A recent study in Australia of 80,000 repository X-rays demonstrated that most common bone abnormalities revealed in X-rays of sales yearlings have no effect on subsequent racing performance. Thoroughbred Daily News put the following questions forward to Tom Ryan from Cherokee Equine :

Q : As a buyer, how do radiographic findings affect your sales purchases? As a buyer or seller, have you had any good fortune with yearlings you bought or sold which had veterinary issues?

A : I am thrilled with the findings of this study and the debate that it has generated. Finally, we have solid data that seems to demonstrate that, in our pursuit of perfection, we often bypass clinically sound racing prospects due to lesions that have little or no effect on performance. I’m not saying that veterinarians are totally at fault here, as in most cases they are only providing a service that is generally straight forward, allowing the buyer make an informed decision on their purchase. With that said, I’ve experienced both sides of the fence as both buyer and seller, and I am convinced that some veterinarians are incapable of saying yes [how they ever managed marriage, I don’t know!] I feel that there are a few vets who wish to earn a living from overanalyzing X-rays and producing negative reports which, of course, is always the safe bet. Are we not all in this industry to breed, buy and sell racehorses?

X-ray reports have a great effect on my sales purchases because I may fall in love with a yearling and know, in my heart, this horse has all the right parts, but if I bring him to OBS or Calder as a two-year-old and he still has a little ‘this or that,’ the same vet who said no to the pinhook but will be okay as a racehorse at the yearling sales will most likely say no as a racehorse six months later. I buy yearlings every year for end-users and enjoy it when they’re willing to give a horse the necessary time to mature and don’t have an unrealistic need for early speed.

The ones I’ve bought to go racing rather than pinhooking have been very productive, and the ones I’ve tried to sell with veterinary issues at an auction have cost me a fortune. Some were horses with clinical problems that needed to become riding horses; others were failed due to a negative mindset rather than a real problem. As a breeder, buyer and seller of yearlings, I am all too familiar with the escalating costs of getting the product to the marketplace. Because of the scope of this industry, we have little control over who makes the final decisions: Is he a suitable pinhook or only clean enough to become a racehorse? Who becomes accountable when he develops into the next Premium Tap and you have just sold a Grade I winner for $4,500. Accountability???

Over the next few days we will publish the views of trainer Ken McPeek , Rob Whiteley from Liberation Farm , Barry Berkelhammer from Abracadabra Farm and Terry Finley from West Point Thoroughbreds.