Even as the North American Thoroughbred foal crop continues to contract, down 6.9% over the last three years and down 45.4% since 2000, the top five producing states have remained a constant.
Kentucky, California, and Florida have been the steady top three joined by New York and Louisiana that flip-flop their rank from year to year. The recently released figures on the 2020 North American foal crop show New York slightly ahead this year with 652 reported foals to Louisiana’s 647, but both at even with 3.3% of the overall foal crop for the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
A rise in nocardioform placentitis cases in Central Kentucky’s 2011 foal crop caused concern among equine caretakers, veterinarians and the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UKVDL). A placental infection that can cause late-term abortion or small, underdeveloped foals, the disease could take a toll on the Thoroughbred breeding industry.
The UKVDL reported via The Horse that in 2012, the number of confirmed cases dropped to a more-typical number, but that the 2016 crop had a small rise in cases in February before numbers dropped quickly later that year.
Though 2017 has just begun, the UKVDL has seen an increase in confirmed nocardioform placentitis cases, beginning with 10 abortions in December 2016 (compared to zero abortions in December 2015). Additionally, there were eight confirmed cases in the first two weeks of January 2017, with additional cases pending.
First identified in Central Kentucky in the mid-1980s, the development of nocardioform placentitis is not well understood. It can cause stillbirths, prematurity, late-gestation abortions, live but non-viable foals, and foals that are small and weak, but live. The lesions of nocardioform placentitis are distinctive and are gram-positive branching bacilli; they are found only on the placenta and do not reach the fetus.
It is not clearly understood how nocardioform placentitis is transmitted as the infection does not follow the transmission path of either ascending bacterial placentitis or septicemic bacterial placentitis. The cases tend to come in waves with some years having more cases than other. Scientists are investigating if environmental factors contribute to the disease. So far, nocardioform placentitis seems to occur after hot, dry weather.
The Jockey Club is projecting a 2017 North American registered Thoroughbred foal crop of 22,500.
The projection for the 2016 foal crop was also 22,500.
The 22,500 foals estimated for 2017 and for 2016 is a 2.3% increase from the 22,000 projected for both the 2015 and 2014 foal crops.
“As always, this projection is based on reports of mares bred received to date, and we estimate that approximately 80% of those reports have been received,” said Matt Iuliano, The Jockey Club’s executive vice president and executive director.
The foal crop projection, traditionally announced in mid-August, is computed by using Reports of Mares Bred (RMBs) received to date for the 2016 breeding season. RMBs are to be filed by
August 1 of each breeding season.
Additional foal crop information is available in The Jockey Club’s online fact book at jockeyclub.com/factbook.asp and in the online state fact books.
Stallion owners who have not returned their RMBs for the 2016 breeding season are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. Interactive RegistrationTM, which enables registered users to perform virtually all registration-related activities over the Internet, is the most efficient means of submitting RMBs and is available at registry.jockeyclub.com.