Seth Hancock, honored by Thoroughbred Club of America.

Seth Hancock, honored by Thoroughbred Club of America.

Anne M.Eberhardt

Claiborne's Hancock Says Welfare of Horse Should Come First

Seth Hancock spoke out against medication, the current status of 2-year-old in training sales, and the size of stallion's books as the 69th honored guest of the Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Ky. on Sunday.

Hancock, president of Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky., was feted "not because I'm smart," he said, but for his honesty, integrity, and leadership in Thoroughbred racing and breeding since he took the helm of his family's farm in 1973 at the age of 23. He owed his honor to the employees and clients of Claiborne Farm, as well as the farm's stallion roster, then used his open forum to give his thoughts on racing's problems.

"Why is it that when you come out here in the spring and see eight first-time starters using Lasix?" Hancock asked the audience. "You need to give them time and take care of them."

Hancock said he doesn't sell 2-year-olds in training but noted that "it doesn't seem right that a horse that's not even biologically 2 years old can run an eighth of a mile in :10 and change or a quarter in :21 and change. There is too much physical and mental stress put on these 2-year-olds. We need to back off."

On stallions, Hancock said: "We're breeding too many mares to our stallions. We (at Claiborne) breed 80-85 mares to our stallions with 130 covers. They may not be physically tired, but they are mentally tired. If our stallions are experiencing this, then what about stallions that have 150 mares with 200 covers?"

He also spoke out against shuttling stallions to the southern hemisphere. "By limiting our books, I'm sure we are leaving money on the table. But I'm not about the money. I'm more concerned about the health and welfare of the horse."