The Thoroughbred breeding season is once again upon us and folks are asking where to breed. Each state competes with other states for breeding, and each state tries to attract breeders in unique and different ways.
Some states advertise and focus on the actual act of breeding, providing incentives that attract mare owners to bring their mares to a state and breed those mares to state standing stallions. Others ignore the true breeding definition and only try to attract mare owners to “foal out” or birth their foals in their state. Of course, some states concentrate on both breeding related issues.
As a result of the highly divergent breeding program strategies, each state provides incentives in variable ways. Some offer substantial “guaranteed” percentage payments. Some require both true breeding and foaling in the state at varying intervals. Others guarantee several state bred restricted races per race day.
After reviewing the most recently available Jockey Club State Fact Books for every state that produced a minimum of 200 foals per year, I suggest the “where to breed or foal” question should be an economic one, with three guiding issues to explore:
1. What incentives exist for breeders? At the bottom of this article, you will find a public guide to state breeding programs published by the DRF. This is the best "comparative" guide I can find.
2. How much will my horse earn in state purses by racing in their restricted state bred racing program? Do the states have several guaranteed restricted races per day or per season? Is their season long enough, possibly at multiple in state tracks, to allow state bred horses to get several state bred restricted race starts? The average earnings per state bred starter were over $20,000 in KY, NY, PA, MA and OH. Additionally, they were between $15,000 and $20,000 in IL, IN, CA, IA and WV. All other states fall below the $15,000 figure.
3. How much can I sell my bred horse for? Both KY and NY exceeded $30,000 in mean average sale price based again on the most recent Jockey Club data. Only PA, WV, AR, and MA had mean average sale prices between $10,000 and $20,000, and only FL, WA and IN had a mean average between $7,500 and $10,000.
So, the answer to the “where to breed and foal” question depends on your agenda as a breeder. If you breed to race, the incentives and average earnings potential matter. If you breed to sell, the incentives and the mean average sale price matters, though sale price is substantially driven by earnings potential. I also think that even after incentives are earned by breeders, the minimum mean average earnings need to be over $15,000 for horse owners, and the minimum mean average sale price needs to be $7,500 …… just to approach break even economics.
Anyway, I hope this outline and the attachment will help guide breeders looking to select the best breeding and foaling economic environment available this upcoming breeding season. Best of luck to all.
For my handicapping friends. I was asked why I liked City of Lights over Accelerate in the Pegasus, so here you go.
Though many public handicappers were quick to point to the fact that City of Lights had never run in the mud, while Accelerate had already proven himself in the mud, the Bloodstock data I use indicated he would have no problem on an off track, and his pedigree for the off track was actually better than Accelerate's.
Secondly, after long “race” layoffs, workout patterns are a key and both horses showed what I wanted to see. They dominated their workout groups every week for the prior month or so. Lastly, City of Lights had a somewhat better trend based upon speed ratings with his Breeders Cup Mile being his best in his career
City of Lights was an easy, non-favorite, winner.
In another race Saturday, I found very similar patterns related to the layoffs. Amy’s Challenge ran in an Oaklawn stakes race. I was lucky I handicapped the race only because the horse is trained by Mac Robertson, who we know from Minnesota racing.
Amy was an even easier bet going off at 7/2 because she was the only horse with the outstanding workout pattern running the bullet three times against 180 horses over the prior month! Both she, and the big favorite, had run 2nd and 3rd in prior graded stakes races. Her pedigree also suggested she was slightly better at 6 furlongs than the big favorite, and she had run 7 furlongs or more in 4 of the last 5 races.
She crushed the field beating the second placed horse by about 6 lengths.
Anyway, handicapping good stakes horses after long layoffs requires entirely different techniques, which is a hard variation lesson to learn for many. I hope this old man experience helps those who were interested.
Though we have moved to Kentucky I continue to get many questions from Minnesota folks about racing and breeding. Last year, I answered most questions with Facebook posts and blogged less since we were minimizing our Minnesota racing footprint in anticipation of moving to our new farm here in Kentucky.
With that said, we recently refreshed most of our Astar Thoroughbred website, which contains many of our published articles that still answer current questions. A link to the website home page follows this note. Also, since the majority of questions come from those looking to either move into racehorse ownership or expand beyond their multiple owner groups, I think you will find the New Owner Education page and articles most helpful.
If anyone has specific or private questions, feel free to message me on Facebook and if you want frequent racing updates just like the Astar Thoroughbreds Facebook Page so posts hit your Facebook news feed.
Good Luck and Good Racing my Friends.
Astar Thoroughbreds Website Home Page
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.