Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Seeking achievers among the cheaper

With a crack, the auctioneer's hammer fell.

The man next to me -- a race fan, sharp handicapper and operator of his own small, private racing stable -- leaned over, pointed to the video screen that beamed the price (a mere $7,000) and said, "That's mine." I hadn't even noticed him placing the bid, as I'd been reviewing the catalog page again and quickly scanning the filly in the ring for conformation and attitude as the auctioneer worked the onlookers for more every possible dollar at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training at the Maryland state fairgrounds in Timonium.

And with that, the first horse purchased with any of my input as a bloodstock advisor was in the books: Hip 153, a bay filly by Sharp Humor out of the Irish Tower mare Gaye's Valentine.

Though I came away from the sale impressed perhaps more by Sharp Humor than any other freshman sire whose get were on the grounds, this one wasn't among the horses we'd walked in expecting to buy.

My mission, should I have chosen to accept it (which obviously I did), was to scour the 405-horse catalog for potential bargains, then to weed through those and find the animals we'd actually want to purchase at what were effectively well below median prices. Literally, the horses we'd want even though almost nobody else did.

That job proved a little harder to do considering the sale was an improvement by every financial measure over its 2009 counterpart, with gross revenues increasing 23 percent, and the average and median prices rising by 14 and 8 percent, to $47,984 and $27,000, respectively.

I tackled the project with enthusiasm, which didn't dim as the days wore on. From the two weeks prior to the sale schedule itself, and throughout my six days in Maryland, the experience was at times wearying and worrying (hey, we're workin' hard and spending money here), but priceless in the wisdom I've gained and the desire to do this sort of thing every day for the rest of my life.

Out of my pre-sale research, two days of watching the breeze shows, and visits to the consignment barns, I winnowed my list of potential horses down to 48. It isn't like we were trying to buy a dozen at this sale. But when the endeavor is to identify and purchase one or two of the true bargains among horses actually worth owning, I figured we needed to have a barrel full of possibilities.

I won't go through my selection process (unless you'd care to hire me for a forthcoming sale, in which case my thoughts will be entirely transparent to you). Let it suffice to say I expected that some of the horses identified as possible bargains in the pre-sale process would obviously breeze their way out of "cheap" status, untold others for any number of physical or temperamental reasons would simply not be fit to recommend, a majority of the final list might sell for less than the sale average or median and still exceed our budget, and among those that did fall generally within our grasp, most would still have slipped through our fingers by not meeting their reserve or by having another bidder barely top us.

From the 405 horses in the book -- and the 312 that actually went through the ring -- I only felt confident that about a dozen would be both there for us at the price we needed, and be horses that we wanted. And as I reviewed on Tuesday-after the list of four dozen horses I'd prepped and prioritized for Monday's sale, I realized how right I'd been. Of the 48, exactly 12 had managed to stay within our sights.

I also knew that while some horses from the list (as it turned out, three out of four) would see their prices grow beyond our budgets, others that we might want to have could inexplicably fall into our laps. So some scrambling took place on auction-day itself (especially after a Cat Thief filly, Hip 12, saw the hammer fall at $5,000) to see horses in the outside and interior walking rings and gather sufficient decision-making information in order to make a last-minute identification of horses that just might be there in range and worth having, even though they weren't on our radar when the day begin.

Despite our status at the lower end of the price spectrum, we were buyers, not beggars, and can hardly afford not to be at least a little bit choosy.

Thus came to be the purchase of Hip 153.

At this time, it's worth reviewing my work from this sale, with each horse's selling price and a few thoughts. Remember, I was trying to tab desirable horses that I felt would land below (hopefully well below) the sale median.

EASMAY: My Chosen 48 by priority/category

Top choice, in a class by himself among these, was Hip 301, a Medaglia D'Oro colt out of the unraced Meadowlake mare Retiro Park, who is a full sister to champion filly MEADOW STAR and who from her nine foals has produced four winners, including G3 victor SNORTER. Sound like a colt you couldn't buy on the cheap, especially at a sale where the average purchase went for nearly $48,000 and by a sire whose average 2-year-old colt sells for $110,000? Maybe, but this 11-flat breezer was bought by agent Mark A. Wampler for $30,000, just three grand above the sale median and $70,000 beneath the sire's advertised 2010 stud fee. ... I knew chances were incredibly slight that we'd get him. But for a couple of reasons, I wanted to see him because I felt going into the sale that his price would not be nearly up to his sire's standards; and about that, at least, I was right.

Priority 1 Horses

Hip 7: Chestnut colt by Sharp Humor-Accusation, by Royal Academy. This 11.1-breezer at a sale where 10.4 was pretty good had a look consistent with most of the Sharp Humors -- strong shoulder, wide chest, muscular hind -- the embodiment of a horse who shouldn't get pushed around on a racetrack, but who can still run a bit. I liked the Randy Miles consignee quite a lot, but so did Raymond P. Susi, who bought him for $20,000.

Hip 37: Dark bay colt by Pleasant Tap-Biding Time, by Seeking the Gold. This big fella from the consignment of Eisaman Equine is the son of a G2-winning dam who just hasn't reproduced herself. Still, she has four winners from seven prior foals. He went for $35,000 to Mongolian Stable; more than I expected, but no doubt inflated a bit by a 10.4 breeze from a colt who is likely to be a two-turn 3-year-old.

Hip 63: Dark bay colt by Montbrook-Chancey Light, by Colony Light. This lanky fellow consigned by Peggy S. Dellheim was running a temperature on the day he was supposed to be running his breeze, and got pushed into Day 2 of the under-tack show. He still managed an 11.1 despite being under the weather a day prior. He wasn't the straightest stick in the woodpile, but considering he's by a sire who gets 2-year-olds and out of a stakes-winning mare of $160,405, I have to think the $15,000 spent by Jung Hun Seo on behalf of the KOID (that is, Korean racing interests) was money well spent.

Hip 72: Chestnut filly by Include-City Life, by Carson City. This girl became a list-cracker on sale-morning, after I decided to review her in the walking ring outside. The 11-flat breezer seemed to be a fairly nice, albeit not huge, filly, by a sire who gets winners, and out of a dam who has 5-for-6 winners from prior foals. Numbered among those older siblings are stakes winners URBAN GUY (G3-placed, $175K) and Maryland Million Lassie winner OBJECT OF VIRTUE. We took our shots, but ultimately the Wes Carter consignee went for a mere $12,000 to Dave Houghton.

Hip 104: Bay filly by Dehere-Dominating, by Cherokee Run. I would've loved this James Layden consignee at half the price, but the $42,000 paid by Robert Jacoff dims my enthusiasm a bit. Lots of professionalism on the page, but not much black type. The 10.4 breeze was good enough.

Hip 157: Bay filly by Grand Reward-Giana, by Exclusive Era. Sophomore sire already has 34 winners. Stakes-placed dam has produced 10 to race and seven winners from 11 foals; two of those foals also are stakes-placed, including one Group 3 performer in the U.K. She wasn't a tall girl, but she was only a week past her actual second birthday and despite only 60 days in training managed a 10.4 breeze. I think John Salzman made out like a bandit at $10,000 for this Pike Racing consignee.

Hip 176: Bay filly by Chief Seattle-Hey Darla, by Evansville Slew. Not altogether certain about the 2x3 inbreeding to Seattle Slew, but she was relatively clean and straight, and breezed a fair 11-flat. Though her dam was unraced, all three older siblings have started and two have won, most notably $200K-plus stakes winner R BETTY GRAYBULL. I'm shocked she didn't bring more than $6,000 (an RNA), although I have it on the consigner's own authority that it would have taken relatively little more to meet that reserve and result in a sale.

Hip 250: Chestnut colt by Mizzen Mast-Moussica, by Woodman. This one wasn't originally on my list, but consignor True South pressed me to look when I was at their barn to meet and greet other horses. So, I ranked him, but didn't expect the colt -- who worked 35.2 for three furlongs -- to be there for us at the right price. And he wasn't, going for $40,000 to Jack Smith Thoroughbreds; though that price is still below the sale average.

Hip 269: Bay colt by Aragorn-Pantelleria, by El Prado. Another introduced to my list by the consignor, this time Scott A. Bergsrud of SAB Sales. Turf-bred colt breezed 11-flat over a slow dirt course and should only improve on grass (or synthetic?). He generally had the right look, and I think buyers Marty Nixon and Joel Quinville did well to get him for just $21,000.

Hip 280: Dark bay colt by Dehere-Population(IRE), by General Assembly. Curious mating of a sire generally known for dirt horses with an Irish-bred mare who is already dam of two stakes winners, including English-raced G1 winner SARATOGA SPRINGS. Consigned by Mountain View Racing Stables LLC, the colt worked 11.1 and to the largest degree, looked the part. He sold for $20,000 and is also bound for Korea, the purchase made by Chun Yeon Hwang for KOID.

Hip 314: Dark bay colt by Defrere-Sandy Lass, by Line in the Sand. A couple of Deheres made the list, and now one by his full brother, Defrere. This one only worked in 11.1, but was by far one of the taller horses on the grounds, with a lot of filling out to do. He has a winning full sibling who earned nearly $84K, but two other full sibs include a 10-race maiden and one that broke down in its fourth start. Still, the Paul Sharp consignee was bought by David Cramer for just $7,000, and you can hardly get and keep a mare in foal and pay a cheap stud fee for that.

Hip 330: Gray or roan colt by Consolidator-Sixy Chic, by Saratoga Six. Consignor Bergsrud was candid in his own estimate of the colt as one of his more affordable in the sale. But I agreed with him that the horse should make a runner for somebody, somewhere. Statistics suggest the same; his sophomore sire got more than 60 percent starters and 19 percent winners from his first crop of 2-year-olds, and this one's dam has four winners from five foals of racing age, one of them a 15-win horse by another Storm Cat-line sire in Exploit. No horse is perfect, but this one's biggest outward "flaw" was shared with many others on my potential bargain list: He was short. He sold for $8,000 to Carl Doran, but had the horse been two or three inches higher at the withers and not a degree straighter nor tick faster, the money would have been two or three times greater, I'm sure.

Hip 337: Bay colt by Sharp Humor-Sparkling Forest, by Forest Wildcat. This PA-bred consigned by Paul Sharp breezed 11-flat, but I logged in my notes that he was a "decent goer," and when I saw him on the hoof, he was credited for a nice hind, good shoulder and generally being "built like a truck." Young dam is 2-for-2 winners from older foals. He went for $22,000 to Brian P. Reid.

Hip 363: Bay filly by Gulch-Thanksgiving(GER), by Lomitas(GB). One of the stranger pedigree matches in the sale, this girl is out of a mare who was stakes-placed in Germany and Italy, and whose dam was a stakes winner and Group 2-placed in Germany and has produced a second stakes horse that was also twice G2-placed. Again, she was a short one; very much so in her case. But otherwise, she was pretty well correct and balanced. She only breezed 11.2, about which I was wholly unconcerned. In my opinion, Bridget Sipp stole her from consignor Scanlon Training Center for $6,000, but we'll have to see how (and whether) she races to be sure.

Hip 383: Dark bay colt by Orientate-Verbal Volley, by Oh Say. I liked this one considerably, by an underrated sire and out of a stakes winning mare who is also a multiple stakes-producer. Unfortunately, he was a late "out" from the sale due to a readily correctible physical issue, a problem that consignor Cary Frommer was exceedingly forthcoming about a day prior to the sale while still mulling whether to sell him with a warning or keep him, fix him, and then figure out what to do. Good luck to Frommer and to the horse.

Hip 388: Dark bay colt by Stormy Atlantic-Wave On, by Caveat. This half-brother to dual G3 turf winner SAILOR'S CAP (who was ill-fated due to sickness, not track injury) breezed 11-flat on a slow dirt track and has another stakes-placer among his five winning half-sibs from six older foals out of this mare. Though there were other imperfections, my biggest complaint about the horse during a barn inspection was that, at the moment I saw him, he didn't seem very alert. Miles consigned this one, too, and the colt didn't sell in the ring, later bringing $35,000 in a private sale negotiated by agent Mark Henning for Lee Lewis.

Priority 2 Horses

Hip 23: Bay colt by Holy Bull-Antequera, by Green Dancer. Miles was able to sell this one privately for $45,000, a price that wasn't just too rich for our bids, but is more than I'd likely pay for the horse. I liked him, and he breezed 10.4 at a generally slow under-tack show, but obviously didn't love him (hence, only Priority 2), in no small part because his stakes-winning dam has only two winners from five prior foals, and one of those two only earned $22K. Deuce Greathouse bought this one for Wind River.

Hip 59: Bay filly by Medallist-Catalita, by Mountain Cat. This girl oughta be a decent racehorse for someone, but she only rated Priority 2 status for me primarily because of the very slow start by her sophomore sire, who has just 10 winners so far from his freshman crop of 59 foals. Bill Reightler sold her in the ring to William H. Harris for $35,000, and Mr. Harris (whom I completely by chance bumped into at a restaurant after the sale) really likes the filly. I like the filly, too; I'm just not fond of the price. Though it was hard to deny the fleetness of her 22 2/5 quarter over a slow track.

Hip 66: Chestnut colt by Yes It's True-Charleston, by High Yield. This guy was one of the taller I reviewed, and his biggest conformational flaw was a dip in his topline that didn't make him swaybacked, but was much outside my ideal. His unplaced dam is a half-sister to G3 millionaire and record-setter WEST VIRGINIA, but the Reightler-consigned New York-bred breezed just 23.0 and that probably kept a few people off him. He was an RNA at $32,000.

Hip 90: Dark bay gelding by Macho Uno-Dancing Lake, by Meadowlake. This horse consigned by Harris Training Center breezed 10.3 and seemed to have a lot going for him. He did have a shin problem at one time, according to the consignor. But what ultimately prompted me to scratch him from bid consideration even if he stayed in our price range (which he didn't) were his very lengthy pasterns. I have my doubts he'll stay sound on them in Korea, where KOID will send him after a $20,000 purchase.

Hip 105: Bay colt by Quiet American-Do Mountain Doo, by Mountain Cat. One of the overall tallest and biggest horses I reviewed, this one should do well in his new home of South Korea, bought for $20,000 by Gun Hang Lee for KOID. I had some conformational quibbles with him, but I did with every horse. Surely the 11.4 breeze is what did him in with many bidders. Still, the sire gets 82 percent runners and 59 percent winners, and there's no reason for me to believe this one consigned by Reightler won't land on the right side of those figures.

Hip 107: Chestnut filly by Thunder Gulch-Dream Princess, by Charismatic. Another shorter, but not necessarily slighter, filly, this one's dam is half to G3-winning blacktype and she has one older sibling who has raced without placing. Scanlon Training Center had her ready to breeze a pretty decent 10.3 and that quickly launched her out of our price range, all the way up to $45,000 paid by Northshore Racing.

Hip 141: Dark bay colt by Formal Dinner-Fountain of Truth, by Proud and True. Another from Dellhiem's small consignment, this one breezed a credible 10.4. I thought he was quite steep in the croup, but otherwise good enough, and though his dam was only a cheap winner, all the foals from his minor stakes-winning second dam did race and win, so there's professionalism in the family, if not brilliance. He didn't sell at a bid of $19,000.

Hip 177: Bay filly by Read the Footnotes-Highly Capable, by High Yield. One of the better pinhooking jobs at this sale, this one owned and consigned by Kenneth Lejeune sold for $57,000 after changing hands for only $1,700 as a fall yearling. She looked racy enough and breezed 22.4, which wasn't downright slow. I was a bit surprised by the price, but Lejeune -- with whom I chatted post-sale -- was understandably giddy. He thought she'd go in that range and he was right; good on ya, Kenneth.

Hip 209: Chestnut colt by Catienus-Keep Your Day Job, by Abaginone. In hindsight, I'm not 100 percent sure why this boy didn't land on the Priority 1 list, but mostly it had to do with a relative lack of type -- not just black type, but any text -- on his page. The PA-bred and Eddie Woods consignee is the first foal from his dam (who was stakes-placed for more than $100K lifetime) and his second dam bore only five foals to race, most of them by utter-bust sires. His third dam, stakes-placed on grass in France, bore five to race and got three winners, but no stakes horses. Still, quite simply put, Catienus upgrades mares. And that's when compared to decent sires. For a female family that of late has seen nothing but the lowest grade of stallion, he might really provide a useful racehorse out of what seems like a black hole of talent. This colt might only have breezed 23.3, but he had good bone, a cool head under inspection, and a fairly racy look. The sire gets 82 percent runners, 61 percent winners and his raced foals last an average of 20.2 starts at the track, significantly above the breed average. Watch this one do at least a little something, probably plenty to merit the $6,000 paid by Murray L. Rojas.

Hip 212: Bay colt by Soto-Ladies First, by El Raggaas. I was pretty sure that progeny of a sire already banished not only from Kentucky, but from the country, would be somewhere in or near our price range. And, I was right. This one consigned by Miles breezed "just" 11.1 and sold for only $11,000 to B&B Racing Stable LLC. Yet, his unraced dam has produced nine to race and six winners (two of them of a dozen races each) from 10 foals. His second dam won 12 races, including a stakes event, and produced 10 winners from 11 total foals, four of them stakes horses, three blacktype winners, including CHURCHBELL CHIMES, who managed to win stakes every year from ages 3 through 6, including the Maryland Million Oaks and Distaff. Why wouldn't this one also be some sort of racehorse?

Hip 234: Dark bay filly by Jump Start-Meg's Answer, by West Acre. Didn't like the fact that she is the first foal from an unraced dam by a fairly modest sire. But the second dam won 11 times and produced three stakes horses, two of them blacktype winners. This filly was among the tallest I screened, had a nice head and eye, a good shoulder, breezed 11-flat, and already has her gate card. Still, she only brought $19,000 for Crane Thoroughbreds as agent for Ghost Ridge Farms; the buyer was Durado Circle Farm.

Hip 242: Chestnut colt by Silver Train-Miss Special Salsa, by Mr. Greeley. This Scanlon-consigned NY-bred breezed 10.3, had a huge neck, a nice croup and good overall balance, and yet only brought a top bid of just $7,000 from Ron Moquette. His dam was unraced, but by Mr. Greeley and out of G2-placed MISS HOT SALSA; third dam G3 winner MISS HIGH BLADE. ... Seven thousand dollars?

Hip 270: Chestnut colt by Flower Alley-Past Due, by Devil His Due. The consignor, True South, urged me to look at this one, but he was nowhere near our price range. And I'm not really sure why he went for quite what he did; $60,000 to Commonwealth Racing. Sure, his dam is a half-sister to Sharp Humor, another freshman sire whose foals I really liked in this sale. And the colt breezed 10.4 with a low-to-the-ground action that seemed very efficient. Still, he's the first foal from a non-winning dam whose own mother only bore three total foals (one other winner of $61K), and he's by a freshman sire, so there's little here to give him racehorse credentials on family history. Maybe he'll go out and prove himself on the track; I'm not rooting against him. But I swallowed hard when I saw $60,000 on the board for him, and it wasn't even my money.

Hip 315: Bay colt by Gibson County-Sanibel Sole, by Miswaki. Sire's get are usually early, fast at breeze shows, don't often bring a lot at auction, and don't frequently last that long at the track. Witness a textbook case. This colt looked pretty good to me, with a strong shoulder, nice withers, bigger bone than I expected and better pasterns than most I reviewed. He wasn't big, but he was balanced. He breezed a brisk (for this sale) 10.2; nobody went faster than 10.1. His page shows two stakes-winning siblings, a stakes-placer, and a more modest-winning full brother. ... And he didn't sell for Timber Creek at a bid of just $18,000.

Hip 322: Dark bay filly by Chief Seattle-Senita Lane, by Ascot Knight. Modest stakes-winning dam has six winners from seven prior foals, including G2-placed Zip Quik. NY-bred filly had her conformational quirks, but pretty good bone and an 11-flat breeze in which she moved decently enough. Consigned by Hudson Meadows Racing LLC, she was bought by trainer Gary Contessa for a very attractive price of $15,000.

Hip 323: Dark bay colt by Dehere-Shadowy Waters, by Wild Again. Another page on which the more recent dams just didn't have many foals to tout, at least this one was the son of a stakes-placed filly who earned $104K. Short colt had good bone and an almost-effortless 35.4 breeze. Actually brought a little more for consigner Kirkwood Stables than I thought he might; Richard Sanders paid $40,000.

Hip 350: Chestnut colt by Langfuhr-Surprising Fact, by Known Fact. Grade 3 stakes-winning dam is also a stakes producer. Sire just gets racehorses; 82 percent of his foals start and 59 percent win. Colt had a bit of a narrow base and upright pasterns, but on the whole he was presentable and he breezed a credible 11.0. Richard Hessee scored him for $27,000 out of the consignment of Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables Inc.

Hip 380: Bay colt by Stormy Atlantic-Unbriled Femme, by Unbridled. Though this colt breezed but 23-flat, he did it after being medicated to reduce swelling in his face and throat due to an apparent snakebite, and he moved well. And his first dam is a stakes winner (by Unbridled, which I tried not to hold against her) and his second dam a G3-placer by Deputy Minister (a big plus). ... My first impression upon his head and shoulders hitting daylight while leaving his stall was, well, "Holy (blank)." Upon further inspection, he indeed had a great shoulder and withers, was nicely short-coupled, and had a good rear base. But he seemed much weaker on muscle in the hindquarters than in front, and while his pastern angle was good, they were a little long. He didn't sell in the ring for consignor True South LLC, which set a reserve higher than the $34,000 he brought from bidders.

Hip 390: Dark bay filly by Cetewayo-Western Glitter, by Glitterman. Another one that piqued my curiosity on pedigree, as the durable turf marathon horse Cetewayo was put to a mare by a sire known for short-distance runners. The result was a very big filly, among the largest of either sex I reviewed despite being a June 4 foal who wasn't truly even 2 years old yet. Despite her age and size, which you'd think would limit her speed, she managed an 11-flat breeze. With virtually no blacktype under the first two dams, and really rather modest production by them overall, and with a sire who is the furthest possible thing from "commercial," I didn't expect much of a price. And consignor Dellheim didn't get one, either; a bid of $15,000 that resulted in an RNA.

Hip 397: Chestnut filly by Langfuhr-Wild Linda, by Wild Again. Another Langfuhr that I liked, and it's hard not to considering the sire's productivity. This one has a stakes-placed dam who ran out for more than $160K herself, and has produced a stakes-placer among four winners out of seven older foals. She only breezed 11.2 and is longer in both the body and the pastern than I would like. But Joel Zawitz didn't take much risk in buying her from Eisaman Equine, the consigning agent, for a paltry $6,500.

Hip 401: Dark bay colt by Flower Alley-Winner's Ticket, by Jolie's Halo. Another consigned by Bergsrud that will make an affordable racehorse for someone, this colt breezed 11.0 and was described by the consignor as "athletic." The colt was stout with a big shoulder and nice hind, though his neck struck me as a bit short and he had some minor crookedness in his legs. Topping off his credentials was his status as a half-brother to seven winners, including dual G3 hero SKIP TO THE STONE and $232K stakes winner MY HEAVENLY SIGN. Bridget Sipp also grabbed this one for a cool $6,000.

Priority 3 Horses

Hip 36: Gray or roan filly by Mizzen Mast-Bet Birdie, by Bet Twice. Here's one that probably should have been on a higher list just on page and gut-feeling alone. I think she has the potential to be a serious racehorse, and so did other buyers at the sale, because this former $14,000 yearling brought $50,000 for consignor Eisaman from Pewter Stable and Paul Profera. Despite conformation that I once described as a bit "goofy," I can understand why. She's built more downhill than probably any other horse in the sale, and had a big engine for a girl who was otherwise not all that bulky. She breezed a credible 10.4, but what I liked most was that she cornered like she was on rails. Her dam was a stakes winner of $188K and has produced two stakes-placers from five winners out of seven foals. Oh, plus a Hollywood Park record-setter in Banner Lodge, who once blistered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.79. I have a hunch this filly is ready to go and win soon. I also knew that, based on the activity around her every time I passed, she was probably going to be fought over in the ring, and she was.

Hip 171: Bay colt by Stormy Atlantic-Hay Lauren, by Hay Halo. Lowest-rated of three Stormy Atlantics I reviewed at the behest of my client, this one still gave plenty of evidence that he should be a racehorse, from his 10.4 breeze to his stakes-winning dam who has already produced winners from both prior foals. (The sales catalog says one is only placed in the Philippines, but she's won at least twice; I saw her do it online.) This fellow is also headed overseas, not to the Philippines but to Korea, another purchase by the visitors from KOID, for $20,000. He was from the consignment of Murray Smith.

Hip 217: Chestnut filly by Grand Reward-Leelu, by Carson City. Modest-winning dam has 2-for-2 winners from older siblings. The Timber Creek consignee covered an eighth well enough in 10.4, and looked cleaner and straighter than most on the list. Maybe should have rated higher with me, in hindsight. But still, she only brought $16,000 in the ring and didn't meet reserve.

Hip 281: Dark bay filly by Kafwain-Potomac Bend, by Polish Numbers. Filly has four older siblings, two multiple winners and one a juvenile stakes-placer who never broke maiden. Dam a G3 winner who is full to another stakes-placer. Filly breezed 10.4 and showed good extension, but I was a bit put off by her longer and more upright pasterns, and her sire's statistical history of downgrading mares. She brought a top bid of $30,000 and that wasn't enough to buy her from Frommer's consignment.

Hip 338: Chestnut filly by Forest Danger-Sparkling Pink, by Marquetry. Another filly out of a stakes-winning dam to only rate third-tier status from me, but this one was close to being upgraded to Category 2. She breezed 10.3 and looked like a "pretty serious horse" doing it, according to my notes. But her sire hasn't exactly set the forest afire with his first crop, and conformationally I had more reservations about this filly than most on the list. Apparently so did other potential buyers, as she was an RNA at just $9,000 for Timber Creek.

Hip 347: Bay filly by Gibson County-Sultry Peg Cee. Another of those precocious and fleet Gibson Countys, this one breezed a solid 10.3 and already has her gate card. Her dam bore six to race and five winners from seven prior foals, including a 2-year-old winner and NTR-setter who is a full sibling to this one. This one from Timber Creek ended up being a very late "out" in the sale, announced only a few dozen hips before her number was called.

Hip 393: Bay filly by Indian Charlie-Why So Much, by Meadowlake. While I'm not the biggest fan of Indian Charlie, this girl's reasonably good-looking 11.0 breeze and status as half to five stakes horses (three SWs, two G3-placed) and to another half-sis who is a producer of a G3 winner, was just too much to overlook. Especially since she had failed to sell for $70,000 at an earlier 2-year-old show, despite being a $110,000 yearling. ... Time was running out to move her, and somebody was probably gonna get a deal on the Nick De Meric consignee. That "somebody" -- or "somebodies," as it turns out -- ended up being William Pape and Joe Cassidy, who bought her for $65,000. Nowhere near what we came to pay, but I'd wanted to keep an eye on her anyway.

Priority 4 Horses

Hip 1: Dark bay filly by Grand Reward-You're A Lady, by Youmadeyourpoint. This filly is evidence that if you were on my list at all, you were a horse worth taking a shot with. Filly breezed a competent 10.4 and is out of a 12-race stakes winner of $180K who is half to G3 winner and G2-placed WHERE'S TAYLOR. Second dam was half to Arlington H.-G1 record-setter PASS THE LINE. I didn't think she was very strong conformationally, primarily in her neck, though nothing about her seemed so bad as to make her a danger to herself in racing. (Any more than racing already is dangerous.) Still, as the first foal through the ring, she only brought $6,000 for consigner Timber Creek; buyer was Thomas Nash.

Hip 163: Chestnut colt by Soto-Good Forecast, by Caveat. Miles consigned both Sotos in the sale and I would be glad to have either of them in my (hypothetical) racing stable, especially at the price; $8,500 for this one, paid by Uriah St. Lewis. This one's dam is a stakes-placer and has her own stakes-placer from her three winners out of seven prior foals (not a good percentage, one reason for the downgrade). The colt breezed 11-flat and generally had the right look, though there were things not to like about him here and there. Miles conceded someone had "buggered-up" the colt's shins before the horse got to Miles, but he said the problem was corrected and should be of no consequence to the horse's racing soundness. I think he's a good gamble for his buyer.

Hip 275: Gray or roan filly by Tapit-Peyvon, by Slewacide. I went in wanting to love the Tapits as much as everyone else seems to, but while this one made the list, she didn't make it easy to recommend her. The 11.1 breeze wasn't so bad, except I thought she looked a bit unfocused in her move. And though she was a $130,000 RNA as a weanling, her conformation at age 2 (lighter in bone and muscle, longer and more upright in the pasterns than I'd like) didn't suggest that she should have been, despite her dam's status as a stakes winner and the producer of G3 winner/G1-placed MASSIVE DRAMA. Parrish Farms, the consignor, ultimately sold her privately to Edward Williams for $42,000.

OK then, to summarize my performance at trying to locate the worthy among the sale's bargains (true worth to be determined about three years from now, after they've raced ... or haven't) the statistics are as follows.

Of 48 selected, two were late-outs, leaving us with 46 horses on which to bid. Eight of those did not meet reserve, all but two of those at prices not just below, but well below, the sale median.

The 38 to sell brought a combined $933,000, for $24,552.63 on average. That's close to half as pricey as the sale average. The median price on my list was $20,000 -- certainly more than we were looking to pay, but $7,000 beneath the median for the sale.

So on the whole, I was effective at singling out the less-costly horses in the book, not that it's all that difficult to do. (Though there is homework involved.)

The question is, did I find a high percentage of achievers among the cheaper? And, if so, will anybody hire me to do it again?

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome comments, including criticism and debate. But jerks and the vulgar will not be tolerated.