Commercial breeders have a better chance to make money in 2011 at the yearling sales because the stud fees they paid to breed their stock were less expensive. Beginning in 2009, economic downturns both within and outside the Thoroughbred industry pushed down prices.
But mare owners shouldn’t expect stud fees to drop much lower, according to horsemen at several Central Kentucky farms who were interviewed recently.
“As far as stud fees for 2012, my prediction would lean toward everything being a bit status quo,” said Eric Hamelback, general manager of Adena Springs Kentucky. “There are some stallions, obviously, that could justify an increase. But most stallion farms aren’t going to rock the boat because breeders now are happy they can afford to breed to good stallions.”
Ben Taylor, vice president of Taylor Made Stallions, predicted that stud fees would hold steady overall next year.
“I think they will probably stabilize because breeders’ costs are back in line,” he said. “You can buy a mare for $50,000 that you might have given $100,000 for in the past. Then you can breed her to a stallion for $12,500 or $15,000 that would have cost $30,000.”
Bill Farish of Lane’s End Farm agreed with Hamelback and Taylor that stud fees probably wouldn’t change much in 2012.
“I think they sort of have leveled off,” he said. “I wouldn’t be looking to see a whole lot of horses jump up a great deal (in price). But I also don’t think you’re going to see a lot of horses that would have retired for a certain amount last year being retired for less than that amount this year.”
According to Bret Jones of Airdrie Stud, the farm won’t be making many adjustments to its stud fees for 2012.
“When we set our 2011 fees, we set them as fair as we could, and throughout the breeding season I didn’t have one person tell me that we were too high on any horse,” he said. “It’s an unbelievably competitive market, but I think we gave breeders a real chance to make money.”
Further stud fee discounts on a wide scale also are unlikely at Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation.
“For the most part, from where we sit, our fees are in line,” said Charlie Boden, who is head of sales at Darley. “Everybody has made great adjustments to try to meet demand and our fees are down 40% over two or three years. What we want to do – at Sheikh Mohammed’s request – is to make sure we are standing horses at affordable prices so breeders have a chance to make money and I think we came close to hitting right where we wanted to be this year.”
Said Case Clay, who is the president of Three Chimneys Farm: “For the most part, stud fees have been corrected, but you might see an adjustment on a per stallion basis depending on how well or poorly they do.”