News

Headlines and features from the Thoroughbred industry

Could Foal Loss Syndrome Be Slowing?

The highest number of foals/fetal samples taken to the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center in Lexington, Ky., during the current problem with late-term abortions and early embryonic loss occurred on Derby Day, May 5, according to the Center's Director, Lenn Harrison, VMD, Dipl. ACVP. On that day, 73 foals/fetuses were brought in for examination. Word from at least two veterinarians is that while early pregnancy mares might still be at risk for losing their pregnancies, the loss of these late-term foals is slowing.

Florida Issues Permit Process Guidelines on Horses Travelling From Kentucky

In the wake of the outbreak of late-term fetal/foal deaths and near-term abortions in mares in Central Kentucky, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued guidelines for the equine industry on horses from Kentucky entering Florida. The guidelines require a permit to be obtained prior to shipment by veterinarians who issue Official Certificates of Veterinary Inspection. It also recommends to Florida farms that mares from Kentucky be kept isolated from other horses and their health be closely monitored. There has been no ban issued on shipment of horses from Kentucky to Florida.

Churchill Revenue Up; Economy Impacts Simulcasting Handle

Churchill Downs reported Tuesday that first quarter revenues rose 22 percent to $31.7 million, compared with $25.9 million for the same period last year. The company reported a net loss of $11.0 million, or 84 cents per share on 13.0 million average shares outstanding, compared with a net loss of $8.8 million, or 89 cents per share on 9.9 million average shares outstanding, in the first quarter of 2000. Weakness in the economy has affected the simulcasting handle, but improvements in the Churchill Downs Simulcasting Network's marketing and presentation could offset the losses.

Haskin's Derby Story: Strong Dose of Monarchos

A stoic John T. Ward Jr. stood alone on the Churchill Downs grass course, watching Monarchos return from his magnificent triumph in the 127th running of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). The third-generation Kentucky horseman was a stark contrast to the emotions that poured freely around him. Assistant trainer Yvonne Azeff, who dreamed of winning the Derby when she was 10 years old, was overcome with tears as she hugged her mother and exercise rider Bryan Beccia. When lifelong dreams come true, the only words the mind can muster are, "Oh my God!" It was as if a part of Azeff would not let her believe this was really happening.

Equine Researchers Outline Steps Being Taken on Fetal/Foal Loss Syndrome

Thoroughbred industry leaders, veterinarians, researchers, and farm managers met with the media at the Gluck Equine Research Center in Lexington, Ky., for a press briefing on the current fetal/foal loss syndromes occurring in the state. While there are no answers as to why so many mares are aborting in near-term or having stillborns in late term, there are defined paths being taken that everyone involved hopes will lead to the cause.

Estimate: Foal Losses Could Have $150 Million Impact on Kentucky Economy

With Kentucky's share of the Thoroughbred foal crop in the United States at an all-time high of nearly 30%, the repercussions of the excessive foal loss that many Central Kentucky farms are experiencing may be felt for years to come. Based on figures compiled by The Blood-Horse, the economic impact of the problem could easily exceed $150 million, if foal losses amount to 20% of the anticipated 2002 crop. A 1997 national economic impact study conducted by Barents estimated the Kentucky breeding sector to be a $900 million industry annually.

Estimate: Foal Losses Could Exceed $150 Million Impact on Kentucky Economy

With Kentucky's share of the Thoroughbred foal crop in the United States at an all-time high of nearly 30%, the repercussions of the excessive foal loss that many Central Kentucky farms are experiencing may be felt for years to come. Based on figures compiled by The Blood-Horse, the economic impact of the problem could easily exceed $150 million, if foal losses amount to 20% of the anticipated 2002 crop. A 1997 national economic impact study conducted by Barents estimated the Kentucky breeding sector to be a $900 million industry annually.

Derby TV Ratings Show Marked Increase

With help from a later start, the final hour-plus of the Kentucky Derby telecast outdrew last year's by about 40 percent. NBC Sports' debut broadcast under a five-year, $51.5 million deal to air thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown series produced a 9.2 national rating from 5:30 to 6:42 p.m. EDT Saturday.

Derby Winning Owners Strike Mother Lode

They don't call the major producers "gushers" at Oxley Petroleum. In the natural-gas exploration business, they're known as "high-flowing wells," exploding like the stride of John C. Oxley's Monarchos as he gobbled up the hallowed ground of the Churchill Downs stretch the first Saturday in May.

Murray Smith Hits Home Run With Monarchos

Florida pinhooker Murray Smith was looking for a quick profit when she bought Monarchos privately as a yearling for $100,000 in the spring of 1999. But the big payoff didn't come until two years later, when the gray colt charged down the Churchill Downs stretch to win the Kentucky Derby.

Buying Culled Mare Pays Off For Breeder Squires

No one likes to use the word "cull" when talking about broodmares. But everyone does it. In fact, if you don't, you never improve your stock. When he "retired" to Kentucky and decided to become a horse breeder 10 years ago, Jim Squires went out looking for "culled mares." They weren't hard to find. But who would have thought they included the dam of a future Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner?

Officials Shake Bushes for MassCap Nominees

It may be early, but the connections of rising star Broken Vow and multiple grade 1 stakes winner Sir Bear have indicated their short-term goals will likely include the grade 2 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs June 2. Track officials will visit two racetracks this weekend to line up nominees for New England's marquee event.

Addition of Griffinite Increases Prospective Preakness Field to 13

Jennifer Pederson, trainer of Paraneck Stable's Griffinite, called Pimlico officials Monday to confirm that the Lafayette winner will run in the Preakness Stakes May 19. Pederson said the son of Unbridled's Song, who finished third in the Lexington Stakes in his last start, will ship to Pimlico tomorrow. The addition of Griffinite brings the total number of prospective starters to 13.

FAQs: An Interview With Dr. Doug Byars on Excessive Foal Loss

Dr. Doug Byars, a veterinary reproductive specialist at Hagyard-Davidson-Mcgee near Lexington, offers the latest information and advice to horse owners and farm managers concerning the excessive loss of late-term and near term foals. He was interviewed by Kimberly S. Graetz, editor of The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care (www.thehorse.com) and a contributing editor to The Blood-Horse.

2001 Breeding Season Crisis: Many Mares Losing Foals; Links to Related Stories

Two "syndromes" of unknown origin that began in late April are causing Central Kentucky farms to lose an excessive number of foals and fetuses. The first syndrome results in what broodmare owners know as "red bag," or premature placenta separation. The placenta comes out before the foal, often causing the foal to suffocate if the birth is unattended. The second syndrome was discovered a short time later, when veterinarians began to perform 60-day ultrasound fetal checks and found many mares either were not pregnant or in the process of ending their pregnancies. Some farms have experienced losses from 25-75% of next year's foal crop. There is no evidence the problems are slowing down.

Last Call

By Ed Schuyler -- Often it is best to make a quick exit, and that's what Monarchos gave me for my 33rd and last Kentucky Derby.

Derby Dreams

By Ray Paulick -- John and Donna Ward's stable is thriving, in large part because of a team approach to their operation.

Foal Loss Outbreak of 1980 Eventually Discounted as 'Artifact Epidemic'

An outbreak of early-term fetal loss in 1980 was eventually discounted by researchers as an "artifact epidemic" caused by earlier than usual examinations. Still, that outbreak now is viewed by many as similar in nature to the current syndrome that many Central Kentucky farms are experiencing. According to experts such as Dr. David Powell of the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center, the current problem is much more widespread than in 1980.

Epidemiologist Q&A on Excessive Foal Losses

Dr. David Powell, an epidemiologist at the University of Kentucky's Veterinary Science Department in the Gluck Equine Research Center, was interviewed Monday by The Blood-Horse about the unusually high number of early fetal loss and late-term abortions among broodmares at Central Kentucky farms.

Contract Dispute Hurts Tampa Bay Downs Meet

A 15-day contract dispute at the start of Tampa Bay Downs' 93-day meet was blamed by track management for declines in attendance, on-track handle, and total handle. Despite the declines, the meet set a couple single-day handle records and saw growth in its interstate simulcasting handle.

XFL Prez Says Racing Can Learn From Successes, Failures

Maybe you're not a fan of the WWF, or particularly impressed with the startup XFL. But in the opinion of Basil DeVito, Thoroughbred racing can learn from their successes and failures. DeVito, a former National Thoroughbred Racing Association executive who now is president of the XFL, presented the Warner L. Jones Jr. Distinguished Lecture at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky. The event was sponsored by the University of Louisville's Center for Equine Management.

Monarchos Races For Charity

Monarchos' victory in the May 5 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) will provide the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation with a donation of $8,120 from owners John and Debby Oxley, and another $8,120 from the syndicate that owns the colt's sire, Maria's Mon.

Haskin's Derby Dozen: It's Still Point Given

Steve Haskin, the award-winning turf writer and senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, updates his top Kentucky Derby contenders weekly. During his 29 years with the Daily Racing Form, Haskin became known for his insightful coverage of the Triple Crown races. Haskin won the Red Smith Award for Kentucky Derby writing in 1997, 1999, and 2000.and received the David Woods Award for best Preakness story in 1997. In 1999, he co-authored "Baffert: Dirt Road to the Derby" with trainer Bob Baffert and wrote the book, "Dr. Fager" for Eclipse Press' "Thoroughbred Legends" series in 2000.

University of Kentucky Diagnostic Lab Seeking Answers About Foal Loss

The director and staff of the University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Laboratory have been working long hours conducting necropsies and running tests in an attempt to find answers to the questions raised during the ongoing losses of fetuses and foals in the state. While there hasn't been time yet to compile official numbers of incoming horses for testing, more than 60 have come on some days. The normal number of incoming abortions per day at this time of year is five to six, with a little higher number per day of dead foals.

Kentucky Farm Managers, Vets To Meet About Foal Loss

The Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club and the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners will hold a joint meeting Thursday (May 10) in the Keeneland sales pavilion near Lexington to discuss recent problems with early fetal loss and late term abortions in Central Kentucky. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. (EDT).

Kentucky Farm Managers, Vets To Meet About Foal Loss

The Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club and the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners will hold a joint meeting Thursday (May 10) in the Keeneland sales pavilion near Lexington to discuss recent problems with early fetal loss and late term abortions in Central Kentucky. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. (EDT).

Farm Managers Comment on Excessive Foal Loss

Officials with several major Central Kentucky farms shared their experiences about the unsolved excessive foal loss that has been discovered in recent weeks. Area farms are working with the University of Kentucky's Maxwell Gluck Equine Research Center to better understand the problem.

Excessive Foal Loss Great Concern to Central Kentucky Farms

Two "syndromes" that began near the end of the third week of April are causing Central Kentucky farms to lose an excessive number of foals and fetuses due to an as yet unknown cause. The first syndrome results in what mare owners know as "red bag," or premature placenta separation where the placenta comes out before the foal, often causing the foal to suffocate if the birth is unattended. The second syndrome was discovered around May 1 when veterinarians began routine 60-day fetal checks and discovered that many mares either were empty (not pregnant), or were in the process of losing their pregnancies. Some farms have experienced losses ranging from 25-75% of next year's foal crop. And there is no evidence that this problem is slowing down.

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