At first glance, this year's Triple Crown looks like a big bust for the commercial Thoroughbred business. The winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) was Mine That Bird, a small gelding, which didn't have the straightest legs and sold for $9,500 at public auction as a weanling. The winner of the BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I) was Rachel Alexandra, a filly that never went through a sale ring.
Neither is a top stallion prospect or a million-dollar yearling. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
At a time when the economy is in tatters and many horse buyers probably want to be more frugal, Mine That Bird's Run for the Roses triumph sends an encouraging message that success on the racetrack can be accomplished with a modestly-priced Thoroughbred that was no beauty contest winner.
And while Rachel Alexandra was never sold at public auction, she is a reminder that fillies, which generally don't bring as much at the sales as colts, can compete in the sport's biggest races and win while attracting a whole lot of attention from the press and fans.
Besides, does the Thoroughbred business have a great need for another new stallion? In my opinion, a gelding that could potentially race for a long time and create excitement for the sport is the better option. By generating enthusiasm for racing, Mine That Bird could attract new owners who are interested in buying horses.
The bottom line: Thoroughbred breeders probably would benefit more from an increased number of shoppers at the sales than they would from one more stallion in an already crowded breeding shed.