, director of stallions at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, the Darley stud operation of Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin racing outfit.

Champion fees

But a Derby alone does not guarantee a lucrative stud career.

So far this century, horses have gone to stud with fees ranging from 8,000 euros to 85,000 euros (£7000-£74,000), with prices dependent on their results, according to Bullard.

"The horses with the best stud fees are those who go on to become the champion of their generation and they would usually have the Derby on their CV," Bullard tells CNN Sport.

But he adds: "The day the horse leaves the racecourse is the end of his career and his future is entirely determined by the success of his progeny."

Take his star stallion Dubawi, son of champion miler Dubai Millenium, a favorite of Sheikh Mohammed.

His racing career was impressive rather than stellar, with two Group 1 wins and a second as a three-year-old, including victory in the Irish 2000 Guineas, alongside third in the Derby behind Motivator in 2005.

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A son of Dubawi and Pacifique sold for a record 2.6 million euros at the Deauville sales in 2015.

A son of Dubawi and Pacifique sold for a record 2.6 million euros at the Deauville sales in 2015.

Don't forget Mom

But it was what happened later that bumped up his stud fee from an initial £25,000 to an eye-watering £250,000 a pop. Standing at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, UK, he is the fastest ever to sire to 50 Group winners -- the top level of horse races -- and has bred horses such as Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso and 2000 Guineas champions Makfi and Night of Thunder.

"He's the best," says Bullard. "He got off to an unbelievable start at stud and has produced more offspring that are Group 1 winners at this stage of his career than any other horse.

The aim for Bullard's team to is to get about 140 mares a year in foal by Dubawi. Last year his crop of yearlings averaged £860,000 ($1.15M) each. In 2016 a Dubawi colt out of Fallen for You achieved 2.6 million guineas (£2.73M, $3.6M) at the Tattersalls yearling sales.

"We mustn't forget the female side in a Derby winner," adds Bullard. "It has a huge amount of influence on the horse's value when he retires to stud, because, to put it bluntly, your mum's half the battle."

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The Lionel Messi of stud

Dubawi's offspring have so far won more than £21 million in prize money on the Flat alone, according to the Racing Post. Breeding the next generation of thoroughbred champions is the cash-converting game.

"We want the Lionel Messi of the covering shed," says Bullard. "And when he's gone we'll want the next one, that's what it's all about."

But perhaps Europe's current "Messi" is the legendary Galileo, who stands at the Coolmore stud in County Tipperary, Ireland.

He won the Epsom Derby, the Irish Derby and the King George in impressive times, but has gone on to sire more than 70 Group 1 winners including the unbeaten Frankel and Derby winners New Approach, Australia and Ruler of the World. He also sired the dam of Saxon Warrior.

Such is his prowess at stud, although his fees are undisclosed, reports suggest the figure is in excess of 500,00 euros ($584,200). A Galileo filly out of multiple winner Dank achieved 4 million guineas (£4.2M, $5.6M) at last October's Tattersalls yearling sales.

"He's the best stallion in Europe and in some years is arguably the best stallion in the world," says Goff.

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Frankel romped home in style to win the 2,000 Guineas in 2011.

Frankel romped home in style to win the 2,000 Guineas in 2011.

Frankel's future

Perhaps the new kid on the breeding block is Frankel, who was unbeaten in 14 starts, including the 2,000 Guineas in 2011, in a remarkable racing career. Despite not running in the Derby, he amassed nearly £3 million in prize funds.

The pride of the late trainer Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel retired to Banstead Manor Stud at Cheveley in Suffolk, part of Prince Khalid bin Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms breeding operation.

His initial fee was £125,000, but this has risen to £175,000, largely off the back of Cracksman, who was the world's top-rated three-year-old and has won more than £1.3 million.

Frankel is still awaiting a Classic winner, but his progeny is starting to make "enormous numbers at sales," according to Goff. When one of his offspring does land a Classic, his future earnings will skyrocket.

"Frankel is an anomaly. He was the most wonderful racehorse and he caught the imagination like no others," added Bullard.

However, not all champion colts become successful sires.

Godolphin's Barney Roy, who the St James' Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and was second in the 2000, was found be infertile at stud, says Bullard.

"There are stallions that have fertility issues, other stallions have an accident in the paddock, there are all sorts of things that can go wrong. There are stallions that don't have any winners and they fall off the radar very quickly," adds Bullard.

"It's a very small section of stallions that get to generate a huge stud fee."

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The Derby is the perfect shop window. But Saxon Warrior is tipped to get there first.

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