While Thoroughbred breeding nationwide has suffered in recent years, few states have struggled as much as New Jersey.  Troubles in the racing industry — the state, which once boasted more than 300 days of live Thoroughbred racing at four different racetracks, will have only 77 this year — and surging land development have left the state’s breeding industry between a rock and a hard place.

Indeed, the number of mares bred in  New Jersey has fallen from nearly 600 two decades ago to just 101 this year.  And the Jersey-bred foal crop was in 2011 just a third of what it had been 20 years earlier, with further declines on the way.

In a lengthy article, the Camden-based Courier-Post newspaper details what’s gone wrong.  From the demise of Garden State Park in Cherry Hill to the lack of slots-enhanced purses — a tool available to all of its nearby competitors — to just plain bad luck, the state’s breeders haven’t had it easy — but a few hearty souls soldier on.

Kurt Sleeter, among the state’s top breeders, put it this way: ““There’s no amount of money that would get us out of here,” he says. “We just love this place so much.”

Read more at the Courier-Post.

(Featured picture by Laurie Asseo).