Go to any Thoroughbred sale and you'll see a lot of common elements. Grooms leading their charges around the sand ovals. Potential buyers filling out hip request forms. Bales of sweet-smelling alfalfa lining the shed rows. The fancy "shingles" (signboards) of all the farms and consignors hanging along each sale barn. And one other thing you'll see over and over again: notifications of "catalog page updates."
Unless you attend the auctions, you don't know how prevalent these updates are. Consignors have expensive signs created to announce that there was a new stakes-placed runner under the second dam of a particular hip. Sellers print out "hip update" sheets to make sure everyone knows that a half-sister of a sales horse is no longer merely the three-time winner of $46,000 -- no, indeed, she is now the four-time winner of $53,500. Data services offer customized reports giving the most up-to-date pedigree page information -- buyers are a big customer, but sellers consider the updates to be an essential investment.
The five-cross pedigree isn't going to change once the horse has been registered. The idea here is to show movement on the catalog page. It's as if to say, "The sales catalog was printed several weeks ago -- my horse has so much going on in his family, just look at all the positive changes happening within the last month!"
These updates are especially important at sales of breeding stock -- you are, after all, looking for a broodmare with a good pedigree and a black type-filled catalog page. But the practice is also considered crucial at sales of potential racing stock. The yearling sales are no different than any other Thoroughbred auction, and Keeneland's September sale grounds are replete with the notices this week.
You can bet that I'll be shouting from the rooftops that the 3-year-old half-brother (pedigree) of my sales yearling (pedigree, catalog page) just won his first race a week ago, a $25,000 MSW. After three straight "place" finishes, I'm glad he pulled off a victory before his younger half-brother goes through the sales ring!