(3-23-23) Select Genes is a one of several companies that are using technology in the process of ICSI ( intracytoplasmic sperm injection) to give breeders access to world-class horse genetics in many forms.

Over the years this process continues to make an impact…it is used in Quarter Horse, Harness and Arabian racing to name a few..but not in thoroughbred racing. Many other forms use it as well.

In the ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) process, a tiny needle is used to inject a single sperm into the center of the egg, which will hopefully create an embryo after several days in the lab. 

The Process

Select Genes is giving breeders access to world-class maternal genetics – in a way that has never been available in the past. First they will begin palpating the mare. You will be updated by the Select Genes office, via text, on the mare’s cycle. Aspiration is entirely dependent upon her cycle and is scheduled when her follicle numbers are at the highest count. This means the aspiration may take place as soon as a week after payment or as long as 120 days after.

Following aspiration, lab technicians will begin creating embryos. Oocytes (unfertilized eggs), harvested in aspiration, are taken to the ICSI lab. At this time, an individual sperm is injected into the egg to create the embryo through the ICSI procedure.

During breeding season, fresh embryo(s) may be implanted into a recipient mare. If out of season, the embryos will all be frozen.

Fresh or frozen embryos are transferred to recipient mares. Recipient facilities must be approved by Select Genes. You may choose to implant all of your embryos immediately, or keep some of them frozen for future use. You have five years from the time of embryo creation to use your embryos

You won’t find the thoroughbred industry taking part in it…although some thoroughbred stallions have been a part of the process in quarter horse racing.

In November of 2018— from racingpost.com

Members of the International Thoroughbred Breeders’ Federation (ITBF) voted unanimously against the use of artificial breeding methods in thoroughbreds at the general meeting of this year’s ITBF Conference on November 1 (2018) in Lexington.

The agreement reaffirms the federation’s long held stance against such processes including (but not restricted to) artificial insemination, embryo transfer, cloning, sexing of sperm and genetic engineering/manipulation.

While thoroughbred horse racing does not allow any form of artificial insemination (AI), other forms of racing do…including harness racing.

2021 story from harnessracing.comFrozen In Time

Dr. Martha Annie Mellish works in equine theriogenology at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, (PEI) Canada

“In the case of Steelhead Hanover, in 2017, he was euthanized and died partway through the breeding season. We were able to harvest some of his semen and use it on mares for the rest of the breeding season, so kind of carry out the rest of that breeding season… The semen was harvested from his testicles shortly before he was euthanized, and then it was able to be used for the rest of the season… It resulted in Woodmere Stealdeal [p,3,1:52.1h; $123,078], who as a 2-year-old won all of the [Maritime] stakes races. He wouldn’t be around without frozen semen breeding.

Mohawk, Sbred, January 8, 2022 Race 8

Woodbine ReplaysYou Tube Video

The question is why has thoroughbred racing decided not to use the technology that the majority of other racing forms are using in the breeding barn? It is not that new technology is the issue…over the years thoroughbred racing has adapted thru many different changes…medical treatment and procedures, the use of video to determine close finishes, etc.


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