(Originally published in the April 14, 2012 issue of The
Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and
the bottom of the column.)
By Deirdre B. Biles
Lynne Boutte is known in the juvenile auction community as a seller of mostly blue-collar horses, and she likes her status. Even though the 2-year-olds with fancy pedigrees and brilliant works usually are in the barns of other consignors, she doesn’t mind.
“I’ll tell you what, that’s a lot of pressure,” said Boutte of dealing regularly with top-end auction horses. “God bless the people who do it all the time. I’m very comfortable at the level I sell at.”
But recently, thanks to former Calvin Klein CEO Barry Schwartz, Boutte got the opportunity to join the sale ring’s aristocracy.
“Boy, I own a lot of horses,” Schwartz told Boutte late in 2011. She and her husband, Chris, were breaking and training more than 20 of the fashion mogul’s young Thoroughbreds at their 35-acre Eagle’s View Farm, which is located in The Gallops equine complex near Reddick, Fla.
“We discussed different things,” Boutte remembered, “and then we settled on the idea that it might be a good year to go to the sales, so we picked a couple of strong, precocious colts to sell.”
Both their choices ended up in the Fasig-Tipton Florida select juvenile auction. The Johannesburg—Sans Souci Island colt brought $60,000 when he was sold privately after being bought back. However, the Distorted Humor—Secret Thyme colt named Price Is Truth made much more of an impact. He commanded $1.2 million, becoming the auction’s second-highest-priced horse.
“It was so exciting,” Boutte said a week after the March 26 sale. “A lot of times when you go to a sale, there are excuses when a horse doesn’t show himself well or whatever. But when everything comes together, it reminds you why you love what you do. It just makes you feel good.”
David Loder, representing Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager John Ferguson, signed the sale ticket for the handsome chestnut juvenile, which Schwartz had purchased for $180,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale.
“I’ve trained a lot of horses over the years and certain ones just seem to have an aura about them; he had that aura,” Boutte said.
During the Fasig-Tipton Florida auction’s under tack show, Price Is Truth worked an eighth of a mile in :101⁄5.
“His breeze was phenomenal,” Boutte said. “It was like he was saying, ‘Y’all look at me!’ He has a way of just dropping down, throwing those legs out, and covering so much ground. You could see that he was enjoying it.”
Price Is Truth is the most expensive horse ever sold by Boutte, a 51-year-old native of New York.
“My elementary school was in Floral Park near Belmont Park,” she said. “My friends and I would sneak onto the backside by crawling over or under a big, tall fence. We would try to get near the horses, but we got run out most of the time.”
When she was in high school, Boutte worked as a hotwalker for trainer Mary Cotter and she also showed horses. After trying college for a year, Boutte decided she would rather be at the racetrack and got a job as a groom.
“Back then the backside was a very difficult place for a young woman to be,” Boutte said. “I have a lot of respect for the women who carved out the way for us, but I wasn’t worldly or experienced enough horse-wise to be confident enough to stay at the racetrack at that time. I heard there were horses in Ocala, Fla., so I got in my car and headed South.”
Boutte found jobs at Irish Acres Farm and Tartan Farms. To get started in the auction business, she hocked her yellow Chevy Camaro. The money from the car funded the purchase of two weanling colts that she resold as 2-year-olds.
“It worked,” Boutte said, “and I went on from there.”
Buyers looking for Boutte often find her at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic and Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. spring juvenile auctions and the OBS June sale of 2-year-olds in training and older horses. Graduates of her consignments include 2002 Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) winner Showmeitall, 2002 Safely Kept Stakes (gr. III) winner Miss Lodi, and other added-money winners such as Bernie Blue and Cinnamon Road.
Boutte and her husband prepared Schwartz’ homebred stakes winner The Lumber Guy for racing. The Grand Slam colt had won both of his career races before finishing fifth in the April 7 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial (gr. I). The Bouttes also help New York horseman John DeStefano select yearlings to buy for the Black Swan Stable syndicate and then break them at Eagle’s View. Last year Black Swan’s Sean Avery triumphed in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I).
“It’s the second marriage for both of us, and Chris is an important part of all this,” Boutte said. “He’s a horseman through and through. We work hand in hand. What I don’t have time to do in a day, he finishes. And what he doesn’t have time to do in a day, I finish.”