Still have to have hope for the future…Woodbine racetrack this by Renee Kierans





Is the ONTARIO SIRED PROGRAM PAST ITS PRIME? does it need a change?

Comments have come alive on THOROUGHBLOG since the select yearling sale had a 13% drop in average price on Tuesday.

The open sale goes Saturday at 5 p.m.


Here is what has been said on the latest post:


  1. rob smithen
    2:43 pm on September 4, 2013 (Edit)

    Isn’t it past time we stopped looking for someone to blame other than ourselves for the sales results? Yes the government screwed us over but we-the racing industry- have done plenty to exacerbate the situation.

    I’m guessing of course but I believe the sales results of the past 2 years have as much to do with the quality of horses on offer as the uncertainty around Ontario racing. From memory 2 years ago less than half the horses in the select sale were Ontario sires. Last year it was over 60% and this year over 80%. Buyers will simply not pay for inferior horses and too often-obviously not always but still too often-the Ontario sires didn’t meet their specs.

    We already see the implications of the Ontario sire program at WO where Ontario sire races overfill and others often come up with 6 horse fields or don’t fill at all. The situation will worsen over the next couple of years so we’ll see way more Ontario sire races or small fields in non such races.

    The Ontario sire program may or may not have been a good idea but its implications were obvious from day 1. And the implications are here. We need leadership and management-which this industry has been lacking- to figure out a way to keep the program in place without jeopardizing the open races at WO. And to place more emphasis where it belongs-in creating top flight Ontario bred horses who can compete on an open playing field with the best in North America. I own such a horse-a 4 yo- and while there a myriad of Ontario sire stakes there are exactly zero stakes for Ontario bred older horses.

    Jim Hill

  2. 5:28 pm on September 4, 2013 (Edit)

    I agree with Rob. Sales results are down not so much because of government actions but rather because the sale focuses on a product that few buyers want- Ontario Sired. At the same time there is a market for quality Ontario foaled horses at Keeneland where often the buyers don’t even care about or use the Ontario bred status. The goal should be to breed horses that can compete in open races, not mediocre restricted races.

    Warren Byrne

  3. 2:33 am on September 5, 2013 (Edit)

    While Mssrs. Smithen and Hill make very good points, the issue is more complex than simply horses of insufficient quality to compete on an international stage. The sale does not intentionally focus on ON sired horses, the catalogue is a function of the horses entered in the sale.

    The past several years there has been a myth that owners and breeders of ON bred horses were reaping huge rewards from the slot fueled purses, when in reality the biggest export was not ON sired horses, but ON prize money.

    While prize money increased by 30% from 1999 to 2010, the average price at the select yearling sale declined by approx 45% from 2006 to 2010.

    Why is this important? With breeders returns diminishing at such a rate it made it impossible to upgrade bloodstock while the quality of racing in Ontario increased. The disparity between OSS horses and non-OSS horses increased dramatically, meaning the OSS horse that could compete in open company in 2006 had less chance to compete in 2012.

    Despite this there were clear signs that the OSS program was starting to attract attention and was possibly moving in the right direction. Stallions like Niigon and Philanthropist were producing horses that regularly competed against the best Canadian breds by top Kentucky stallions.

    A revamp of the OSS program is needed, the program is not fulfilling it’s objective. A gradual movement away from completely restricted races to a bonus system rewarding class is necessary. Perhaps a bonus system rewarding ON based owners similar to France could also be an option, this would keep more prize money in ON helping the economy and giving local owners an advantage. Eliminating the OSS program overnight would do more damage to the breeding industry than any government ever could.

    The criticism of the quality of horses that come out of the select sale is not entirely warranted. One only needs to look at the list of millionaires in the centre of the catalogue or the list on page 2 and 3 of the catalogue. Considering the catalogue was approx 60% ON sired horses to produce the number of champions and high earning horses from a relatively small sample is really quite remarkable. For someone intending to race in Ontario, it’s a sale that should be attended.

    Mr. Romeo’s comments on the Bloodhorse article are mindboggling at best. If there is ever a sale that produces bargains from a small number of horses, this is it. Taken from the 2013 Sales Stakes there were 7 horses sold for under $25,000 who earned in excess of $250,000, another 14 who won or placed in open stakes, plus two two-year-olds with earnings over $200K, one cost $3.5K and the other $40K, both have won open stakes. If these horses are “not in your price range” or “not good enough to bid on” then there are some serious issues with the valuation of bloodstock in Ontario. It was that math that supposedly made Ontario the envy of the rest of the Thoroughbred racing world.

    It must be kept in mind that horse racing is first and foremost a sport, breeders and owners must work together for the industry to grow and prosper. If owners in Ontario truly want Ontario racing to thrive they need to support the breeders by paying fair prices for quality bloodstock. The economics of racing in Ontario are better than 90% of the world, but bloodstock prices have been stagnant for a decade.

To continue the discussion, comment on this post…what do you think?






If you were offered a lot of money for your young horse, what would yo do? in Ontario, we have seen the nice 2yo filly SKYLANDER GIRL zip through stakes wins for Alex Patykewich, lure big offers, only to stay with her owner. Then, she had a disatrous trip in the Muskoka Stakes and finished well back.

Would you have sold? Would you sell Ride On Curlin for $1 million?