An important part of the Superstakes weekend is the annual yearling sale promoted under the auspices of the Throughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA). The sales takes place tomorrow in the car park at Caymanas Park.
This year the racing fraternity is faced with the painful realisation of a noticeable decline in the number of yearlings being offered by breeders for sale. The reported figure this year is 143 yearlings compared to 217 last year. The decline of 57 is of great significance as it indicates a clear and present danger to the future of the racing product. Simply put, the fewer horses available to race is the more difficult promoters will be able to fill races and the fewer the options available to punters for betting.
The effects of this decline might not be noticeable now but come two years when the two-year-old season is at hand there will be fewer horses to race. The juvenile component of racing is critical to maintain interest, to regenerate the product and to promote future equine stars. There is always interest among race followers when the two-year-old season is at hand.
The flow and exchange of well needed cash through the sale and within the industry is certain to be stymied this year with the big dip in yearlings. The stud farms represent the cradle of the racing industry. It is at these farms that breeders take the risky chance of mating thoroughbreds in the hope that the 'nick' will be successful and champions produced for the racing. Needless to say, the breeding of racing champions are few and far between, in the meantime the cost of producing yearlings continues to skyrocket. Juxtapose this inevitable increase in costs to already beleaguered owners who are becoming more unwilling to chance the purchase of high priced young horses.
This dilemma is further exacerbated by the lack of confidence in the racing product occasioned by the intolerable long wait for the payment of purses, the lack of worthwhile promotions and the general economic position of the country. Racing is therefore faced with an intolerable position of uncertainty, a lack of investments and a depreciation of a high employer of labour.
Yet amidst the gloom there is a smidgen of hope. There are still breeders out there trudging along despite the obvious the daily trials. The official racebook for Super Day carries advertisements from stud farms promoting their consignment for this year's yearling sale and the stallions at their sheds. This writer took particular interest in the advertised stud from champion breeders HAM Stables. For the first time in our breeding history, a stallion from Brazil, Sorrentino now graces one of our sheds. The progress of this Brazilian stud will no doubt be closely followed.
Total sales in yearling sale 2011 were just over $110 million, we expect much less this year.