Lucrative incentives designed to encourage people to breed, own, and race in-state are an attractive selling point for Maryland- and Pennsylvania-breds at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic yearling sale.
Marshall Silverman, this year's leading consignor, said he saw a few trainers shopping specifically for those kinds of horses.
"I had a couple of local Maryland trainers and all they wanted were Maryland-breds. I had some local Pennsylvania trainers who just wanted to see the Pennsylvania-breds," he said. "Not all of them—most of them just want to see a good horse."
While only three of the sale's top 10 hips, all of which brought at least $125,000, were foaled in Kentucky, all 10 were by Kentucky sires.
When asked what would happen if a Mid-Atlantic sire broke out at the top level, Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales director Paget Bennett quickly replied, "it would be awesome."
"Back in the day we had the Allen's Prospects, the Two Punches, and the Not for Loves. That's what we're hoping, that we see something come back around," she said.
"With El Padrino's weekend that he had (two stakes winners Sept. 30), he had some sell well. The Super Ninety Nines, they sold well. Hopefully they'll perform well on the track here next May and maybe we'll be onto something. Hopefully we can get some new stuff that keeps everybody breeding their mares here in Maryland instead of feeling that they have to go to Kentucky."
Silverman echoed Bennett's comments and said many Mid-Atlantic sires are young and the ability of their progeny is still unknown, which has an effect on where people send their mares and in turn, what brings big money at sales.
"I think (the Mid-Atlantic market is) a little upbeat right now, but I think people need to breed up," he said. "Some of these new young sires are standing in Maryland. Maryland, right now, doesn't really have any established sires.
"Right now the better stallions have died and you've got a lot of young horses coming in like Golden Lad and Bourbon Courage and even in Pennsylvania like Uncle Lino , but they're young and we don't know what they're going to do, and nobody's going to spend a whole lot of money on those horses until they see if they can run. So your Maryland-breds that are by (stallions like) Shanghai Bobby, they're kind of fashionable right now and they're the ones that (buyers are) going to jump on."
One related issue the consignor sees is condensed racing in the area. Dates at only a handful of venues cause people to race out of state, he said.
"One of the problems we have right now in Maryland is we used to have an introductory level to get people in the game when Timonium used to run 40 days," Silverman added. "Now it's 7 days and you've only got Pimlico and Laurel, and they want to close (Pimlico) down. We used to have Laurel, Pimlico, Timonium, and Bowie."
But overall, Silverman thinks buyers can find standouts in Maryland and be rewarded down the road.
"There's money to be made (at the Midlantic sales)," he said. "We need to bring up our owner base and I think everybody will do better."