Almost Half of CLN Races Won by KY Breds

The view from the Keeneland auction box. (Keeneland photo)

There has been some internet chatter about the number of KY-breds winning at Colonial Downs – over 60 (out of 123 races) individual races were won by horses bred in that other Commonwealth. That comes to almost 50%. 

Don’t panic, there is a rational explanation that is logical and backed up by the recent Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The world famous Thoroughbred auction catalog proves its validity – it’s a statistical anomaly created by the simple fact that so many Thoroughbreds in the total population are bred in Kentucky.

In the most recent Keeneland sales’ catalog, 3,946 out of the 4,648 yearlings cataloged are KY bred, and that is 84.85% of the total number entered in the sale.  No other state, country or region are even close.  After Kentucky, the list of states and regions that are in double digits are Florida 90, Ontario 85, New York 75. Maryland 35, Virginia 26, Louisiana 25, California 20, Pennsylvania 20, Ohio 19, Iowa 18, Indiana 13, Ireland 13. West Virginia 12 and Texas 11.

First of all, good for the “other” Commonwealth (Virginia) producing 26 cataloged yearlings after a 6-year hiatus from live racing. In 2009, there were 85 VA breds cataloged in the Keeneland September Sale and that included the ones bred by Edward P. Evans who died December 31, 2010. There were 25 VA breds cataloged in the first two books of the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. So, after so much time, producing 26 VA breds for any major sale seems like a strong number and speaks to the determination of the Old Dominion’s Thoroughbred breeders as a group. 

Hip #75 in the first session of the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. (Keeneland photo)

It is interesting that the growth of casino-type gambling has changed the geography. States that used to produce many foals and yearlings for auction are not as productive as a percentage of the total population as they once were. For example, years ago the Illinois bred program was heavily promoted, but in 2019 there are only 2 Illinois breds cataloged in the Keeneland September sale. Conversely, 20 or 30 years ago, one never saw an Iowa (13) or Indiana bred (18), and this year there are 31 entered in the sale between the two states. This change was driven by legalized riverboat gambling in both states.

Ohio (19 Keeneland yearlings), has proven to be too stubborn politically to adopt anything as socially demoralizing as legal alternative gambling, and has long been a stalwart of racing and breeding. That said, Ohio’s breeding industry has also been negatively impacted by legal alternative gaming in neighboring states.

So, Kentucky should lighten up since it only has a 3,800 plus lead over current runner-up Florida. If this was little league baseball, they’d evoke the slaughter rule.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause. Well done, you. Keep it up. Certainly, the worst is behind you now.

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