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Should States set a criteria to qualify stallions and mares to participate in their breeding program

Posted Saturday September 12, 2009 11:16:40 PM EDT

Many have written that racing has actually gotten worse as the thoroughbred just doesn't seem to stay sound and most just can't compete against the elite and well bred racehorse. Making matters worse is the penchant for owners of horses, good and not so good, to go to the breeding shed, thinking that the pot of gold is at the end of the rainbow. Great horses being retired early is bad for the sport and kills its fan base. Bad horses being sent to the breeding shed is worse for the sport, at least in my opinion. Now, with all of the State breeding programs offering generous rewards programs for State breds, I can only assume that things will get even worse. Mares with empty pages and stallions with no merit to speak of are becoming the foundation of several State bred programs, and it just seems to keep getting worse.  Should their be a criteria set up by these programs to insure that the horse population doesn't explode with horses that can't earn their keep? Should the State or perhaps even some sort of  national racing and breeding management set parameters to qualify stallions? What do you think?      

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Comment by badge
I think this is a wonderful topic and I am happy to follow it as I would live to hear how others think regarding this matter. I am asounded by the voting in the poll!
Friday December 4, 2009 8:12:36 PM EDT

Comment by janewhite
I agree 500% with allplaystable - you might as well fold in the tent for breeding and racing everywhere if the idea of stallion and/or mare having to meet criteria is implemented. I know of NOTHING to accurately predict the racing success of any horse or we would all be millionaires by breeding and racing stakes winners. The latter is truly an irresponsible suggestion and besides, the last time I looked this was a free country. You can't tell someone in the business for profit how to spend his money.

Jane
Tuesday September 15, 2009 7:57:36 PM EDT

Comment by allplaystable
The responses that follow are just my opinions and observations and are backed by no formal research. No offense meant, just a desire to participate in discussing a great topic.

Re: Soundness. There are many reasons why horses seem to be less sound today than before, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with breeding. Consider: year-round racing, maintenance of racing surfaces (making them ever-‘faster,’), hot-housing of young horses (sales prep), increasing dependence on medication/corresponding diminution of hands- on horsemanship, impatience due to financial considerations, prep for two year-old in-training sales (too much pressure too early), pain-masking medication on race day, etc.

In short, we're treating our horses much differently than we did forty-fifty years ago, "when they were sounder?" This topic needs much more discussion than can be presented here.

It has always been true that "…most (horses) just can't compete against the elite and well bred racehorse.” There are more horses today so there are more “less talented” horses today. I suspect that less talented horses are the same percentage of the whole as they’ve always been.

You wrote: “Great horses being retired early is bad for the sport and kills its fan base.”

This is true and lamentable (but understandable). However, it does not mitigate in favor of restrictions on the breeding of Thoroughbreds.

You wrote: "Bad horses being sent to the breeding shed is worse for the sport, at least in my opinion."

Agreed. But ‘bad horses’ is a subjective term. Is a poorly-conformed but well-bred champion a ‘bad horse?’ Is a well-bred, well-conformed untalented horse a ‘good horse?’ Is mating two well-conformed horses a guarantee that they’ll produce a well-conformed foal? If they don’t, what is to be done with the foal? And who decides what is good or bad conformation? This could soon turn into a dog show.

There are people who want to race but who can only afford to buy or breed what someone else may call ‘bad horses,’ and they are perfectly happy doing it. Should we force them out because someone decided their horses are ‘bad?’ Or force them to spend more money than they wish to spend in an effort to get ‘better’ horses, when there’s no guarantee of that result?

Note: The ugliest horse we ever had was from a pedigree that was at best a ‘4,’ and his conformation was marginal. Named Plastic Foot (1958), he made over 100 starts and won 37 races. He was cheap but honest, and to us, he was ‘good.’ Was he? Who will be the judge?

You wrote: "Now, with all of the State breeding programs offering generous rewards programs for State breds, I can only assume that things will get even worse."

That can only be the case if people decide to behave badly. However, if the state-bred program is a true $$ source for owners and breeders, then it’s inevitable that, if better race horses tend to come from better pedigrees (and they do), then better breeders with ‘better’ horses will soon participate in the state-bred programs. They’ll produce better runners that will eventually crowd out the ‘bad’ horses by making it more difficult for them to win $$.

You wrote: "Mares with empty pages and stallions with no merit to speak of are becoming the foundation of several State bred programs, and it just seems to keep getting worse."

IMO, seventy percent of the stallions in the stud book are either too expensive or have little or no merit, so I vote with my pocketbook and don’t use them. And I wouldn't use mares with empty pages. Other beeders can do likewise, or not, as they choose.

No one has ever been forced or required to buy or breed to poorly conformed horses or horses from families with no evidence of soundness or racing class. It makes absolutely no sense to do this intentionally and I don’t know why anyone would do so – it’s stupid.

But stupid is not against the law, so I vote for full employment by having lots of horses in the breeding population. The unerring market will decide whether those breeders of ‘bad horses’ get to stay around.

You wrote: "Should there be a criteria set up by these programs to insure that the horse population doesn't explode with horses that can't earn their keep?"

The horse population ought to continue to be regulated by ‘the market,’ as it always has been (at present, ‘the market’ seems to be doing a good job). People ought to go ahead and make their choices then be forced to live with the results of these choices, and if they want to support horses that can't pay their way, so be it.

Entered to run on any given day, you’ll see horses that have made 15+ starts with one win and $14,233 in earnings over three years. Who would keep a horse like that in training, and why? It doesn’t make sense to me. But if the horse is healthy and the owners want to run him while losing money, well, it’s America. And think of the people that are employed because horses like that were produced and are in training.

You wrote: "Should the State or perhaps even some sort of national racing and breeding management set parameters to qualify stallions?"

Under no circumstances. Breeders should continue to set their own parameters, after which the market will reward or punish as it sees fit.

“Improvement of the breed” is being handled nicely by those well-known people who can afford to handle it. But if improvement of the breed were the determining factor in what horses were ‘allowed’ to be brought into this world we’d have about fifty racing owners in the game and they’d supply horses for about thirty days of racing annually. There’d be no other owners because others couldn’t afford to breed to these well-conformed champions or buy their well-conformed offspring.

Like it or not, “cheaper,” less-perfectly conformed horses keep lots and lots of owners in the game. Elite, well-bred horses do not. And most Thoroughbreds are (or will become) cheap horses, regardless of pedigree. (it's called ‘drag of the race,’ a different topic for a different day.)

Without cheaper horses and their owners there would be far less racing because a majority of the breed is, or will become, ‘cheaper’ horses.

An old adage in racing is “breed the best to the best and hope for the best.” If our desire is to have robust racing with lots of owners and full fields, the mantra ought to be “breed the best you have to the best you can afford and hope for the best.” Living by that mantra is what will keep the most people in the game, and state-bred programs contribute mightily to that end.

Let’s do everything we can to keep as many owners in the game as possible. And let’s do everything we can to allow people to make choices, then succeed or fail on the merit of their performance.

Again, no offense meant - just my opinions and observations.































Tuesday September 15, 2009 5:16:11 PM EDT

Comment by walkinthepark
I agree with Ssnjuro. I believe that the Stallio should be Stakes placed in his record. Stallions like mares are a dime a dozen when retired. So is pedigree. The mares shoud also be allowance winners and above. Show some type of run. Pedigree like I said before is everywhere. That doesn't make a great horse. There should be a comittee in the Jockey club that approves the breeding of the two. Example: submitting a form of both pedigrees and having it approved for breeding. To eliminate the much inbreeding going on! Weakening the breed. Using that and nicking patterns , will eliminate the amount of less quality horses. Where also the breeder can arbitrate their decision
Monday September 14, 2009 5:24:31 PM EDT

Comment by sanjuro
Yes, I think that all TBs should pass an inspection that qualifies them for reproduction. The inspection should include a physical examination for correct conformation, athletic ability and mental health. After passing that examination a period of competition that shows the horse's racing prowess. And then an examination of a couple of crops of foals for their quality. Breeding horses for one trait such as early speed has produced a population of poor quality horses. Thanks for asking.
Saturday September 12, 2009 11:18:08 PM EDT

Comment by sanjuro
Yes, I think that all TBs should pass an inspection that qualifies them for reproduction. The inspection should include a physical examination for correct conformation, athletic ability and mental health. After passing that examination a period of competition that shows the horse's racing prowess. And then an examination of a couple of crops of foals for their quality. Breeding horses for one trait such as early speed has produce a population of poor quality horses. Thanks for asking.
Saturday September 12, 2009 11:16:40 PM EDT

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