Letters to the Editor: Applause for The Jockey Club

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Craig Bernick | Keeneland

by Craig Bernick

The breeding business in America has grown increasingly commercial over the last two decades. I am in favor of the 140-mare cap and applaud the Jockey Club for instituting this change. The metrics of this issue are simple to understand, comparing American foal crops to the number of “140+ stallions”:

  • 1999: 33,844–3
  • 2009: 29,612–26
  • 2019: 19,225–45

While I understand that these are the dynamics that emerged in the market, and that market is just a reflection of consumer behavior, I have come to believe we have let it go too far. The full story is not told by relying solely on those numbers above to dictate acceptance of the cap. Have your pick of these anecdotal signs which have impacted our market just as much: early retirements designed to manage reputations, focusing on speed figures in maiden races more than graded stakes performances, holding physical appearance in higher regard than racing achievements, and of course, selling stallions overseas before their progeny ever hit the track.

Our Glen Hill Farm operation, in many ways, reflects racing and breeding in a different time, but I actively participate in the commercial business too. The tail has wagged the dog for too long.

In its own words, The Jockey Club “has pursued its mission as an organization dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing … [our] primary responsibility remains the maintenance of The American Stud Book in a manner that ensures integrity of the breed in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.”

From a commercial standpoint, I believe this cap will yield long-term positives. Some individual business models will clearly have to change, but just as clearly supply and demand always adjusts prices of horses to a proper equilibrium.

While the issues in our greater business are many, enacting change of any kind can be amongst the most challenging. I am just a participant, and certainly not an attorney, and I believe the regulation of breeding is The Jockey Club’s responsibility and applaud their initiative.

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