Do you think the current method of preparing and offering two-year-olds for sale is the appropriate one for both the buying public and the horses themselves? How do breeze shows, the time of year and lack of uniform medication rules, among other things, affect them?
International Bloodstock Agent Rollin Baugh:
I think there are an awful lot of people in the industry who know exactly what my mindset is. We haven’t handled a consignment group since 1996 when we sold the Keck horses in dispersal. We sold those because we could do exactly what we wanted, and didn’t apply what I considered unnecessary pressure to the horses. We galloped them strongly up to the sale, and they were by Danzig and Mr. Prospector, so it ’ s not like I was giving away a whole lot.
I ’ ve declined to participate, and the people who do it now are super-sophisticated. I have declined to do it because I don’t consider it an appropriate path for horses to take at that point in their year. That said, I ’ m aware that statistics show they hold up as well as any alternate preparation, but when you look at the number of outs at these sales and the buyback rate, it strikes me that the evidence shows at that stage that the horse is placed in a position where they have to do too much and that ’ s not something they need to be doing.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of horses that passed under our consignment banner, but at the end of the day, it represents something inappropriate to me. The buyers go after the type they feel is best suited, and they do everything they feel they can to make it come out right. We’ve had some successes and we ’ ve had some successes and Grade 1 winners, but that was back in the day when they didn ’ t have to do as much. There aren ’ t as many people who are interested in doing it now. It ’ s a narrow market in terms of whose horses get to the sale, and the horses who make it to market. I ’ d rather buy them, quite frankly, privately off good farms even before they get to the September sale, and there are some people willing to sell them that way.
I reduce it to one comment: I enjoyed the industry much more when it was a racing-horse industry rather than a selling-horse industry.
OBS Director of Sales Tom Ventura:
Consignors of two-year-olds have become extremely proficient in preparing their horses for sale. I believe the vast majority of consignors understand the importance of giving the buyer a well-educated, sound racehorse and prepare the horses appropriately. While time is certainly an important aspect of the pre-sale breeze, the manner in which the horse moves has become even more important in recent years. The video of the breeze not only highlights a good-moving horse under an easy ride, but is also unforgiving to the horse being ridden hard or with less fluid action. In my opinion, consignors are more willing to spare a fraction of a second if it will present a better-looking breeze and video.
Buyers of two-year-olds have become more sophisticated in their approach, as well, considering many factors prior to bidding.
Again, while time is a consideration, the manner in which the horse breezes, overall athleticism, conformation, pedigree, stride and cardio analysis, biomechanics, attitude, consignor past performance and veterinary information are all part of the equation.
One of the major attractions of two-year-old sales is the buyer gets an opportunity to watch the horses perform under tack . Obviously, the breeze shows provide the buyer more information than available for horses sold as weanlings or yearlings. Being able to watch the horse perform adds important information in projecting future racing performance and soundness.
The notion that two-year-olds are asked too much too early is not valid. In fact, the OBSFEB Sale, the first sale of the year, has consistently produced the highest percentage of stakes winners in industry studies, outperforming all sales of any kind including yearling sales.
In general, two-year-old sales continue to produce racehorses competing at the very top of the game. The days of the stereotypical precocious two year olds or sprinters are long gone. Just glance at any weekend stakes results or Kentucky Derby prospects to see the impact two-year-old sale graduates are making . Regarding medication, sales companies have been proactive in adopting policies for the benefit of the well being of the horse and the protection of the buyer.
Consignors have welcomed and supported the effort. Medication policy is a constant work in progress the sales companies continue to monitor. It is in the best interest of the entire industry for sales companies and all other industry participants to work together addressing the use of medication at the sales and the races. In the near future, I am confident policies will be adopted throughout the nation restricting the use of anabolic steroids. It is important to realize medication is no more of an issue at two-year-old sales than other sales or at the racetrack. Two-year-old sale graduates continue to shine on the track as they rack up stakes wins coast to coast. International buyers are increasing their participation not only taking advantage of the weakened dollar but also recognizing the potential of their purchases to compete at the highest level.
We will be posting part 2 of “Question of the Month” on Monday 17 March 2008.
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News