A Report From the Front Lines: Stud Fees and the Market

Headley Bell of Mil Ridge Farm and Nicoma Bloodstock believes stud fees have fallen far enough for the Thoroughbred industry to start seeing some significant positive effects. The signs, he said, include the following:

"I, for the first time, was shut out on stallions that you wouldn't even have to ponder before. You werehaving to move sooner on booking mares, and I think there was value across the board for stallions. People still have to breed their mares, and there's still people who want to breed to specific stallions. You've trimmed numbers of the lower (quality) horses, but there is still significant demand for the horses people want to go to.

"Also, I think stallion farms are really attempting to limit the numbers (in stallions' books) more than they ever have (since big books became popular).  I think they realize the excessive numbers are a big part of why we're dealing with the issue (an oversupply of sale horses) that we're dealing with, so they (stallion managers) are actually saying, ‘No,' which is very positive. Artificial insemination is one of our greatest threats, but with technology, we've been able to almost have artificial insemination, i.e. the abundance of numbers (of offspring sired by one stallion), and one of the consequences is oversupply. Now that there's not the demand across the board (for stallion services), I think stallion managers realize an abundance of supply (of one stallion's offspring) is not the answer."

Bell concluded: "To me, as painful as all this is, hopefully there will be some good that comes out of it. And hopefully most of us will survive."



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