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‘Classed’ out of the profits

Lindon Yarde

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The article carried in the MIDWEEK SPORTS pull out of October 8 under the headline Better To Promote Local Breeding only just scratched the surface and as a result the King Of Stats (Mike King) and myself have had several calls from prominent individual involved in the sport of kings for years to delve deeper in the breeding industry.

Statistical research over a period of time has revealed that prior to May 2009 breeders’ premiums were paid on all races staged at the Garrison, but premiums are now limited to classics, quasi-classic races, “A class” events and selected juvenile events.

Many owners breed horses to race for themselves and commercial breeders who are unable to sell their stock are forced to campaign them on the race track.

A drastic reduction in the amount of prize money paid to owners will not encourage owner-breeders to expand their broodmare band.

There have been horrendous examples of this, with the purse for the William “Bill” Marshall two-year-old Creole Classic having been slashed by 50 per cent since 2011.

While the Barbados Turf Club (BTC) might argue that this event no longer attracts sponsorship, the same cannot be said about the Fillies Guineas.

As late as 2011, this classic carried a total of $35 000 without the attraction of a sponsor.

The total purse in 2013 for this same event was a paltry $20 000 – a 42.8 per cent reduction.

For many years sponsorship towards the local breeding industry has been graciously donated by Diamonds International.

But in 2013 these funds were transferred from the juvenile events to the “A” class feature on Boxing Day a race which used to be sponsored by Heineken and Sunset Reef.

Making matters even worse for owner/ breeders is the ridiculous decision imposed by the Barbados Turf Club in May 2009 relating to the classification and promotion of locally bred two-year-olds who were classified “F3”.

When a juvenile won its first race, it was allowed to remain in the same class. Further victories after that saw two-year and three-year-olds ascend the classification ladder by five-pound increments most of the time.

This allowed owners-breeders to enjoy a healthy number of wins, thereby being able to recoup their breeding expenses.

The Turf Club started to rate juveniles as high as 60 for colts and geldings and 55 for fillies. Then to make matters even worse, the rate adjusters proceeded to promote juveniles after winning their first race.

Furthermore, locally bred horses are hoisted up the ratings ladder by as many as ten and 15 pounds.

The net result of these actions is that owner/breeders can see their charges climb the ratings scale too quickly and this unnecessary tremendous advance prevents owners from collecting much needed prize money. This action will once again encourage people to breed more horses.

Imagine: had the Barbados Thoroughbred Breeders Association president Peter Odle not intervened, then subscriptions would have been stopped as moves were afoot last year by directorship at the BTC to suspend subscriptions for the classic generation.

But, thankfully, owner-breeders can still expect revenue from subscriptions.

Unfortunately, the amount of subscriptions has been reduced partly because the requests for these monies are now being collected too late.

Subscriptions for only ten two-year-olds, for example, have been paid at the first stage for this year’s Juvenile Classic.

Previously, the first subs for this event were due as early as June.

This year the BTBA secretary set a deadline as late as September 12 for the first subscription.

So there is little wonder that subs have been paid for only a few horses. This late request for funds will ensure that the total subscription pool will be the smallest in the history of this race.

If the actions stated in this column are not quickly redressed, then breeding in Barbados will continue to slide downhill and with it the horse racing industry.