Catherine Parke not only had an extremely successful Keeneland September yearling sale, but the small-time breeder and consignor is proving to be a bit prophetic.
Moments after she had sold a Bernardini colt for $625,000 – which came less than 24 hours after she sold another Bernardini for $1.2 million – Parke spoke to some members of the media about her ongoing concerns for Kentucky’s Thoroughbred industry in the wake of increased competition from states with slots-fueled purses and breeders incentive programs.
“What’s holding our industry together is simply our sire power here,” Parke said at the time. “If any of our stallions leave – the Bernardinis, the Medaglia d’Oros and Tapits – if they leave, our industry is in serious trouble.”
That top-notch trio isn’t going anywhere but Kentucky did lose a promising stallion today when it was announced Vinery and WinStar were partnering to send Bluegrass Cat to Vinery’s New York-based Super Maple Farm for the 2012 season.
With Aqueduct in line to get slots in the coming months, the excitement level for New York racing and breeding has been on the rise. The expected boost in purses has been pointed to by many participants as a driving force behind renewed interest in New York -breds and top stock in general as owners are going to want to have horses capable of competing in those newly-rich races.
“I think the most positive sign we have right now in the American market is what New York is doing,” Taylor Made president Duncan Taylor said prior to the September sale.
WinStar Farm president and CEO Elliott Walden said Friday the deal to send Bluegrass Cat to New York came about as a direct result of the operation wanting to reap the benefits of that state’s program. Though Walden said WinStar had no current plans to send any of its other Kentucky stallions out of state, he warned more promising sires could be on the way out if Kentucky is forced to compete without the benefit of expanded gaming.
“I think it’s a big deal. I think the people in Kentucky and people in Frankfort need to wake up and see what’s happening,” Walden said when reached by phone on Friday. “You know, we’re committed to Kentucky but at the same time, this is a product of what is happening in New York and the product of the development they’re doing up there and I think it is not going to be the last horse to possibly leave. ”
WinStar currently stands 14 stallions including leading sires Tiznow and Distorted Humor.
Bluegrass Cat is not in the elite category yet, but the Grade I-winning son of Storm Cat has gotten off to a solid start in the breeding shed, ranking among the leading second-crop sires this season. The eight-year-old stallion has a regal pedigree – being out of the A.P. Indy mare She’s a Winner, a full sister to Supercharger, dam of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver – and has already produced runners like graded stakes winner Kathmanblu.
Walden said WinStar is planning to send about 10 of its broodmares to New York to support Bluegrass Cat in 2012.
“As far as any other stallions we have in Kentucky leaving, no. But we wanted to put one horse up there and see what New York was all about,” Walden said. ” I think there is enough excitement and enthusiasm in New York it warranted diving into that market.”
“This could be a sounding across the bow for our leadership in Kentucky.”