JC / Railbird

Sales/Auctions Archive


About the $1.2+ million topper of the Saratoga select yearling sale:

“It’s hard to get into those pedigrees,” Hogan said. “[She’s from] an old Phipps family and has a great pedigree. If she works out to be a good race filly, you’ve got the residual [value]. She’s a half sister to a really good horse and with that kind of pedigree she could be a good hen.”

Buying, the real gamble. Not that Optimizer’s little half-sister by Dynaformer is going to sink anyone in this deal if she doesn’t perform. “When you have one billionaire (Brad Kelley) selling to another billionaire (Goncalo Torreabla) you know it is a good time to be in biz,” observed Byron Rogers.

Keeneland Down 45.6%

Sales director Geoffrey Russell, asked how long the slump might last, replied:

“I don’t know because I am not an economist. I would like to see this turn around as quickly as possible. Definitely in time for [the Keeneland] January sale [Jan. 12-17, 2009],” he said half-jokingly, knowing that is unlikely to happen.

Let’s ask an economist then:

Keeneland’s sales over the last 16 years show that as an asset class, thoroughbreds are high-strung and a bit jumpy. When the world’s economy catches a sniffle, the horseflesh market starts wheezing…. When the economy slowed in the early 1990s, Keeneland’s sales fell three straight years, slumping 40 percent from $372 million in 1989 to $225 million in 1992.

Oh. Sounds like the just concluded Keeneland November sale augurs a rough year or three ahead.

Transparency Not Apparent

An ownership depository, available only to registered buyers and agents who provide personal identification and sign a confidentiality agreement, didn’t garner a single request for information from any bidders at the Fasig-Tipton July sale:

Van Clief acknowledged that the ownership repository — whose existence was listed in Fasig-Tipton’s conditions of sale as the 20th condition, “Transparency in Ownership,” as well as announcement from the auctioneer’s stand — might not have been obvious to buyers.

Sure, a lack of obviousness could have been a problem, or it could have been the hassle involved in gaining access to the information. I don’t follow sales assiduously or know enough about that aspect of the industry to comment with any confidence, but it does seem odd that the ownership of every animal entered for sale wouldn’t be fully, openly disclosed. Perhaps Kerry at Thoroughbred Brief, who expertly explained the role of equine lenders in sales in a recent post, could illuminate why the opacity someday.