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The racing industry - Opinions?

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        11-09-2010, 11:36 PM
      #11
    Foal
    I can't speak for America or Europe, or Australia.
    But here in South Africa, it's definitely a case of breeding quantity over quality.
    Which, I believe, has led to the generally 'weaker' specimin.
    Here, we're not allowed to race on Lasix like you can in the States(as far as I know).
    Inbreeding has always been my pet hate. I don't get how it can be allowed in animals, when it's considered taboo among people. It produces the same result, a weak animal.
    Since the downturn in the economy, many people are not breeding like they were. I know of some of the larger stud farms simply culling broodmares that weren't up to a certain par in terms of proven ability and proven offspring. Which, in my opinion isn't a bad thing. Certainly kinder for them in the long run.

    My biggest pet soapbox though is the shortsightedness of breeders. Not today, but the one's who took Northern Dancer, bred him to every mare under the sun and used his colts as Studs. *shakes head*. It might have been a good idea at the time, but no thought was given to what was going to happen 20 - 30 years later when the market was flooded with ND bloodlines.
    I think TB breeders could take a leaf out of the Warmblood breeders book and introduce selected breeds. To bring new blood into the market, and generally create a stronger specimin.

    WHICH, is all completely way off topic, I know.
    It's early and I haven't had enough coffee yet.

    Quote:
    The simplest, cleanest way to improve the TB industry in my opinion would be to gradually move to eliminate 2 year old racing. Push the first race for 2 year olds back one month per year until the first race for 2 years olds is in September. This is for two reasons: most of the legitmate criticism of TB racing comes from young horses doing too much too soon and breaking down as a result. Not allowing a horse to race until it's 30 - 36 months old will also put some downward pressure on the trash breeding. By extending the time it takes to reap a return on a breeding or foal, you'll push a percentage of breeders out of the business. Yes, it will be a financial hardship on some and the industry will contract (I think it needs to), but the folks who will be pushed out by the slower return will mostly be the trash breeders or folks doing it on a shoestring.

    ^^^ Agreed!
         
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        11-11-2010, 12:03 AM
      #12
    Green Broke
    Agreed on the inbreeding problem Shimla and Northern Dancer is one of the worst cases.

    As far as it being a business and horses being disposable - I can understand that on some level.

    However, it just doesn't make economic sense, given the statistics. So 15% of horses started as racehorses make it to the track as two year olds, that means that 85% didn't - what was the cost of training those other 85%?

    An estimate from Proven Thoroughbreds puts the average cost of training a racehorse for on year in the United States as $25,000. So, if a trainer has 10 horses, most likely 7 will not make it to the track, that is up to $175,000 lost. And the other three aren't necessarily winners either. Now obviously backyard trainers and owner/trainers will pay substantially less than this estimate, however the big name trainers command significantly more, hence $25,000 is only an average. Sure, some of this cost is recouped when the horse is sold after it has left the track, but really the money obtained from post track sales is like tears in a river.

    So my point is this: Why breed so many substandard horses, send them to substandard trainers and lose all this money? Sure, it riles me because I am a horse lover but the business rationale is non existent. It amounts to buying a lottery ticket and being sure that you will win. Except the only thing you have to worry about when you throw away the lottery ticket is whether you remembered to put it in the recycling bin or not.

    *Steps off soapbox*
         
        11-11-2010, 09:21 AM
      #13
    Yearling
    I too am a TB lover and I also have a love/hate relationship with the industry. My mare was started once as a 3 yr old, failed miserably, went home to grow up and was started twice at 4, once at 5 and again at 6 before her owner/breeder/trainer gave up on racing her. She's got the bloodlines, she's got fantastic conformation and never had an injury throughout her training and racing. She just has no desire to run that fast and HATES to get dirt thrown at her so she preferred to lope along behind the field clear of the jostling and debris from the other racers =P.

    She has since gone on to be spectacular in the H/J rings and is learning to event and do dressage. I got her off the track at 6 and she is turning 10 in 2011.

    That being said I've seen a LOT of poorly bred, badly conformed racehorses sink a lot of money down the drain before the owner/trainer finally decides to stop racing it. I think that there should be more control over those allowed to stand studs. There are just as many backyard TB studs as there are QH and grade studs. Just because it is papered doesn't mean it isn't a backyard breeding operation. If there were laws and fines in place, and/or a more stringent registration process (along the lines of some of the warmblood registries) where the young stock needs to be inspected and/or prove their worth before being admitted to the full stud book then I think there would be a push for higher quality breedings. I also think that AI would be a GOOD thing for the Jockey Club to work into their breeding program but they should limit the number of mares a particular stud can cover. Most breeders are limited by the live cover rule to only breed to studs in their area and sometimes the quality is not as good. If that same breeder was given the option to breed to Joe Schmoe's ND great-great-grandson next door or the current Breeder's Cup winner from the other side of the continent for comparatively the same amount of money then I believe they would take that opportunity and run with it.

    There will always be horses that don't make it on the track. Due to injury, lack of proper training, unforeseen circumstances or just simply that they don't have the "heart" to race. But if we continue to improve the breed and breed for quality and look to more outcrosses in bloodlines then those castoffs of the TB racing industry will have a brighter future because they will be higher quality, better made sport horse prospects and there will hopefully be less of them.
         
        11-11-2010, 09:29 AM
      #14
    Banned
    Sara, there's a false assumption in your figures there. You're assuming that the 85% that don't make it to the track all undergo a year of racetraing before the decision is made to pull the plug, and that's simply not true.

    I would guess that only 60 - 75% of the TBs bred in the US even start race training, and many wash out in a couple of months. (Once again, my quibble with the figures doesn't undermine your underlying premise and statement of the problem - too many horses bred with too low a success rate.) One of my frustrations when working in the business was how many should have been washed out sooner - yearlings or two year olds that clearly weren't going to make it at the track that either the trainer wanted to keep collecting fees on or the owner was completely unrealistic about the horse's future.

    In my area of Virginia, there are lots of TB studs standing that are bred to produce hunters, sporthorses and pleasure horses. They may be bred to TB mares and registered with the JC, but were never intended to be put in race training.

    One of the fabulous and ethical TB breeders and trainers that I knew (now retired) was disturbed by these numbers, and her approach was to break and train her babies with an eye towards their career after the track. They were started the way you'd start a sport horse or any other baby. If they clearly weren't going to make it at the track, or went to the track and came home, she would let them down and start the reclaim process herself so they could be sold as sport or pleasure horse prospects and she prided herself on rehoming and finding second careers for her horses.

    She was a fabulous source for young, inexpensive, correctly started horses. Attitudes like hers would go a long way towards changing the disposable mentality. However, she was successful in this regard because 1.) she didn't breed trash to begin with and 2.) she was realistic about horse's actual prospects. Those qualities are exceedingly rare.
         
        11-11-2010, 11:53 PM
      #15
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NittanyEquestrian    
    She just has no desire to run that fast and HATES to get dirt thrown at her so she preferred to lope along behind the field clear of the jostling and debris from the other racers =P.

    These are the types of OTTB's you want!!! Wish there were more of them around!

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by maura    
    One of the fabulous and ethical TB breeders and trainers that I knew (now retired) was disturbed by these numbers, and her approach was to break and train her babies with an eye towards their career after the track. They were started the way you'd start a sport horse or any other baby. If they clearly weren't going to make it at the track, or went to the track and came home, she would let them down and start the reclaim process herself so they could be sold as sport or pleasure horse prospects and she prided herself on rehoming and finding second careers for her horses.

    She was a fabulous source for young, inexpensive, correctly started horses. Attitudes like hers would go a long way towards changing the disposable mentality. However, she was successful in this regard because 1.) she didn't breed trash to begin with and 2.) she was realistic about horse's actual prospects. Those qualities are exceedingly rare.
    I wish wish WISH there were more trainers like this around. I also wish that I could have bought an OTTB from her!

    BTW - I had some real difficulty finding good figures on the internet to illustrate the point I was trying to make. It is true, the estimate of $25,000 for a two year old is probably excessive. But on the other side of the fence there are horses that are raced until they are five with very few, if any wins. Regardless, someone needs to be the voice of reason (that is you Maura) otherwise I would most likely get all wound up and carried away in which case the legitimacy of the argument would be lost in my rantings
         
        11-11-2010, 11:57 PM
      #16
    Green Broke
    Just to add, after working in the racing industry in both Australia and here in the States, the situation seems to be quite similar between the two countries. The only difference is that horses are slaughtered for pet food (used locally) and human consumption (sent off to Europe) in Australia, so the overload of thoroughbreds isn't as apparent.
         
        11-12-2010, 06:09 AM
      #17
    Banned
    Sara, first of all, my quibbles about numbers really don't detract from your core argument, which I agree with whole heartedly.

    And the figure of $25,000. Is not unreasonable in the sense that training board for a TB on the farm, not the track, was $1000. Month, or $30./day, back in the day when I was involved. So if I broke a long yearling in September, galloped him all winter, shipped him to the track in March or April, (training board at the track was $50./day, back in the day) got him his gate card and got him him first race in May or June, yeah, I think I'd have 25K in his training by the time he got to his first race.

    My quibble with numbers was that out of the whole foal crop, it's not a clean 15% are raced, 85% fail at the track. It's more like out of the whole foal crop, 75% may *start* race training, and there's a gradual attrition out of race training because of soundness, temperment and slowness issues until youi get to that 15 - 20% that get a gate card and race. So you can't say you have $25 grand invested in each and every one that doesn't make to the track.

    The attrition would be much less gradual if owners and trainers were more realistic about horse's prospects. I galloped a lot of horses that I absolutely *knew* wouldn't make it at the track. Owners are starred eyed dreamers, and trainers have a huge financial incentive to keep collecting the per diem fees.

    Still doesn't change the fact that 1.) way too many are bred 2.) way too many aren't successful at their intended careers and that as a horseperson, there's something deeply disturbing about breeding 20 and getting one good one and tossing away the rest.

    I am also of the opinion that the way we condition race horses is crazy; and driven entirely by competitive financing, and that a lot of race related injury could avoided by changing training methods.
         
        11-12-2010, 11:59 PM
      #18
    Foal
    I have to say, I worked with probably one of the better trainers. Better, in that she actually cared about her horses and her owners were in the sport because they love it and they love horses and they have the extra cash to spend. They're not in it to make money.

    I agree that training methods need to change, but I firmly believe that the heart of the issue is the lack of thought that goes into the breeding. In recent years there's been a large influx of South American bred TB's brought into the country who've raced quite successfully, and hopefully that's going to help improve the gene-pool somewhat.

    All that said, I hate to say, but in my experience it's always the really good horses who injure themselves, or are prone to bleeding, or have some other problem.
    We have a very good little horse here called Pocket Power, who I know for a fact has soundness issues (he's got the most appalling feet you've ever seen!)
         
        11-13-2010, 01:26 AM
      #19
    Foal
    I am not completely in the know of the horse racing industry. But there are indeed the good the bad and the ugly in it. Some improvements do need to be made in the industry such as:Starting the horse later like at the age of 3 or 4(so they have matured and are full grown.) Zenyatta is a perfect example on how that can work. Race horses should be bred not only fro speed, but also for structure, temperament,and to be an overall good sound animal. There are other things to help improve the industry as well, but I can't think of them at the moment.

    I want to become part of the horse racing industry, and will be one of the good guys, because I care for the horses.

    I hate the race horse people who breed for $$ and don't care nothing of the animals. Those people should not be apart of racing at all, let alone part of the horse world.
         
        11-13-2010, 07:16 AM
      #20
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by maura    
    The simplest, cleanest way to improve the TB industry in my opinion would be to gradually move to eliminate 2 year old racing. Push the first race for 2 year olds back one month per year until the first race for 2 years olds is in September. This is for two reasons: most of the legitmate criticism of TB racing comes from young horses doing too much too soon and breaking down as a result. Not allowing a horse to race until it's 30 - 36 months old will also put some downward pressure on the trash breeding. By extending the time it takes to reap a return on a breeding or foal, you'll push a percentage of breeders out of the business. Yes, it will be a financial hardship on some and the industry will contract (I think it needs to), but the folks who will be pushed out by the slower return will mostly be the trash breeders or folks doing it on a shoestring.
    I'm not a big racing fan mainly because of racing 2 year olds, and I also think this would be a great step in cleaning up the racing/breeding business.
         

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