Saturday, November 23, 2013

Glory Days

The following post appeared first in the November 14 issue of European Bloodstock news as my bi-weekly "Letter from America"

Glory Days, well they’ll pass you by,
Glory Days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory Days, Glory Days

I suspect Bruce Springsteen has never been quite the icon on your side of the Atlantic that he is in America. His songs embody a particularly, unabashedly American ethos that I doubt resonates as viscerally in other cultures.
Most everybody loves a great rock song, though, just as everyone in the Thoroughbred industry loves high prices, and lord knows, we had plenty of those at our November breeding stock auctions. Glory days indeed.
The Fasig-Tipton November sale began calmly enough, but once Love and Pride, a spectacular physical specimen with a race record and pedigree to match, sold for $4.9-million to Brazilian Goncalo Borges Torrealba, all hell broke loose. And it wasn’t just that there were better horses that followed Love and Pride into the ring than had preceded her. Everyone in the industry knows that a horse like Love and Pride should bring a certain price (in her case $4-to-$5-million), and once they hit the mark, it makes signing other tickets for millions of dollars so much easier. The feel of the marketplace changes from caution to let the good times roll with the crack of the gavel.
At the end of a memorable evening 24 mares had sold for $1-million or more at Newtown Paddocks, and Keeneland sold another 14 in that range over the next two days across town. Those 38 seven figure mares were purchased by 21 different individual buyers. The principal residences of those buyers (as far as we know at this point) are located in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Greece, Qatar, and USA. Clearly the resurgent Thoroughbred market is a global phenomenon.
We have been wondering if or when the Qataris would dive into our market as vigorously as they have yours, and Sheikh Joann did not disappoint, purchasing dual Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection for $2.7-million. That was, however, the only high-profile Qatari purchase. Sheikh Mohammed’s forces continued to be conspicuous only by their virtual absence, purchasing one Street Cry weanling they co-owned on a foal share for $350,000.
Four years ago when the market was in the dungeon following the global economic meltdown of October 2008, I do not think anyone would have been foolish enough to predict that four years hence we would not need Sheikh Mohammed to enjoy a vibrant market for Thoroughbred bloodstock. That, in fact, has been pretty much unthinkable for more than 30 years now, but it was obviously true at the two bloodstock sales in Lexington last week.
After watching your horses beat everyone but Wise Dan on grass at the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita last week it is obvious that you have better horses than we do right now, so what price glory at Goff’s and Tattersalls over the next month? Even here the top-priced lot was a Galileo three-quarter sister to Yesterday and Quarter Moon purchased by Coolmore for $5.2-million.
After years of wondering whether they would survive the latest bloodstock recession it did the heart good to see smiles on the faces of so many old friends in Lexington last week. True, there are fewer left to smile, but that is the way of the world.

Those that are left understand that the glory days can disappear, indeed as quickly as the wink of a young girl’s eye...or perhaps the wink of an eye of that lovely young mare now residing in their broodmare barn.


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