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U.S. Farm Report Mailbag

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An Eye for Horses

May 26, 2010
   Heard your report this morning and I agree with you one hundred percent. Genetic breeding will take the fun out of racing and the sport of it. Random luck and years of skill should not be replaced. Or what is next? I enjoy your show(s) every Saturday morning here in Indio, California -- at 5 a.m., no less. 
Bob Myre

***Editor's Note - Bob is referring to the following commentary from John Phipps that aired last weekend...
   THE WORLD OF THOROUGHBRED RACING IS STEEPED IN TRADITION AND HAS A LONG HISTORY OF ADMIRATION FOR INSTINCTIVE DECISIONS BY OWNERS AND TRAINERS WHO CAN JUDGE HORSEFLESH AND SORT OUT WINNERS. THAT RESPECT AND DEFERENCE TO THE WISDOM OF EXPERIENCE COULD BE CHALLENGED BY TECHNOLOGY.
   THE RECENT DISCOVERY OF THE "SPEED GENE" ADDS A NEW WRINKLE TO THE ART OF BREEDING HORSES. FOLLOWING THE COMPLETION OF THE HORSE GENOME, RESEARCHERS IN DUBLIN DISCOVERED A SINGLE VARIATION ON THE MYOSTATIN GENE SEEMED TO CORRELATE TO A HORSE'S ABILITY TO RACE WELL AT VARIOUS DISTANCES. FOR ABOUT 1,500 BUCKS, BREEDING STOCK CAN BE TESTED AND THE PRESENCE OF THE DESIRED GENE CONFIRMED. 
   WHILE TRADITIONAL HORSE BREEDERS ARE DISCOUNTING THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS TEST, I TEND TO BELIEVE IT WILL SIMPLY BE THE FIRST OF SEVERAL TECHNOLOGICAL SORTING TOOLS THAT WILL EVENTUALLY REPLACE MUCH OF THE INTUITIVE SKILLS SO HARD TO ACQUIRE BY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. AS THAT OCCURS, MUCH OF THE MYSTIQUE OF THE TOP LEVELS OF THE HORSE INDUSTRY WILL DIMINISH, I THINK. AND COUPLED WITH THE UNCERTAIN REVENUES FROM WAGERING DUE TO GAMING COMPETITION, MUCH COULD CHANGE. REMOVING SOME OF THE CHANCE FROM HORSE BREEDING ALSO REMOVES SOME OF THE GLAMOR.
   SOMEHOW, WATCHING A VETERAN JUDGE OF HORSES EYE A 2-YEAR-OLD FOR POSSIBILITIES IS SLIGHTLY MORE FASCINATING THAN GETTING A PRINTOUT FROM A LAB TECH.
 
 
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