Sunday, May 17, 2009

Observations of a Rookie

It's been a great weekend at Canterbury Park. We had opening night on Friday and yesterday an even larger crowd turned out for day two of the meet and the Lady Slipper and 10,000 Lakes Stakes events. I showed up a bit later in the card to catch the two Stakes as well as the Upper Midwest 2-Year Olds in Training Sale being held after the races. About 20 horses were consigned to the sale, all but two of them two year olds. Most were Iowa and Minnesota breds, but there were a couple of Kentucky breds in the sale as well as a couple of Florida breds. The Florida breds were of particular interest to me since we race in Florida over the winter, but I was more interested as a casual observer rather than a buyer. If I told you all that trying to get Miss Belle Express to the racetrack and that whole experience didn't leave a bit of a scar, I'd be lying, so I'm going to stick with claiming horses for a while.

I approached this more as a casual observer rather than on any kind of reporting mission. There appeared to be over 30 buyers and with only 20 horses, things were looking up out of the gate. The first gal through the sale was Sunny Silver, an Iowa bred bay filly by Silver Ghost out of Colonial Currency. The gavel went down on her at $21,000. Looking back a few generations - and I have no idea how this all nicks together (in the vernacular of the trade) - she has Mr. Prospector, Pleasant Colony and Buckpasser in her family and I figure that has to be a pretty good thing. Again, how they all work together is beyond my scope.

WARNING SHAMELESS PLUG: Technically it's not shameless because it's not about me, but anyway... When I attend an auction with the intent to buy, I would go to Star of the North Bloodstock. Proprietor David M. Miller (below, left, working the pedigrees with auctioneer Lyle Booster) got me into the partnership business and has a nice eye for horses. The fact that he loves what he does makes him that much better at doing it. This goes back to my philosophy of knowing what you don't know and then either learning or hiring experts for assistance. David buys horses all over the country and travels to the Kentucky sales religiously, so you're not limited locally. When the economy swings a bit, I'd love to put together a bit of a more expensive group and go to Keeneland with David and try to nail down a nice black type runner - take the big shot, if you will. But I digress (and am NOW starting to get a bit shameless!)...

The horses went through the ring without a hitch thereafter. A few friends had their eye on some horses, most notably Allegretto (Posse - Di Graza Girl - Top Account) and Sasha's Fierce (Include - Pareepassoo - Distinctive Pro). Allegretto was sold privately before the sale and Sasha's Fierce was the sale topper at $25,500 (consigned by Wood-Mere Farm). Obviously they have good taste - if not the wallet to grab either of these two.

The quickest worked the day before in the Under Tack Show was Hip # 16, Sheso Dazzling (Dazzling Falls - Wa Sarah - Wa Bert) who went a furling in 10.94. This did not, however, translate into the highest selling price of the day but into a more modest $12,000.

This started a conversation at my table regarding the quick works of young horses leading up to a sale. The analogy I often use is if you push a two-year old to run hard and fast too early, isn't that similar to teaching an 11-year old how to throw a curve ball? A child that young is bound to suffer some damage by the torque created in the throwing motion. Isn't a 2-year old subject to damage if their joints are not fully capable of handling such work? The California Thoroughbred Breeder's Association has published several interesting reports on quick sale workers and the correlation to success on the racetrack.

My friend Janet brought up a really interesting point. It would be great to know who prepped the horse for sale. If you know the mindset of the trainer, you can get to know whether or not the young horse is getting ready at his own pace or if he is being pushed past his limits in order to get the best price. Bernell Rhone has always told me, it's not necessarily the speed of the work, but how they did it and how they came back from it. Another reason why hiring a bloodstock agent or other horse professional is a good idea - this is what they get paid to know.

As the sale moved briskly along, there was only one of the 18 that entered the ring that was no saled. Pretty good everyone at the table thought. Until we realized that there was at least one consignor buying back their stock. Not exactly a sale. I don't have the final numbers on the sale, but they should be posted on the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association's website shortly. I'll be interested to see just how many of the horses were bought back and how many were actually sold.

The steal of the sale - maybe. White Earth (Demidoff - Storm in Sight - Storm Bird). This filly had some issues at the under tack show and was unwilling to be worked for the preview. Folks that saw her performance said it didn't seem like an angry type of bucking, more like an "I don't feel like doing this" kind of bucking. I wasn't there to see it, so I can't comment but with grandsires Mr. Prospector and Storm Bird the $2700 may be a bargain (I don't know about the Secretariat cross, but it was fun seeing him in her pedigree!). She'll go into my stable watch and we'll see how she turns out.
In all, it was a fun experience. I have some horses to watch now going forward and though none will join Fizzy Pop in Bernell's barn, it broadened my horizons just a little bit more.


The Preakness Stakes and the promise of sunnier (though not much warmer) weather brought over 9,000 fans to the race track yesterday to witness the first stakes races of the season: the $35,000 Lady Slipper Stakes and the $35,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes. Perennial leading trainer Mac Robertson and perennial leading jockey Derek Bell joined forces to sweep both races.

In the Lady Slipper Robertson trainees Bella Notte and Thanks for the Tip took the field one-two for all six furlongs. Thanks for the Tip made it interesting in the stretch getting to within a head, but Bella Notte repelled the challenge to win by a length and three quarters.
Bell and Robertson teamed up again to nail down the 10,000 Lakes with 8-year old Canterbury favorite Sir Tricky. Captain Canaveral bolted to the early lead and the Tammy Domenosky trainee had the measure of the field until he started drifting slightly in the stretch under Paul Nolan. That was the opportunity the aging warrior needed and Sir Tricky pulled clear to win it by two.

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