The state of Florida has a fiscal calendar. State business and other functions are reckoned from July 1 through June 30. The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association publishes its farm directory each June. The Florida Department of Agriculture, through its commissioner of agriculture, Charles Bronson, in conjunction with the breeders and owners association, issues its state-of-the-industry report in the farm directory.
There are approximately 550 Thoroughbred farms in the Marion County – the Ocala area – where the great majority of the state’s farms are located. There is no accurate count of how many more Thoroughbred farms are located in other counties. There are, for example, still a few farms and training centers in and around Tampa Bay Downs, but most of the larger entities that used to be in that area have been developed or are undergoing development.
The biggest operations in Marion County are Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs South and Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Stud. Both are listed as being 4,500-acre properties. Paul Buhlmahn’s Goldmark Farm rounds out the top three at 2,500 acres.
The state’s data base shows that tourism and agriculture are Florida’s principal industries. The horse industry, including all the breeds, has an overall economic impact of $5.1 billion, according to state figures. The Thoroughbred industry generates $2.2 billion of this impact.
The Department of Agriculture data base indicates that 440,000 Florida residents are involved in the horse industry. There are 105,000 horse owners, 7,100 service providers, and 107,700 total jobs generated.
There are approximately 7,100 Thoroughbred broodmares domiciled in Florida. There are 229 stallions registered with the breeders and owners association who will have covered one or more mares in 2008. The average stallion book for 2008 should be 30, based on the estimated number of resident broodmares. However, in 2007 there were 10 stallions with books of 100 or more. According to Jockey Club statistics, the Florida stallions with the biggest books in ’07 were Wildcat Heir and With Distinction, who each covered 177 mares. Congrats followed with 172 and Pomeroy at 150. The ’08 live foal count for mares bred in ’07 does not have to be reported to the Jockey Club until August. The breeders and owners association count for live foals in ’07 was 4,082. The estimated number of live foals for 2008 is believed to be in the 4,000 range.
Juvenile sales have decent season
There were six Florida sales of 2-year-olds in training during this year’s selling season. Four of these – held in February, March, April, and June – were conducted at the home facilities of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company. The March Adena Springs sale of 2-year-olds in training was conducted by the OBS but the venue was the Adena Springs Farm. The Fasig-Tipton sale of 2-year-olds in training was held at Calder Race Course in February
OBS in February was strong (89 selling for $14,030,000). Adena Spring (97 selling for $5,283,500) also improved on its ’07 stats. February at Fasig-Tipton registered a dip in business (102 selling for $35,100,000). March at OBS (233 selling for $33,380,000), OBS April (772 for $22,578,000) and OBS June (352 for $7,720,700) all had mostly positive numbers, and, overall, the results were not that much different from 2007.
“The year held up well,” said Tom Ventura, sales director for the OBS. “These are not the best of times economically and there was some apprehension that the industry might be negatively impacted. But, our regular buyers, along with many newcomers, supported our market.”