by Debbie Little
Maybe the rules don’t apply to Greenshoe, at least where sales are concerned.
Prior to the start of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale on Monday (Oct. 3), there was discussion as to whether the Stallion Restriction Condition (SRC), better known as the “Gural Rule”, would have an effect on how the Greenshoe yearlings would sell.
“I don’t think it will have any significant affect,” said Bob Boni, whose Northwood Bloodstock consignment in Lexington sold two by Greenshoe. “If there’s a right-looking Greenshoe in the ring, they’ll sell fine. A couple of years ago, you had the same thing with Downbytheseaside that wasn’t eligible. And I don’t think somebody who wanted one that was going to spend $100,000 looked at it and said, I’ll only go $75,000. You saw similar with Bar Hopping.”
Owner Mark Weaver has firsthand experience when it comes to dealing with the SRC, which according to the rule says: “This condition applies to sires and their foals conceived when the sire is 4 years old, it does not apply to sires or their foals if the foal is conceived when the sire is 5 years old or older.” Exemptions are possible if certain criteria are met.
“When we bought a lot of the Downbytheseasides it never crossed my mind,” said Weaver.
On April 1, 2022, the tag team of Weaver and Mike Bruscemi became co-owners of Bythemissal, with Burke Racing, Good and Lombardo Racing, from the first crop of Downbytheseaside.
Bythemissal is currently the top-ranked 3-year-old male pacer in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown weekly Top 10 poll, and has seasonal earnings of $980,525 without ever competing at The Meadowlands.
“When we bought him, to me, it didn’t really hurt his value much,” said Weaver referring to the SRC.
No one can question Gural’s good intentions by wanting to keep older stars on the track, to help create new fans as well as bring them and existing ones out to the races, when he introduced the rule in 2011. It was originally envisioned as a lifetime ban from The Meadowlands, Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs, and included baby races, qualifiers, stakes and overnights, but was later changed to just stakes events.
For a short time, both the Hambletonian Society and Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) backed the Gural Rule, but since 2015, The Meadowlands has stood alone, prompting one to question: Is the rule accomplishing what it was created to do?
“I understand what the rule is intended to do. I just don’t know if it penalizes the people that it’s supposed to,” said Weaver. “It penalizes the most the people that put the rule in place. It’s done by The Meadowlands and for the fans and I think the people it penalizes the most is The Meadowlands and the fans. It’s not designed to have the impact that they want it to.
“You can’t tell me that having Pebble Beach, that had just beaten Beach Glass, and Bythemissal, who beat Beach Glass in the Adios, wouldn’t have made for a better Meadowlands Pace. By doing it, he’s keeping stars off the track.”
Earlier this year, the SRC was revised to allow ineligible first-crop foals to race as 4-year-olds and up.
“The spirit of the rule is to try and keep our stars racing, so excluding older horses from our stakes was not our intention,” said Gural in a February Meadowlands’ press release. “There are some horses returning to the races from age 3 to 4 this year that are of the quality that we’d like to see continue to race. This had not previously been considered and needs to be corrected rather than exclude those horses by the SRC.”
Since Gural has revised the rule before, perhaps he would be open to one suggested update that could be a win for The Big M and the fans.
In a time when every track is fighting for horses, wouldn’t it benefit The Meadowlands to change the SRC to allow the first-crop horses to race but penalize them by charging them more?
If those currently ineligible 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds had to pay double or triple the staking fees, wouldn’t that be enough of a penalty to the stallion yet also be beneficial to The Meadowlands by making more money through staking, having larger fields and the best competitors on the track?
When asked if it had been an option, would he have considered paying twice as much to put Bythemissal into the Pace, Weaver said: “We just paid $45,000 to race him in the Jug. We plan on spending $62,000 to put him in the Breeders Crown.”
As for the effect on Greenshoe in the Lexington Sale, he was the leading sire in session No. 1 with $4,132,000 in total sales and had the $500,000 topper for session No. 2.
“Would it be nice to be eligible?” said Boni. “Sure, it would, but I don’t think it has any significant impact on what they’ll sell for. Greenshoe was as talented as any trotter you’d ever want to see and that’s what’s going to sell his foals.”