Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds made the following comments relating to the recent study in Australia of 80,000 repository X-rays which demonstrated that most common bone abnormalities revealed in X-rays of sales yearlings have no effect on subsequent racing performance.
Of course, we spend quite a bit of money performing vet exams at the sales. Plenty of other buyers do as well. The findings of this study don’t surprise me in a big way. We know that a good number of these “radiographic issues” identified at the sales can, and are, successfully managed by racetrack vets in conjunction with the trainers. Most professional buyers look at the entire picture when buying horses.
So, if we come upon a fairly correct, balanced horse that has a good look to him, we would be more inclined to take a shot after learning of the presence of a bone defect. I think it helps to have someone like Buzz Chace on our buying team. He was a vet tech for Dr. Devine in New Jersey for many years, and he has looked at and evaluated racehorses for almost 50 years.
Certainly, I think the relationship a buying team has with a sales vet is vital. We use Dr. Bill Baker [of the Woodford Clinic in Lexington] for most of our sales work. He consults on our entire stable, not just at the sales. He does all of our surgeries and is really part of the team. He knows he doesn’t always have to be on the “conservative side” when evaluating prospects. So, in summary, it really comes down to gut feel, experience and risk tolerance. We try to stay away from vet issues that render horses train wrecks, but we’ll take a good number of shots buying horses we think can overcome bone problems. A good horse makes owners, trainers, jockeys and vet look smart.
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News