This is one case where cost (the price tag) seems wildly out of line with worth, or the perception of value---at least to me, although the point is moot in my case since I have no mares to be bred. Nonetheless, consider this: American Pharoah's asking price is going to be double that for Empire Maker, the leading American sire of 2012 by North American earnings and a horse who can certainly get a commercially attractive yearling as well as top racehorse. That's a lot to ask for a horse who, however glittering his race record, is wholly untried as a sire and does not have the superb female family that Empire Maker boasts.
There is also good reason to question whether Pioneerof the Nile merits a higher stud fee than his own sire. In siring American Pharoah, he has sired one of the greatest runners of recent memory---but American Pharoah is only one horse. Take him out of consideration, and the remainder of Pioneerof the Nile's stud record would hardly justify the US$60,000 he stood for last year---not when the same fee or less could get you to City Zip, Candy Ride, or Ghostzapper, all proven sires of multiple Grade I winners and more consistent than Pioneerof the Nile has so far proven.
This is not intended as a criticism of Ashford Stud or WinStar Farm regarding their pricing. Like any other business, Thoroughbred breeding is about marketing as much as the product, and "strike while the iron is hot" is a proverb that has been around far longer than I have. The best marketing campaign on earth could not buy the favorable publicity or the hopes that American Pharoah's racing career have built for himself and his sire, and Ashford and WinStar would be foolish not to take advantage of the situation while it lasts. But while I certainly hope that American Pharoah will prove as great a sire as he was a racehorse, history says that the odds of his justifying a US$200,000 stud fee are slim. I'd like to be wrong, but chances are I won't be.