If you're in the Thoroughbred business, it's tough to watch what's happening at Keeneland. The auction's gross revenue has plunged more than 40% from a year ago, and when you walk around the sale pavilion, the crowd - if you can call it that - is very sparse. Mares are bringing less than the stud fees cost to produce the foals they are carrying; weanlings with minor faults are penalized heavily; and there is no interest at all in some horses.
Horses as commodities are depressing, and in such a discouraging environment, the best thing to do might be to take a short break and a hug a horse. Well, maybe not literally. But it's good to remind yourself every once in a while why you got in the Thoroughbred business to begin with, and for many people, that was a love for the animals.
So, go take a drive on Paris Pike and look at the beautiful farms. Go visit a famous racehorse or stallion. That's why Three Chimneys Farm's debut party for Big Brown was so fun last week. Seeing his commanding physical presence was a reminder why the Thoroughbred business can turn from a job into a passion. You can even just go out in a pasture and pat a friendly horse whose name everybody has forgotten. A soft nose against your face and a welcoming nicker can make you feel a little bit better.
Forget about numbers and statistics -- and grosses and medians and averages -- for a few minutes.
Then take a deep breath, go back to the sale, and dive back into the struggling market. The industry recovered from the devastating crash of the ‘80s, and so, this too, shall pass. And you'll probably still love horses just as much as you ever did.