2009 Kentucky breeding industry is struggling vs. 2008

5 thoughts on “2009 Kentucky breeding industry is struggling vs. 2008”

  1. Sid,

    You are the first person I have read who has openly talked about what is happening in our business. I am more than a bit surprised at the silence surrounding what will ultimately result in something like a 25-30% drop in the annual foal crop, if the mare bookings I am seeing this year are any indication.

    The effects of the market crash and subsequent economic decline are now working their way through our business and it is hard to believe that everyone who plays a part in the Thoroughbred business now will still be in business in the seasons ahead.

    I think it’s a bit of a reach to equate the recent BC election results to President Obama’s election. That said, the first thing that needs to happen following the July 9 BC board elections (assuming the KY slot legislation matter has been resolved) is an open summit between the various elements in the industry to define how we will go forward with a smaller foal crop, a reduced number racing dates and increasing public scrutiny of our sport.

    We should have a better idea of just how bad it is after the Report of Mares Bred is released by the Jockey Club, but we need to pull our heads out of the sand, right now.


  2. David — Apparently Keeneland, from what I’ve been told, is having a hellava time collecting from buyers who have simply not paid……i think the guy who made the comparison of Obama to BC elections could have used any number of since-ousted CEO’s who were sent packing after thw wayward management of companies became apparent; likewise, I think there is some kind of backlash taking place against the status quo.

  3. The general state of the economy of course isn’t helping, and Kentucky certainly could stand to add some revenues to support its purse structure.

    But Kentucky didn’t necessarily do itself a service by requiring that breeder awards be paid only to the foals of resident mares. While The Blood-Horse reported in 2007 that some farms were getting new boarders as a result, the decision drove out-of-state breeders with their own farms toward stallions in other states.

    If I own my own place (I don’t at present, but someday will) and it isn’t in Kentucky, I’m going to give more serious consideration to an in-state stallion, or to an out-of-state stallion elsewhere provided he can also help me collect awards from his state. Breeders like Ned Evans can still choose a Kentucky stallion if he wishes, he’s better-financed than most in Virginia, for instance, and isn’t driven broke by missing out on a copule-grand in a KY breeder award here and there. But other VA breeders, Louisiana breeders, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana breeders, etc., if they own their own farms particularly, start to think twice about using a Kentucky stallion when they can’t keep the mare at home to foal. A missed opportunity for $1,250 could be the difference in paying the mortgage on time.

    As Alabama breeder Daryl Tuttle (an online friend of mine) said in ’07, that can cut into business for the lower-end Kentucky stallions. It doesn’t make sense for her to breed to a $7,500 Kentucky stallion and then pay $6,000 or more in board for a year when she can breed to a good Florida stallion and take care of the mare herself, saving money for all those months between conception and foaling.

    I think Kentucky considered its position as ruler of the roost to be practically unassailable; that if Kentucky demanded mares be boarded in the Bluegrass, then mares would be boarded in the Bluegrass.

    It isn’t that the purse structure at Kentucky tracks is all that bad. I’ve heard KY trainers and owners griping about alternate gaming revenues even in Indiana, yet the purse for a maiden special at Indiana Downs is now $18,000 for open company and $22,000 for statebreds, while a Churchill MSW this afternoon is run for a purse of $48,300. There’s no comparison.

    Philly Park still trails that purse with around $40K (more for PA-breds), but has gained, and that sort of gain in Pennsylvania and elsewhere indeed can’t be ignored by Kentucky.

    Point is, just because you’re No. 1 doesn’t mean you’ll always stay there, since No. 2 is trying harder, as they say. Kentucky in my opinion not only needs to get some alternative gaming revenues to boost purses and breeder awards, but also needs to be more cognizant of and accommodating to the needs of middle- and lower-price-range breeders, owners and trainers, both inside Kentucky and out, because in any industry, a business with no bottom-end will soon lower itself to create one.

  4. Glenn, funny thing is that many stud farm with lower-priced stallions know what you are talking about and have actually begun practices to exploit this: these farms are giving significant discounts from stud fee — in some cases complimentary seasons — to out of state breeders in exchange for being listed as co-breeders so they can collect out-of-state breeder awards.

    in illinois, i know of several breeders who got free stud fees from kentucky farms and all they have to do is list the stud farm as a co-breeder — not a co-owner.

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