Thursday, October 18, 2012

Different Sport, Different Breeding Business

In harness land things are pretty formful when it comes to horse's retiring to stud.

i) Well bred horse is bought for good money.
ii) He races at two and makes some money, then races at three, right until the end of the season. If he's good enough, he'll get a stud deal. If he isn't good enough he'll race at four.
iii) If he's a superstar he will go to a big farm and you'll make some megabucks.

For the rest of the three year olds there is not a huge probability you will go to stud, at least at three anyway. Usually the best of the best does, but not too many follow. They may race for a year or two, then call it quits and get a deal somewhere.

It's how it's done and it makes some sense. Sure we breed a lot of horses, but there is little chance that five or six or seven mediocre, or little raced colts, can retire year after year and you can still have a sound business.

I was reading an article this morning about thoroughbred studs called "Blame Breeders, Not Owners, for the Loss of Star Power"
  • Most people quickly condemn horse owners every time a horse is retired after their three-year-old season. Creative Cause ($15,000 stud fee) was retired this week, so was the once raced Maclean’s Music ($6,500). This comes on the heels of Gemologist (stud fee not yet announced) and Algorithms (no announced fee) being retired recently, as well as I’ll Have Another, Bodemeister, Paynter, Hansen, and Union Rags retiring in the past few months.
Isn't that amazing harness peeps? Eight three year olds have retired to stud, before the end of the season. And of course, Dullahan and Alpha will certainly have a home somewhere at stud too, when they're done. How does a market handle all that horseflesh?

It would be like Thinking Out Loud, Sweet Lou, Rock n Roll Dance, Hurrikane King Cole, Panther Hanover, Bettors Edge, Pet Rock and Mel Mara all hanging it up with a stud deal.

Not only would the Breeders Crown be a horrid race, finding mares to breed to all those horses would be troublesome - and harness racing has a lot of mares.

It would not, and does not happen in harness racing. If a good colt has a tendon injury or some problem that can be healed, he is 99% sure to at least try and return to the races. And as we all know the harness breeding business is not tiny. $5M to $10M deals happen each year. 

I am no breeding expert in either breed, but I do have a tiny bit of common sense. Having eight horses retire to stud in one year, from one crop, not only sucks for fans, it seems problematic for the industry in other ways as well.

If you have any insight on this flooding of the market, I wonder if you might enlighten me in the comments section?


3 comments:

Tinky said...

Long-term considerations are rarely on the minds of commercial breeders. Furthermore, the kind of questionable (broader) management of the breed that you have highlighted is yet another example of the problematic, short-sighted, free-for-all business structure that has long defined the industry.

Of course it is questionable to rush so many horses off to stud simultaneously, yet in each and every case, there were parties with narrow, vested interests in such deals who don't care at all about the impact of their decisions on the broader breeding business.

The dynamic is reminiscent of a time, not very long ago, when stud managers were turning away good, sound stallion prospects because it was easier to "sell" sons of Storm Cat, irrespective of their (at times) modest (or even nonexistent) race records, offset knees, bad throats and temperaments.

These farm managers were (mostly) smart enough to know that such a trend was bad for the overall breed, and that their customers would have many more disappointments than necessary as a result, but they were willing participants because there were short-term profits to be made.

I would argue that many of the game's major problems, as well as those of broader society, stem from the insidious nature of emphasizing near-term profits at the expense of long-term health.

Anonymous said...

It is not the breeders or owners fault. The industry and it's groups (TOC) are correct in blaming the bettor for these problems. Don't ask me why the bettors are at fault, I just know they are because the industry and these groups have told me that the bettors need to pay their fair share so the industry can make the decisions that they do.

Pacingguy said...

Well, first of all, as in the standardbred industry, you want to have the right crosses. Not every mare crosses with the same stallion so there is a need for the hot stallion.

I also imagine the issue is the runners use natural cover instead of AI that standardbreds use. Without getting too clinical, one load from the fake mount can be divied up for multiple broodmares. With the runners, the whole shebang goes to the one mare. Unless they are feeding a stallion horsey viagra, you are covering only one mare a day.