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Will The Jockey Club ever stop requiring live cover?

I understand that The Jockey Club intends to make sure that the boarding of broodmares remains a large part of the breeding industry. Do we think that TBs will ever stop requiring live cover? Personally, I doubt it.

The Big Picture Presented By Excel Equine: Is Live Cover Still The Answer? - Paulick Report | Shining Light on the Horse Industry

ahhh, the question that’s been asked for a decade or more LOL

Eventually, yes, I think it will happen. But I don’t see it happening for still a long time.


No I don’t think so. If Joe Blow can board his mares in a lower cost of horsekeeping operation and ship in semen then there is no way to keep those big beautiful TB farms up and running. I imagine the upkeep is astronomical. And I think that the majority of the Jockey Club members are some way involved in these large farms and know this all too well. It would be a travesty to turn them into housing projects. But I can say this because I don’t breed TB’s and I am not interested in breeding horses that require live cover for registration.


Does anyone know the general annual revenue of boarding a mare to get her pregnant, vs boarding to foal her out?

I hope they will continue to require it. AI, frozen stored semen? No way. Can you imagine two favorites in the 2075 Kentucky Derby, one a great-great-grandson of the 2025 Triple Crown winner and one the son of the same but by frozen semen?


Can you imagine how small the gene pool would be if we didn’t require live cover?!?

Plus, as a mare owner who has done it both ways, I just find live cover so much easier. Is it a bummer when a stallion you love is out of your geographic range? Sure. But because of live cover we have a very good selection of stallions nationwide. I was a mare owner in a state without a racing program and was not nearly as prohibitive as one may think.


I think the debate about narrowing the gene pool has been debunked based on other breeds going AI, such as the QH.

Imagine if American MOs had easy access to stallions overseas

How narrow is the gene pool now? Pretty narrow, if you look at how hard it is to hit a horse without any “Dancer” blood, and several other stallions. There’s already been talk about that aspect.

Here’s a good opinion by Jos Mottershead some years ago


Disagree. You have to compare apples to apples, not apples to mangoes.

The only other breed that could be any sort of comparison is the standardbred, because it is the only other strictly racing specific registry. But even directly comparing to standardbreds is imperfect due to the major differences in tax bracket and the fact that the STB industry is heavily influenced by a number of Amish breeders who still eschew things like AI. The USTA sort of caters to two worlds at once.

American MOs breeding American thoroughbred racehorses do not want overseas blood. Not because it’s “bad” or anything, but because overseas racing is different enough that success overseas does not necessarily mean success here. And when it does translate into success here, we are VERY quick to import that blood ourselves.

Jos Mottershead makes some interesting points, but I’d really like to see the citation on this one:
"In fact the Australian Jockey Club commissioned research into this, and found that 6 times as many mares would have to be bred to these stallions before the inbreeding coefficient increased. "

Anyone who has spent 30 seconds in the modern race breeding world will question that one.


No, I agree with Texarkana. I hope not.


I don’t think that it is going to cause inbreeding. If I am here in SE PA, and I want a foal by Into Mischief, and I can just ship semen, and breed and raise the foal here, that’s a major win over paying to ship a mare, breed a mare, and perhaps leave the mare there year round.

An entire industry revolves around live cover - from shippers hauling mares to stallions, boarding barns and mare herds, and the stallion stations themselves. Changing that would fundamentally change the entire game.

At the end of the day this is a money decision and not necessarily an ethics one. I do not think that AI would decrease the gene pool anymore than it already is. The people that can afford to breed to Munnings or Into Mischief are not handicapped by distance - cost is not a concern – and as long as their stud fee remains proportionate some way to how it is now, its not going to open the floodgates in the way we think just because they’re now offered as AI. Either you can afford to breed to a horse (and will ship to it) or you can’t. IMO that concern is a problem that sorts itself out naturally.

I think AI is an eventual reality - but it will take time.

As the world changes, the climate changes, and there is increasing pressure on reducing carbon footprint, I can imagine this industry might be the first to go. Shipping semen is a lot cheaper than shipping a horse and leaves a significantly smaller footprint, all things considered.

You know - the very real concern of overbreeding a stallion and the diminishing gene pool could be addressed if the powers that be tried to limit stallion books. Oh. Wait.

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It’s not the Into Mischiefs or Munnings or any other top stallion who will be affected: they already breed an astronomical number of horses and would continue to do so.

It’s the diversity in the already struggling lower end of the market that would entirely evaporate with AI.

Those Florida, New York, California, etc. stallions who can be “big fish in small ponds” in regional markets yet would suddenly have zero purpose if you can ship semen from anywhere.

People like to complain that all of these big Kentucky farms bring in these obscure, lightly raced black type winners, stand them for 3 years or less, then sell them overseas. They do that because that’s unfortunately what sells. And if you eliminate the complication of geography, that’s all that’s going to be left available for mare owners: top 10 stallions standing for obscene amounts of money and freshmen sires. No one is going to invest in standing regional phenoms because there will be no market for them.


Also adding— when I went back to breeding TBs after years of WBs, it was a breath of fresh air. It is SO much easier not to be dealing with AI.

While shipping and boarding are big businesses, they are not driving these decisions— honestly, most big KY farms have their own vans and own clients that stay year round. It’s not quite the revolving door you may imagine.


honest questions:

Are those stallions ones who should be contributing to the racing gene pool?
Are they standing for “cheap”, or on par with “big fish in big pond” stallions?

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This information is all there in black and white.


In 2022: 27,251 mares were bred. 16,833 were in Kentucky likely bred to one of the 210 KY based stallions.

That’s over 10,000 mares bred in other states to 900 some different stallions who would be out of a job.

How is that not a loss of genetic diversity?!?

Also, I didn’t actually answer your question: yes, they absolutely should be contributing. There are many, many, many good horses in those programs. Horses who breed their way back into KY. Horses who are honest runners and winners that pay their way. Horses who are phenomenal in sport careers. We need those horses.


Sure. Why not? Among the stallions that started in regional markets are:

Northern Dancer (MD)
Mr. Prospector (FL)
Malibu Moon (MD)
Yes It’s True (FL)
Kantharos (FL)
Girvin (FL, came to KY in 2023)


There are so many different breeding directions.

Breeding for the yearling sales

Breeding for the 2 yo under saddle sales

Breeding to race

Breeding for those things in the regional market

Breeding for those things in the international market

Sure, there’s a ton of room for more stallions than just the “big fish in a big pond” (which big fish, for which big pond?) market.


I don’t see why they can’t approve AI and still require mares to ship to the stud farms to be inseminated, or create whatever rules they want to create to avoid any real or perceived pitfalls with AI.

Why? What would be the benefit? That’s increased labor and expense for everyone. :woman_shrugging:

And they sort of, kind of do that already. They do reinforcement breeding when needed.


Northern Dancer was not a Kentucky stallion. He raced in Kentucky but entered stud in Canada, then moved to Maryland and lived there the rest of his life.