MRLS Impact Continues as Breeders' Cup Nominations Fall

The number of 2002 foals nominated to the Breeders' Cup program is down 8% from last year, largely due to mare reproductive loss syndrome, which resulted in the loss of nearly 20% of the pregnancies of Kentucky-based mares when it swept through the region in the spring of 2001.

Dora Hughes, vice president of nominations for the National Thoroughbred Racing Associations/Breeders' Cup, reported that 13,800 foals of 2002 have been nominated to the program at a cost of $500 each. Deadline for nominations was Oct. 15. To be eligible for nomination, a foal must be sired by a stallion nominated to the Breeders' Cup, the European Breeders' Fund, or the Common Fund. This year, Hughes said 1,141 nominations came from Europe.

The number of 2002 nominated foals is 1,220 fewer than the 15,020 reported by the Breeders' Cup last year. That's a loss of $610,000 in revenue from last year and $980,000 from 2000, when nominations were at an all-time high of 15,760. The first wave of MRLS-related losses began when approximatey 500 mares suffered late-term abortions last spring.

Kentucky had 1,423 fewer foals nominated in 2002 than in 2001 (6,560 vs. 7,983), a result of the early-term abortions caused by MRLS. The 2002 total is 21% lower than the 8,294 Kentucky-breds nominated in 2000, prior to MRLS.

Second by number of nominations is Florida, with 1,744 foals, nearly identical to the 1,748 Florida-breds nominated in 2001 but down 18% from the 2,134 made eligible for the program in 2000.

California had the next highest number of nominations, 893, up slightly from the 881 nominated in 2001, while New York grew from 662 in 2001 to 765 this year -- an increase of nearly 16%. The number of New York-breds nominated has grown by 27% over the last two years.

This year's nominations account for approximately 36% of the projected North American foal crop of 35,600, down from the 38% nominated from the 2001 crop and 40% in 2000.