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Looking to buck tough market trends
For a second straight year, the nation's economic downturn continues to be felt in the ranks of regional Thoroughbred breeders throughout the Midwest. The Report of Annual Mares Bred released by The Jockey Club in August confirmed that the number of mares serviced in regional breeding programs was declining. Nationally, The Jockey Club is projecting a 2010 foal crop of 30,000, the smallest foal crop produced since 1977.
That trend hinders the regional stallion market, forcing stallion managers throughout the Midwest to adapt to the demands of the marketplace and the shifting popularity in sire lines in an effort to attract mare owners.
With the purse structures of Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs bolstered by casino gaming, Indiana stands as the lone exception in the region, as its Thoroughbred breeding population is actually expanding.
According to statistics provided by The Jockey Club, the number of mares foaling in Indiana in the coming season is expected nearly to double from the foal crop of 327 that was produced in 2006. Rules requiring mares foaling in state to be bred back to Indiana stallions has sustained the market demand for new and imported stallions.
The top of Indiana's current stallion rankings is dominated by stallions who have been relocated to the state in the past year. Leading this group is Chief Seattle, who relocated from New York. His leading earner is Sunshine Millions Classic winner Bold Chieftain. A son of Seattle Slew, Chief Seattle stands at WinRich Thoroughbreds in North Vernon, Ind., for a private fee.
Champali relocated to Indiana from Kentucky for the 2010 season and will stand at Richwine Farm in Anderson for $2,500 live foal. Max's Pal and Spanish Steps were each moved to Indiana from Florida this past season. Max's Pal, a son of Marquetry, stands for a $1,500 fee at the Indiana Stallion Station in Anderson. Spanish Steps is a full brother to Unbridled's Song who will stand at Foot Fall Farm in Palmyra for $3,500, payable when the foal stands and nurses.
Two horses from the Ahmed Zayat Stable will begin their stud careers in Indiana this season. Halo Najib, winner of the OBS Championship Stakes in 2008 and an earner of more than $377,000, joins Hollywood Prevue winner Massive Drama at the Indiana Stallion Station in Anderson. Each stallion will stand for $2,500.
Several stallions who are represented primarily by Indiana-bred progeny continue to outperform expectations. Seventeen-year-old Arromanches, a son of Relaunch who himself won 31 races, cracked the top 10 ranking in the state with just five crops and a total of 50 foals to represent him. He stands at Dale Dearth's farm in Liberty for $750.
Moro Oro has stood in Indiana his entire career at stud and continues to produce statebred stakes performers at a steady clip. He stands at L/J Sorrel Farm in Evansville for $1,000.
Cat Dreams, a son of Storm Cat, has made a big impression with his first two crops to race, including the California-bred stakes winner Caracortodo. Cat Dreams stands at Still Creek Farm in Brookville for $1,500.
The racing calendar at Prairie Meadows will be altered significantly in the upcoming season, as the state racing commission has approved a request to conduct a 67-day Thoroughbred meeting and separate meets for Quarter Horses and harness racing. In past seasons at Prairie Meadows, Thoroughbreds had a 50-day meet of their own and also competed in a 32-day mixed meeting with Quarter Horses.
A drop in wagering handle in 2009, combined with continued pressure from the Prairie Meadows board to reduce the operating costs of racing, prompted this change. The number of mares bred and foaled in Iowa is not expected to change significantly in the seasons ahead while horsemen continue to defend their current share of gaming revenue.
Iowa lost some of its leading stallions to other regions in 2009, with Pikepass moving to Canada and King of Scat returning to Oklahoma. That left Wild Gold as the leading stallion in the state by progeny earnings. A 20-year-old son of Wild Again, Wild Gold stands at Madison County Thoroughbreds for $2,000.
Impeachment, who was relocated to the state before the 2009 season, finished third in progeny earnings, narrowly missing second behind deceased Valley Crossing. A son of Deputy Minister, Impeachment stands at Rockin Ranch in Winterset for $2,000.
New for 2010 is Maya's Storm, an Iowa-bred son of Stormy Atlantic who won the Golden Circle and John Wayne stakes at Prairie Meadows. He will stand at Special K Thoroughbreds in Runnels for a private fee.
Plans continue for the state's only Thoroughbred racetrack, Pinnacle Race Course, to conduct an 84-day meeting in 2010. Pinnacle conducted a 72-day meeting in 2009. Concerns over the state of Michigan's continued ability to cover the costs of regulating the industry still threatens the race meet's long-term viability. As a result, the Michigan stallion ranks have remained relatively static.
The biggest change came at the top of the state's stallion rankings when Syncline topped the standings for the first time in 2009, besting perennial leaders Demaloot Demashoot and The Deputy. Syncline, a son of Danzig, was represented by only his fourth crop in 2009, suggesting he could maintain his position. He stands at McMaster Farm in Fenton for $1,500 live foal.
The Fair Winds Farm's Mercer Mill continued his domination of the Ohio stallion rankings for the seventh consecutive year and stands in 2010 for a private fee.
Parent's Reward was represented by two stakes winners from just 13 runners to race in 2009, a performance that saw him move into second in the state's stallion rankings. A son of Mr. Prospector, Parent's Reward stands for Blazing Meadows Farm at Meander Creek in North Jackson for $2,000.
With just two crops to race, Bold Truth has made an immediate impression, siring Best of Ohio Juvenile winner Bold Captain in his first crop and moving into third place in the stallion rankings with his second. He was relocated to Belford Farm In Gilead for the 2010 season and stands for $2,000.
Minnesota horsemen are continuing their quest for legislation that would allow the addition of slot machine gaming to its two existing card club casinos at Canterbury Park and the Running Aces harness track.
Demidoff returned to the top of the state's stallion ranks in 2009 while being represented by 30 winners. A full brother to Gone West, Demidoff stands at the Stallion Station in Waverly for $2,800. Appealing Skier, who will be represented by his first Minnesota-bred progeny this season, finished second in the state's rankings. A half-brother to the useful sire Trippi, Appealing Skier stands for a $1,750 fee at Hanson's Farm in Adrian.
Little has changed in the state's breeding industry, as the venerable Blumin Affair led the stallion in progeny earnings for the seventh consecutive year. A 19-year-old son of Dynaformer, Blumin Affair was represented by four stakes winners this season and still stands at Rogers Ranch in Mead for $2,000. Dazzling Falls completed the season in his customary second place in the Nebraska stallion ranking, represented by three stakes winners.