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New York stallion and mare populations on upswing
By Nicole Russo
After years of declines, which mirrored national trends, the New York breeding industry saw a surge in 2012 that appears poised to continue into 2013 and beyond.
The stallion and mare populations in the state are on the upswing, and the stallion market is gaining momentum with the addition of several new horses and an influx of nationally prominent breeders.
The Jockey Club’s Report of Mares Bred for 2012 listed 60 stallions in New York, an increase of 18 percent from 51 in 2011 at the comparable time a year ago.
The breeding industry in the state could be bolstered in years to come with a new law, signed into effect last summer, which amended the definition of a New York stallion by reducing the minimum residency requirement for eligibility for incentive awards from the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund. A stallion was previously required to stand in New York − owned by or leased to a state resident − for two years. The requirement has been shortened to one year to provide more flexibility and therefore reduce risk for owners.
New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. currently lists 69 stallions, including more than a dozen new to the state, in its stallion register for 2013.
“I would like to believe that’s because of the legislation changing,” NYTB Executive Director Jeffrey Cannizzo said. “That was one of the major reasons that some of the operations [moved into the state], such as Darley, because they can transfer their horses from different stations they have around the country. Obviously, I think the casino at Aqueduct has helped influence those decisions.”
Among the most prominent new stallions is McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds’ Teuflesberg, who sired Eclipse Award champion sprinter Trinniberg from his first crop. Teuflesberg previously stood in Florida.
Reigning Eclipse Award-winning breeder Darley has expanded its New York operation with the addition of Desert Party. After standing his first two seasons at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky., the Grade 2 winner relocated to Sequel Stallions in Hudson, N.Y., for 2013. Grade 1 winner Girolamo, a son of A.P. Indy campaigned by Godolphin, is now in his second season at Sequel.
Darley is one of several major entities growing its presence in New York. Vinery holds a strong hand, standing seven stallions, including leading sires Posse and Bluegrass Cat, at Sugar Maple Farm in Poughquag, N.Y. Bluegrass Cat, who launched his career at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky., stands as a Vinery/WinStar venture.
Adena Springs, which has reigned as North America’s leading breeder for a decade, has stood Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup and Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold at McMahon of Saratoga since 2011. Meanwhile, Spendthrift Farm stands Grade 1 winner Dublin at Keane Stud in Amenia, N.Y.
“You’ve got a fairly large group of national powerhouses with a presence in New York,” Cannizzo said. “I would have to believe that, just like we saw with Vinery and Darley, they’re going to grow year to year, and that more people will follow suit.”
NEW YORK STALLIONS: Breeders benefit from incentives and clever marketing
According to the 2012 Report of Mares Bred, the number of mares covered in New York rose 43 percent to 1,641. Of the top 10 states and provinces by mares reported bred, only New York and Florida stallions covered more mares in 2012 than 2011.
Cannizzo believes the quality of the mare population in New York is increasing along with the quantity, which will strengthen breeding, sales, and racing across the board.
“Commercial breeders are wanting to sell in a market where they can turn a significant profit,” Cannizzo said. “Breeders are transitioning into a regional market and stallions are following with them to get the book sizes to be viable.
“The mares that our New York stallions covered grew by a significant percentage. That’s based on the fact that there were new mares that came into New York, dropped their foals, and had to be bred back to New York stallions. Looking at the numbers, people are upgrading their broodmare bands, and that’s changing the population as well. You’re increasing the quantity, and also increasing the quality of the broodmares in the state. Selling horses is difficult − it’s important to check all the boxes. People are going to continue to upgrade their broodmare bands, and that’s also going to make it more competitive to race here in New York.”
Erin Robinson, stallion director for Vinery at Sugar Maple, says the quality of stallions in New York is also influencing the number of mares in the state.
“In the past, all the quality stallions went to Kentucky, and that was just the way it went, and lesser-quality horses went to other regional areas,” Robinson said. “Now, there are more options for people. Stallion owners really have a lot more options, and it’s great for the breeders to take mares to New York without being worried about finding a quality stallion.”
Robinson also noted New York’s breeder incentive awards as a draw for both stallion owners and mare owners.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of money in New York right now,” Robinson said. “The incentive for stallion owners to get those big stallion awards in New York is a huge draw for anybody. It’s incentive for the breeders as well. They’re filling their pockets with money for breeder awards and taking advantage of that program.”
Russell, I agree, but to shed some light on the argument, just as horses are wary of change, so too is the horse industry. Kentucky has long been the thoroughbred breeding capital of the US and, undoubtedly, still is. Fortunately, for New York breeders and stallion owners, we are slowly and steadily overcoming the stigma of having only second-string or third-string stallions. Much of the problem lies with the belief that you breed to race in New York, but breed to sell in Kentucky. The introduction of more commercial stallions like Teufflesburg, Pollard's Vision, Bluegrasscat and El Corredor (I'm sure im forgetting someone) will surely strenghten New York's place as a viable alternative to Kentucky. Now, we have to convince the sales companies to dismiss the stigma of New York sired horses and look at our yearlings as viable (sellable) stock. It will happen. It just takes time.
With the money NYS offers in incentives NY should be #1. Why NY racing always caves into the KY status quo I will never know. They never should lost City Zip as a sire. That must stop.