Updated on 09/17/2011 10:57PM

Korea upgrading quality of its stallions


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Korea Racing Association made news last week by completing deals for two young Kentucky stallions, 2002 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi and Grade 1 winner Yankee Affair. The acquisitions were made possible in part by a change in Korean equine import regulations, another sign that Korea's developing racing and breeding industry is upgrading in much the same style that Japan's has under the Japan Racing Association. The KRA is similar to the JRA in that it is a government body that handles its nation's stud book and racing regulations.

The importation change - which also brings Korea into line with Japanese protocol - now allows the KRA to import horses that test positive for equine viral arteritis due to vaccination rather than exposure; those horses are subject to quarantine and test-breeding. The change may sound esoteric, but its ramifications are dramatic, because now the KRA can import standing stallions rather than only stallion prospects, who are far less likely to have been vaccinated for EVA.

Before the EVA regulation was altered, the KRA focused on purchasing racehorses in training, targeting Grade 1 and Grade 2 performers to buy privately. "But that kind of horse has become too expensive," said Tom Clark, a Lexington-based bloodstock consultant who has done work for the KRA since 1998.

The regulation change has given the KRA - Korea's racing and breeding's governing body - a chance to troll American stallion ranks for classy winners who are now competing in the deep stallion market.

"Eight of the 10 horses on the leading sires' list in Korea are American horses," Clark said, noting that the country's top sire now is Concept Win, a Grade 3-winning son of Manila. "The Koreans race on the dirt, and they sprint. Ninety percent of their races are at one mile or under, measured in meters. So they are looking for American-type horses."

The Korean Thoroughbred industry is small in numbers at the moment, producing about 1,000 foals annually. In addition to the country's private farms, the KRA operates a breeding facility in Jeju and stands its stallions for free to approved mares, which are privately owned.

But although the breeding numbers are relatively low, the sport appears on the upswing. That could mean the KRA's shopping trips for American stallions will continue. Korea ranks sixth worldwide with between $5 billion and $6 billion in annual handle, following Japan, Hong Kong, the United States, France, and England.

And in September, the Korean government opened the nation's third racetrack, at Busan, the country's second-largest city behind Seoul.

Sires finding homes before season begins

With the 2006 North American breeding season only two months away, a number stallions and stallion prospects are finding homes in regional markets.

Quick Action, an Overbrook Farm homebred by Carson City, will enter stud in Florida at Martin Stables South, in Reddick, Fla. The farm will stand Quick Action, a Grade 3-placed stakes winner for $3,500. Quick Action, 4, is a son of the Storm Bird mare Indian Sunset. Winner of the 2004 Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes at Aqueduct and the Anderson Fowler Stakes at Monmouth, Quick Action retires from the track with a record of 4-2-1 in 17 starts and $192,130 in earnings.

Grade 1-winning millionaires Fastness and Flying Pidgeon are both on the move to C & R Horse Farm in Milmay, N.J.

Fastness, sire of Canadian champion Le Cinquieme Essai, relocates from Godstone Farm in Pennsylvania and will stand in 2006 for $3,000. He is by Rousillon out of winner and stakes-producer City Fortress, by Troy.

Flying Pidgeon, a son of Upper Case and the winning Minnesota Mac mare Miss Minnesota, moves from Pennsylvania's Maui Meadow Farm. He also will stand in 2006 for $3,000.

Meanwhile, Pin Oak Stud's Canadian Grade 1 winner Changeintheweather (Gone West-Meteor Colony, by Pleasant Colony) will head from Kentucky to Pennsylvania to stand at Barbara and Ron Rickline's Xanthus Farm in Gettysburg. Changeintheweather, co-highweight on the 2001 Canadian Free Handicap for juveniles, will stand for $3,500, or $3,000 for mares foaled in Pennsylvania. He is the property of Pin Oak.

Stonewall hires Wilkins

Ken Wilkins, most recently Vinery's stallion administrator and immediate past president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club, has joined Audrey and Richard Haisfield's new stallion operation at Stonewall Farm in Versailles, Ky., as director of stallion operations.

Stonewall will launch its stallion operation in 2006 with Leroidesanimaux, Medaglia d'Oro, Value Plus, Unforgettable Max, Marquetry, and Doneraile Court on the stallion roster.

Stonewall also has hired Suzie Picou Oldham, formerly director of sales and marketing at Dixiana and Spendthrift. Oldham, who most recently worked for Paramount Sales, will work as part of the farm's stallion season sales team.