Thoroughbred Market Correction
Sales are way down at Keeneland so far this fall. The yearling sale was way off last year’s numbers and currently the breeding stock sale numbers are way down too. The Louisville Courier-Journal says:
“The $26.3 million in gross sales represented a fall of 45.2 percent from last year’s opening session….”
Is this a bad thing?
For some time now the thoroughbred market, almost exactly like the housing industry, has been enjoying –some would say– inflated sales figures with some of the top sales figures topping $10 million. For an unproven yearling! But the current economy has come calling and left hundreds if not thousands of unsold horses, many of their owners no longer able to recoup the money invested in just their breeding fee alone. In other words, recovering the stallion cover fee isn’t happening in the sales pavilion.
So what’s this ‘correction’ doing to the thoroughbred market? In some cases buyers are getting bargains as sellers seek to recoup at least some of their money. In other cases sellers will hang on to the ones with better pedigrees or potential and train them themselves. But this is all at the upper end of things. At the lower end, where breeders, sellers and farm operators barely hang on during the good times it’s not such a pretty picture for their horses. These are the horses that bring in the least amount at the sales. These are the horses we will see being abandoned in fields or given away to anyone who will take them, including those who use horses for inhumane purpose and there are plenty of those. This new population of unsold race horses will sooner rather than later enter the inhumane avenues of disposal that is the unfortunate fate of all unwanted horses. The lucky ones will go to slaughter.
As early as last February in the rural areas near and around metropolitan Chicago the Tribune reported instances of increased equine neglect as horse owners struggled to keep up with their financial obligations often choosing other payments over upkeep of their horses.
That’s in the short run. In the long run maybe fewer people will participate in the “sport of kings” and seek their fortune elsewhere. Perhaps this is a good thing. Let’s hope they’re not interested in dogs.