The Influence of Stallion Owners at Public Auctions

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Stallion owners are typically active at public auction. The tremendous influence of the commercial market on breeding nowadays requires it. Nothing can damage a sire’s value more than letting a few low-priced horses slip through, driving down the average yearling price. To what extent this price protection occurs is speculation, but it does occur.

The recent Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale included 11 purchases by buyers who have direct ties to the sires of the yearlings purchased. In fairness, all the sires were either young, fashionable stallions or proven sires with high-profile runners. The yearlings would have been attractive regardless of the connection. Let’s take the skeptic’s view, however, and accept that a buyer in these 11 incidences — which totaled $7,475,000 and averaged $679,545 — cannot be completely detached about the link between a sale horse’s value and a stallion’s value.

So what does the market look like if these horses are taken out of the mix? Not too bad, actually. The average for all 160 horses sold at the select Saratoga sale was $328,434, up 11.1% from 2008’s average. Taking out the purchases with obvious sire–buyer connections, the average falls to $302,513, which is still 2.29% higher than 2008’s average of $295,738. The median also stayed in the black, remaining at $250,000 compared with the 2008 median of $227,500.

It should be noted that a review of the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale revealed only two purchases with an obvious sire–buyer connection. Those purchases totaled $1,425,000 and averaged $712,500.

For the owners of select-quality yearlings, it should be encouraging to know a genuine demand exists for these horses, and a premium price is attainable even in the dour economic climate we’re in. It is a good omen, at least for the opening two days of the Keeneland September sale. — Eric Mitchell

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