Letter from the President - October
Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday that we were packing for Saratoga and now in about three weeks we'll be in Los Angeles at the Breeders' Cup. It looks as if we will have two runners this year, Awesome Gem and Tropic Storm. Both ran huge prep races in September. Now we have to decide which race to run each of them in. Currently, we are leaning toward the Classic with Awesome Gem and the new Turf Sprint with Tropic Storm.
While our continued success on the track has buoyed everyone's spirits, the overall picture in both our country and subsequently racing is not overwhelmingly rosy. The continued downturn in the sales market is distressing. Certainly, part of the decline can be attributed to the larger economic instability as a whole, but there is a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed. We are breeding too many horses and the market is punishing us. The ramifications to our sport are enormous, and we need to fix this problem before it gets too late.
Currently, the annual foal crop is nearly 40,000 horses per year. That number should be reduced by at least 10,000. How do we accomplish this? I call on breeders. Those with mares that never succeeded as a racehorse and haven't produced runners in their first few crops should take their mares out of the breeding pool. They will do the industry, the resulting foal and themselves a favor. A reduction in crop size will improve the soundness of the breed and the health of the sport.
The pendulum at the sales has begun to swing toward the end user, the owner. The buyers spoke loud and clear. With the same number of horses catalogued, gross receipts were down over $57 million or nearly 15 percent at the Keeneland September sale. It's not a good sale when the buyer has to pay through the nose for good quality stock. I cannot completely blame the breeders. We, the buyers, have to stop bidding on horses whose pedigree pages are blank and whose soundness is questionable. If these horses aren't purchased, then the breeders will be forced to change the product they deliver.
I realize that a challenge like this can be painful. However, leaders do not sit on the sidelines. They take a stand when they see something amiss and change is necessary. Albert Einstein said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." We cannot keep doing business the same way and expect to see the health of our sport improve.
There are significant issues to resolve, but I am up to the challenge. At West Point Thoroughbreds, we're in the racing industry for the long haul. Our track record speaks for itself as we've actively participated in this sport for close to 20 years. In the end it's a lot like being at the beach. The tide will come in, and the tide will go out. Not everyone is prepared for the changing conditions. However, those parties that are entrenched on the beach stay put and survive the turbulent conditions. That is who we are, and I cannot be more optimistic about our future knowing the strength and determination of my team and our Partners.
Until next month...