The Economy and the Sales

With everything that is going wrong in the American economy, it seems likely there will be some sort of negative effect on the Thoroughbred auction business this year. Will the nation's financial woes have a significant impact right off during the yearling sellingsseason, which begins with the Fasig-Tipton July select auction, or will they inflict more damage during the second week of the Keeneland September sale? Maybe the breeding stock auctions will take the biggest hit.

"It's going to be an interesting year," said Bayne Welker of Mill Ridge Farm in Kentucky. "I think the economy will come into play, but I just don't know when it will be. I don't expect it in July, and I don't really expect it at Saratoga or during the first part of the Keeneland September sale. But as we start getting into the cheaper horses toward the back books in the Keeneland catalog, I think that's when we'll see the signs (of economic trouble). The guy coming out of the Midwest or West, from one of the lesser tracks with not a whole lot of purse money, to buy five or six cheaper horses is probably going to cut back to one or two if he comes to the sale at all."

Francis Vanlangendonck of the Florida-based Summerfield sales agency believes the impact of the economy will be the greatest this fall when breeding stock is offered.

"The inexpensive broodmare market, that's where it's going to hit," he said. "It's actually already been happening the last couple of years if you look at the sale results. Those horses have been tough to sell. I think many people are realizing you can't make money with inexpensive mares, so they've just stopped buying them."

According to Welker, who is the president and chairman of the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association, a contraction in the Thoroughbred marketplace because of the slow American economy might be a blessing in disguise.

"Really, if you look at it, would it be such a bad thing?" he said. "We've got a lot of horses out there that aren't getting new homes. There are only so many buyers from South America and every other place, and they can't absorb them all. Maybe it will encourage a little less production."

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