10/16/2008 12:00AM

Active stallions, mares decline

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Jockey Club statistics released Thursday show a drop in North American Thoroughbred breeding, with the population of active stallions decreasing by 5.9 percent and active mares declining 7.7 percent during the 2008 breeding season.

The numbers are based on Reports of Mares Bred returned to the Jockey Club for the 2008 season. The Jockey Club estimates that up to 5,000 more reports could be outstanding but that its current statistics represent about 92 percent of the mares breeders eventually will report as bred in 2008.

So far, the reports show 2,643 stallions covered 52,410 mares this year. Last year, 2,808 stallions covered 56,796 mares, according to 2007 statistics.

Kentucky retained its number-one ranking by breeding activity but saw its active stallion population drop by 4.5 percent and a decline of 1.9 percent in mares bred. Among the top 10 breeding states or provinces, all showed declines in active breeding stock with the exception of three. Ontario, Canada, showed a 16.7 percent gain in stallions and a 1.2 percent increase in mares, while Pennsylvania's active stallions jumped 23.6 percent and mares increased by 31.5 percent. Both have racing and breeding programs supported by slot machine revenues. In Oklahoma, the stallion population increased 5 percent, though mare population dropped by 3.3 percent.

The top five stallions by 2008 book size all stand at either Coolmore Stud's Ashford division or its rival, Darley Stud. They were Lion Heart (Coolmore, with 214 mares); Chapel Royal (Coolmore, 194); Giant's Causeway (Coolmore, 190); Hard Spun (Darley, 181); and Street Cry (Darley, 178).