It Takes A Village
Dear Partners and Friends,
I often tell people that the Keeneland yearling sale is the hardest two weeks of work I do all year. Physically, intellectually and emotionally. And it isn't just me...it takes a village as they say. So forgive my brief detour before we get back to yesterday's sales results.
It starts with my assistant Alex back in Des Moines who runs each horse through our algorithm to see which horses we should and should not consider. Alex then prepares the notebooks of information on possible horses. It is at this point in the process that Sid Fernando weighs in with his opinion on my stamina decisions.
Once we are here our inspection team then looks at horses the formula believes could have potential. This includes Conor Foley and Jim Hatchett from Oracle Bloodstock, both of whom do a very fine job. It includes Frank Smith who also breaks and trains our horses at Elloree Training Center. And this year it includes Phil Hager from Crestwood Farm who is providing us an extra set of eyes.
Once a horse survives the physical inspection, Byron Rogers measures the horse's cardio which ties directly into our stamina considerations. Out of ten horses with stamina genetics only 2 or 3 will have a stamina cardio to go with it. We also do DNA testing at that stage which tells us more about the horse's potential or lack thereof.
If a horse has survived all of the above, Dr. Steve Allday (one of the best racetrack vets in the world) does our vet work. First examining the horse's airway (respiratory system) and if that passes going over X-rays of all the joints in the horse's body. If Steve thinks he needs it he shoots extra film to confirm or rule out certain conditions. Steve also physically inspects the horse for athleticism as he knows what we are looking for and as Todd Pletcher's vet, he knows a good horse when he sees it.
And finally...Todd Pletcher was a new addition to our process this year giving us his opinion of the horse's that made it through all of the steps above. I found Todd's opinion to be insightful and invaluable.
Once I get all of the data outlined above I go over it with Conor Crawford who gives me his overall evaluation of prospects and what he thinks they are worth in the current market. Conor has been on fire predicting to the penny the selling prices of our last four purchases. Don't let him talk you into any betting games on valuation. Working with Conor is very helpful and just plain fun!
Oh wait, one more person. At my side every minute (for the second straight year), my best pal for the past 34 years...Linda. Linda used to just stay in her lane and make my life easier at the sale. Now, in year two, she has developed strong opinions and can constantly be heard saying, "Buy more horses." I can assure all of you Donegal is in better shape with Conor Crawford and myself making those decisions ;).
As each horse is purchased we have to arrange photography and then transportation down to Elloree Training Center to begin the next phase of their lives.
Back at the office Hillary Gardner and Nick Mauro will soon do their work in getting all the legal documents prepared and executed.
Thanks for permitting me this detour...so many people need to be thanked in what is a truly overwhelming set of tasks. Because we are the best organized group at the sale we are able too get it done and done right.
And thanks to all of you have visited. People who come see this process are usually amazed at what all goes into it.
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