Valerie over at Foolish Pleasure has been serving as a beat writer for the ongoing Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November breeding stock sale over the past week. Quite frankly, there’s nothing quite as entertaining as an Irishman and a Sheikh duking it out with their egos and checkbooks when it comes to purchasing top broodmare prospects.
The auction house is the mysterious place that few horseplayers visit, but they hear the rumors and the gossip of $16 million purchases for yearlings that may or may not be the next coming of Secretariat; the whispers of Arabs invading Kentucky in their not-so-covert attempt for World Thoroughbred Domination; the speculation that Michael Chertoff is unaware that these wealthy racehorse-owning foreigners have masterminded this Thoroughbred domination plan much less he can even recognize a horse.
For those of you who have never had the opportunity to visit a horse auction, let me provide you with some of my knowledgeable firsthand information. I had the fortune of going to the Fasig-Tipton Texas Summer Yearling auction a few months ago.
Prior to the sale, the fine folks of the Texas Thoroughbred Association assembled a panel of experts for an auction seminar, loosely referred to as “Everything you wanted to know about buying a yearling but were afraid to ask.” The first expert panelist, a consignor, stressed the significance of black type. The panelist droned on and on and on about the importance of black type and if the yearling you were selling did not have any black type or a very insignificant amount of black type then you should just load your yearling back up into your trailer and haul it home and hope for a life in the circus. Okay, maybe she did not say that. But the point being, she stressed the need for black type. All the seminar attendees nodded in full agreement and understanding. I, on the other hand, did not have a clue as to what in the world she was talking about. I considered asking her but I didn’t want to look like a complete moron so I just sat there … like a complete moron. Fortunately, the young woman sitting behind me asked the burning question, “What the heck is black type?” Black type in the horse's pedigree indicates a related horse is stakes placed. Obviously, the more horses with black type the better. And even better is CAPITOL LETTER BLACK TYPE BECAUSE IT MEANS THAT THE RELATED HORSE IS A STAKES WINNER. And it is more important that the black type and BLACK TYPE be in the 1st and 2nd dams because by the time you get to the 3rd and 4th dams, the horse standing in the auction ring has somewhat diluted relationship.
The second expert panelist was Shirley Dievert from Blood-horse publications. She provided a physical demonstration that the Blood-horse publishes no less than 817 tons of catalogs, pedigree profiles, and stallion registers available for breeders and buyers to keep handy. She also distributed those cute little personal fans that had Blood-horse emblazoned on the side.
Other experts provided helpful information that would be beneficial to the buyer, such as possessing the innate ability to recognize good conformation, or having more than $264.37 in your bank account because clearly that would be insufficient to purchase a quality Thoroughbred (read: black type).
The auction itself was a whirlwind of yearlings, being processed in and out of the building. Unlike good friend, Toteboard Brad, I elected to leave my wallet at home and continue making contributions to my children’s college funds, however the auction did provide a wonderful opportunity to rub elbows with trainers, breeders, turf writers, and bartenders.
There were no multi-million dollar purchases back in August, although the top seller was a PLEASANT TAP colt (whose 1st dam is TENSIE’S PRO, who is related to Toledo Toni and All in One) that went for $330,000, which was a record sale. I vaguely remember my lungs momentarily ceasing function when the bids on this colt started at $100,000 [cough] and jumped immediately to $200,000 [choke], which then was countered to $300,000 [gasp].
Okay, maybe sheikhs with fat bank accounts don’t descend upon the Texas auctions. But as I glance at my copy of the Fasig-Tipton Texas Summer Yearlings catalog, I find it noteworthy that featured on the cover of the catalog is a horse that sold for $20,000 at the Texas Summer Yearling sale back in 2004. His name: Kip Deville.