You want a horse, one with potential and the promise of earning back its purchase price and maybe even a nice profit to boot. So what do you look for and how do you know if you’re on the right track?
Well, it’s not much different than scouting ball players in some respects. Is there athleticism in the family? Does the horse in question have good physical attributes, does it display athletic ability in the way it handles itself? Does it have the appearance of an athlete and a balanced build (conformation)?
What did its relatives _ in this case mom and dad in particular _ do on the racetrack? Where do you intend to race the horse in question and does it have the potential traits necessary to perform there? How does the horse stack up against others of its age up for bid?
A strong turnout of buyers had many of those very questions in mind on Monday when they surveyed the stock on hand at the 2014 Minnesota Thoroughbred Association Yearling Sale at the Scott Country FaIrgrounds.
The buyers of the 2014 sale topper, a filly named Girlatwerk who went for $52,000, asked themselves many of those questions as they surveyed this daughter of Yes It’s True from the mare Dee’s Rose _ or least, the leader of the group did, in this case trainer Mac Robertson.
First of all the details of the sale:
In total, 69 yearlings were consigned and 67 of those went through the sale ring. New owners bought 43 of those horses at an average price of $10,560 and a total sale of $454,100. The highest previous gross since 2,000 took place at the 2007 sale and totalled $434,600.
The sale was moved this year to the fairgrounds because of full stables at Canterbury Park and the construction of the Events Center.
“Our straw poll showed that people liked the location because it had a lot of good areas for looking at horses,” said Kay King, executive director of the MTA. “We also started at 1:30 p.m., and were finished by 5:15, instead of ending in the dark if we had started after the races.”
In addition, King said, buyers were moving horses off the grounds at midnight as some them had to do with a later start.
Now, back to Hip No. 39, Girlatwerk, assigned by Wildcat Ranch LLC.
“She was the most athletic horse of the bunch, I thought,” said Robertson. ”
“Her dam could run and she was a good first foal out of the mare. She could run and so could Yes It’s True.” The filly had a nice walk to her, Robertson said, and “vetted out well with a “good scope and x rays.
“I thought we were lucky to get her for $52,000,” Robertson added. “I thought a horse like that might go for $70 to $90,000 at Keeneland. So I was happy to get her for what we did.”
Any buyer’s remorse on Tuesday morning?
“I usually do when I buy a horse,” Robertson said. “Sometimes you wake up in the morning and wonder how much (alcohol) did it take to buy that. But in this case I thought this horse was athletic, probably good enough to run in open company. So you have to pay a little more for one like that. I actually would have gone higher on her.”
There was one more reason in Robertson’s reasoning as well. “I didn’t want to get outbid by Diodoro,” he said. “We did get outbid on a couple earlier.”
Robertson can win his 10th consecutive training title this meet and presently leads by Diodoro by two wins heading into the homestretch.
Robertson said his little group doesn’t have a name per se. “They call me names instead,” he quipped. “It’s hard to get a group of five guys to get along, especially if I’m involved.”
Robertson’s group includes Jeff Larson, John Mentz and Gary Chanen on the sale topper. They also bought another horse that includes Jeff Ryan in the group.
“We’re all delusional enough to think that we can along,” Robertson cracked.
As for the group’s new filly, she was vanned to Jeff and Deb Hilger’s place in Grant Township. From there she will go to Ocala, Fla., eventually for breaking.
“Hopefully she’ll run at two,” Robertson added.
There were other factors Robertson considered, too. “Yes It’s True, I love him as a Minnesota-bred sire,” he said. “Speed horses do well on the Canterbury track, and his horses are athletic, usually early and have speed.”
But there is always this racetrack caveat to consider also:
“Just because I thought she was the best one of the bunch yesterday, doesn’t mean she’ll stay ahead of them later on down the road. But you pay extra for a horse that is ahead right now.”
BY JIM WELLS