Foal Reduction Slows, But Percentage Still High

The rate of reduction in foal losses in Kentucky is slowing, but it is still staggering. The latest figures from The Jockey Club show 32.4 percent less foals dropped in Kentucky this year through April 3 compared with a year ago. In an earlier report, the rate was 42.7 percent through March 5.

That the rate was higher for early-season foals was not unexpected. Mare reproductive loss syndrome, which hit Kentucky last spring, mostly affected mares bred early in the year. They were due to foal in January, February, and March. Many of them were maiden and barren mares bred just after the breeding season opened around Feb. 10.

For just the period between the two reports -- March 6 through April 3 -- the number of Kentucky-bred foals decreased by 21.7 percent, from 2,080 to 1,629.

A University of Louisville economic impact study predicted 30 percent 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.

This year, through April 3, there were 2,876 live-foal reports received by The Jockey Club for Kentucky-breds. Through the same date in 2001, there were 4,257 foals. The decline is 32.4 percent.

Overall, for the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, The Jockey Club received 10,285 live-foal reports through April 3, compared with 11,948 for the same period in 2001. Kentucky's decline accounts for 83 percent of the North American drop of 1,663.

Kentucky has an annual foal crop of about 10,000, which represents approximately 30 percent of North America's yearly total Thoroughbred foal population.