summerhill mares (michael nefdt)
summerhill mares (michael nefdt)

“…with our figures this season pretty much matching those of last year, almost to the mare.”

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

THOROUGHBRED BREEDING TRENDS

Times like these often see people descend into “retreat” mode, intimidated by the doomsayers and the never-ending stream of “experts”, ready to proclaim financial Armageddon. It’s little surprise then, that the greatest businesses in the world were born out of these circumstances, because they’ve seen the retreat and in it, they’ve seen opportunity.

What’s happened in the northern hemisphere though, in terms of racehorse production, has been in need of retreat for at least five years now. With a situation of hopeless overproduction in the number of foals on the ground each year, it’s no surprise to see significant changes in all but one American breeding jurisdiction.

The Jockey Club of America has reported that 2,409 stallions covered 45,317 mares in North America during 2009, according to the Report of Mares Bred statistics received through October 13. The number of stallions declined 8.9 percent from the 2,643 reported at this time last year. The number of mares bred fell 13.5 percent from 52,410 reported at this time in 2008. Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat) and Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado) led all stallions with 194 mares bred in 2009.

Candy Ride (Ride the Rails) (182), Lion Heart (Tale of the Cat) (180), and Corinthian (Pulpit) (171) round out the top five. The only region to realize increases was Pennsylvania. The percentage of mares bred soared 29.6 percent in the Keystone State; stallions were up nine percent as well. “Our mid-August projection of 30,000 registered foals in North America for 2010 was based on initial RMB returns, and these latest statistics reinforce that estimate,” said Matt Iuliano, The Jockey Club’s vice president of registration services. Iuliano added that the largest decline in breeding occurred at the top of the market, where the number of stallions covering 100 or more mares declined for the fourth consecutive year from 113 in 2008 to 85 this year. The Jockey Club expects to receive more RMBs for the 2009 breeding season.

The one state that has reversed the trend, and has bred almost 30% more mares, is Pennsylvania, buoyed by the attractive returns accruing from their state-bred premium programme.

While our own statistics are a little more tardy in coming through, it will be interesting to see the degree to which our population of mares has been crimped by the recession. That said, our circumstances at Summerhill might be a little skewed because of the strength of the stallion line-up, with our figures this season pretty much matching those of last year, almost to the mare.

TOP 10 STATES AND PROVINCES BY NUMBER OF MARES

REPORTED BRED IN ‘09 THROUGH OCTOBER 13

Region

‘08 Stallions

‘09 Stallions

% Change

‘08 Mares Bred

‘09 Mares Bred

% Change

Kentucky

318

307

-3.5

21,317

19,059

-10.6

Florida

202

155

-23.3

5,316

4,041

-24.0

Louisiana

230

216

-6.1

3,515

3,048

-13.3

California

233

201

-13.7

3,817

2,946

-22.8

Pennsylvania

89

97

+9.0

1,237

1,603

+29.6

New York

85

70

-17.6

1,839

1,561

-15.1

Texas

191

174

-8.9

1,722

1,411

-18.1

Ontario

77

72

-6.5

1,272

1,260

-.09

New Mexico

128

124

-3.1

1,546

1,222

-16.1

Oklahoma

126

113

-10.3

1,335

1,222

-8.5