After the fall yearling sales and the broodmare and weanling auctions of the past few months, the screams of breeders could be heard round the world. They were, as a group, not very happy.
Some stallion farms in Kentucky appear to have heard this too.
A few have noticeably lowered; others have tried some different approaches to standing their stallions and involving breeders.
Among the farms getting the most breeder response for innovation is Spendthrift Farm, owned by Wayne Hughes and standing leading sire Malibu Moon.
With the new stallions that Spendthrift has stood recently, the operation has tried a program called “Share the Upside.”
Farm manager Ned Toffey said that “by participating in this program, a breeder typically breeds two mares to the stallion, pays both stud fees, and then has a lifetime breeding right in the horse. It has been well received.”
Spendthrift is standing three new stallions for the 2011 breeding season, Arkansas Derby winner Line of David, Carter Handicap winner Warrior’s Reward, and Cougar Handicap winner Temple City. Of these, the latter is least known to the general public, but he too has quite popular in this program.
Toffey said, “He has about 100 mares now, and he has been one of the most popular programs we’ve done. With Temple City, we offered a lifetime breeding right to breeders for breeding a single mare and paying the stud fee. With him, our first priority was getting mares to the horse. There are a lot of breeding theories out there, but no stallion can get a stakes winner from a mare he hasn’t bred.”
The desire to get solid representation to the stallion was allied with the family dynamics. Temple City’s sire Dynaformer started his stud career at $3,500, and his dam is a half-sister to Malibu Moon, who entered stud in Maryland at $3,000.
“With the Spendthrift stallions, the number of breeding rights varies,” Toffey said, “and we started Temple City with 60. But it was so popular that we added more, and many of the mares coming to him are breeding right mares.”
In the economic turmoil of the breeding business, Toffey believes that “breeders are more discerning in what they buy, and they have to be. You have to offer breeders value now, or it isn’t worth their while. And as with most endeavors, ownership of a breeding right encourages people to contribute to the horse’s success. All of that dovetails with Mr. Hughes’s feeling that if we don’t take care of the breeders, we’re lost.”
One of the reasons that Spendthrift can create these programs is that they “own most of the stallions outright,” Toffey said.
They are therefore sharing the wealth, in a sense, by giving breeders a stake in their own success. If programs such as this succeed, they are sure to alter the way stallion operations do business: breeding, racing, selling or buying, and standing stallions.