Capitol building in Frankfort, Ky.
The Kentucky House of Representatives introduced a bill on Feb. 14 that would effectively neutralize The Jockey Club’s stud book cap, which has been in effect since spring 2020 for foals born that year or later.
House Bill 496 states that, “a registrar of Thoroughbreds shall not restrict the number of mares that can be bred to a stallion or otherwise refuse to register any foal based upon the number of mares bred to the stallion of the foal submitted for registration.”
The bill would also task the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission with selecting an entity to serve as the state’s official registrar of Thoroughbreds, which would comply with the state’s rules on limiting or not limiting the number of mares a stallion may breed.
Speaker of the House David Osborne sponsored the bill with Rep. Matthew Koch, who is the co-owner of Shawhan Place in Paris, Ky.
The Jockey Club’s stud book cap restricts stallions born in 2020 or later to books of 140 mares per year. Stallions born before that cutoff point may continue to breed mares without limitations for the rest of their lives.
The rule has been divisive within the Thoroughbred breeding community, especially in Kentucky where major stallion operations Spendthrift Farm, Ashford Stud, and Three Chimneys Farm filed a lawsuit against The Jockey Club and members of the KHRC in February 2021 challenging various aspects of the rule, and the legality of how it came into existence.
According to The Jockey Club’s Report of Mares Bred, 45 stallions bred 140 or more mares in 2021, and all of them stood in Kentucky.
While the court battle will settle the legality of the stud book cap, the success or failure of HR 496 could be a critical juncture in the struggle between The Jockey Club’s authority as a national, but private, governing body for the Thoroughbred breeding industry versus the authority of individual state governments.