Buying a Horse at Auction

Bob HuttAs the sales approach such as the Fasig Tipton Two-Year old in training auction in May, we already have several star rated horses under consideration that have gone thru the auction ring previously.  More than a few of you have asked me for a hint of whom we have under consideration.

In addition to these we will meticulously have Clocker Gate watch the upcoming undertack show.  Clocker Gate watches the way they move/travel and how strongly they gallop out.  As an example, if a juvenile were to work in 9.3 seconds almost very unlikely, if he gallops out three furlongs in 39 seconds we would NOT have any interest in him at any price.

On the other hand we may see a juvenile who works in a pedestrian 11 seconds but gallops out three furlongs in 35 seconds.  The public will be going gaga on the horse that worked in 9.3 and have no interest in the horse that worked in 11 seconds.  What they don’t know is the further they went the precocious speed ball came to a walk; while on the other hand, slower officially timed horse went faster and faster.  At three furlongs the slower horse would have actually beat the faster horse by 16 lengths.  This is why we always tell you never to put so much stock in workout times.

In addition, we look for horses that have extended reach without any wasted motion.  For example, no matter how fast a horse appears to the naked eye, and there are plenty of fast horses in this auction, we want to make sure that the feet stay low to the ground and do not extend up too high under the belly.

When they do, it’s an example of wasted motion.  When low to the ground they can extend their next stride quicker which over a distance of ground gives them a decided advantage.  If you remember Justawalkinthepark he would literally trip over the mounds of mud when simply galloping as he never took his feet too high off of the ground.  But in a race he was poetry in motion.

Also if you use the rail as a barometer you prefer that the horse appears to be running down hill during the workout.  Even if the horse appears parallel with the rail that’s okay, but if they’re running downhill that’s what we’re looking for and is a very good.

This horse runs downhill

If you attend the undertack show, much of this you will not be able to see with the naked eye.  Clocker Gate goes back to his room and watches hours and hours of slow and stop motion video before he places a FINAL GRADE on the individual horse.

From there he makes his assessments.

NO = Would not buy the horse under circumstance.

NO COMMENT = Did not make a favorable impression

90% or higher of the catalog will generally fall into these above 2 categories.

A horse must be athletic with a nice way of traveling and gallop out strong.  Some horses are just a bit more mature both mentally and physically then others so as long as they have an OK rating or better we are most interested.

CLOCKER GATE ratings….

OK         = 90-92%

1 Star    = 93-95%

2 Star    = 96-97%

3 Star    = 98-99%

4 Star    = 100%

The only 4 star rated horse Clocker Gate ever had was the ill fated The Green Monkey who never won a race and was retired. He sold for $16,000,000.

The only 3 star rated horses that I am aware of in recent memory {although I am sure there were others} was Afleet Alex {$75,000} and Brooklyn Legend {$102,000}.

Afleet Alex won two-thirds of the Triple Crown and was retired syndicated for $30,000,000.  And Brooklyn Legend begins his career this weekend.

R Betty Graybull was a 2 star rated horse and the highest rated horse in the 2008 Fasig Tipton auction.  I was able to buy her in a private deal for $60,000.

Uptowncharlybrown {$57,000}, Joyce’s Angel {$60,000} were also 2 star rated horses as was Justawalkinthepark {$125,000} and Cobra Strike {$100,000}.  Three of these became stake horses with Betty the 4th.

A great deal of work goes into our selection with our Number One Draft choice.