Bloodlines: Changing Times For Infertility Insurance On Regional Sires

by | 07.03.2018 | 8:57am

Stallion farms based outside of Kentucky will no longer easily be able to purchase first-year infertility insurance on stallion prospects that are “lesser-priced horses,” according to well-placed sources with connections to the insurance agencies and stallion operations.

Although not something that’s obvious to the general public, insurance against infertility is one of the nearly invisible layers of business that allows the great bloodstock machine to work smoothly year after year by protecting the investment and confidence of stallion operations and their syndicate members.

First-year infertility insurance is a policy written to protect a farm or buyer “in case you’ve syndicated a horse for major money that somehow has a congenital problem,” said Lynn Jones of Equus / Standarbred Station insurance. “These policies are written so that if a stallion isn’t able to get 60 percent of his mares in foal, then the farm or syndicate isn’t left holding the bag.”

Instead, by going through an insurance agent and underwriter, stallion buyers spread the risk of loss from that inevitability: the subfertile or infertile stallion. To arrange for a policy, Jones said, “You want a qualified vet to do the initial examination. They will measure the testicles, run a blood test, and the result is a huge protection device. But you can’t collect him or have a semen evaluation. Everyone goes in blindfolded, so to speak. It’s so commonplace that it’s now a built-in cost of the acquisition.”

The principal underwriters of insurance policies for horses, whether for accidental death (AD&D) or first-year infertility, are Lloyd’s of London, Great American, and NAS Swiss Re. These are giant international risk underwriters that back the insurance policies that local and national agents sell to farms or individuals.

One agent in Central Kentucky who preferred not to be named said that “Horse insurance, as a percentage of their equity underwriting, doesn’t amount to a rounding error to these major underwriters. But they perceive an elevated risk in regional markets relative to Kentucky and are being more selective.”

None of the selectivity applies to stallion operations in Kentucky because “we can be a little bit spoiled by the horse market and general environment here in the Bluegrass,” one agent said. “This is the epicenter of the stallion market. In regional markets, you can find variation in horsemanship – both in stallion and mare management, as well as in the availability of world-class veterinary facilities and specialists.”

As a result of this change of availability for first-year stallion fertility insurance, some regional breeders will have to make hard decisions about adding stallions to their rosters.

One regional breeder already has collided with this unexpected situation. He said, “Late last year, I bought a stallion prospect off the racetrack, called my Kentucky agent to get a quote for infertility insurance, and was told – eventually – that they had found an underwriter to cover it, but the rate was more than double what I would have paid the previous year.”

A well-known Kentucky agent said “it is likely to be more difficult for farms to insure stallions in the regional programs, but we can still get deals done. They might be more expensive, however, but if underwriters get a run of several years that do not generate claims, then they might change their views.”

One option for farms is to self insure, which essentially means to play the odds that your horse will have normal fertility. And Mark Toothaker of Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky said, “Spendthrift doesn’t insure any of its stallions against fertility loss. We don’t have a single horse on the farm insured. So far, we haven’t had a loss.”

And, despite the reluctance among some underwriters, there will be other underwriters available to service those who want to insure for first-year infertility, according to Jones.

He said, “We’ve been doing this since 1980, and, no matter the individual situation, there are underwriters you’ve been working with will take the time to write a policy for that animal.”

The policy just may cost something more.

This is one more dampening effect on the overall stallion market, which is none too robust outside the Bluegrass. Now, it has one more inefficiency to deal with.

Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank’s lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.

The Jockey Club Releases 2017 Report of Mares Bred Statistics

The Jockey Club has released Report of Mares Bred (RMB) statistics for the 2017 breeding season. Based on RMBs received through October 17, 2017, The Jockey Club reports that 1,342 stallions covered 31,863 mares in North America during 2017.

Based upon historical reporting trends, The Jockey Club estimates an additional 2,000 to 3,000 mares will be reported as bred during the 2017 breeding season.

The number of stallions declined 5.7% from the 1,423 reported at this time in 2016, and the number of mares bred decreased 5.6% from the 33,746 reported last year. The number of stallions covering 125 or more mares decreased from 64 in 2016 to 60 in 2017.

Further book size analysis shows a 3.3% decrease in the number of mares bred to stallions with a book size of 125 or more in 2017 when compared to 2016 as reported at this time last year; a 13.0% decrease in mares bred to stallions with a book size between 100 and 124; a 27.4% decrease in mares bred to stallions with a book size between 75 and 99; a 11.5% decrease in mares bred to stallions with a book size between 50 and 74; a 14.9% increase in mares bred to stallions with a book size between 25 and 49; and a 4.7% decrease in mares bred to stallions with a book size fewer than 25.

When comparing statistics based on reports received through the same day (October 17) from previous breeding seasons, the percentage of broodmares covered by large book size (125 or more) stallions increased from 19.3% in 2013 to approximately 29% in 2015 where it has remained over the past three seasons.

The proportion of stallions with book sizes of 125 or more mares grew from 2.6% in 2013 to 4.5% in 2015. It has remained constant at that rate over the past three breeding seasons.







% stallions with book size >125






% mares covered by stallions with book size >125






Note: Statistics summarized as of October 17 of the breeding seasons indicated in the columns above; as reports of mares bred continue to be received, final statistics are subject to change.

RMB statistics for all reported stallions in 2017 are available through the Fact Book section of The Jockey Club’s website at

The stallion Into Mischief led all stallions with 235 mares bred in 2017. Rounding out the top five by number of RMBs were Dialed In, 231; American Pharoah, 214; Uncle Mo, 204; and, Bodemeister, 192.

Kentucky traditionally leads North America in Thoroughbred breeding activity. During 2017, Kentucky’s 229 reported stallions covered 17,275 mares, or 54.2% of all of the mares reported bred in North America. The number of mares bred to Kentucky stallions decreased 2.7% percent compared with the 17,750 reported at this time last year.

Of the top 10 states and provinces by number of mares reported bred in 2017, Ontario, Pennsylvania and Indiana stallions covered more mares in 2017 than in 2016, as reported at this time last year. The following table shows the top 10 states and provinces ranked by number of mares reported bred in 2017:


2016 Stallions

2017 Stallions

Pct. Change

2016 Mares Bred

2017 Mares Bred

Pct. Change






















New York




























New Mexico





















Note: Each incident in which a mare was bred to more than one stallion and appeared on multiple RMBs is counted separately. As such, mares bred totals listed in the table above may differ slightly from counts of distinct mares bred.

In addition, Report of Mares Bred information on stallions that bred mares in North America is available through report 36P or a subscription service at

The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club, directly or through subsidiaries, provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives, and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms. It is the sole funding source for America’s Best Racing, the broad-based fan development initiative for Thoroughbred racing. You can follow America’s Best Racing at Additional information is available at

The Jockey Club 2017 Fact Book Available on Website

The Jockey Club announced on Tuesday, March 7,  that the 2017 edition of the Fact Book is available in the Resources section of its website at

The online Fact Book is a statistical and informational guide to Thoroughbred breeding, racing and auction sales in North America. It also features a directory of state, national and international organizations.

Three pages in this year’s racing section have been updated to include Puerto Rico: Racing Statistics by Foaling Area, Size of Field and Starts per Horse, and 2-Year-Old Racing.

Links to the Breeding Statistics report that is released by The Jockey Club each September and the Report of Mares Bred information that is published by The Jockey Club each October can be found in the Breeding section of the Fact Book.

The 2017 editions of State Fact Books, which feature detailed breeding, racing and auction sales information specific to numerous states, Canadian provinces, and Puerto Rico, are also available on The Jockey Club website. The State Fact Books are updated monthly.

The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club, directly or through subsidiaries, provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives, and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms. It is the sole funding source for America’s Best Racing, the broad-based fan development initiative for Thoroughbred racing. You can follow America’s Best Racing at Additional information is available at

Louisiana Stallion Clever Cry Deceased

Donna Brown photo.

Louisiana stallion Clever Cry passed away at Brown’s Thoroughbred Farm, Wednesday, March 1 after struggling recently with health issues. A 2006 son of Street Cry out of the stakes winning Clever Trick mare Cherlindrea, Clever Cry has four crops of racing age. From only fourteen starters to date, Clever Cry is the sire of 9 winners including stakes winner Artist Cry.

Danny and Donna Brown owned Clever Cry and stood him at their farm in Bush, Louisiana. Donna said of the stallion, “Anybody that bred to him [Clever Cry] would say he was the kindest stud you have ever met in your life. He was a kind, kind, kind stallion.”

February is for Foal Sharing

February is for Foal Sharing
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

If you’re a breeder on a budget, a foal-share deal can lower both your front-end costs and your risk compared to the standard “live foal” contract. Front-end costs are lower because you pay nothing until the sale (typically at auction) of the foal produced from the arrangement. Downside risk and upside return are moderated, because the payment for stallion services is proportional (typically at 50%) to the sale price.

February is often a good time to approach stallion managers with foal-share propositions. The breeding season is gearing up, and if a stallion’s book is not full, his stallion manager is looking for ways to attract more mares. Foal-share deals are a time-honored approach to generating incremental revenues.

Finding foal-share seasons involves the same screening procedures that you go through when looking for live-foal or no-guarantee deals, but one part of the search process is turned on its head. Normally breeders are looking for “bargain” stallions that are underpriced relative to their prospects, but your chances of finding a foal share deal increase with the degree to which a stallion is overpriced. Managers of overpriced stallions are more likely to be amenable to foal-share deals to increase a stallion’s book, because they haven’t been able to sell sufficient seasons at the advertised price.

Identifying “overpriced” stallions is part art and part science. Though in today’s highly competitive market for mares, “deals” of all kinds are more plentiful than they were prior to the great recession. Stallions that are less likely to be candidates for foal-share deals include top-class, first-year stallions and stallions high on the leading sire lists. In contrast, third- and fourth-year stallions and stallions that are having atypically quiet years are prime candidates for foal shares.

Though third- and fourth-year stallions are especially risky propositions, the right choice can pay for mistakes. Breeders who signed on for fourth-year Storm Cat, Unbridled, Tapit  , or Super Saver   deals can attest to that. Finance professionals who look for “turnaround” candidates will appreciate quiet stallions. Moreover, a quiet stallion that has produced top-class runners is less likely to suffer from technological obsolescence than a corporation.

Most farms have a standard foal-share deal with respect to shared expenses, often splitting sale expenses and registrations. The most frequent 50-50 split means that foal-share breeders need to breed to a better stallion than what they would breed to if paying the stud fee. If you have an outstanding mare, you might expect that you can negotiate a better split, and occasionally you can, but more likely you will need to shop for a stallion that justifies giving up half the sales proceeds.

There are a variety of ways to start the screening process for foal-share prospects. For proven stallions, I work down from the top of my stallion list (see, arrayed by adjusted percentage of graded stakes winners, looking for likeable stallions that I consider overpriced. The most recent Jockey Club breeding statistics are also helpful. If a quality stallion bred less than 100 mares, his handlers may be looking for help.

Charismatic Dies

Charismatic | Shigeki Yusa


Charismatic (Summer Squall–Bali Babe, by Drone), winner of the 1999 GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S., died Sunday at Old Friends Thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown, Kentucky. The cause of death is not known. The 21-year-old stallion had been repatriated to the U.S. after standing much of his stud career at JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station in Japan. He arrived at Old Friends in early December.

“Right now, everyone is pretty much inconsolable,” said Old Friends president Michael Blowen. “Last night, at 6:30, he was fine. He was a really tough horse and he deserved a much longer retirement. But none of us, unfortunately, has a magic wand. Everyone at Old Friends takes solace from the few great months that this great champion gave us.”

Bred by Parrish Hill Farm and W. S. Farish, Charismatic was campaigned by Bob and Beverly Lewis and trained by D. Wayne Lukas. He graduated from the claiming ranks to capture the Derby as a 31-1 outsider and added the Preakness two weeks later. Favored to complete the Triple Crown sweep, the handsome chestnut suffered career-ending injuries just before the wire in the GI Belmont S. In an enduring image, jockey Chris Antley quickly dismounted and held Charismatic’s injured left front leg off the ground, preventing further damage and likely saving the colt’s life.

Charismatic was named champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year in 1999. On the board in 11 of 17 starts, he won five times and earned $2,038,064.

Charismatic began his stud career at Lane’s End in 2000 and stood there for three seasons before relocating to Japan in 2002. He is the sire of 2005 GII Pennsylvania Derby winner Sun King and multiple graded stakes winner Gouldings Green, as well as Japanese group winner Wonder Acute (Jpn).

Former NFL QB Jake Delhomme passionate for horse racing. Has two horses running Louisiana Champions Day

That Jake Delhomme’s stable, Set-Hut, has two horses running on Louisiana Champions Day certainly was not lost on others.

Champions Day is a celebration of Louisiana-bred horse racing, of which Delhomme is a staunch advocate. Delhomme, a former backup quarterback with the Saints for six seasons, is involved in horse racing as an owner and on at least two levels concerning breeding, and he also has his hands in training.

His filly, Forest Lake, is the No. 5 horse in the Champions Day Ladies race, one of nine with a $100,000 purse, not including the $150,000 Classic. Another Set-Hut filly, P Boo — which is owned by Delhomme’s father, Jerry — will run in the Lassie.

“The most important thing about Jake is he’s really focused on the Louisiana-bred program,” said Fair Grounds senior director of racing Jason Boulet, who grew up less than a mile from Delhomme in Breaux Bridge. “I’m very happy for him and proud that his horses are running on Champions Day because he’s bred nice horses and bought nice Louisiana breds. So, it’s only right he gets to shine on one of those days, because he really deserves it.”

Delhomme also has been involved in the buying and selling of young horses in Kentucky. However, his horses are bred in Louisiana and run exclusively here. It’s part of his hands-on approach that touches nearly every aspect, he said.

“I just love being at the barn every single day, dealing with the horses,” he said. “It’s great when you have success as an owner, but there’s just something about being there in the morning with them, and when we’re running them to travel with them and be in the backstretch with them.

“We do it all, which for me is the most rewarding thing in the world.”

That is a big part of why Delhomme is excited about Forest Lake. The filly, now 4, was born behind Delhomme’s house. He said their operation trains only about six horses at a time.

He said Forest Lake, which may turn out to be the best horse he’s had, may have a chance in the Ladies. She finished second in the Si Cima Overnight Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Nov. 20, a race won by Seaside Candy, tained by Al Stall. Forest Lake has 4-1 odds in a race that also has Seaside Candy (5-2), Big World, the 2-1 favorite trained by Tom Amoss, and Pacific Pink (3-1).

“It would be fantastic to win (the Ladies),” he said. “(Forest Lake) had given good account of herself every time she runs, for the most part. She’s going to need to bring out her best race Saturday. It’s a tough one.”

Delhomme said he really enjoys breeding because he’s a big believer in numbers, statistics and probabilities. This year, he was selected by the national Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association as its Breeder of the Year in Louisiana.

He he has worked diligently through the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association in an effort to help the state’s horse-breeding industry stay competitive, he said, mainly with New York, Florida and California, after the gold standard, Kentucky.

“We’re in challenging times right now, certainly with the economy, the way it has been and in particular with the oil field,” said Delhomme, who is on the LTBA board of directors and is past president of the organization and a current vice president. “The biggest thing for us as the breeders’ organization is that the foal numbers have dwindled down in our state. We were able to combine two sales companies and have one unified sale, and that looked to be a success.”

Stall said Delhomme has been invaluable for the state’s equine industry, starting with investing his money and time.

“The main thing is, he’s got passion for it,” Stall said. “If you love what you’re doing, you have a tendency to do right things.

“Jake definitely loves horse raising and loves Louisiana breds, and he’s a good ambassador for us.”

Delhomme is a third-generation horseman whose grandfather, Sanders Delhomme, is a legend in Acadiana bush-track and match racing. For him, much of growing up was going to school, playing sports and shoveling manure out of the barns, he said, chuckling.

So after the end of a 15-year NFL career in which he took Carolina to its first Super Bowl after the 2003 season, his first with the team, Delhomme knew what he wanted to do.

“My wife and I are both from Lafayette (area),” he said, “so, there was the lure of family. And, there’s no horse racing in Charlotte, North Carolina. I enjoy working with my brother (trainer Jeff) and dad.”

Delhomme played six years with the Saints — three under coach Mike Ditka and three under Jim Haslett.

“I enjoyed some good times,” he said. “The first time the Saints ever won the division, the first playoff win ever.

“Then, I went to Carolina (in the same division), and I had to hate everything about the Saints, along with Atlanta and Tampa Bay. It was my job.”

2017 Louisiana Horse Stallion Register and Hypomating Online

The 2017 Louisiana Horse Stallion Register is now published on the LTBA website.  Statistical pages for forty nine advertised stallions are available. The Louisiana Horse Stallion Register consists mostly of stallion statistical pages. Statistics include a stallion’s race record, his record at stud, detailed pedigree statistics, dosage profile, stud fee and stallion location. All statistics are compiled by the Jockey Club. Many of the stallions include a photo page in addition to the statistical page. The printed edition of the book will be mailed next week. Copies of the printed edition will also be available at the LTBA office by December 9th.

Click here to see the 2017 Louisiana Horse Stallion Register Page.

The Hypomating page is up to date with the 2017 stallions as well.

Click here to go to the 2017 Louisiana Hypomating Page.