11/28/2008 1:00AM

Farms work with breeders in tough economic times


Florida's foal population, as reported earlier this month, is expected to decrease by approximately 15 percent in 2009. The number of broodmares in production also is expected to decrease. New stallions, however, are swelling the Florida stallion ranks. This means that those standing stallions will have to think and act creatively if they want to generate bookings.

"Our business model is to work with the breeders," said George Isaacs, general manager of Bridlewood Farm. "You hear that some breeders, due to tough economic times in this industry, are going to pass their mares because of the stud-fee expenses."

Bridlewood Farm will stand 11 stallions for 2009. With the exception of Put It Back, who covered 150 mares in 2008, the remaining stallions have had their stud fees reduced. Put It Back rises from $7,500 when the foal stands and nurses to $8,500 with the same conditions.

Isaacs says that he has reduced the Bridlewood Farm stud fees to realistic levels. Another approach is to offer price-minded breeders considerations for multiple bookings. Isaacs also indicated that deferred stud-fee payment plans are in the mix for those who intend to take produce to the market.

"We have 11 stallions, stallions that should appeal to various broodmare owners," he said.

Bridlewood Farm is the new home for the 14-year-old sire Wagon Limit. The son of Conquistador Cielo has made the rounds over the years, standing at Stone Farm in Kentucky, moving on to Louisiana where he stood in 2008, and is now back to Florida where he was foaled. In this period he has sired the millionaire Grade 1 winner Silver Wagon (now at stud in New York) and the stakes winners Rehoboth, Distinguish, and Riddle.

"If you breed to race, you should consider this stud," Isaacs said. "He gets useful runners who win their share of races and, as Silver Wagon shows, Wagon Limit can get you a good one."

Fees for Peace Rules, Alke reduced

Tom Ludt is the general manager of the Vinery. The Vinery's Florida division stands the successful freshman sires Peace Rules and Alke. Peace Rules heads all other Florida sires with first crops racing in 2008. The son of Jules has had 41 of his 2-year-olds race and 22 of these have won. Alke also is quick off the mark. The son of Grand Slam has 32 runners and 16 winners. The get of Peace Rules have earned almost $650,000 and the get of Alke are close to $500,000 in earnings.

"Our stallion marketing program for '09 began in the summer and was tweaked periodically through the fall with developing economic conditions impacting our policy," Ludt said.

He elaborated by acknowledging that he tries to work with big and small breeders alike but not solely in terms of discounting, and he emphasized that the policy for the Vinery's Kentucky stallions is no different from the policy for the Vinery stallions in Florida.

"The Vinery is supportive of our stallions in the marketplace," he said. "We have 13 2-year-olds by Peace Rules at the races that we did not breed. Breeders who sell in the marketplace are aware of our support for our stallions and we will continue this policy for the foreseeable future."

Meanwhile, Peace Rules has had his stud fee reduced from $12,500 to $7,500 and Alke from $4,000 to $3,000.

"These stallions have owners," Ludt said, "and owners want to be paid for use of their stallions' seasons. Breeders, naturally, want to pay less. The Vinery's role is to balance the needs of both."

* The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's annual winter auction usually numbers a thousand or more horses. Not so, this year. There are 613 cataloged for the two-day sale, which gets under way Jan. 6. This is a decrease of about one-third from 2008. The first day consignors' preferred session has 264 cataloged. This is, however, up a notch from the 2008 consignors' preferred session of 248.