09/15/2011 11:57AM

2011 foal crop down 13 percent

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – North American Thoroughbred breeding activity continued to decline in 2010, according to breeding statistics released Thursday by the Jockey Club.

The Thoroughbred registry reported that, based on information it had received through Sept. 7, there were 2,904 active North American stallions last year who covered 44,184 mares. Those figures represent drops of 7.2 percent for stallions and 10.6 percent for mares reported bred by the same point in 2009.

Based on Live Foal Reports it had received by Sept. 7, the Jockey Club said the 2011 foal crop so far stands at 23,558, down 13.5 percent from the number of live foals reported last year at this point. The organization estimates that live-foal reporting is about 85 percent complete for the 2011 crop.

The Jockey Club also had received 3,731 No Foal Reports as of Sept. 7.

“The decline in breeding activity in recent years has resulted in a downward trend for live foal returns that is expected to continue next year, based on our recently announced foal crop estimate of 24,700 for 2012,” Jockey Club executive director Matt Iuliano said.

While auction houses have pointed to reduced supply as one factor in stabilizing Thoroughbred yearling prices, the smaller foal crops have gloomier implications for racetracks facing small fields. And reduced breeding activity also can weaken values for stallions and stud prospects.

Kentucky continued to lead in breeding activity. Bluegrass stallions accounted for 39.4 percent of mares reported bred in North America last year and for 47 percent of live foals reported so far this year. But Kentucky’s breeding numbers also fell. The state’s live-foal reports so far are down 14.4 percent to 11,065 as the number of active broodmares dropped 9.6 percent, from 19,252 last year at this time to 17,401.

Among the top 10 states or provinces for breeding activity – which the Jockey Club termed “conception areas” to emphasize that they are where foals were conceived, regardless of where they were foaled – only two have showed gains in live-foal conceptions. Those were Ontario, where the 2011 live-foal reports are up 4.9 percent, from 698 to 732, and Oklahoma, where live-foal reports have increased 1.3 percent, from 538 to 545.

Florida and Texas are seeing the biggest declines so far. Florida’s live-foal reports have fallen 25.4 percent to 1,565, and Texas’s are down 25.3 percent to 580.

The complete statistics, and breeding statistics by individual stallions, are available under the “Publications and Resources” link at www.jockeyclub.com.