08/10/2012 6:36PM

Letters to the Editor Aug. 12

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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.