In an effort to ensure diversity in the Thoroughbred horse gene pool, the U. S. Jockey Club recently instituted a limit on the number of mares that a stallion can breed in any calendar year.  Following is an excerpt from the media release from the Jockey Club pertaining to the rule:

“Effective today, The Jockey Club’s Principal Rules and Requirements of the American Studbook are amended by adding the following italicized language to the text of Rule 14C:

C. Based on the information on a completed Report of Mares Bred form, The Jockey Club will forward to the stallion owner, lessee or authorized agent a preprinted Service Certificate for each broodmare bred, including the name of the stallion, the name of the broodmare, the name of the dam of the broodmare, and the date of the last cover.

The total number of broodmares bred per individual stallion whose year of birth is 2020 or thereafter shall not exceed 140 per calendar year in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The Jockey Club shall limit the number of Stallion Service Certificates for such stallions to a maximum of 140 per calendar year.

In an effort to illustrate the operation of the new rule, The Jockey Club offers the following examples of how it will be applied:

(1)  For stallions born in 2019 and earlier, there will be no limit to the number of mares reported bred in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The Jockey Club will issue stallion certificates for all mares bred by such stallions within the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico during a calendar year.

(2)  For stallions born in 2020 and later, the maximum number of mares covered within the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico in a calendar year will be 140. It would be a violation of Rule 14C for such a stallion to cover more than 140 mares within the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico during a calendar year. The aforementioned limit will apply to all mares bred during a calendar year regardless of when The Jockey Club receives a Report of Mares bred (or any amendments or supplements thereto).”

This rule raises at least three questions and issues.

First, to what extent can the letter and intent of the rule be avoided by shuttling popular stallions to countries that register foals through their own registries?  A North American stallion shuttled to a Southern Hemisphere nation could service far more than 140 mares in a calendar year, thereby exacerbating the problem of a concentrated gene pool.  Southern-Hemisphere-registered foals can race in North America and stand at stud in Canada, Puerto Rico, or the United States.

Second, suppose a stallion typically gets 80% of the mares he services in foal.  That would mean that under the new limit of 140 mares, he would usually sire about 112 foals per year.  This would create the temptation for a stallion owner to breed, say, 165 mares and count on, say, 132 foals.  This roundabout gamble is apparently prohibited under the new Jockey Club rule and would be very risky if a stallion with an average 80% conception rate happened to get, say, 90% of his mares in foal.  It is similar to the way airlines and hotels overbook knowing that there will be cancellations.  Sometimes, however, the overbooking comes back to bite them when more people than planned show up.

Third, assume that a stallion has bred 140 mares in a calendar year and two of the mares die or abort during the breeding season.  Would the stallion owner then be able to breed mares 141 and 142 as replacements?

Copyright © 2020 Horse Racing Business