An interesting statistic came out of the International Simulcasting Conference held earlier this month in Lexington. Hank Zeitlin, president and COO of Equibase, reported that due to the shrinking foal crop the number of starters in Thoroughbred races in 2016 is projected to be about 39% less than it was in 2003.
Based on racing through the first nine months of this year, the projection is that by 2016 the average field size would be about six horses.
That would make for a lot of unappetizing racing for the core fans of Thoroughbred racing who prefer larger fields to produce better odds and offer more exotic options.
While the drum has been beating since the dawn of off-track wagering that simulcasting will reduce the number of racetracks and the number of races, the size of the foal crop—a racetrack’s product—will surely hasten some racetracks’ demise.
Where will that reduction come from? Who is to say, but let’s be realistic: Will tracks such as Parx and Hollywood Casino at Penn National have enough horses to offer year-round racing from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31? How about the tracks in West Virginia that run 150-plus cards a year? Will even the mighty New York Racing Association be able to conduct year-round racing?
Without some dramatic changes in the number of racing days and races per card, the bread-and-butter product of our sport would appear to be headed toward the cliff unless states are willing to work together on a realistic national racing schedule. The clock is ticking louder than ever—2016 is just more than two years away. The coming shortage of racing stock is nearly upon us, and will leave the sport with a huge hole to fill.
There sure is a huge hole in Central Kentucky with the loss of David Greathouse Oct. 8 at the age of 63.
As part of the family that has owned 800-acre Glencrest Farm since the days when smaller, Kentucky-based family operations could make a go of it in the stallion game, Greathouse played a key role for the farm and later Four Star Sales.
A gregarious player in the game who loved a good tip and a better horse, Greathouse entered the horse business more than four decades ago after starting his business career with another Kentucky stalwart, tobacco giant Phillip Morris.
Four Stars partner Dan Kenny met David Greathouse at Churchill Downs leading up to the 1973 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
“You could tell he was meeting the right types of people,” Kenny said. “He began to do business early on with Warner Jones and William Farish. He latched on to Johnny (T.L.) Jones Jr. when he was really a pup and I think that helped him a lot; he gave David a lot of insights.”
Glencrest Farm was founded by John W. Greathouse in 1950, and the elder Greathouse bred 1960 Kentucky Derby winner Venetian Way. The farm also bred and raced Wavering Monarch, a two-time grade I winner and a successful sire for the Greathouse boys—John, Allen, Edward, and David—who stood alongside Clever Trick. Wavering Monarch is the grandsire of 2001 Derby winner Monarchos.
Glencrest also bred top fillies such as Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Pike Place Dancer and grade I winners Honey Ryder, Panty Raid, Roamin Rachel, Zoftig, and 2010 Derby starter Devil May Care.
As the days of a one-man bloodstock agency started to draw dim, Greathouse jumped in with Kenny, Kerry Cauthen, and Jones in assembling the Four Stars agency. It was at Four Stars where Greathouse’s talents came through, and along with his son, “Deuce,” found a niche in pinhooking—at every level, from weanling-to-yearling to yearling-to-2-year-olds.
“He made his own way,” Kenny said. “And if there was action, David wanted to be in on it.”
High praise for a true Kentucky hardboot.