The news has been depressing during the selling season for 2-year-olds in training. In general, the key business figures like gross revenue and average price have been down at the select auctions and the buy-back rate has increased. But there have been a few positive developments:
- 1. The nation's four major auction companies - Barretts, Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland, OBS -- companies banded together to create uniform policies for medication and other issues and implemented them beginning with the OBS February juvenile auction. These policies included one that restricted the use of the whip during under tack shows for sales of 2-year-olds in training.
- 2. Fasig-Tipton, beginning with its Florida juvenile auction, began including private sales that took place before the end of a sale in its results. While some may argue the new policy helps Fasig-Tipton improve its buy-back rates, I think it gives a more complete picture of the actual commerce that takes place during an auction. Some other sale companies do include some private sales in their auction results but don't always announce they are doing so.
- 3. While hurting consignors, the lower prices are helping end users, giving them a better chance to recoup their investments. Hopefully, they will have success with these less expensive horses and be encouraged to return to the juvenile auctions next year.
- 4. After setting a world Thorouoghbred auction as a $7.7-million buy-back as a yearling, Vallenzeri found a new home and it's with a trainer, Bob Baffert, that should give him every opportunity to fulfill the potential suggested by his regal pedigree.
- 5. Cup o' Joe, who worked an eighth of a mile in :10 3/5, sold for $1.6 million to top the Fasig-Tipton Florida auction, and a Tiznow - Hurricane Judy colt topped the Barretts March sale, at $650,000, after working the same distance in the same time. They were just two examples of buyers showing more appreciation for potential and placing less emphasis on extremely fast clockings.
- 6. Fasig-Tipton made a huge effort to improve the facilities at Calder Race Course for its Florida sale, and many buyers were impressed with the free drinks and meals that were served in a temporary, but fancy, backstretch tent complex.
- 7. When consignor Mike Mulligan of Leprechaun Racing suffered a serious head injury, it was heartwarming to see how much the Florida pinhooking community pulled together to help out and how other horsemen from outside Florida contributed to the effort to make sure Mike's wife, Britt, could carry on with marketing Leprechaun's horses while spending as much time as possible with her husband.
- 8. Kaleem Shah and Scott Ford of Westrock Stables stepped up their buying efforts, providing some new sources of money for sellers in a down year.
- 9. When looking at figures like gross, average, and median price, the select juvenile sales didn't suffer as much from the global financial crisis as the breeding stock auctions. Downturns from the previous year tended to be in the 20% or more or 30% or more range for2-year-olds in training rather than the 40% or more for broodmares, weanlings, and other stock.