If the harness racing industry doesn't improve in Illinois then stud farms like Walker Standardbreds will merely become hobby operations rather than a viable commercial businesses. That's the opinion of long-time breeder Dr Kenneth Walker who owns Walker Standardbreds in Sherman, Illinois.
In fact Dr Walker, who is a veterinarian, has become so frustrated with the industry that as of today (Monday February 7) he has been forced to halve the stud fee on his five stallions.
"I've been involved in the industry since 1974 and I don't think it's ever been this bad. It's very tough trying to run a standardbred business here.
"The stakes program is good but the overnight races are poor and give the owners little chance of making money. If it continues this way it will merely become a hobby for us," Dr Walker said.
He believed now was the time for slots to be introduced onto Illinois racetracks.
"That would give owners the boost they need. Something has to be done. It has forced us into halving our stud fees. It was really our only option because owners just can't afford the old prices," Dr Walker said.
The stallions currently standing at Walker Standardbreds and their new stud fees are:
SPORTSMASTER (- Diana Lynn Lobell, by Sonsam) p,2,1:52.1 ($755,803) - $4,000.
POWERFUL EMOTION (- Prime Mistress, by ) 2,Q2:01; 3,1:54.2 ($36,202) - $2,500.
PIZZAZZED (- Armbro Adored, by ) 2,1:58.1f ($236,970) - $2,500.
RICHESS HANOVER (- Rich N Elegant, by Direct Scooter) p,2,1:53 ($557,537) - $3,500.
YANKEE SKYSCRAPER (- Skyfire, by ) p,2,1:53.1; 3,1:49 ($916,661) - $3,500
Dr Walker also said thatand Incredible Final were also standing at stud but their prices were negotiable.
"is 17 and is not a successful breeder like he used to be while is 28 and coming to the end of it."
VAPORIZE (- Hanky, by ) 2,Q2:01.3f; 3,1:55 ($255,422) - Negotiable.
INCREDIBLE FINALE (Shadow's Finale - Queen Margie, by Meadow Skipper) p,2,1:55.3; 3,1:53.3h; 4,1:53.2f ($1,165,508) - Negotiable.
Walker Standardbreds have bred many champions over the years including the now outstanding Armbro Charger 14-year-old squaregaiter, who trotted a 1:52.2 mile and won 36 races and $2.5 million.
Then last year there was the son of Sportsmaster, Fox Valley Topaz (1:51.4) who won 13 races and $824,085.
"We've bred quite a few champions over the years. Anything with the name Fox Valley in it was ours," Dr Walker said.
By Duane RANGER (editor)