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Massachusetts Sire Stakes start later this month
Tuesday, September 05, 2017 - by Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

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Plainville, MA --- While many other state’s sire stakes programs have already had their finals or have them coming up on the calendar soon, the Massachusetts Sire Stakes is preparing to get its 2017 schedule underway at the end of September.

However, some horses competing in programs from surrounding states will also be starting in the Massachusetts program and that is because of the state’s resident mare rule allowing dual eligibility for each Massachusetts foal.

The 2017 Massachusetts Sire Stakes schedule is as follows:

Sept. 25 -- 2- and 3-year-old First Leg -- $25,000 (est.)
Oct. 2 -- 2- and 3-year-old Second Leg -- $25,000 (est.)
Oct. 23 – 2-year-old Third Leg -- $25,000 (est.)
Oct. 30 – 3-year-old Third Leg -- $25,000 (est.)
Nov. 6 -- 2- and 3-year-old Finals -- $75,000 (est.)

The success of Plainridge Park Casino has enriched the breeding program in Massachusetts as a result of the percentage paid to that program through the provisions of the Race Horse Development Fund. The $1.2 million in sire stake purses being offered this year is double that of 2015 and is expected to continue growing exponentially as the MGM Springfield Casino opens in 2018 and the Wynn Boston Harbor Casino comes online in 2019.

Longtime Massachusetts breeders like Ralph Andersen, Eddie Blash, Steven Richards, Terry Mc Gee and Joel Wheeler have supported the breeding program in the state for many years and Maine based breeders like Kevin Switzer have also bred their mares to Maine sires and brought them to Massachusetts to foal. All the local breeders have experienced the lows of the past and are now poised for profiting from the highs of the future.

The program, while still growing, has already found its place on the radar of many Grand Circuit trainers as well this year and sale prices from mares in foal and Massachusetts eligible yearlings are expected to noticeably rise at the sales this fall as the breedings are just now trying to catch up to the demand. And major players have had very positive comments this year about the Massachusetts Sire Stakes program and the direction it is moving in.

Paul Kelley said, “I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm right now because of the new money that’s available there. More and more people are trying to buy Massachusetts-breds so the breeding program has the opportunity to expand. I think they’ve done a fantastic job promoting Plainridge and the breeding program and it’s only a little over two hours from where I am so if I can buy a horse that can compete in their program, I definitely will invest in it. I love that area, I grew up in Walpole and I would love the opportunity to race there more often.”

George Ducharme said, “The Massachusetts Sire Stakes has been a great success for the local horsemen. The guys who have stuck it out breeding there and kept their farms alive are finally going to get to benefit a little and get back on their feet. I think the program is going to just keep exploding the way it’s going right now.”

Frank Antonacci said, “We have been breeding in Massachusetts for quite a few years now and I think it’s a great program. The way it’s set up, it drives the economy in Massachusetts and it allows people to raise horses on great farms in in the state while breeding to the best stallions in the world. It’s a fantastic program; a thoughtfully laid out program. And as the program continues to grow, it’s set up perfectly.”

The Antonacci family currently has 14 Massachusetts-breds this year while Ducharme has 11, including Muscles Jared who just finished second in the $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Sunday (Sept. 3).

It’s important to note that resident mares need to be registered with the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Animal Health, by Dec. 1, 2017 in order for the foal to be eligible to the Massachusetts program.

The foal will also be eligible to the state program where the stallion is standing, so having it eligible to two different stakes programs simultaneously brings extra equity to the breeding. You can race your horse in the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Maine Sire Stakes and then bring it to Massachusetts in September and October and be entitled to even more earnings opportunities.

This year Massachusetts breeders have gone from 56 to 72, the number of resident broodmares has risen from 40 to 111 and there are now 40 working Standardbred farms in the state. These numbers are expected to continue to go up as demand for these horses gets stronger and horses foaled in the state next year are expected to be the most valuable yet.

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