Little Red Feather Racing Blog

OBS March 2017: The Short List

Posted by Gary Fenton on Mar 13, 2017 2:56:39 PM

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The important OBS March 2YO-in-training sale is set for tomorrow, March 14, 2017 and LRF is here trying to find the next Midnight Storm for our horse racing partnerships. Auctions are incredibly exciting. With 2YO’s even more so. It feels like the NFL combine. You have these incredible athletes and it is your job to find Tom Brady from a very talented pool with like-minded competitors swimming around you.The process of finding your horse takes talent, patience, and like anything in life….hard work. Anyone can look when a sale is over and say “I could’ve had that horse for $5,000 more.” The problem with that statement is a sale moves forwardly, not backwards. There are 677 horses at OBS March, so the odds of landing on the same horse as LRF is actually 1 in 677. And when sale is over and the horse is ours… no, you can never, ever just buy that horse for $5,000 more. The only way to buy a horse at auction for the sales price listed is to start at the beginning, like everyone else, and whittle the 677 horses down to your short list. Then you must survive the auction itself and become the winning bidder. It’s grueling.

What is a short list?

Unlike private sales where you are presented one horse and one price with the option of buying or passing, a sales auction can have up to 4,000 horses to choose from. While everyone has a different selection process, most have what the industry terms a “short list”. This is your money sheet.  A tight, final list of horses you will target to buy. 

How do you create a short list?

In the beginning, the first step varies. Some buyers throw out sellers they’ve purchased from and had a negative experience. Others toss prospects from certain mare types. Ask 10 bloodstock agents and they may give you 10 different steps. That’s the beauty of the auction process.  It’s art. What’s right for you and your program may not be for the next owner.

After the initial cuts, the next step at a 2YO sale is usually the same across the board. The breeze show. Like the combine, these athletes are tested in either eighth or quarter mile breezes, which are timed and judged for efficiency. For example, if two horses breeze the same exact time, one may have done it easily without being asked for his best while the other pushed. The majority of horses crossed off are based on the analysis of the breeze. You can view the breeze shows from the OBS March prospects by clicking here.

The third step is the physical inspection. After the breezes, LRF walks the grounds and puts our hands and eyes on each horse. We look for a combination of conformation, build, athleticism and attitude.  

After this process, 90% of the horses are probably crossed off. You have a nice list, but it isn’t set yet.  The fourth and final step is the vet process. Our veterinarian will look closely at the xrays and medical condition of each prospect and the lucky few who pass the arduous tests make it to the coveted “short list”. It’s the product of weeks and weeks of work narrowing down the 677 horses to the potential stars you try and purchase.

In tomorrow’s blog, we discuss the strategy buying horses at auction from your short list.

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Topics: Opinion Piece