Sunday, July 11, 2010

Where are Cuz and Tom when we need them?

Blogging is a very odd--in my case--hobby....or at least that's the best label I can come up with at the moment for what I do here. Certainly not a job, since the only income is psychic.

When you get into a rhythm of posting--once a week, twice a month, every day...whatever--posts flow fairly easily and steadily. When real life intervenes in the form of hernia surgery followed by a series of (welcome) guests, excuses not to post proliferate, as natural as breathing.

But life goes on and yearling sales season is here. July nowadays is not very much like July in Lexington from 1945 through 2002, the year the Keeneland July sale of selected yearlings died a rather ignominious death. For much of that period, Keeneland July was the social event of the Lexington summer, as well as being the most important and expensive horse sale in the world.

My first Keeneland July sale was 1970, when Majestic Prince's brother Crowned Prince sold for a then-record $510,000. Those two sons of Raise a Native (comprising two-thirds of the only set of three brothers to set world record yearling prices) were bred at Spendthrift Farm and sold by the inimitable Leslie Combs II.

Cousin Leslie set the tone at Keeneland July, and motivated other consignors like Tom Gentry to stage ever more lavish parties to lubricate buyers and loosen their grip on their wallets. Sheikh Mohammed's Dubai World Cup parties have nothing on the Tom Gentry parties of the 1980s.

That all came to an end with the bloodstock recession of the late '80s. Spendthrift and Gentry both imploded in different ways, and once Keeneland inaugurated select sessions at the September sale in 1989, the July sale was doomed.

Fasig-Tipton's new, Dubai-based ownership is making an effort to return a hint of glamor to July. That is surely one of the things that Thoroughbred racing in general and the auction scene in particular, needs.

Once one reaches a certain age, the contemporary world never seems as glamorous, as exciting, somehow as real, as the world of our youth. We could use more than a few Cousin Leslies and Tom Gentrys about now.

1 comment:

  1. I know where we can find Tom..Cousin Leslie I am not sure about!
    We all hope that the Sale will be good for everyone but with more than 7,000 horses to go it will be tough!