Number of Thoroughbred mares bred in Kentucky rose by 7.2 percent in 2014

Thoroughbred breeding in Kentucky rebounded further this year: The number of mares bred to the state's 233 stallions was up 7.2 percent, according to the Jockey Club.

Annually in October, The Jockey Club, which keeps the breed registry for Thoroughbred racing, puts out statistics on mares and stallions after most reports of breeding have been filed. (Numbers will climb slightly next year after all matings are reported.)

According to the numbers released Wednesday, 1,547 stallions covered 34,540 mares in North America this year. Almost half of the matings — 48.7 percent, or 16,826 mares — happened in the Bluegrass, where the most active stallions stand.

Overall, the number of stallions declined 8.9 percent, while the number of mares bred increased 1.1 percent.

The busiest stallion this year was Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Kitten's Joy, who covered 204 mares. He stands at Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville for $100,000 for a live foal.

Just behind him in the standings: Into Mischief, standing at Spendthrift Farm for $20,000, with 203 mares; Scat Daddy, standing at Ashford Stud for $30,000, with 202 mares; Midnight Lute, standing at Hill 'n' Dale Farm for $25,000, with 186 mares; and Violence, also standing at Hill 'n' Dale for $15,000, with 181 mares.

Kentucky continued to dominate Thoroughbred breeding as more mares were sent to stallions with large books. The number of stallions covering 100 or more mares rose from 88 in 2013 to 97 in 2014, and most of those stallions were in Kentucky.

The number of mares bred to those stallions was up 8.3 percent in 2014. And the number of mares bred to stallions with books of 75 to 99 was up 12.9 percent.

Breeding to mares with smaller book sizes shrank or increased only marginally, according to the Jockey Club.