The 2011 breeding season in North America has officially drawn to a close. The BloodHorse.com posted an article on Tuesday with commentary from several major Thoroughbred stud farms about how they fared during the 2011 breeding season. Some stallion farms did better in 2011 than in 2010 (primarily those where proven sires stood in 2011). Overall, stallion farms found that breeders were strapped for cash in 2011, reducing the overall number of mares kept for breeding and the budgets for stud fees. Breeders were also more selective in 2011. They chose proven sires over young stallions, and fled with their mares when veteran stallions’ progeny did not perform as expected. 

Many stallion farms ran promotions in 2011 to attract mare owners. Promotions were especially popular for new, unproven sires. Promotions ranged in type and complexity, for example:

  • Reduced stud fees across the board
  • Free breedings to freshman sires
  • Multiple mare discounts
  • Special individualized packages for long-time customers; and
  • Lifetime breeding rights programs

Lifetime Breeding RightsSpendthrift Farm near Lexington is one example of a stallion farm that offered lifetime breeding rights in its 2011 breeding packages. Spendthrift calls their lifetime breeding rights package the “Share the Upside Program.” These packages are designed to promote new studs and provide them with larger books of mares early in their careers. 

How the Spendthrift program works: The breeder puts down a deposit on a young stud, and agrees to breed a mare to the stallion during his first and second years at stud. The mare owner pays a stud fee when each resulting foal stands and nurses. After the two foals are born and the mare owner pays both stud fees, the stud farm grants the breeder a lifetime breeding right in the stallion. Usually, the number of contracts is limited so that the stallion owner can maintain a 50% interest in each young stallion.

Tips for Stallion Farms: Make sure the terms of all special stallion promotions are in writing and signed by the breeders. If the stud fees are not due until the foal stands and nurses, be sure to retain a security interest (in writing) in the mare, the foal, and/or the breeder’s certificate. Be mindful of the fact that granting lifetime breeding rights may hinder your ability to later sell the stallion as a whole. The issue of what happens if you want to sell the stallion as a whole needs to be addressed in a contract between you and those who purchase lifetime breeding rights. 

How did your 2011 breeding season go? Please post comments and share what worked for you, and what didn’t.

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Owners of world-class Thoroughbreds and their trainers now have one more rule to comply with and will face liability for non-compliance. The Breeder’s Cup has announced that the administration of Lasix will be prohibited for 2 year-olds at Breeder’s Cup races in 2012, and all race-day drugs will be banned for all Breeder’s Cup races in 2013.

Breeder’s Cup has not yet named the host site for the 2012 Breeder’s Cup, but the organization is considering Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, and Santa Anita Park.

Lasix is a drug used to treat bleeding in the lungs. Some people believe the drug enhances performance because studies have shown that horses who are administered Lasix on race day outperform horses who do not receive the drug.

More than 90% of all North American race horses receive a race-day injection of Lasix, and it is exceedingly rare here to see a horse taken off the drug while racing. However, no other racing jurisdiction outside of North America allows the use of race day drugs.

Most horses who come from overseas jurisdictions to run the Breeder’s Cup are administered Lasix on race day, which is believed to “level the playing field” in races where North American horses are also entered.

Some believe that the move by Breeder’s Cup will spur other racing jurisdictions to implement similar race day drug bans. U.S. Rep. Tom Udall of New Mexico issued a statement praising the move.

One thing is clear…unless other North American tracks and events also ban Lasix on race day for the 2012 season, the new Breeder’s Cup Lasix ban might present complications for handicappers who will have to take into consideration the impact of taking a horse off Lasix after a horse has been racing and training on the drug.

Get the full story from the Blood-Horse here, and from ESPN here.

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