Bull Market for Yearlings in 2017

Now that Keeneland’s marathon September yearling sale is complete, a clear trend has emerged showing greater demand in a smaller marketplace when compared with the same period a year ago.

With 2,555 horses sold during the 12-day Keeneland auction for a total of $307,845,400, the average price of $120,487 and $57,000 median were both records for the world’s largest yearling sale. The gross, average, and median prices represented gains of 12.8%, 23.2%, and 42.5%, respectively, over 2016 levels.

Yearling-only auctions and mixed sales through Sept. 25, 2017, have offered 6,747 yearlings, of which 4,890 sold for gross receipts of $425.9 million, according to data compiled by BloodHorse MarketWatch. The gross represents a 10.2% gain over the $386.5 million paid for 5,586 from 7,906 offered through the first nine months of 2016 at comparable auctions.

The number offered at the 23 sales where yearlings changed hands so far this year has declined by 14.6% and the total sold is down 12.4%.

Fasig-Tipton’s boutique Saratoga selected yearling sale produced the second-highest gross and highest average and median prices, with all three increasing by double-digit percentages this year. Fasig-Tipton reported 156 yearlings sold from 194 through the ring, with gross receipts of $52.995 million, 16.3% over the $45.570 million total paid for 156 of the 203 offered a year ago. The Saratoga sale average also increased 16.3% to $339,712 from $292,115 in 2016, and the median price of $300,000 was 26.3% higher than the previous year’s median of $237,500.

The accompanying table shows the top five equine auctions this year ranked by gross receipts and comparisons with 2016.

Besides the overall gains in cumulative gross, average, and median prices for all yearlings sold to date, there has been a significant improvement in the number sold at the top and upper-middle parts of the market.

Sixteen yearlings were sold for seven figures this year, compared with 11 through the first nine months of 2016. A total of 151 yearlings attracted final bids of $500,000 or more compared with 116 yearlings sold at that level at the same point a year ago. Within the upper-middle market price range of $175,000-$249,999, there were 252 yearlings sold this year, compared with 243 in 2016.

Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, 2,927 yearlings sold below $50,000 in 2017, compared with 3,698 in 2016.

Three major sales companies have yearling sales scheduled for next month, beginning with the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale Oct. 2-3. That will be followed by Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s Oct. 10-12 selected and open yearling sale, Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall sale Oct. 16,  the Barretts fall yearling and horses of all ages sale Oct. 17, and the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale from Oct. 23-26.

Horseracing Wins As Treasury/IRS Issue Updated Tax Rules

The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today announced that they will formally adopt modernized regulations regarding the withholding and reporting of pari-mutuel proceeds. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) has long pressed for these updated regulations that will allow horseplayers to keep more of their winnings, thereby increasing the amount wagered on U.S. pari-mutuel racing by as much as 10 percent annually, or upwards of $1 billion, according to independent estimates. The new rules were posted late Monday afternoon as a Public Inspection Document. They are scheduled to be officially published in Wednesday’s edition of the Federal Register and will go into full effect by no later than Nov. 14, giving racing associations, totalisator companies, and advance deposit wagering (ADW) operators up to 45 days to implement these important changes; however, some may elect to start as soon as Thursday.

“These landmark U.S. Treasury regulations will have an enormously positive impact on horseplayers, the racing industry, and the federal government,” said NTRA President & CEO Alex Waldrop. “I am extremely proud of the NTRA’s legislative team for spearheading this effort, which will prove to be among the most meaningful regulatory advances made by our industry in decades. The results of this much-needed measure will be horseplayers keeping more of their winnings, racetracks generating more pari-mutuel handle, and government collecting additional tax revenue. This is a sure bet where everyone wins!”

Added Waldrop: “This day would never have come without the persistence of Thoroughbred racing’s friends in Congress, especially Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Rep. Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and our many bipartisan supporters on Capitol Hill. We also are indebted to the industry stakeholders and thousands of customers of Thoroughbred racing who signed our petition or submitted public comments in favor of these changes.”

Under the new regulations, the IRS will consider the inclusion of a bettor’s entire investment in a single pari-mutuel pool when determining the amount reported or withheld for tax purposes, as opposed to only the amount wagered on the correct result.

For example, the amount wagered by a Pick Six player who hits with one of 140 combinations on a $1-minimum wager now will be $140, which is the total amount bet into the Pick Six pool. This more accurate calculation will remove the significant reporting and withholding obligations on horseplayers and the unnecessary paperwork for the IRS that was a result of the prior rule that used only the $1 bet on the single winning combination as the amount wagered.

“This is a major victory for all pari-mutuel wagering customers,” said Judy Wagner, the Horseplayers’ Representative on the NTRA Board of Directors and winner of the 2001 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC). “It would not have occurred without the leadership of the NTRA and the support of thousands of horseplayers who actively participated in the process to modernize these regulations.”

The amended regulations, advocated by the NTRA and its legislative team, define the “amount of the wager” to include the entire amount wagered into a specific pari-mutuel pool by an individual – not just the winning base unit as is the case today – so long as all wagers made into a specific pool by an individual are made on a single totalisator ticket if the wager is placed onsite. The modernized regulations will have the same positive results for ADW customers and will not impact how those wagers are currently made.

View the full text of the new rule under section 3402(q) of the Internal Revenue Code here:

The NTRA has pushed for the modernization of pari-mutuel withholding and reporting rules for several years. As more and more pari-mutuel wagering was directed toward exotic wagering pools it become clear that the tax rules were becoming an increasing and unfair burden on horseplayers as those outdated rules significantly increased the incidence of winning tickets subject to withholding and reporting. These new rules are the product of all the work the NTRA, and other industry stakeholders, undertook with Congressional representatives and Treasury and IRS officials.

“This represents a great triumph by the entire NTRA legislative team, including the bipartisan Horse PAC, which played an instrumental role in the passage of these regulations that will benefit all segments of the industry,” said Horse PAC chairman William S. (Bill) Farish. “We thank the hundreds of individual stakeholders who contribute to Horse PAC; they played a major role in today’s victory.”

Waldrop noted that the NTRA has been working behind the scenes since January with industry groups – including totalisator companies, ADWs, and racing organizations – to ensure a smooth implementation for customers.

“For the industry to fully realize the benefits of modernized regulations for pari-mutuel withholding and reporting it is essential that we deliver a seamless transition to our customers,” he said. “We are optimistic that the industry will be fully prepared to institute these landmark changes by no later than November 14.”

About the NTRA
The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky., is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance;; the Eclipse Awards; the National Handicapping Championship; NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program; and Horse PAC®, a federal political action committee. NTRA press releases appear on, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (


Bossier City, LA – The final two stakes of the Thoroughbred racing season at Louisiana Downs, the $75,000 Elge Rasberry and the $75,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin, were run on Saturday, September 23. Both stakes were written for 3-year-old graduates of the Louisiana-bred Sale and were run at the distance of one mile on the Franks Turf Course.

Big Game Baby Edges Out Bermuda Star in the $75,000 Elge Rasberry

Big Game Baby
Big Game Baby with Gerardo Mora aboard wins the 23rd running of Elge Rasberry at Louisiana Downs. Hodges Photography / Samuel Switalski


Elge Rasberry Stakes
Louisiana Downs, 9-23-17, 1 mile (turf)
3YO Louisiana Bred Sales Graduate Fillies, Purse $75,000

Gold Tribute – Hot Talent
Breeder: Ronald P. Webb
Owner: Eat My Dust LLC
Trainer: Joseph M. Foster
Jockey: Gerardo Mora

Bermuda Star
Star Guitar–Bermuda Bride
Breeder: Tom Curtis & Wayne Simpson
Owner: Brittlyn Stable, Inc.
Trainer: Victor Arceneaux
Jockey: Diego Saenz

Our Sweet Sydni
Into Mischief–Our Dalila
Breeder: Brett A. Brinkman
Owner: Ironheart Farms
Trainer: Brett A. Brinkman
Jockey: Gerard Melancon


The 23rd running of the $75,000 Elge Rasberry drew a field of 12 fillies.  Big Game Baby, a daughter of Gold Tribute, owned by Eat My Dust LLC, made her third trip to the winner’s circle and her first stakes win, closing gamely under leading rider Gerardo Mora.

 The early pace was set by Swifty Cat and jockey Emanuel Nieves, who covered the first quarter-mile in :25.25 and the half-mile in :49.79. Both Big Game Baby and heavy favorite Bermuda Star began to quicken strides as they rounded the final turn.  Jockey Diego Saenz aboard Bermuda Star, lodged a claim of foul against Mora as they bumped nearing the wire, but the stewards took no action. Big Game Baby covered one-mile in 1.38.02 over a firm turf course.

This was just the second turf start for runner-up Bermuda Star, owned by Brittlyn Stable, Inc and trained by Victor Arceneaux., The filly by Star Guitar had won three starts this year, including the Equine Sales Oaks on May 5 at Evangeline Downs.  Our Sweet Syndi ridden by Gerard Melancon ran third and Swifty Cat completed the superfecta.

Bred by Ronald P. Webb, Big Game Baby is trained by Joey Foster, who is the top conditioner this season at the Bossier City racetrack.  She has made five starts this meet, running fifth in the Opelousas Stakes on August 5. Sent off at odds of 6-1, the gray filly returned $14.00 for the win and earned $45,000 for the Elge Rasberry victory.


Jack Snipe’s Pulls the Upset in the $75,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin

Jack Snipe's
Jack Snipe’s with Jansen Melancon aboard wins the 23rd running of the A.L. (Red) Erwin Stakes at Louisiana Downs. Hodges Photography / Ann Switalski


A.L. (Red) Erwin
Louisiana Downs, 9-23-17, 1 mile (turf)
3YO Louisiana Bred Sales Graduates, Purse $75,000

Half Ours–Rhodelia
Breeder: Clear Creek Stud Llc
Owner: Jeff Drown and Gary Scherer
Trainer: Gary M. Scherer
Jockey:  Jansen Melancon

Fee Do
Forefathers–Snake Proof
Breeder: Leonard Warf
Owner: Keith Plaisance
Trainer: Edward J. Johnston
Jockey: Emanuel Nieves

Culp’s Hill
Eddington–Pussy Footin
Breeder: Southern Legacy Thoroughbreds, LLC
Owner: Southern Legacy Thoroughbreds, LLC
Trainer: Joseph M. Foster
Jockey: Timothy Thornton

Jack Snipe’s made the most of his turf stakes debut, defeating a field of 10 colts and geldings in the second feature of the afternoon, the $75,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin.

Owned by Jeff Drown and Gary Scherer, the son of Half Ours won the six-furlong Louisiana Futurity last December at Fair Grounds. He entered today’s stakes off a tenth-place finish in the Mystic Lake Derby over a yielding turf course at Canterbury Park on August 17.  Whether the firm turf or pace scenario made the difference, he rallied in the final stages of the race at odds of 13-1. Jockey Jansen Melancon picked up the mount from Denny Velazquez and delivered a well-timed ride in a final time of 1.35.75.


The early fractions of :23.84 and :47.05 were set by Southern Legacy Thoroughbreds LLC’s


homebred Culp’s Hill under jockey Tim Thornton. Trained by Foster, the son of Eddington was

​ ​

looking for his fourth victory of the meet. He held for third-place as Fee Do edged him for the

place. Owned by Keith Plaisance, Fee Do, a gelded son of Forefathers made his stakes debut with

​ ​

jockey Emanuel Nievesaboard.  Magic Vow, the high-earner in the field saved ground on the

final turn to finish fourth.

This was the first win in four starts this year for Jack Snipe’s, who is trained by Scherer. He rewarded his supporters with a win payout of $29.80.

The Jockey Club Releases 2016 Breeding Statistics

The Jockey Club Releases 2016 Breeding Statistics
The Jockey Club reported, September 21, that 1,863 stallions covered 36,045 mares in North America during 2016, according to statistics compiled through Sept. 13, 2017. These breedings have resulted in 21,624 live foals of 2017 being reported to The Jockey Club on Live Foal Reports.

The Jockey Club estimates that the number of live foals reported so far is approximately 90 percent complete. The reporting of live foals of 2017 is down 1.7 percent from last year at this time when The Jockey Club had received reports for 21,991 live foals of 2016.

In addition to the 21,624 live foals of 2017 reported through Sept. 13, The Jockey Club also received 2,467 No Foal Reports for the 2017 foaling season. Ultimately, the 2017 registered foal crop is projected to reach 22,500.

The number of stallions declined 3.1 percent from the 1,923 reported for 2015 at this time last year, while the number of mares bred declined 2.5 percent from the 36,964 reported for 2015.

The 2016 breeding statistics are available alphabetically by stallion name through the Resources – Fact Book link on The Jockey Club homepage at

“It is important to note that the live foals reported in The Jockey Club breeding statistics are by conception area and do not represent the state in which a foal was born,” said Matt Iuliano, executive vice president and executive director, The Jockey Club. “Breeding statistics also are not a representation of a stallion’s fertility record.”

Kentucky annually leads all states and provinces in terms of Thoroughbred breeding activity. Kentucky-based stallions accounted for 49.7 percent of the mares reported bred in North America in 2016 and 57.3 percent of the live foals reported for 2017.

The 17,912 mares reported bred to 245 Kentucky stallions in 2016 have produced 12,396 live foals, a 1.7 percent increase on the 12,184 Kentucky-sired live foals of 2016 reported at this time last year. The number of mares reported bred to Kentucky stallions in 2016 increased 1.8 percent compared to the 17,598 reported for 2015 at this time last year.

Among the 10 states and provinces with the most mares covered in 2016, only three produced more live foals in 2017 than in 2016 as reported at this time last year: Kentucky, California, and Maryland. The following table shows the 10 states and provinces, ranked by number of state/province-sired live foals of 2017 reported through Sept. 13, 2017.


Mares Bred

Live Foals

Live Foals

Percent Change
in Live Foals
















New York




















New Mexico
















The statistics include 394 progeny of stallions standing in North America but foaled abroad, as reported by foreign stud book authorities at the time of publication.



Live Foals


Live Foals

Saudi Arabia




Republic of Korea




Great Britain














Dominican Republic











The report also includes 92 mares bred to 25 stallions in North America on Southern Hemisphere time; the majority of these mares have not foaled.

As in years past, a report of mares bred will be released in October.

Fair Grounds to Host 57 Stakes Worth $6.69 Million in 146th Thoroughbred Season

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has announced a comprehensive stakes schedule with 57 stakes worth more than $6.69 million for the 146th Thoroughbred racing season at the New Orleans oval. Opening Day is slated for Saturday, Nov. 18 and will include four overnight stakes.

The stakes schedule will mirror several past seasons with a major focus on big event days, including the meet’s centerpiece, Louisiana Derby Day, which will again include eight stakes worth $2.36 million, highlighted by the 105thrunning of the Grade II $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 24. The Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap and the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial will also be run the same day along with four additional undercard stakes.

Leading into the Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds will also host a pair of major stakes days designed as part of The Road to the Kentucky Derby, beginning with Road to the Derby Kickoff Day presented by Hotel Monteleone on Jan. 13. The Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes will be the first race on the Fair Grounds stakes schedule to offer qualifying points for the Grade I Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. The Grade III $125,000 Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap and the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes will complement the afternoon’s action alongside three other undercard stakes.

Five weeks later on Feb. 17, the track will host Louisiana Derby Preview Day presented by Lamarque Ford Lincoln. The day’s highlight will be the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes that will offer qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby and will also include the Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, the Grade III $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap and the Grade III $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap.

Another mainstay on the Fair Grounds Stakes Schedule, Louisiana Champions Day presented by Acadian Ambulance Service, will be held for the 27th time on Dec. 9. The day will feature 11 stakes races across varying divisions restricted to Louisiana-breds worth a total of $1.1 million.

Two new overnight stakes races will be held in honor of local mainstays who passed away in 2017. The $50,000 Richard R. Scherer Memorial Overnight Stakes will be held Dec. 2 for fillies and mares at 5½ furlongs on the turf, and the Nelson J. Menard Memorial Overnight Stakes will be run at the same distance for older fillies and mares on March 10.

The complete 2017-2018 stakes schedule can be found at:


Bossier City, LA –The final two stakes of the Thoroughbred racing season at Louisiana Downs, the $75,000 Elge Rasberry and the $75,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin, will be run on Saturday, September 23. Both stakes are written for 3-year-old graduates of the Louisiana-bred Sale and will be run at the distance of one mile on the Franks Turf Course.


Bermuda Star Leads the Field in the $75,000 Elge Rasberry

The 23rd running of the $75,000 Elge Rasberry drew a field of 12 fillies. Bermuda Star, owned by Brittlyn Stable, Inc., is the 6-5 morning line favorite. Trained by Victor Arceneaux, she has won three of her six starts this year, most notably the Equine Sales Oaks on May 5 at Evangeline Downs. Sired by Star Guitar, the gray filly will be ridden by Diego Saenz, who piloted three stakes winners on Super Derby Day.

“She’s only run once on the turf, but won the race easily,” said Arceneaux. “Diego didn’t even push her.”

Chases Dixie Belle, winner of the 2016 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies for owner Bobby Salome, is also entered. The daughter of My Pal Charlie prepped for this stakes in an allowance on September 11. Trainer Charles Hukill will give a leg up to jockey Aubrie Green.  She will break from post position six as the 4-1 second choice.

Louisiana Downs leading trainer Joey Foster will saddle Big Game Baby, a Gold Tribute filly who has two wins this meet. Owned by Eat My Dust LLC, Big Game Baby ran fifth in the Opelousas Stakes on Louisiana Cup Day. Gerardo Mora, the meet’s top jockey, has the call.

The Elge Rasberry will run as race 5, The field, in post position order, with riders, from the rail is:

Swifty Cat, Emanuel Nieves; Bless d’Cat, Williams Naupac; Tinkerbella, Tim Thornton; Sabe Marcelete, Kevin Smith; Our Sweet Syndi, Gerard Melancon; Chases Dixie Belle, Aubrie Green; Debbyz Wingz, Jose Guerrero; Casual Cool, Jansen Melancon; Blessed Song, Alfredo Contreras; Bermuda Star, Diego Saenz and Big Game Baby, Gerardo Mora.


Magic Vow Gives Turf Another Try in the $75,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin

Colts and geldings will compete in the second feature of the afternoon, the $75,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin.

Trainer Allen Landry conditions Magic Vow, the high-earner in the 12-horse field. The son of Private Vow out of the Broad Brush mare Whitewashed has earned $206,500 for Brittlyn Stable, Inc. This will be the second turf start for the bay gelding, who ran a game third to Super Derby champion Mr. Misunderstood in the August 5 Super Derby Prelude.

“There’s no shame in running third to a horse who is undefeated on the turf,” said Landry. “Boo Boo” (jockey Kerwin Clark) said he ran a little green the first time on the grass, but thinks he will improve on Saturday. He fits him well.”

Landry ran second in last year’s edition of the stakes with He’s a Lady Tamer, who left the gates at odds of 26-1 with jockey Steve Bourque in the irons.

Fee Do brings a three-race win streak into this one-mile turf stakes. Owned by Keith Plaisance, the gelded son of Forefathers has risen up the ranks from claiming to the allowance level nicely for trainer Edwin J. Johnston. The second choice in the morning line, at 7-2, will break from post position 11 in his stakes debut with jockey Emanuel Nieves aboard.

Southern Legacy Thoroughbreds LLC’s homebred Culp’s Hill will make his stakes debut for Joey Foster. The son of Eddington has won three races this meet, and prepped for this with a gate-to-wire turf allowance victory on August 23. Rider Tim Thornton has the call.

“He may be in a little deep, but gives a solid effort every time he runs,” said Foster.

The field for the A. L. (Red) Erwin, from the rail is: Magic Vow, Kerwin Clark; Tigerstorm, Alexander Castillo; Culp’s Hill, Tim Thornton; Paddy O’Lionel, Gerardo Mora; Fireblaster, Diego Saenz; Im a Cowboy Too, Arturo Aparicio; Score’s Choice, Aubrie Green; Jack Snipe’s, Denny Velazquez; Calmack, Jarred Journet; Impressive Student, Gerard Melancon; Fee Do, Emanuel Nieves and Drewmisterio, Roberto Morales.


Louisiana Downs Trainer and Jockey Standings

Through September 18, last year’s leading trainer Joey Foster continues to hold a commanding lead over his fellow conditioners with 62 wins. H. B. Johnson is second with 26 wins to date and Ronnie Ward is in sole possession of third place with 18 wins. Sarah Delany follows in fourth; she has each saddled 15 winners.

Gerardo Mora has taken the lead in the jockey standings with 71 wins. Aubrie Green continues her strong showing and has moved into second place with 60 trips to the winner’s circle. Richard Eramia, who was on top for much of the season before he departed to ride at Remington Park, is third with 59 victories.  Jose Guerrero rounds out the top four with 51 wins.

The very tight battle for leading owner honors continues with Jorge Gomez on top with 11 wins. Red Rose Racing follows closely with ten wins and Patti Turner, Beverly Burress, Jamie C.  Pastor and Anthony Faulk have each won nine races each in the 2017 Thoroughbred meet.

About Harrah’s Louisiana Downs

Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December, 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000 square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.

For further information, please contact:

Trent McIntosh  |  Assistant General Manager
8000 East Texas Street | Bossier City, LA 71111

Nearly 200 Head Consigned to Equine Sales’ Open Yearling and Mixed Sale

(Opelousas, Louisiana — September 19, 2017) — A catalogue of 195 head has been released for the Equine Sales Company Open Yearling and Mixed Sale. Approximately 10 late supplements are being added, which will bring the total catalogue to more than 200. The auction will be held Sunday, October 15, at 10 a.m. in Opelousas, Louisiana.
The auction will start with an offering of 73 yearlings followed by a mixed session with 122 head. The mixed session includes 31 weanlings and six 2-year-olds along with broodmares, a stallion and horses of racing age. 
Among the sires represented in the yearling session are Justin Phillip, Lookin at Lucky, Custom for Carlos, Songandaprayer, Half Ours, Guilt Trip and Star Guitar. Many of those same stallions are also represented among the in-foal offerings.
“We had a very good select yearling sale in August, so I think that momentum will continue with this one,” said Sales Director Foster Bridewell. “This catalogue has something for everyone in all price ranges, and we expect to have some new buyers who couldn’t make it to our last sale due to Hurricane Harvey.”
To view the catalog, go to

Major Gain to Stand at Indian Creek

Grade 3 winner Major Gain has been purchased by Mark and Ashley Dison and will stand the 2018 breeding season at their Indian Creek Farms in Spearsville, Louisiana.
The 10-year-old son of More Than Ready entered stud in 2016 at  McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in New York before moving to Nicks Farm in Indiana for the 2017 Season. His first crop will be yearlings of 2018.
Major Gain won three of 21 starts during his on-track career, including the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity; he earned $161,115 as a homebred for Gary and Mary West. He also finished third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
Major Gain is out of Grade 3-placed stakes-winning Old Trieste mare Dream Lady, whose three foals to race are all winners. He is a full brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Room Service and a half-brother to Grade 2-placed stakes winner Oscar Party. The extended family includes Argentine classic winner Zapata and Grade 3 winner Lilly Capote.
Major Gain will stand for an advertised fee of $1,000. The first ten approved mares will receive a free breeding.

Study Of Inflammatory Markers Leaves Researchers With More Questions About Predicting Racehorse Injury

by | 09.14.2017 | 6:59pm

For years now, researchers have been searching for some kind of agent detectable in horses’ blood to warn them of an impending injury. Research presented by Dr. David Horohov of the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky at a recent Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council meeting shows the quest has continued to be a challenging one.

“The theory has been advanced that in fact, visible injury is a result of chronic accumulation of damage that exceeds the healing capacity of the tissue. And indeed, the whole process of conditioning an animal is actually one of breaking down and rebuilding tissue so that it’s stronger,” said Horohov. “If we could identify techniques to tell when that process has become imbalanced, where there is weakness rather than strength, we could begin identifying horses in advance.”

Initially, Horohov said scientists wanted to look for cytokines – biological message-carriers – associated with damage to bone and cartilage. This proved challenging because bones are constantly in a cycle of breaking down and building up in response to exercise. It is the remodeling process that prepares an equine (or human) skeleton to hold up to future impacts, based on past experience. This approach also did not seem sensitive enough and might miss other types of stress in the body, so Horohov set out to study the behavior of cytokines related to inflammation.

These messengers would be aware the body was recruiting inflammatory cells to deal with an injury but would not be involved in the inflammatory process themselves. Theoretically, he thought, low levels of inflammatory cytokines should indicate some degree of normal response to training, while high amounts might be a sign the body was not adjusting to the stress of training, increasing the likelihood of an accident.

Between 2015 and 2016, Horohov and his team studied two groups with a total of 130 horses over two years: one group, scattered across different trainers, at Keeneland‘s synthetic training track, and another group on a lighter workout program (working on turf once per week) on a nearby farm. The results were somewhat surprising.

Immediately after exercise, horses typically have an increase in inflammatory biomarkers, which come back down over time and usually go below their original level – thought to be a sign the horses’ tissues were adjusting to exercise. Horohov’s group did find a difference between the horses at the track and those trained on the farm – over time, horses training on the track saw their base level inflammatory index increase, rather than decrease.

“To us, this raises more questions than it answers,” he said.

Horohov said it was impossible to tell whether the increase in inflammatory index was a sign of an increased risk for injury, or if it was simply a normal response to training. Both groups of horses had just begun the process of breezing.

Horohov also hopes in the future, the study of inflammatory cytokines could be finessed to predict specific types of injuries.

Besides the somewhat puzzling results, studies like this one are challenging because in order to get a group of horses in a true racetrack setting, scientists must give up control of the horses’ environments. Across the group of 130 horses studied, many were with different trainers and different feeding programs (including different supplements); those on the farm were getting turnout, while those at the track were not. It’s difficult to draw broad conclusions when variables like these place horses in mini sub-groups.

“One of the problems, too, about sampling horses is they leave,” said Horohov. “You get something you’re really interested in, you go back and they’re not there anymore.”

Horohov estimated about 25 percent of horses came up with some kind of lameness during the study period, but they were split between so many different trainers and programs it was impossible to say with certainty whether their cytokine levels rose before their lamenesses, or when.

From here, Horohov’s team hopes to expand the study to try to minimize some of these variables and to see whether an exaggerated inflammatory response does, indeed, preempt injuries.

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