Bobby Zen

Royal Breeze Racing, a racing and breeding operation located in Harvard, Massachusetts, owns two Mass-breds, a yearling by Frosted and a weanling by Beau Liam. That may not seem like a lot but when you consider that only five horses were foaled in the state between 2021 and 2023, Royal Breeze has become a leader in an industry still trying to figure out how to stay afloat when there are no racetracks in the state. The last one left was Suffolk Downs, which has not raced since 2019.

“We’d rather be big fish in a small pond than a little fish in a big pond,” said Royal Breeze’s owner and farm manager Carol Casella.

While there are no longer any racetracks in Massachusetts, there are plenty of incentives to breed in the state as the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders Association has put together a unique bonus system. A Massachusetts-bred is eligible for lucrative bonus payments.

The program offers bonuses payments to Massachusetts-breds when they compete at any racetrack in North America.

Here’s how it works:

*A supplemental incentive of $10,000 is be added to the purse of any unrestricted race in which a Mass-bred horse is entered at a licensed pari-mutuel race meeting authorized by the state racing commission.

*This supplemental incentive will be distributed as follows: 60%, 20%, 10%, 5%, 3% and 2% to the first six finishers.

*Additionally, breeders (25%), owners (10%), stallion owners (15%), and `developers’ (the horse’s first owner of record, 20%) earn awards based on the race’s purse, on top of any money they might win in the race. That developer award protects people who go through the trouble of breeding a Mass-bred only to see it claimed away because of the incentives.

Dr Blarney, even at age 11, is the pride of the Massachusetts breeding program. Still active, he has made $788,173 on the racetrack plus an additional $181,338 in Mass-bred bonuses.

Out of her 30 horses, including mares, yearlings, and foals, Casella is lucky to have two Mass-breds. The yearling by Frosted was a twin and veterinarians advised her to terminate the pregnancy.

“When we got the mare back from Kentucky they hadn’t caught that it was a twin,” she said. “They were identical twins on top of one another. My vet wanted to terminate the pregnancy and I said absolutely not-not after I’ve spent a fortune sending the mare down to Kentucky to breed. Then I found a vet at Tufts and he was able to save one of them.”

Like most who have been around New England racing for a long time, Casella can remember when the sport thrived in the area, when there was Suffolk Downs, Rockingham Park, Lincoln Downs, Narragansett, Green Mountain, Scarborough Downs and several fair tracks in Massachusetts. She knows that the glory days will never return to New England, but she wants to do her part to keep a flicker of a flame alive. That’s why she has been courting New England-based owners who walked away after Suffolk closed but might want to get back into the game.

Among the horses they have now on the farm are 2024 foals by Nashville, Beau Liam and Mind Control; yearlings by Frosted, Jimmy Creed, Catholic Boy, Daredevil and Tiz the Law; and two-year-olds by Keen Ice and Gift Box.

“We are putting all of our efforts into the Mass program to see it develop and grow,” she said. “We are trying to get more Massachusetts people involved,” she said. “I want to raise them, race them and the bring them home when their careers are over and make sure they get a good home. This is my home state. It will be great to participate with a Mass-bred and we’d love to do more. What happened to all the people from Suffolk Downs? Where did they all go? Even the bettors? We need to get these people back involved in the sport.

“There are a lot of people in Massachusetts who would like to be involved. That’s why we’re trying to reach out to people in Massachusetts. Some of the people don’t know what’s happening with the bonuses. It would be great to get them involved. We have to get the word out to people in Massachusetts and all over New England. We think there’s a lot of people who would love to get involved again. We have some quality horses by good sires. We want to breed quality and enjoy it and want other people to enjoy it.”

Her goal is to keep the partnerships small.

“We try to do small partnerships so people are real owners,” she said. “We don’t want it to be the type of situation you get with the microshares. We want two or three people in on a horse. That way they are real owners.  They get their owner’s license, they get all the owner’s privileges.”

There is talk that Massachusetts may soon enter into a program similar to what they have in Delaware and Virginia, where horses born in other states can be accredited Massachusetts breds as long as they spend a minimum of three months in the state. That could provide a huge boost to the Massachusetts program. If so, virtually all of Royal Breeze Racing’s horses would be certified Mass. breds.

Royal Breeze is one of the few remaining thoroughbred farms anywhere in New England. Casella would welcome some competition, knowing what that would mean–that there is some life after all to the Massachusetts breeding program.

The post Royal Breeze Racing Remains Bullish on Massachusetts Breeding and Racing appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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