Thursday, November 7, 2013

Money Shows Why Going to Stud at Three Is Such a Draw

Today in Harness Racing Update:

It’s a huge dichotomy that Ray Paulick (he was speaking about Thoroughbred racing) noted this past week on social media:

“Retirements of "sound" 3yo's like Verrazano and Orb remind me that business part of horse racing causes major disconnect with sport & fans. Few top 3yo's have improved their stature at 4 (versus declining stature), so retirement is usually a "sound" fiscal decision.”

In Thoroughbred racing it’s probably better than some season’s past where Triple Crown hopefuls were retired during or just after the Triple Crown. In harness racing it has been better of late, with the industry trying to keep horses on the track after age three, but one wonders if that will keep going. Why; because of money.  There is simply not enough big money for older pacers and trotters, and as Paulick alluded, it’s not close enough to offset the risk that your value as a stud is more likely to go down than up. 

On-track in harness racing, never is that probably more apparent than this season. 

Pet Rock has raced 16 times in 2013 and hit all the big races. He is arguably the most effective racehorse in the older division this season. On tracks rated as fast he has paced 15 miles lower than 149. He set a world record on a five-eighths mile track, a half mile track and was one-fifth away from tying the all age race mark on a mile.  Remarkable. 

For all that trouble, Pet Rock has earned $883,584. 

To show you just how hard it is to make money in the older division, Pet Rock had this stretch of races in August and September:  He paced miles of 148.4, 148, 148, 148, 148, 147.2 and 148.1 – something many would consider to be impossible several years ago.  For all that work, for all those earth shattering back to back to back miles, he earned a whopping $170,434.

There's a good night of racing on Saturday at Balmoral. Maven (who gets no respect for such a great year, imo) goes against the boys. The Captain, who me, you and a lot of people thought would be shelved for 2013, is trying it one more time in his Am Nat, and Bee a Magician is also out, in a race where it looks like she can only beat herself (like all her starts this year). Rounding out the races, Iluvthenitelife tries to extend her winning streak to 14 against the sharp and willing Charisma Hanover.

Thoroughbred racing has cooled off, but harness is still rolling.

Note: For the American National card at Balmoral Saturday there is a $100,000 pick 4 guaranteed pool.

Have a nice Thursday everyone.


Anonymous said...

Pet Rock and ARNRD may not have filled the piggy bank this year, but they did set themselves up for successful careers as stallions; they will draw plenty of bookings and be marketed aggressively. They will be given a fair opportunity to prove themselves.

Pet Rock was never an upper echelon colt. ARNRD certainly was, but when he went into that endless tailspin at three he became a standing joke. Both have markedly enhanced their profiles in the aged ranks.

Heston Blue Chip's connections did a stellar job of playing the calendar. He feasted on the NYSS bunch at two and three, and did just enough in the open ranks to win divisional honors in the US last year. The story line is the same for Michaels Power, who feasted on the OSS set, but also won the Jug and the Confederation Cup. That got him an O'Brien.

Neither one of them was a world beater and this has certainly come to the fore this year as both have failed miserably at cracking the FFA ranks.They're like hopped up nomads going from track to track in search of wins against fields they're supposed to lay over. Michael's Power is a gelding, so that's his fate, but the other one is doing serious damage to his brand as a stallion prospect, if that's the end-game for ownership.

For many horses it makes sense to just keep racing. Look at all the failed stallions returning to the track. How old is Santana Blue Chip? Shark Gesture was a great FFA horse; look at the way he's floundering in the breeding world.

You can retire these horses to stud duty or keep racing, and in today's environment, when too many of them aren't worth a damn as stallion prospects, it makes sense to stick to the track in most cases.

Pull the Pocket said...


Different environment post slots in Ontario, yes, but for the upper echelons it still makes total sense to go out at three.

Art Official sold for 2.3 million at that sale a bit ago. It was not to be raced, it was to go to stud. No one in their right mind pays that for a racehorse, when if he is even really good like Pet Rock, you are going to make $800,000.

Santanna had a shot in the shed, didn't get great mares in an overstocked province, and they lost slots. Might as well.

If this was five years ago, the Captain goes out for (guessing) 6-$8M right now. Why, if they have a choice would they want to race at four? If he goes 4 for 14 in the older division, that can, and should be much less.

Don't get me wrong - Forcing horses to race past age three helps the breed, imo, and identifies the best horses and is good for fans. I think that's fine. But I don't like a business that forces people to do something. I want them to race horses because it makes economic sense. Perhaps something can be done to incentivize that, but we have not seen it yet.


Anonymous said...

Like Pocket said last years crop really sullied things for harness racing. There were too many good horses and not all of them would be able to go to stud.

How much does Pet Rock win this year if he is a 3 year old.... probably double what he made last season. Sunfire Blue Chip is nowhere near Pet Rock in ability and he will make close to one million.

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