Changing History

When Macho Uno made his first three starts last year, he was a 2-year-old colt by Holy Bull bred in Kentucky by Stronach Stables. When Perfect Sting made her first 18 starts, she was a filly by Red Ransom bred in Kentucky by Frank H. Stronach. But when each won a Breeders' Cup race at Churchill Downs last Nov. 4, something had changed. The breeder of record for both horses was listed as Adena Springs, the large breeding operation owned by Stronach.

Because The Jockey Club received two things for Macho Uno, Perfect Sting, and over 150 other horses -- a check for $50 and a signed and notarized affidavit stating a "mistake" had been made at the time of registration -- a change was made.

In the grand scheme of things, Frank H. Stronach, Stronach Stables, and Adena Springs are all really the same thing. So, why should this matter?

It may matter because this is the first year the Eclipse Award for leading breeder was chosen by all voters, not by a committee. Many voters, when casting their selections in the human Eclipse Award categories, have always tended to emphasize money.

Before the Breeders' Cup, Stronach was listed as the breeder of 171 starters who had earned $5.2 million. At year's end, Stronach, in his own name, was listed as the breeder of 99 starters who had earned $1.5 million.

Adena Springs, on the other hand, vaulted to second on the final list for 2000, with $9.9 million in earnings.

Stronach probably did not know the information sent to Eclipse voters would be hand massaged by Daily Racing Form. It combined Adena Springs, Stronach, and Stronach Stables. Through Nov. 27, 2000, the farm, the man, and the racing stable had bred the earners of $11.6 million.

Each week in The Blood-Horse, official breeders' statistics supplied by The Jockey Club Information Systems are published which do not combine various breeding entities or partnerships. On the year-end list supplied by TJCIS, Harry T. Mangurian Jr. led the money list with $10,757,845. Second was Adena Springs with $9,929,737.

So, changing the name of the breeder on over 150 horses did not get the desired result of year-end leading breeder by earnings. The reason the breeding line on all of the Stronach horses was not changed to Adena Springs was that Buddy Bishop, registrar at The Jockey Club, only allowed the change to go back a few years. So, while Adena Springs ranked second, Frank Stronach ranked 46th, with earnings of $1,582,971.

Also, though Mangurian topped the list, he had another $2,929,644 earned by horses bred in the name of his Mockingbird Farm. All it takes is a check for $7,450 ($50 per horse), Mangurian signing his name 149 times, and the admission that there was a "mistake." Then, he would have bred the earners of $13,687,489.

Technically, what Stronach did is legal under The Jockey Club interpretation. According to Bishop, "We allow people, if they've made a mistake, to correct it." Stronach made a mistake -- well, over 150 mistakes -- and took the steps to correct it.

The policy usually comes into play in cases, for instance, where a foal is bred by two partners, but the registration certificate only lists one person. If the two partners agree they were co-breeders, The Jockey Club agrees to change the certificate.

Is this much ado about nothing? Is there any difference in Mangurian and Mockingbird; Stronach and Adena? Well, yes and no. Obviously, Mockingbird is Mangurian and Adena is Stronach. But they are clearly separate breeding entities; there must have been a reason to breed the horses under different names; and it is going back and changing history.

Under current rules, you could breed a Horse of the Year or Triple Crown winner, then decide it would be neat for the horse to forever be listed as bred by your spouse or children. Send in a check for $50, sign your name, say you made a "mistake," and voila, the change is made.

This sport is built on history. Changing it is not right. Classic winner Red Bullet now has a different breeder than when he won the 2000 Preakness. When The Jockey Club rules were written, this is not what they had in mind.

Some say rules were made to be broken. It says here they were made to be adhered to. Perhaps someone signed an affidavit. That doesn't make it right. Mistakes happen -- especially in this case.