When pondering Gary Stevens call for a revolution in North American horse racing, I wonder if, for the moment, we can simply focus our attention on our horses. And from all perspectives. Rachel Bucciaccho, a highly-regarded student of bloodstock in Australia, added her thoughts on foal crops: stallions at one time breeding 40-50 mares in a season, now close to 200 mares. What, if any impact, I wonder, does this have on the foals? Do the large crops, and with many stallions breeding double-duty (both hemispheres) impact the genetic makeup of the foals?
So lets, for the moment, return to Northern Dancer, for he surely became the ‘poster boy’ when it came return on investment. When he entered stud in 1965 his fee was $10,000 (live foal). By 1984 the fee had rocketed to $500,000 (no guarantee). Thereafter until he retired from stud 15 April 1987, as much as $1 million was paid for a single breeding with no guarantee.
Northern Dancer was the exception. The golden stallion. Sire of champions. Right from his first crop.
“… Yet he would not have had such an important role in this drama if he had not been so extraordinary, and had he not passed on his power, magic and the will to win to so many of his offspring.
Northern Dancer sired 635 foals; of the 80% that started in races, 80% were winners; 146 horses were stakes winners. 26 of these animals were champions…”
But here’s the rub… Northern Dancer stood at stud for 22 years. And his owner, breeder, Eddie EP Taylor, did not expect to make his fortune off the backs of his horses.