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Karacabey Stud Farm breeds winners

ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News | 1/27/2007 12:00:00 AM | DAMARIS KREMIDA

The Turkish Jockey Club (TJK) is hoping that, at 13, Free Trade, the racehorse that gave birth to Sabırlı – one of the first Turkish thoroughbreds to compete internationally, placing third in the Dubai

The Turkish Jockey Club (TJK) is hoping that, at 13, Free Trade, the racehorse that gave birth to Sabırlı – one of the first Turkish thoroughbreds to compete internationally, placing third in the Dubai World Cup last year – will produce another race-winning foal as Turkey tries to establish itself in the international horseracing arena.

Free Trade, along with 208 other female thoroughbreds, lives on the Karacabey Stud Farm on the outskirts of Bursa. The stud farm was founded by the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and the TJK in 1999 in response to the need to regulate the breeding of horses in Turkey for competition in international races. The 1,235-acre (five square kilometers) farm contains 790 stalls, a hospital and other facilities. The 250-person staff, including 118 grooms, 10 vets and 11 veterinary assistants, takes care of the hundreds of horses that come or live here to be bred – and their potential champion offspring.

So-called English racehorses like Sabırlı have been bred here since 2001. Karacabey Stud Farm Director İsmail Zeki Yazıcı said that the farm caters to horses throughout their life, adhering to international standards for breeding. The health and physical condition of the horses is continually monitored, particularly before being sent off to training at the TJK's Köseköy farm in İzmit. “This is the TJK's backyard,” Yazıcı said.

Before Karacabey and other stud farms in Turkey opened, Yazıcı explained, private owners bred their own horses on their properties and as a result no Turkish horses were able to compete internationally; they didn't meet international breeding standards or pass inspections. Last year the Karacabey administration and the TJK saw the results of their thoroughbred breeding efforts in the racecourse for the first time, with Sabırlı and Ribella – born but not conceived at Karacabey – competing in Dubai. The two have become famous in Turkey for their achievements.

Sabırlı has had 18 wins in 32 starts, with career earnings of $1.37 million, and holds a record in Turkey for covering 1,600 meters in just 1.3 minutes. His strong presence internationally and in Turkey gives the TJK hope for a continued presence among the world's racecourses.

Yazıcı said that he and the staff at Karacabey trust themselves and their horses. “I believe if we can send more of our horses to international races we will definitely have more Sabırlıs and Ribellas,” he said. Even though Karacabey is only in its fifth year of operation, Yazıcı feels that they have already made headway since 2001 when they started breeding horses. To date over 1,500 thoroughbreds have been born at Karacabey to private owners and the TJK, providing a slew of competitive runners for a betting industry that reports over YTL 1.3 billion in revenues annually.

Barhan Alper, chief of international relations at the TJK, explained that competing outside of Turkey is not an easy task. “We have to catch up with the quality of international horses. For the time being we have only four or five horses entering international competitions,” Alper said. Sabırlı and Ribella won't be cleared for international racing again, and this year it is possible that Scarface or Fairson – not from Karacabey – will be chosen instead, Alper added. Sabırlı and Ribella will continue to race in Turkey.

The breeders say that once in a while they can really pick a winner. When in 2004 thoroughbred Paula was born, Ercan Aslan at Karacabey said within a few months he knew there was something different about her air. She was a “noble” thoroughbred. “There was leadership in her spirit,” Aslan said. Paula has gone on to İzmit for training and has not yet started competing. Aslan is waiting to see if his prediction was correct.

This year Karacabey is expecting 150 births.

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