08/10/2012 7:36PM

Letters to the Editor Aug. 12


Delaying breeding would benefit in several ways

Among the myriad of problems facing this sport, it appears there are three major issues: The fragility of the Thoroughbred, the need to build a larger fan base, and a severe overpopulation of racehorses.

These issues can be addressed in one simple, albeit temporarily painful move: Eliminate the breeding of racehorses until their 5-year-old year.

I know breeding farms and some horse owners may shudder at the idea of losing a year’s stud fees, but look at the potential long-term results of doing this.

Firstly, through years of inbreeding the Thoroughbred has been left in a weakened state. Breakdowns are occurring at an alarming rate, the issue of bleeding and Lasix is more prominent than ever before. If an owner or a breeding farm is unable to breed to that “hot” new 4-year-old, perhaps they might be inclined to breed to someone from Europe or Japan. These countries primarily breed for stamina, and an influx of fresh blood could do nothing but help the sport.

With regard to building a larger fan base, how many borderline fans who follow the sport in the Triple Crown trail end up disappointed to learn that their horse has been retired in June with an injury? These fans may be lost forever. I emphasize “injury” because there’s no doubt in my mind that while a fair amount of these 3-year-olds are, in fact, injured, we all know that if some were geldings or allowance horses the owners might be a bit more inclined to rehabilitate them, rather than send them to the breeding shed. To keep some horses around at least through the end of their 4-year-old years would permit fans to follow them a bit longer, which is always a good thing.

There is a definite need to cull the population of racehorses. There are some owners and breeders who don’t consider Thoroughbred overpopulation an issue, yet are aghast to find out years later that one of their own was discovered at a slaughterhouse auction. By eliminating 4-year-old breeding, you will effectively reduce the population of horses, thereby lessening the burden on these wonderful organizations endeavoring to save their lives. Besides, if a horse was too fragile to race at 4, aren’t we doing a disservice to the breed and the sport by passing down these weakened, fragile genes to further generations? Perhaps these horses who were retired at 3 could spend their 4-year-old season building up their strength and stamina for their future careers as stallions.

Kevin Cox - Oceanside, N.Y.

chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Perhaps you have read the report by Dr Deb Bennett regarding the maturation of the horse. If she is right, then you have hit the nail on the head. Allowing the horse to mature only makes good sense from every angle. I support elimination of two year old races and writing the 'Triple Crown' for four year olds. Those who have worked with horses over the ages learned that to wait is best. True ranchers won't start on a horse 'til 5 and then enjoy working with many well past the age of 20. Good luck to all.
Kevin Cox More than 1 year ago
Chad, I have toyed with that idea before, and would gladly trade it for mine. The only thing prohibiting me from writing it was that I have a healthy fear of going deaf from the laughter eminating from Churchill Downs when they'd be asked to not have a Triple Crown one year !
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
They would not have to lose a race at all --- Year 'A' as is. Year 'B' Horses 'in the money' are not eligible to enter. Year 'C' the new crop of 4yos is ready.
W.G. More than 1 year ago
Mr. Cox's plan already is being implemented in Harness Racing by new Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural and being followed by Woodbine Entertainment Group (the two biggest track operators in Harness Racing) where beginning with the foals of 2014, horses sired by stallions who were four or younger at the time of conception will no longer be eligible for major stakes races at The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Woodbine and Mohawk. The Triple Crown track operators (NYRA, Churchill Downs and Magna) need to follow suit with a similar policy for thoroughbred racing, which I would expand on and take it to age five (with horses not allowed to be bred until the stallion is six or older). That would force major changes in the way horses are bred.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
In theory this is not a bad plan. But, as everyone knows, all Standardbred breeding is A.I....so this sort of idea can be managed that way. Unfortunately, Thoroughbred racing is the classic example of the tail wagging the dog, with a few big breeders running the sport/business according to their whims, not the general benevolence of horse racing or its fans. As Ted Pope points out, in today's Thoroughbred Times, racing needs a cold-hearted Czar who is not in the pockets of those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
W.G. More than 1 year ago
I've been on that beat a lot longer than Mr. Cox has, going back to when Jeff Gural first planned the new policy for Harness Racing a year ago. This is what I wrote about it then: http://www.toosmarttofail.com/forums/showthread.php/5582