Known as the “Horse Capital of the World”™: Ocala/Marion County is home to the largest number of horses and ponies – more than any other county in the United States. The diversity of breeds and disciplines make it an ideal setting for any horse fanatic or casual horse lover.
The equine industry represents a $2.62 billion annual economic impact on the Ocala MSA economy.
Thoroughbreds in Ocala/Marion County: Approximately 35,300
Thoroughbred farms/ training centers in Ocala/Marion County area: 431
Acres dedicated to the Thoroughbred industry in Ocala/Marion County: 70,000+
Economic impact of the Thoroughbred industry on Ocala/Marion County: $1.3+ Billion
Investment dollars in farms, training centers, improvements, equipment, storage, breeding, and racing stock in Ocala/Marion County: ** $3.5 Billion
*American Horse Council Study, 2005 ** FTBOA
Florida’s Thoroughbred farms and training centers have produced 50 National Champions, 6 Kentucky Derby winners, 7 Preakness Stakes winners, 6 Belmont Stakes winners, 26 Breeders’ Cup champions, and 6 Horses of the Year. Thoroughbred breeding and training farms cover more than 70,000 acres of Florida’s prime, mineral-rich pastures. Florida is home to some 600 Thoroughbred farms and training centers, with more than 75 percent of these located near Ocala in Marion County. Ocala is also home to the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, which stages major bloodstock auctions throughout the year. OBS also operates an ITW simulcasting theater and each March hosts the annual Week of Champions races. The concentration of the Thoroughbred breeding and training industry in the Ocala/Marion County area is strongly supported by a network of equine services, such as veterinarians, feed and tack retailers, blacksmiths, equine dentists, and major horse transportation companies. All these factors make Ocala one of only four major Thoroughbred breeding and training centers in the world.
Most of the recent Kentucky Derby contenders had their early training in Central Florida.
Florida ranks number 2 as a breeding region in the U.S. for thoroughbreds and is one of the top 5 breeding regions in the world.
3,100 horses sold at OBS in 2014 for a record of $142 million – 20% higher than 2013 – buyers from 42 states and 18 countries.
Equines attribute to $1.6 billion of the county’s GDP total of $8.7 billion.
Wire to Wire is a daily publication in Marion County promoting the thoroughbred industry – the only printed daily of any breeding region in the world.
Florida’s foal crop is up for a third year in a row (increasing 5%) and is the only North American jurisdiction to do so for three straight years.
The racing industry creates over 12,000 in-state jobs with payroll of over $400 million in wages and benefits annually.
In 2013, over 20,000 thoroughbreds engaged in racing in Florida.
A local favorite is Florida-bred and Ocala-board Affirmed, the last Triple Crown champion before American Pharoah, who was broken and trained in Ocala.
Since 1955, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) has represented more than 1,400 Thoroughbred breeders and owners who breed, raise, train and race horses born in the state of Florida with the mission of promoting the Florida thoroughbred nationally and worldwide.