10/21/2011 10:59AM

2012 North American foal crop expected to decline 10 percent

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The 2012 North American foal crop is expected to be approximately 10 percent smaller than the 2011 crop, according to estimates made by the Jockey Club based on the number of mares bred this year.

In a press release, the Jockey Club said that it had received 36,504 reports of mares bred as of Oct. 12, a 10 percent decline from the number of reports it had received at this time last year. The mares were bred to 1,935 stallions, a number that was 11.5 percent smaller than last year.

Some of the most dramatic declines occurred in states where slot machines heavily subsidize the racing and breeding industries. In Pennsylvania, for example, where the number of mares bred jumped approximately 70 percent after casinos were legalized in 2004, the number of mares bred in 2011 fell 23 percent from the 2010 figure, from 1,542 to 1,188. In Louisiana, the numbers of mares bred dropped 13.5 percent, and in Indiana the number dropped 12.6 percent.

Kentucky was the far-and-away leader among all states, with 15,714 reports of mares bred, down 9.2 percent from the 2010 figure. The number, 43 percent of the total, is nearly 5 1/2 times higher than the next state, Florida, where the reports of mares bred in 2011 was 2,876, a decline of 6.5 percent. The number of stallions covering mares in Kentucky dropped from 266 to 228, a drop of 14.3 percent.

In New York, where tens of millions of dollars of annual breeding and racing subsidies will be distributed for the first time next year, the reports of mares bred for 2011 dropped 11.2 percent, from 1,291 to 1,147.

The U.S. foal crop has been in a dramatic contraction for the past four years. The Jockey Club has estimated that the 2011 foal crop will be 24,900 foals, for a decline of 27.4 percent since 2007. Much of the decline has been tied to the credit crisis that erupted in 2008. At the time the crisis hit, the bloodstock industry was enjoying one of its periodic booms.

The Jockey Club releases an update on the number of mares bred prior to receiving all the reports as a service to breeders. Using historical trends, the Jockey Club said it expected to receive another 3,500 to 4,000 reports of mares bred by the end of the year.

The data showed a significant decline in the number of mares bred to stallions that had large to mid-sized books, but only a small decline in the number bred to stallions with the largest books. For stallions with books larger than 100 mares, the decline was 2.5 percent, while the number of mares bred to stallions with books between 75 and 99 mares dropped 32.2 percent, and the number bred to stallions with books between 50 and 74 mares dropped 17.8 percent.

Of the top 10 breeding states or provinces, only one, Ontario, Canada, showed a gain in reports of mares bred over last year, rising from 1,385 to 1,396, a gain of 0.8 percent.