JC / Railbird

Sheikh Mohammed

Significant Support

8/20/09 Update: Much, much more on the Saratoga numbers, from Steve Zorn. “The Saratoga sale’s success masks some serious problems, and does nothing to address the weakness in the thoroughbred industry.”

How much did Sheikh Mohammed and the Maktoum family support the recently concluded Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale? By quite a bit more than acknowledged, according to Bill Oppenheim’s estimate in today’s TDN:

While no one seems to want to admit it publicly (they buy for “unnamed principals who don’t want to be identified,” or some such doubletalk), everybody knows a number of European trainers and agents are employed to sign for horses which end up racing for Maktoum entities. My entirely unofficial and unverifiable estimate is that seven other agents or trainers were signing tickets on their behalves, and their actual purchases consisted of about 37 yearlings totaling around $20.5 million in sales. That would represent 18 percent of the horses sent through the ring, and 39 percent of the money spent. I’ll bet that closer to the truth.

Savvy sellers plan for the future.


In the midst of headlines about expensive yearlings and the optimism such babies inspire, Jeff Scott reminds readers,

that the vast majority of the most important races continue to be won by horses that didn’t cost a small fortune. For example, the 83 Grade I winners over the past 12 months included just four horses that sold commercially for more than $350,000 – one yearling and three juveniles.

Of 35 Grade I winners sold as yearlings, 20 were purchased for $85,000 or less. They included no less than seven champions (Curlin, Zenyatta, Big Brown, Wait a While, Forever Together, Midnight Lute and Stardom Bound), as well as Derby winner Mine That Bird, who brought all of $9,500 at Fasig-Tipton’s 2007 October yearling sale.

Underbidders, feel consoled.

Odds and ends: “I was told he was drunk, had no credit, and had run away.” No, not Sheikh Mohammed, on the premises and good for $11.8 million, or 22.6% of the gross at the just concluded Fasig-Tipton select Saratoga sale, but an unknown bald man, who opened the bidding at $1 million for a Kingmambo filly then fled the pavilion after the hammer came down … Trying to interview the Sheikh? “Don’t bum rush” … Obligatory The Green Monkey mention.