Over the last four weeks, The Jockey Club released its annual statistics for the North American breeding industry and Ontario showed positive gains across the board.
The number of Ontario Sired live foals reported to The Jockey Club through Oct. 4 was up 2.6 per cent over last year, the number of stallions registered in the province increased by 12.5 per cent and the number of mares reported bred through Oct. 18 was up 13.9 per cent. Ontario was the only jurisdiction with positive gains in all three categories.
“Ontario, in terms of growth on the breeding side, is the number one jurisdiction in North America,” said David Anderson, Breeder Representative on the Board of Ontario Racing and member of the Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP) Committee. “I just got back from the fall sales and quite honestly that’s all everyone wants to talk about, are our programs. I think they are innovative and they are forward thinking, and we’re going to bolster our numbers and bolster our quality going forward.”
Among the programs drawing interest from breeders and owners are the 2021-22 Mare Recruitment (MRP) and Purchase Programs (MPP), and the new for 2021 Ontario Sire Heritage Series and Sales Credit Program.
The Mare Recruitment and Purchase Programs offer breeders incentives totalling $800,000 for bringing new in-foal mares to the province. The MRP offers all breeders a $5,000 (CDN) incentive for every new mare brought to the province to foal in 2022, while the MPP gives Ontario residents a rebate of up to 50 per cent, to a maximum of $25,000 (CDN), on the purchase price of an in-foal mare from an Ontario Racing recognised public auction. Mares enrolled in both programs are then eligible for a $2,500 (CDN) incentive if they are bred to a registered Ontario Sire in 2022.
“Last time we did the program was two years ago and we exhausted all the funding, we had to turn people away. And we got 129 new mares in the province, of which 79 of them bred back to Ontario Sires,” said Anderson. “I think there’s a lot of potential here in the province of Ontario going forward.”
The Ontario Sire Heritage Series saw Ontario Sired three-year-old colts and geldings and three-year-old fillies accumulate points in a trio of $80,000 legs at Woodbine and Fort Erie Racetracks over five, six and seven furlongs. The $100,000 finals, the Lake Ontario and Ashbridges Bay Stakes at 1-1/16 miles, are slated for Friday, Nov. 19 at Woodbine Racetrack with Reload offspring Red River Rebel and Sunsprite leading the way in the colt/gelding and filly point standings. A total of $70,000 in bonuses will go to the top three point earners in each division.
In addition, owners with registered Ontario Bred horses competing in claiming races at Woodbine and Fort Erie Racetracks earned credits for the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (CTHS) Ontario yearling and mixed sales each time their horse visited the winner’s circle this season.
“Hopefully with some of the new programs, like the new Heritage Series, it’s going to create new demand for the Ontario Sired horse,” said Peter Berringer, president of the Ontario division of the CTHS. “You have to be optimistic when the numbers show we’ve stabilised, and increased slightly, and are trending in the right direction.”
Photo attached: Three-year-old gelding Red River Rebel (Reload – Spani Lou) won the $80,000 Fort Erie Stakes, the second leg of the Ontario Sire Heritage Series, at Fort Erie Racetrack on Sept. 14 with Rafael Hernandez aboard for trainer Kevin Attard and owner/breeders Denny Andrews and Northern Dawn Stables Inc. The gelding sits atop the point standings heading into the Nov. 19 final at Woodbine Racetrack. (Michael Burns Photography)