Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Three Chimneys introduces its newest stallion as it cuts his stud fee and most others at the farm

By Will Steffe
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Three Chimneys Farm in Midway held an open house Tuesday to introduce the stallion Red Giant, who will stand at the farm during the 2010 season.

The farm announced lower stud fees for this champion horse and for the 11 other stallions at the farm, in the wake of a decline in Thoroughbred breeding last year.

Three Chimneys, founded as a 100-acre breeding operation in 1972 by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Clay, has grown to more than 1,500 acres. The farm is divided into six divisions to accommodate a wide variety of horses.

Red Giant was foaled Feb. 28, 2004 in Kentucky. This stallion comes from a rich pedigree. His sire is the 2000 European Horse of the Year, Giants Causeway, and his dam is Beyond the Sun.

Red Giant’s most notable wins came in a track-record time at the 2007 Virginia Derby, a win in the Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga Race Course, and a world record 1¼-mile time in a win at the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship Stakes. His overall racing record is 6-3-1 in 12 starts.

Three Chimneys posted a stud fee of $6,000 for Red Giant in 2010, a 20 percent discount from the $7,500 charged by his previous owner, Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms of Lexington, in 2009. The stud fees at Three Chimneys for the upcoming breeding season ranged from $150,000 for Dynaformer to $5,000 for Good Reward and Lewis Michael. Compared to the other stallions at the farm, Red Giant’s fees are in the lower quarter.

Three Chimneys reduced fees for all its stallions but Dynaformer and Exchange Rate from 2009 to 2010. According to the farm’s records, Dynaformer has been a Top 5 sire five times since 2001. He sired 80 winners in 2008 with earnings totaling more than $5 million.

These declines in fees can be attributed to the impact of the recent national recession on the Kentucky thoroughbred industry.

“We have reduced most of our fees in recognition of the market,” owner Robert Clay said. “We will continue to limit our [stallion] book sizes, while offering multiple mare packages, breed-back specials and cash discounts.”

The Blood-Horse magazine’s Market Watch predicted that 2010 stud fees would drop because of poor sales of yearlings in 2009 at Keeneland. For a second year, few breeders gained significant profit and many sold their horses at a loss.

Kentucky horse industry economists also worry about declining attendance at horse races and the fact that fewer horses enter the races.

A proposed solution is to install slot machines at the tracks. The idea is that people will come to play the slot machines and the money generated can be used to increase race purses and attendance. Three Chimneys Marketing Director Jen Roytz said the farm doesn’t take a public stand on allowing slot machines at the horse racing tracks.

While they do not take a stand on the slot machine issue, managers of Three Chimneys seek to survive the current economic down turn by finding new ways to make a profit. “We are being very creative with the ways we are saving money for our clients and for the farm,” Roytz said. “We have also expanded our price breaks for those who breed to our stallions in an effort to support our customers.”

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