Opinions on the Cap: Matt Bowling


Editor’s Note: The Jockey Club has asked for public comment on their proposal to cap at 140 the number of mares a stallion can breed annually. In this ongoing series, we will publish the perspectives of breeders, stallion farms and others on the proposal.

Matt Bowling, Bowling Bloodstock
First and foremost I think we can all agree that that the safety and well-being of the horse should come first. With that being said, I’ve seen no data, studies, or empirical evidence provided by those in favor of limiting books to 140 mares that supports this premise. It’s an extremely slippery slope that has major implications to the economy of our business. The consensus has always been that we, as a breed, don’t use Artificial Insemination (AI) because we don’t want certain stallions breeding an almost unlimited number of mares. If we limit books to 140, then what’s the reason for not going to AI? If the health and well-being of the horse is truly a motivating factor, then that would naturally be the next step, as we know AI is not only safer for the stallion but the human handlers as well. Many regional programs already have much better breeders and stallion awards than we do in Kentucky. If we are shipping semen, does it really matter if the horse even stands in Kentucky anymore?

I’ve also heard others say that they don’t want to breed to a stallion that breeds 200+ mares, as there are too many at the sales grounds when they go to market. The beauty of a free market society is simply this: you don’t have to. It’s your business decision to breed to whatever stallion you want for whatever reasons. If you are right, you’ll be rewarded.

I also believe limiting books in hopes of increasing genetic diversity is misguided as well. If a horse like Into Mischief breeds 100 fewer mares, the assumption is they are all going to be bred to a different sire line – when in fact, the opposite is probably true. With breeders obsessed with getting an “A Nick,” wouldn’t they still try to go to something in the same sire line?

I feel like The Jockey Club’s time, energy, monies, and focus should be spent on the much more pressing issues our industry is facing today. The opening line in Pat Forde’s article that is front page on Yahoo today is, “Go ahead and mark down 2019 as the beginning of the end of horse racing.” Our industry is gasping for oxygen, yet our biggest discussion is whether or not to splint a pinky toe as we watch it die.

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