View From The Eighth Pole: The Race To The Breeding Shed

by | 06.12.2017 | 2:29pm
Jose Ortiz and Tapwrit appear in victory lane following the Belmont Stakes

There was a time, not so long ago, that sporting men and women would breed Thoroughbreds to race them. Today, it seems, we have more business people who race to breed.

With the 2017 Triple Crown in the books – and three different horses winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont for the ninth time since 2000 – we can look ahead to Grade 1 races for 3-year-olds like the Haskell Invitational, the Travers and Pennsylvania Derby to help settle the pecking order in year-end Eclipse Award voting for champion 3-year-old male. We might even get to see Always Dreaming, Clouding Computing and Tapwrit – the winners of this year's Triple Crown races – take on older rivals in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 4.

But what are the chances these three horses will compete as 4-year-olds in 2018?

Unlikely, based on the recent past.

Since 2000, only six of 17 Kentucky Derby winners raced as 4-year-olds, and two of those winners – Funny Cide and Mine That Bird – were geldings. Monarchos, the 2001 winner raced once at 4, 2005 winner Giacomo raced a full season, and 2011 winner Animal Kingdom raced at 4 and 5, including stops in Dubai and Royal Ascot in England. California Chrome, the 2014 winner, didn't retire until after this year's inaugural Pegasus World Cup in January, when he was 6.

Barbaro, the 2006 winner, never recovered from injuries sustained in the Preakness and died. But the other 10 all went to stud the following year.

By contrast, in Japan, where the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) is that country's biggest race for 3-year-olds, all but three of the 17 winners since 2000 continued to race at 4 (and many had 5- or 6-year-old campaigns as well) before retiring to stud. The sport is extremely popular in Japan, with great emphasis placed on races for older runners. Breeders there put more stock in horses that have proven themselves over time and distance.

Recent Preakness and Belmont winners don't generally race at 4, either. Only six Preakness winners since 2000 raced beyond their sophomore season and seven Belmont winners have done so.

We've all heard the reasons for retiring a horse to stud at 3: “He suffered a minor injury that would require time or surgery and, well, he's just too valuable to risk”; “He's 100 percent sound, but he's done enough”; or “Insurance costs for a horse of his value are prohibitive.”

Oftentimes when a horse wins a race the stature of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont, his owner becomes an asset manager as much as a sportsman. Stallion deals are drawn up to be announced at an opportune time and farms that buy the breeding rights don't want to see the value of the horse decline after paying millions of dollars to stand him at stud.

What's driving this is the insatiable, and in my opinion, illogical appetite for new stallions. I don't blame the stallion farm operators; they are merely responding to market forces. Commercial breeders know that the offspring of first-year stallions – for reasons I will never fully understand – are in high demand among yearling buyers, both end users and yearling-to-2-year-old pinhookers. Stallion farms need to restock their breeding shed annually to keep up with that demand.

If this counterproductive cycle continues, the blame can be laid squarely at the feet of horse owners and their agents, who pay a premium to buy yearlings and 2-year-olds by unproven first-year studs rather than finding horses sired by proven stallions.

The sport and its fans, in the long run, are the losers.

There has been a dearth of competition in the ranks of older male horses in recent years in American racing, in large part because of the absence of Triple Crown race winners. These are the horses that are most recognizable to the casual or potential fans.

With the Breeders' Cup Classic now offering a $6-million purse and the Pegasus World Cup soaring to $16 million in 2018, owners of these Triple Crown race winners have a financial incentive to keep them in training another year. They also can do a favor to a struggling sport by giving fans what they want: enduring stars who do not disappear once the Triple Crown and 3-year-old season are over.

It's not as if the owners of many of these horses need the money a stallion deal will bring, though I understand they are business people who try to run their racing stable as a business. I would also hope they remember it is a sport that can only thrive when embraced by the public.

This race to the breeding shed for classic winners is relatively new. Of the 20 Kentucky Derby winners from 1980-99, 13 ran as 4-year-olds. From 1960-79, 12 of 20 competed at 4, including Triple Crown winners Affirmed and Seattle Slew.

Correction to Chart: Barbaro, though injured at 3, was not euthanized until January the following year.

Don't Forget The Fans

Despite the absence of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners, the New York Racing Association put on a tremendous program of racing on Saturday to wrap up the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.

There will always be complaints about price gouging at any premier horse racing event, but I paid $155 for a third-floor clubhouse seat and felt it was good value (compared to other major sporting events or a Broadway show). The $20 I paid for two slices of pizza, chips and a soft drink seemed steep but no worse than prices at a movie theater or ball park. Crowd control leaving the Long Island Railroad was well managed (though security lines getting into the track were long), and there no problems getting a bet down.

The NYRA team under the leadership of CEO Chris Kay did an outstanding job.

The one major glitch I saw was just before the Belmont Stakes when horses and riders left the saddling paddock for the racetrack tunnel without once circling around the walking ring, where hundreds of fans had been waiting to see them.

When the horses turned right, there were immediate catcalls and boos from fans on the grandstand side of the walking ring. They had come to see the horses and were deprived of that pleasure.

Martin Panza, NYRA's senior vice president of racing operations, said on Monday this problem will be fixed for 2018.

This reminds me of an incident in the late 1980s or early 1990s when NYRA had a multi-breed “HorseFair” on Belmont day, with most of the on-track activities only taking place in front of the clubhouse. Alfred Vanderbilt, a former NYRA president, got wind of that and strongly urged the organizers that people on the grandstand side mattered just as much as those in the box seats and clubhouse. Racing should never forget the fans in the grandstand.

That's my view from the eighth pole.

  • Bryan Langlois

    Their is a concern I see with the way the Breeders Cup, Pegasus, and Dubai World cup are now structured. It almost creates a completely separate racing set up that allows the stars to run in three races over fall and winter, and then basically take the main part of the normal racing season, the spring, summer, and into fall off. If you have owners that look to run their stars in 3-4 races a year because they have the biggest purses, then really, there is no point to even try to create a handicap division, because the big horses will not be running in any of the main division races around the country anyway. It’s concerning at least from my eyes, and I know many will disagree with me. To me, the last real great handicap horse was Cigar, as he went all over the country and really became ingrained in both the racing and average sports fans mind. I still maintain that when all is said and done, Arrogate may end up being one of the best horses that no one ever heard of in the regular sports world.
    I do agree with you, Ray, on the rush to breeding thing and obviously both money and the desire in todays newer owners for immediate return on their investment will continue to drive this. If you want to really keep older horses around, you need to create a series like the old ACRS was in the early 1990’s, with a bonus structure lucrative enough for owners to run their horses and not retire them. This would allow for a horse that maybe doesn’t win every single race to still take home a nice chunk of change at the end of the year.

    • tony a

      New York had a handicap triple crown and the fall championship series, the handicap triple suffered because of the complaints of raising the weights, seemed as the 80’s rolled around nobody wanted to tote more than 126. The fall championship suffered because New York gave blessing to the breeders cup and have since gotten a knife in the back. It’s time to place the blame squarely where it belongs, the breeders.

      • The Breeders’ Cup is interesting, but it has cannibalized top class racing to a great extent.

  • Swaps

    This will not be a very popular comment, but if we want to keep horses racing and increase interest in the sport, then the “powers that be” need to change a few rules. Here’s one: the Jockey Club will not allow any foals to be registered from stallions who are under 5 when they first bred mares. Gotta start breeding at 5. If a horse is really good and can’t run at 4, then surely the breeders could wait a year. I’ll bet that a lot of those “injuries” will find a way of correcting themselves. Yes, it might be that some other horse will usurp the popularity, but in the long run it will help save the industry. When there’s a really good horse that shows up, the public generally shows up.

    • missedgehead

      Isn’t that what someone else already posted?

  • Drama the Llama

    NTM there are just so many damn stallions out there now. And most of them have very similar lineages. IMO if you don’t run your horses past 3, you may be signalling that their soundness should be questioned. I realize they’re only doing it this way because when they’ve won a couple of the big races at 3, better retire them now otherwise, if they don’t win anything at 4, their value drops off. Well, I’d rather see some longevity in them and to see whether they are the “real deal” before I send my mares to them. But that’s just me.

    • Elle D

      NTM the continuous stream of stallions sent packing overseas to stand.

  • stlouiskid1

    The situation shows 2 truths. One is that human nature loves the new improved, the fresh that has shown no faults or failures. Thus you get the absurd prices paid for yearlings out of freshman sires.
    The second is that their are many bloodstock agents and their wealthy clients that don’t have a flipping clue what they are doing and have no ability to recognize value.

  • Canarse

    It was a great day at Belmont on Saturday. Getting in and out on LIRR was easy for us as we came early. Food and drink were expensive, but no different than a ballgame. The great racing and relative ease of the venue are why we come back every year. Well, let’s face it…it’s the great racing! They seem to be doing the best they can with the facility, but Belmont Park is sorely in need of upgrades to modern standards.

    My guess is they somehow got behind in the paddock and TV ordered the horses out immediately. Gotta clean that up.

  • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

    Just to comment on the Belmont and NYRA, they do not gauge you and they let you walk around pretty much everywhere. I honestly can’t remember if I was at one or two Belmont Stakes, I know I was at one (Smarty Jones), but I really enjoyed my time when I was there.
    What i did not like was Pimlico, it’s disappointing and they charge high prices and you are restricted to where you want to go. I remember having to lean around a pole to see Smarty Jones cross the finish line and then wait what seemed to be 10 seconds to see Rock Hard Ten cross the finish line for second. I also remember the person i was with that day before the Preakness yelling over to John Servis: Hey John, Good Luck!!!! He turned around with a big smile and a thumbs up!!! I always thought highly of John because here he was the 1st time in the spotlight and he handled it well. Also, the person that I was with that day seemed to think we talked to Nick Zito that day as well. I remember talking to someone that day too, but I didn’t know Nick Zito at the time, not that I do now, I just don’t remember if it was him or not. Anyway, I guess looking back on that day it was fun, but I was really disappointed at the time, that you were not allowed to roam around like you typically are allowed to do at most race tracks

  • copperhead

    I’m still trying to figure out how it’s possible that someone in Japan can bet on the Kentucky Derby, but living in the US (TX) I can’t find a legal online way to bet on races in other states.

    • kcbca1

      Democracy that’s how. You get what you vote for in this country and if you don’t like it you get up off your butt and organize a different agenda.

      • copperhead

        Unfortunately I haven’t had much luck getting what I vote for- I don’t think a single candidate that I voted for won the last elections. Also haven’t had much of a response writing emails to my elected officials- got no response writing letters for the recent legislation on horse soring :( . As far as “getting up off my butt” to organize for racing industry legislation changes, that should be the responsibility of groups like the NYRA, groups which presumably hire press agents, directors, market analysts, and lobbyists who are supposed to excel at these skills. I already have a full time job based on a different skill set, a household to run, and a horse coming off a layup. If the racing industry wants my betting money then it needs recognize that it must make it fun and easy because there are many, many other options for spending my horse-habit mad money.

    • Lily FaPootz

      You could always move!

  • MaiyaDay

    There really do need to be some changes around this. You could start with these:

    – No G1 races for 2yo’s except the BC races. It’s far too easy to get 2yo-G1 credentials running in races that have no business being G1s, and those precocious 2yo’s tend to retire early. The BC races are the only ones that offer truly competitive, G1-quality fields.
    – Stallions and mares both cannot breed until 5 years old. If a stallion is truly injured and cannot return (like Mastery this year), then he is simply off a year.
    – Create some kind of Handicap Triple Crown for 4yo’s like the Triple Crown (something like the Met Mile – Suburban – Whitney/Pacific Classic?) with a bonus to the horse with the best finish in all 3.
    – Stop giving Eclipse awards to just the horse that wins the respective BC race. Judge on a full campaign and on running more than 4 times.

    Would make a huge difference.

    • Canarse

      Don’t see the point of limiting mares.

      • MaiyaDay

        For the same reason as with stallions. You have nice mares like Cathryn Sophia, Rachel Alexandra, etc. who do not race after their 3yo year (or sometime even finish their 3yo year) because they have earned their G1 credentials and have ensured their value and now don’t need to race anymore.

        • GoodnessMe

          Rachel raced at age 4. And Cathryn had issues.

          • MaiyaDay

            Sorry, I meant Rachel’s Valentina, not RA.

          • GoodnessMe

            Ah. She was not running well and I suspect she had an issue too given her well spaced career, and in her case, her value was very unique as the only filly that will ever be born to her dam;-)

          • Matthew Fitch

            Happily, maybe not. Rachel Alexandra is back in foal. She’s carrying a colt this year (a full to Jess’s Dream) but maybe there will be another filly in her future. I do like the idea of a Santa Anita/Gulfstream/Maryland trio. I say Maryland because if he did it I’m sure the race would be at Laurel.

          • GoodnessMe

            I didn’t know they bred Rachel Alexandra again. I know her daughter Rachel’s Valentina was bred to Curlin, though.

          • Matthew Fitch

            I must have brain cramped when I read that. Oops!

          • GoodnessMe

            As in you thought The Rachel instead of her daughter?

          • cgriff

            Rachel Valentina is – not Rachel Alexandra.

          • We’re watching

            Bring back the Magna Five on special occasions.

            When it comes down to it, only a few good horsemen know what they’re doing. Most are busy “selling” their egos and services to rich owners who want to hold the reins in the winners circle.
            Bafferts a walking talking billboard. I like him but this is what ravings moving down towards, three year olds to extinction.

        • Canarse

          I don’t see the problem with mares. Songbird is still running and we saw her Saturday. Beholder had a nice long career as did Zenyatta. I don’t see fillies/mares retired early just for breeding purposes nearly as much as colts. Some broodmares never even make it to the track. What would happen with those horses? I don’t think it’s a good idea to restrict mares in that way.

          • MaiyaDay

            I do agree it’s not as prevalent with the mares as the colts. I’m amenable to dropping that, especially since they can only produce one a year.

          • Lehane

            Black Caviar’s dam had never raced.

      • tony a

        Wouldn’t matter the mares usually hang around till at least 5 anyway.

        • whirlaway

          That is why I follow mares they keep running, Beholder, Songbird, Zenyatta, Rachel
          just a start they continued to run and many others can be added. Even Paulassilverlining that I am sure was costly purchased by Juddmonte to be bred to
          Arrogate has won 2 G1 races since her purchase and is not waiting at the farm for
          Arrogate. If she stays well the plan is the BC she is racing and is a 5 yr old. Also that
          is why I follow turf horses they run longer also.

          • Lehane

            Like yourself, I follow the fillies and mares. In recent years here (Australia) it has been so disappointing to watch superb colts sent to the breeding barn at age 3 after only several starts.

          • whirlaway

            I have always loved fillies/mares and for the talk about their sometime behavior many are very consistent race after race. If they are defeated it often is a mare as good or better. An example was the BC Distaff with Beholder/Songbird.It took Beholder to defeat the undefeated Songbird. I have always loved turf racing and turf horses run longer also. Top males keep running as for turf horses in the U. S. lucrative stud deals are not as common. In my opinion
            some of the issues that need improvement such as stamina while retaining speed can be found in turf stallions. I am a loyal fan of Kitten’s Joy and think he has really
            produced some talented horses. I also am interested in Point of Entry to see what
            he will produce.

          • Lehane

            There’s talk here that Lady Aurelia might come to Australia to compete in the very first running of The Everest on October 14, 2017. It’s a sprint race (1200m) with prizemoney of $10million. On turf of course at Randwick racetrack in Sydney where Black Caviar ran her last race.

          • whirlaway

            That news I had not read or been aware of. Are you actually in Australia. Pertaining to your last post to me it is very bad to see these young horses rushed off to stud.
            I remember even though I was a teenager years ago this was not the case. Horses ran to 4 and 5 and there were handicap races that owners wanted to win and fans wanted to see. The entire racing world does not just exist in the spring with the TC. The problem still exists with some owners as no thoughts go towards summer races. I really don’t think most owners even care about the Travers which is an older race than the Derby. Yes I was thrilled with a TC winner and was a fan of AP but importance of other races need to exist.

          • Lehane

            Yes, I am an Australian with extended family in the USA. Have limited knowledge on racing in America but follow it as much as I can.
            So glad Ray Paulick wrote this article. He’s so right in his observations about the way racing is going, more of a business than a sport today and that’s sad. Racing has a history and tradition second to none, in my humble opinion. And it needs to be fixed.

          • whirlaway

            My Dad a big racing fan/handicapper was from the days as an adult 1930’s on so he
            saw racing during some grand times and wow saw legendary horses. It was a sport
            then although I am not sure how clean. I think many sports even today have their dirty laundry so to speak. Things begin a change after the mid 70’s and especially after the big private stables were gone and nobody to carry them on. It is amazing
            how Claiborne and Phipps family have weathered the years and generations that still
            race. I am sure Claiborne has had to make adjustments especially in stallion books to keep being competitive as a farm. I still believe the old private stables generally with private trainers were a complete different owner than the owners today. They
            certainly did not need Hugh broodmare bands and stallions that produced over
            a thousand foals in a lifetime and had far more big success.

          • tony a

            You’re talking to someone who would rather go to the Alabama than the Travers.

          • whirlaway

            If you are the lucky owner of a nice filly and a colt you can participate in both and
            if a fan go to both, but since the fillies are my weakness I could be thrilled with the Alabama it certainly has showcased some great fillies over the years.

          • tony a

            Too crowded for Travers.

          • whirlaway

            That is a definite. I am not a crowd person and the Travers is about my limit. I also
            like going for the Whitney and the Jim Dandy when there is a good field. Still a crowd
            but not like Travers.

          • tony a

            Well I’ll be there for the Jim Dandy weekend.

          • whirlaway

            Excellent because if horses use that as a prep for the Travers it can be a good race.
            I saw Street Sense win the Jim Dandy then followed up winning the Travers.

          • whirlaway

            Also on TV coverage that goes on for hours on TC and Belmont day feature other divisions. The 3 yr old Colts are not the glamour boys of racing. It maybe the big stars that bring fans in but those type of horses will not be coming along on a regular basis. We as fans have been very fortunate that in recent years there have been a flood of outstanding horses in various divisions. I have been a fan many many years and have never just embraced one horse that is not me. When I see quality I am all over it even if there is more than one big star running at the same time. I am a big fan of turf horses and love they stay in training longer are exciting to
            watch race where it is commonplace to see 5 to 6 horses on the wire with just a few
            lengths between them. For people that have the desire to devote the time to learning
            there are different styles of racing, divisions , distance and surfaces. I am not the
            type to watch the same humans face each other year after year even though
            my family loved all sports. I would also think on big days feature a horse that came off the track to success in other venues ex: Blackfoot Mystery or even a regular horse person with a race horse as a riding horse to legitimize race horses as real horses that may appeal to the regular person watching and change that race horses are not crazy high strung lunatics like the public thinks.

          • mingo

            I agree. Fans need their “idols” to follow in the arts, sports, horse racing, music, etc. etc. You’d think good promoters would know how to build on that kind of loyalty.

    • Genellen

      New York used to have a Handicap Triple Crown consisting of the Metropolitan, Brooklyn, and Suburban Handicaps, where horses carried real weights. In recent years, these races have been split up and tossed around, so there’s no sense of accomplishment other than winning a big-money stake. As I recall, they were for 3yos and up, but were a great showcase for the older horses that mostly made up the fields.

      I think if there were a nationwide Handicap Triple Crown series, maybe at Belmont, Santa Anita, and Churchill Downs, specifically for 4 and up, with the bonus you mention, it might help keep older horses around.

      As for the fans not being able to see the horses in the walking ring, that was just stupid. I noticed that after Andy Grammer called for riders up, no one got on their horses right away. Looks like they were standing around. Maybe that had something to do with it? Wake up, it’s time to go to the post!!

      • Jbumi

        I love your idea of a nationwide Handicap Triple Crown. I also wish for the return of the Triple Tiara for 3 year old fillies.

        • Judy Gaddis

          I remember so well the “Handicap Triple Crown” of days gone by (The Metropolitan, Suburban and Brooklyn Handicaps) and those great horses that participated in them as well as the Triple Tiara for fillies and couldn’t agree with you more. Whether or not either would be successful as a “nationwide event” taking place at different tracks, though, I’m uncertain.

          Racing pundits keep asking and wondering why the sport is both losing fans as well as not gaining any new ones and a HUGE part of that is the fact that these really, really good horses (mainly the colts) retire either immediately after the Belmont or very soon thereafter and fans never get a chance to “bond” with them like they used to be able to and a “true following” has a chance to develop.

          We start over every year at the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile with a new bunch of 2 year olds, half of which are not even around when the real Derby preps begin in February. This taking place, year after year, has led many of us to begin to not even care about Derby bound horses until April. Then we have them for the duration of the Triple Crown and poof! They’re gone — off to the breeding shed.

          That does not lead to cultivating long term fans of the sport; those that may not bettors but that support the sport in other ways.

      • tony a

        Forget a nationwide triple, California has already stole the BC. The best track and fairest would be Belmont.

    • WT61

      All very good suggestions.

  • MattieG

    As someone who has attended approximately 15 Belmonts over the past 25ish years I will disagree on the job the NYRA and Belmont Park did in regards to food. There used to be vendors who actually cooked the food there and prices used to be high but acceptable. This year everything was pre-made and reheated. The food was gross and tremendously expensive. To me it was the single worst Belmont I’ve ever been to as far as the food and beverages were concerned.

    • Canarse

      Had some of the bad food on Friday. The carved pastrami was pretty darn good on Saturday.

      • MattieG

        Where was that? Certainly didn’t see it outside or on the concourses.

        • Canarse

          Third floor clubhouse.

  • David Worley

    The Jockey Club should decree that it will only register 50 foals per stallion per year which would effectively create a ceiling on stud earnings and would greatly reduce the rush to cash in on these sires. It would also have the added benefits of (1) contributing to the genetic diversity (and health) of the American TB, (2) would be a more reasonable set of breeding expectations for a sire, and (3) would help enliven the tiers of stallions below the very top ones (thus making the sport more financially sustainable).

    Besides a total lack of will to do so, what problems do you see with this idea?

    • Canarse

      Other than telling the wealthiest people in the sport they can’t make as much money…..nothing. Interesting idea, but not realistic. Not sure it would hold up in court either.

    • disqus_wZUB6w9ANy

      how bout 25 foals for 4 yo ‘stallions’, 50 for 5 yo and 100/yr for 6 yo and up

      • David Worley

        Interesting thought. But I’d stick with the 50 on the top end.

    • GoodnessMe

      Well intended but would never hold up in a court (free enterprise) and the industry (they are the JC members) would never do that to themselves. If it was presented as a plan, it would need to be to cap mares bred, not live foals registered (as you cannot entirely predict fertility or broodmare management) and a higher number than 50, more like not to exceed 125 bred. I do like the idea that they cannot breed til age 5 and think that would actually be easier to enforce. But do you enforce it for fillies, too? Again, industry will never go for it as this sport is very hard to turn a profit in the first place. All these top horses pay for all the slow horses.

      • David Worley

        Your point about mares bred is a good one and I agree.

        The irony is that, by having sires cover more mares, it actually works against the longevity of the industry because (economically) the spoils go to fewer people. By capping breeding you enable more stallion owners to make a viable living and keep the core of the sport healthy.

        But, I do understand this is a moot point because those with the assets (top tier sires) will never let it happen. Sort of mimics much of the economic problem in the larger economy.

        • GoodnessMe

          Yes more stallions would get a shot – but I’m not sure that they would stay on the track longer. The reality is less intuitive. Some horses race longer now because they are not as valuable at stud since all the mares go into large books of popular studs.

          • David Worley

            That’s an interesting point. It is indeed difficult to know how this would affect the industry without seeing it play out in the real world.

        • Lily FaPootz

          Not to mention to added bonus of adding more different DNA …

    • WT61

      I like the idea of limiting stallion books to 100-125. There are just too many horses by some stallions. I think that inhibits genetic diversity. And statistically that stallions’ percentages can be misleading if you don’t consider how many progeny he has.

    • Mary (M.R.) Perdue

      In the 70s I know that a stallion’s book was limited to 45 mares bred, don’t know exactly when that changed but I don’t think 150 plus mares bred was ever a good idea. I agree it should be decreased again for the reasons you mention. Also, tennis has a Masters Series leading up to the US Open where players earn a bonus for getting the most points in the tournaments leading up to it if they also win the Open. What about something like a Masters Series for older horses with a really big bonus if they run in certain preps and also win the Classic?

  • Robin

    I am a racing fan and was an unabashed Chromie. How lucky for me most of his racing career was here in Southern California. From a fan’s standpoint to be able to enjoy the excitement of seeing your favorite horse run over years has been amazing. I see articles written about how to grow the sport. Fans like watching their favorite horses over a longer period. Remember Zenyatta and how she drew fans to the sport?

    • Lily FaPootz

      California Chrome ran until he was 6 because his owner had to convince the old league in KY that he had value as a stud.

  • Michael Shea

    I have always wondered if there would be any interest in a rematch race of the previous year’s Derby runners. I know that, sadly, some years would be lacking due to the high rate of attrition, but it might be interesting to have the four year olds from the previous year’s Derby race on the undercard of Derby Day. A million dollar purse, with a bonus to the Derby winner, would be a pretty good incentive to return.

  • Audrey Gulla

    OMG! I definitely felt the pain of those disappointed fans waiting to see the horses ‘walk the ring’! Mr.Panza says that’ll be fixed by 2018.:)…Now……if we could just see more of our ‘stars’ racing as 4 year olds!?!

  • Gls

    If you try to figure this business out you’ll get a migraine. People in the horse business are like rainbow trout, they see something new and shiny they swim to it and take the hook. The more unknown the better. How about a flashy two year old that works in 10 at the sale ,yikes they are all over it. The common denominator is agents, their concerns are not horse to racing but money to their pockets. Of course not all, but be ware. I think the new money wants to cash in! Were as the old money took pride in improving the breed.

  • kcbca1

    We live in a capitalist society dictated by supply and demand. How about looking at things from the demand side rather than making unfair rule changes that place an economic burden on the owners. Unfortunately when you do create a fantastic day of racing with hugh purses that should attract owners to keep their best in training people still complain. We need more of what NYRA has to offer not less.

  • roseann cherasaro

    I love the older horse divisions and I would love to see these TC horses not disappear so fast .How do we judge them if they don’t race as older horses ?I understand an injury but not what we have seen lately.BTW they didn’t parade in the paddock the last couple of times we were up there for the Belmont and yes there was plenty of booing felt right at home since I’m a Philly gal but we stood there for hours to see the horses and never got a good peek.

  • Buckpasser

    We used to have a Handicap TC with the Met, Suburban and Brookyn which was a showcase for older horses. As was racing in the Strub, Californian and the Big Cap. Since weight carrying is a thing of the past, the only way to keep horses on the track are bonuses for winning certain group of races.

    I’m old enough to remember when the definition of a top horse was winning top races as a two year old, competing in the TC and then coming back as a four year old or even older and competing in the Handicap division.

  • Today’s culture in racing centers more around the business end than the sports end. There are no longer enough sports minded owners that believe in their male horses enough to keep them campaigning past the age of 3. It is hard to blame most of them, however, when one sees how fragile most of them are and how difficult it is to keep them going at their best.

  • David

    Recently there was a sort of international auto racing television spectacle featuring a Formula One at Monoco, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR race in Charllote, all covered by NBC. Perhaps T’bred racing could put together 2-3 of similar days?

    • Lily FaPootz

      They do – the Breeder’s Cup

  • Michael Shea

    Something isn’t adding up here. We are talking about the high number of foals each year, yet Santa Anita has had to cancel it’s next two Thursdays racing due to the inability to fill a race card. Where are the foals going if not to the track? If they aren’t making it to the races, then the stud fee for their sire should plummet.

    • Lily FaPootz

      Well, Michael, a stud doesn’t really benefit from more foals in races he benefits from more foals going on to win graded races. Ask SA what percentage of the Big Money trainers’ horses, housed on their grounds, are actually competing ?

      • Michael Shea

        But there is something wrong when Santa Anita cannot fill a Thursday racecard.

  • Bobbie Irish

    Perhaps the reason horses don’t go on past their 3 year old races, or even sometimes, 2 year old races, is because they aren’t bred to go on. Not a lot of stamina, can’t take the pressure of training, due to susceptibility to illnesses, lamenesses, etc. Almost all the winners of recent Triple crown were sired by horses who never competed past 3 years of age. Not only that, but the paternal grandsires did not compete past the age of 3 either, so apparently there is a weakness here, insofar as horses maintaining racing ability past 3 years. Though the Japanese seem to race their home bred horses longer, they certainly picked up I’ll Have Another and Creator fast enough, as retiring 3 year olds. The breeders, as you say, breed to sell and market horses, not to race. Soon enough, that will help in the demise of horse racing, as we know it now. It may eventually turn into private races, between horses owned by specific entities, just to see how a horse may race, and then put them at stud. What is mystifying to me is so many of these stallions have the same, or very similar bloodlines. So how do they compete? Stud fees are cheaper the first year at stud, hence the higher number of mares bred, because they are cheaper. Yearlings by first year studs may be a bit less expensive at sales, I don’t know. It seems money may be the reason first year studs are popular. But what about the 2nd year, and the 3rd? How many just fail to cover enough mares to pay for their board? How many stallions is too many? Who knows? As long as it is a breeders and a buyer’s game, the racing fans will continue to lose out. Don’t look for any big changes in racing. While there are a lot of good ideas here, the chances of them happening are about zip. So live with it. No other choice.

  • NMBird

    Viva Japan!!

  • Jaime

    Interesting that Japanese breeders emphasize longevity – and yet they’ve gladly taken War Emblem, I’ll Have Another, Creator, and Empire Maker and Summer Bird (who stood in North America first). All who never raced past 3.

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