For EQB's Jeffrey Seder, high-tech is the way to go. The president and CEO of the Pennsylvania consulting firm advocates using science to find the best sale prospects. His arsenal includes heart exams, a special camera that helps him analyze gaits, and a database with information from more than 50,000 horses.
Seder will tell you his gizmos and knowledge of technology give him and his associate, Patti Miller, an advantage over their competitors. In recent years, they've gained a lot of respect and EQB has become a leading buyer of yearlings and 2-year-olds at public auction. But Seder also will admit to having "tremendous respect" for some horse buyers who rely on more traditional methods.
"Often I end up bidding on the same horse again and again and again against some of these bloodstock agents that don't have any of my tools," Seder said. "They're on the same horse and I don't know how they got there. There are two or three of them that I know, if they're at a sale, I'll probably have to bid against them, so I know there's more than one way to skin a cat.
"One of them," continued Seder, "doesn't buy a lot of horses. If somebody asked me who they should use if Patti and I go down in an airplane I would say that guy."
That guy is Tom McGreevy, who buys horses for Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm. McGreevy is the man who purchased champion Blind Luck's biggest rival, grade I winner Havre de Grace, for $380,000 at the 2008 September yearling sale. McGreevy also has been associated with such other top horses as champion Midnight Lute, Round Pond, Zonk, My Great Love, Friesan Fire, Old Fashioned, and Rockport Harbor.
Another EQB competitor in the sale ring who "comes to mind right away" as a savvy shopper is Dogwood Stable's Cot Campbell, according to Seder.
"He is really good," Seder said. "If there is some horse I wanted and my client wouldn't buy it, I'll go look to see who bought it and it's Cot Campbell. I don't know how he does it."
Summer Squall, the 1990 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner, was a $300,000 Dogwood purchase at the 1988 Keeneland July select yearling sale. Among the other talented horses that have carried the Dogwood colors are Cotton Blossom, Storm Song, Trippi, and Wild Escapade.
When buying horses, Campbell likes to strike early in a sale. While other buyers are waiting to see what the market is like or are trying to organized, Campbell gets busy fast and that has paid off based on the subsequent performances of his purchases.