Kentucky-Bred Foal Loss For 2002 May Not Be as Large as Projected

The loss of Kentucky-bred foals for the 2002 breeding season, mainly due to mare reproductive loss syndrome of 2001, may not end up being as large as first thought, numbers from The Jockey Club show.

A report from Jan. 1 to March 5 showed 42.7% fewer live foals compared to the same period a year ago; by April 3 that number had decreased to 32.4%. Now, the percentage is much smaller.

There have been 1,551 fewer live-foal reports received by The Jockey Club this year through May 6, from 6,639 to 5,088. This represents a decrease of 23.4%.

That the rate was higher for early-season foals was not unexpected. MRLS mostly affected mares bred early in the year--those due to foal in January, February, and March. Many were maiden and barren mares bred just after the breeding season opened around Feb. 10.

A University of Louisville economic impact study last year predicted 30% of the entire Kentucky foal crop of 2002 would be lost to the mysterious syndrome, which caused late-term fetal loss and early-term abortions in 2001.

Kentucky has an annual foal crop of about 10,000, which represents approximately 30% of North America's yearly total Thoroughbred foal population. It now looks like the Kentucky loss may be closer to 2,000 than 3,000.

Overall, for the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, The Jockey Club received 18,450 live-foal reports through May 6, compared with 20,676 for the same period in 2001. Kentucky's decline accounts for 70% of the North American drop of 2,226.