September, Here We Come

Yearling sales are a big deal.  If you want to gauge the strength of the industry, take a look at the yearling market.  (And if you're really into such things, you probably already subscribe to TBH MarketWatch...).  Each year, thousands of yearlings go through the ring (in 2008, we'll probably see more than 14,000 of them, with maybe 10,500 sold). 

For more detail, take a look at an 8-year summary of North American yearling sales, or look at yearling auction results by individual sale (click the "yearlings" tab to see sales results for 2007 and for 2008 year-to-date).

So, it's June.  The beginning of June, even.  The tail end of horses-in-training sales.  Why am I discussing yearlings?

Because those sales are already in the works.  Fasig-Tipton's July select session and Saratoga August sales are right around the corner.  The colossal Keeneland September yearling sale follows shortly thereafter.  Many of the sales, in fact, have entry deadlines long since passed. The sales companies are preparing catalog pages, double-checking consignment details, and preparing for barn after barn full of rambunctious yearlings.

And because I've got a colt going through the ring in September.  Over the next few months, I'll post regular updates on the whole process of going through a sale.  Many of you have done this before -- some of you do it every year -- and your comments are appreciated.  And for those of you who are new to Thoroughbred auctions, this is a great opportunity to ask questions of your fellow readers!

So, here's the start of my story:  I have a colt by Honour and Glory (on SRO) out of my Broad Brush mare Brush Back (her pedigree).  Here is the colt's five-cross pedigree and TrueNicks rating.  He's on the small side but well-conformed and attracts a good bit of attention.  Small, unfortunately, is generally a detractor for yearlings.  The colt has excellent ground manners.  We went through a spell when he reared up constantly; I was able to stop that behavior, fortunately, and he's now quite well behaved.  

The colt (he's unnamed... sales yearlings generally are not named prior to their sale) is pastured 22 hours a day and is stalled for morning and evening feedings and grooming.  I put him up overnight twice a month to familiarize him with being stalled for long periods, but otherwise, I want him to "be a horse" and run/graze/socialize as long as possible. Because of his time outdoors, he's got some sun-bleaching, another detractor when going through the ring.

I've decided to send the colt to Montessori Farm for sales prep and consignment.  Lots more on those details will come in future posts.  For now, suffice it to say that the colt's daily routine will change significantly starting mid-June (about 90 days out from the sale):  he'll see more stall time during the day to make his coat darker, he'll have a more formal exercise regimen to build some muscle, and he'll learn to walk and pose for viewings by potential bidders.

While this colt is my first foal out of Brush Back, she has had six previous foals, all of which were sold at the Keeneland September yearling auction.  Their yearling prices have ranged from $5,000 to $105,000.  One of them went on to sell for $600,000 as a 3-year-old.  The mare's progeny yearling average is about $40,000, with mostly mid-range stallions.  Honour and Glory's lifetime progeny yearling average is just under $60,000.  If this colt continues to develop nicely and the yearling market remains steady, he should beat those averages come September.

In occasional posts over the next three months, we'll look at decisions made along the way:  breeding choices, the multitude of expenses to get from breeding to newborn foal to yearling, the "sales prep" stage, and finally the colt's pre-auction showings and his trip through the ring.

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