In France, approved veterinarians take the initial markings of the suckling still running with its dam. As a yearling, it is checked again, and a final inspection is made before the horse is raced.
The Jockey Club has asked that whorl markings be noted on American foal registration applications this year for the first time. But one of every four U.S. horse identifications made by breeders on the farms is changed by the time the horse races, because of inaccuracies. Obviously a substantially better identification system is needed.
If horse substituting is as easy as the Keeneland thieves apparently believe, the nation's breeding farms could soon be confronted with a problem more pressing than the development of the next six-figure sales yearling.
"Nobody can control his farm," Boone admits. "Most of the big ones have night watchmen who go around at various intervals. The smaller ones don't. For example, I have four dogs. If someone comes in either driveway they raise Cain. But you can go out to the back of most farms, knock a fence down and lead a horse right through. It's easy. And I doubt if anybody would ever catch you. That's why I don't think I'm about to get this one back. In quarter-horse racing there's a lot of high-stake, man-to-man bets, 'My horse can beat your horse,' that sort of thing, up to $10,000. Maybe that's where these yearlings are. I haven't any idea. I don't think anyone has."