By Bill Finley
Spendthrift Farm will make stallions Into Mischief and Mitole available to Quarter Horse breeders for the 2020 breeding season. The mares will be bred by artificial insemination and the breedings will be handled by Robicheaux Ranch of Louisiana. The story was first reported by The Blood-Horse.
Spendthrift General Manager Ned Toffey said that the idea originated with Bill Heiligbrodt, who owned Mitole during his racing careers and has ties to the Quarter Horse industry. The discussions involving Mitole opened the door for Into Mischief to also be bred to Quarter Horse mares.
“Our feeling was that as long as this wasn't going to interfere with their regular breeding activities it was something we could do,” Toffey said. “They won't do any breeding for Quarter Horse collection once breeding season starts. For us, there is going to be a learning curve, but we felt this is something we could do and everything would be kept very manageable for the horses.”
Toffey said semen would be collected from the two sires in December and early January, frozen and then shipped to Quarter Horse breeders.
“This has gotten a lot of buzz,” said Robicheaux Ranch Farm and Breeding Manager Ryan Robicheaux. “With the reception this is getting I can see that the mares that will be bred to these horses will be the upper quality. I'm not going to breed them to every mare in everyone's back yard. We're going to breed exceptional quality mares to them. I appreciate Mr. [B. Wayne] Hughes and Spendthrift for doing this, thinking outside the box like they did. I'm humbled they chose me to do it.”
Toffey said there will be a ceiling put on the number of mares that will be bred to Mitole and Into Mischief, estimating that their Quarter Horse book may total 80 each.
“One ejaculate may cover anywhere from a low end of eight to a high end of 12 to 15 mares,” Toffey said. “Into Mischief is so fertile I imagine the estimate on him will wind up being on the higher end. That should allow him to cover 80 mares. Mitole is a bit of an unknown because he hasn't been bred before, but I don't imagine there will be any problems with him. The workload is dramatically less than it is in the Thoroughbred breeding season because they may be getting 10 or mares out of one ejaculate.”
The stud fees for the Quarter Horses will be dramatically lower than they are for Thoroughbreds. Into Mischief stands for $175,000, while his fee for Quarter Horses will be $10,000. Mitole will stand for $25,000 for Thoroughbred mares and $4,000 for Quarter Horse mares.
“I think any time you set a stud fee, regardless of the breed, it is an estimation of what the market will bear,” Toffey said. “I would say the early indication is those fees may be too low. There has been tremendous demand, but we really didn't know what the demand would be for Thoroughbreds in the Quarter Horse industry. We're seeing that there may be more demand than we anticipated.”
Robicheaux said that Mitole and Into Mischief will help diversify the a gene pool in Quarter Horse breeding that has been dominated in recent years by a handful of stallions.
“In the '80s and early '90s we had a lot of Thoroughbreds in our business,” Robicheaux said. “A lot of our great horses came from Thoroughbred crosses. The problem is we're down to three dominant stallions and we have no diversification in our gene pool right now. Having this level of Thoroughbred sires, it's not like it hasn't been done, it's that it hasn't been done in a while. The caliber of horses that Spendthrift is offering to us for the price they are offering them is something that is special and unique. I think we're getting the best proven Thoroughbred sire out there and the best sprinter and youngest sire coming off the track. There's no better way to try this out than this.”
Horses that are crosses between Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses are allowed to compete under the rules of the American Quarter Horse Association. Other Thoroughbreds who have been bred to Quarter Horse mares include Favorite Trick, Storm Cat, Alydar and Hennessy.