Monday, September 23, 2013

Thoroughbred Industry in Upswing?

The yearling sale at Keeneland takes place every September and lasts for around two weeks.
Used to be that a trainer could go to the sale during the last few sessions and pick up a couple of yearlings for free. Those that got no bids in the sale owned by breeders who hoped to get them to the races and couldn't afford the training fees, generally could be had by some simple good introductions and provisions of a reference or two.

September 2012, a new trend started and it appears that it is carrying on:
Not a single yearling RNA'd without a bid. Every yearling in the catalog was bid on.
Unheard of!

This year, the September yearling sale resulted in the same outcome:
Not one yearling went without a bid. The prices were solid, the auctioneer starting bids at $3000.
No free yearlings this year, either.

The yearling sale is in stark contrast to the other sales. Breeding stock sales result in plenty of no bids.

The consensus among economists is that financially, the industry is suffering and going downhill.

I beg to disagree. It looks to me like the industry is in an upswing, at least as far as racing stock is concerned. The first three days or so are filled with the big money crowd. Horses go at prices that still stagger the average earning citizen's mind. Once Book 3 of the sale is over, the crowds have thinned out and the affluent bidders are largely gone, in come the pinhookers, the everyday small guys who take their yearly pilgrimage up to Lexington, KY from Ocala, FL and hope to pick up a well bred yearling to take back down south with them and break under saddle for the 2 year old in training sale.
It's a relatively short term investment with a chance to hit a pretty big jackpot.
Pick up a yearling for $10,000 in September. Get it ready under saddle for the April 2 year old sale and get a chance at selling it for around $100,000 if not more so long as the steed exhibits some speed.
Not bad odds, really. Infinitely better than winning the lottery.

While the overall numbers of yearlings offered have declined in recent years, simply due to breeders no longer breeding as many mares as before, undoubtedly due to the fact that finances are tight and the economy is bad, the number of buyers for yearlings hasn't wavered much. The result is visible today.

While not getting any free yearlings at the sale is a disappointment to some, the overall effect on the Thoroughbred industry is positive. While markets outside Kentucky are still softer, the prices here have been up and holding steady.

A relief for those of us who make a living in the industry and plan on continuing to do so.

Here is a link to the overall results:

Let's hope this bodes well for the future of our industry. It's time something holds strong in this economy.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Michael Power: The Price of Burning Bridges

The Thoroughbred industry is a small world indeed. Anyone involved within its' proverbial four walls will tell you that it's hard to keep secrets.
Anyone who conducts their business in this world will also tell you that deeds, good or bad, will hardly go unpunished, as it were.

Kentucky, May 7, 2013

Police arrive at a Thoroughbred farm to arrest the owner/manager after he completely loses his composure at the local utility company's arrival to turn off his power.
Instead of paying his bill in a timely manner, or simply even making payment arrangements beforehand to avoid this inconvenience, he demands from the Utility Company employee that he immediately put the power back on. When this demand is refused, he physically removes the employee from the official company vehicle, turns off the vehicle, breaks the key off within the ignition and proceeds to run away into the nether regions of his own property.
Did he think this would go unpunished?
What prevented him simply from waiting until the Utility Company employee left and simply turning the power back on (apart from this act being unlawful, obviously)?

Enter now the local police, who not only are looking for him, but have procured a search warrant for the premises. A bit of obvious overkill in retaliation of such a stupid act of idiocy. After hours of searching for the man himself unsuccessfully, a young lady who arrived at the scene in order to take one of the mares on a shed run to Spendthrift Farm for breeding, spots the owner stealthily slinking around one of the back pastures while checking to see that the 40 or so horses on the property had enough water and were fed.

Apprehended in the end, he resists arrest and is carted off to the local hospital, to not only have his shoulder looked at, but his psyche evaluated.

As an outsider, on wonders who would so overreact to such a simple, unfortunate financial crisis.
The name Michael Power rings a bell somewhere but I can't quite place it in recent memory.

Kentucky, May 8, 2013

Last night's occurrence tingles in the back of my mind and the name just won't fade. I do distantly remember a Michael Power involved in the Thoroughbred industry but not locally in Kentucky.
Lo and behold, memory did serve right.
Michael Power of California is now sitting in holding, awaiting arraignment in a local Scott County, Kentucky, Court.

What's the big deal you ask?
For one, the involvement of 40 head Thoroughbreds who are now without a proper caretaker and the fact that thus far, this breeding season, Mr. Power has had plenty of bad luck with red bag deliveries and fescue toxicity in his mares. These horses cannot be left unattended to birth for themselves.

Enter a friend of Mr. Power, who shall remained unnamed, who is willing to help the situation. The mares that are due to foal within the next few days or so are moved to a different location in order to prevent the worst during foaling.

So who do you ask is Michael Power?

Ah, but here then is the back story.

A quick read through these news links leaves more questions than answers:
Is Michael Power a shady character? Is he simply insane?
His own mother apparently won't help and support him in any way.

The question that remains:
How is it possible that a such obviously knowledgeable breeder with such a solid background in the industry can have such a melt down?

Mr. Power currently owns a half sister to the incredibly successful Wise Dan, winner of three Eclipse awards. The mare was in foal to Uncle Mo but aborted, probably due to the fescue issues found in his other mares at Mr. Power's Kentucky farm.

What Mr. Power needs is an accomplished attorney to get him out of the kettle of boiling water he landed himself in.

In the meantime, one has to wonder how he could have done things differently, or whether he gave any thought to the consequences of his actions?

He left a wake of bad taste in the mouth of California.
Apparently old habits are hard to break: Alienating the authorities in Kentucky is not the smartest way to establish oneself as a credible business man.

What will happen to Mr. Power's mares remains unclear at this point, as well.
In an ideal justice system, the charges against him would not leave him confined to the local barracks for long. But this is the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where nothing makes much sense when it comes to the serving of justice. The system has a mind of its own that has very little to do with rights, at least as far as the outdated and highly inconvenient document named the Constitution of the United States goes.

In this state, you are who you know.
It appears Mr. Power just does not know the right kind of people to help him out of this newest mess he's gotten himself into.