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By The Numbers

How is the Quarter Horse racing industry fairing?

March 23, 2012

Generic Racing Photo

By just about any statistical measure, the health of the American Quarter Horse racing industry is strong, especially when examined against the backdrop of a struggling economy and significant declines in the Thoroughbred racing world. But the one area in which Quarter Horse racing has experienced a major drop is foal crop production, and now the industry must prepare for what that might mean in the future.

During the period of economic turmoil from 2008 and 2011, when North American Thoroughbred racing experienced a decline of 21.3 percent in handle and a drop of 9.1 percent in purses, Quarter Horses actually saw an increase in purse money of 3 percent, with a decline in handle of 9.5 percent.

Quarter Horse racing’s three major yearling auctions – Heritage Place, Los Alamitos Equine and Ruidoso Select – all reported significant increases in average price from 2010 to 2011 and overall combined to nearly return to the average price from 2008. That seems to indicate demand for race prospects is robust, especially at the upper end of the market.

While those figures all point to a bullish future for racing, one number will present a potential challenge – from 2005 to 2011, the projected race-bred foal crop declined by 50 percent.

“It is definitely a concern,” said Dan Fick, the director of racing and racing secretary at Remington Park, who formerly served as executive vice president and executive director of The Jockey Club and as executive director of racing for AQHA. “It was a concern when I was at the Jockey Club. But prior to the foal crops going down, we had the concern of overproduction, which at some juncture was going to drive the prices down for both breeds. We were getting too much quantity.”

In “By the Numbers: On The Horizon,” an article in the April Q-Racing Journal, AQHA Treasurer and Director of Operations Trent Taylor analyzes AQHA statistics and makes his forecast for race-bred foal registrations in 2012.

Fick, along with other racing experts around the country, weigh in on important considerations, including:

• Besides the national economy, what is causing change in foal crop numbers?
• How are lower starter numbers affect races around the country?
• How is racing filling the need for runners?
• Everyone wants races with full fields, but what is the best way to achieve that?
• Are racing foals becoming even more valuable?

Has the breeding decline hit the bottom? Look for this full article in the upcoming April issue of Q-Racing Journal at www.aqharacing.com.