Buyers, Welcome to T’Breds!
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a new up-and-coming owner, we wish to make your buying experience as productive, economical, and seamless as possible. We would deeply appreciate any feedback on your experience and are here to serve you!
You will be introduced to fundamental website tools, such as Bloodhorse.com, Equibase and the Jockey Club’s Equineline to formulate your own research and statistics. For the inexperienced, we’ve prepared several example reports, presenting an idea of what a horse is worth, based on public auction purchase price and race earnings. After you understand the potential value of a horse, we suggest reviewing our brief synopsis of the vetting process and how the horses are examined for potential health and soundness issues. On its own dedicated page, we have introduced several agents and third-party providers. They can assist you with the purchase and ownership experience. Agents are seasoned professionals capable of assessing a horse’s value, as well as assisting with the fundamental chores of caring for your horse. Highly reputable veterinary firms and specialists familiar with thoroughbreds are listed by state, as are transport specialists that can ship your horse from breeding farms or track locations. For racing, we’ve provided a list of trainers categorized by training location.
We encourage the neophyte to start with baby steps, because there will be always be good times and bad. Feel free to share your experience, as well as offer critical feedback, so that we can all better serve you.
Step 1. Types of Racehorses
Weanlings are the youngest type of horse; less than a year old, they present the need for a longer term of training and boarding. On one hand, they present more risk for injury before becoming an athlete; but on the other hand, the owner can determine what is emphasized during the horse’s upbringing. Many horses, from birth, are slated and raised to be sale horses, not race horses. Think about it. Science has proven that environment plays a much, much bigger role in genetic expression than the genes themselves.
Yearlings (One-year-olds) are closer to entering a career at the track than weanlings, but yearlings have not started demonstrating their ability to maintain speed or endurance. Local agents get to know yearlings by observing conformation and through veterinary exams, but their value is largely based on bloodline and a healthy veterinarian report. Videos within our auction pages demonstrate their walk, stride, and conformation.
Two-year-olds have started training; and within the auctions on our site, you’ll find breeze and jogging videos, as well as the ability for you to request additional information about the horse you are considering for purchase.
Horses of racing age are the active athletes represented on T’Breds.
Broodmares are an investment in time and patience. They’re fun–like having a family–and essential to breeding new foals. They sell based on conformation, pedigree and performance.
Stallions are usually retired racehorses. They are generally sought out on pedigree, conformation, and performance. Bloodhorse.com offers specific statistics for a stallion’s performance as a stud.
Step 2. Understanding Value and Statistics
Understanding the process of identifying a potential horse to purchase is an important aspect of entering the arena as a successful thoroughbred owner. A winning horse’s pedigree is often analyzed in many ways, but equally important is understanding the statistics behind auction horses and the returns they often bring.
It is important to point out that the example statistics we provide are based on groups of horses, not individuals. They are also based on sales at public auctions, which have their own peculiarities. For example, some “sale prices” are actually stallion owners supporting their stallions. Additionally, some prices reflect the use of agents who get paid commissions based on purchase prices.
Like other sports, there are past, present, and future athletes. It is important to realize that all Thoroughbreds have the same birthday, January 1 of the year they were born. It is a challenge to predict how an individual horse will perform as an athlete; however, if you develop an understanding of horses that possess a specific trait, such as age, sale price, sale location, or pedigree, you are able to cross reference them with results, such as earnings, races entered, earnings per race, also found on Equibase.com. We’ve put together several studies to help you understand the process of generating statistics from a price and race-earnings perspective. While we offer a few examples, we encourage buyers to generate their own statistics.
Each horse included in this study began a racing career at a U.S.-based racetrack. We’ve input each horse’s race winnings and lifetime earnings. Lifetime earnings per horse were gathered from Equibase.com. Often, horses bought at an auction are sold to other countries, or used off the racetrack in other disciplines, such as eventing, jumping, etc. We determined the average and median earnings for each group of horses. Often, averages are skewed due to the the environment of racing. Some horses earn millions, while others earn little to nothing. Because of this, the median is often considered an accurate representation for race statistics and starting a portfolio of horses.
Example Earnings: Weanlings, Yearlings, and Two-Year-Olds – 10, 50, 100 and 200k.
In this focus group, we selected thoroughbred horses from three age groups, totaling 1500+ horses. We chose four sale prices, 10k, 50k, 100k, and 200k. There are 110 weanlings, 188 yearlings, and 155 two-year-olds included that sold at roughly 10k; 91 weanlings, 110 yearlings, and 149 two-year-olds sold at roughly 50k; 104 weanlings, 132 yearlings, and 178 two-year-olds sold at 100k; and 80 weanlings, 127 yearlings, and 138 two-year-olds sold at 200k.
Each horse in this focus group began a racing career at a U.S.-based racetrack. Similar to the sale toppers below, lifetime earnings were gathered from Equibase.com and sale details from Bloodhorse.com. We generated the median earnings for each group to demonstrate the difference in average and median earnings. As an example, the top earner in our focus group was Animal Kingdom. Sired by Leroidesanimaux, Animal Kingdom was an 8.3 million + earner. Many agents and buyers consider the median or a trimmed average to be an important factor when studying groups of horses because of averages like the column that includes Animal Kingdom’s earnings.
Example Analysis: Determining Percentages
In this next section, we’ll look at an analysis of earnings vs. purchase price from weanlings, yearlings, and two-year-olds purchased at 10k, 50k, 100k, and 200k. We hope to demonstrate how to determine the percentages of horses in each age group that surpassed their public auction purchase price through racetrack earnings.
- earnings vs purchase price
- weanlings, yearlings, and two-year-olds
- 4 subcategories (purchased at 10k, 50k, 100k, and 200k)
- 10k & 50k groups–of all ages–surpassed their purchase price in earnings
For the weanlings studied, $32,050,000 was spent and $29,888,093 was returned in winnings.
For the yearlings studied, $45,980,000 was spent and $50,697,213 was returned as race winnings.
For the two-year-olds studied, $54,400,000 was spent and $54,456,354 was returned as race winnings.
These are the percentages of horses from each age group that earned above their public auction purchase price.
- at 10k: 70.91%
- at 50k: 40.66%
- at 100k: 21.15%
- at 200k: 11.25%
- at 10k: 73.94%
- at 50k: 49.09%
- at 100k: 34.85%
- at 200K: 14.17%
- at 10k: 69.23%
- at 50k: 59.06%
- at 100k: 30.34%
- at 200k: 15.94%
Example Sale Analysis – Saratoga Select-Yearling Sale
In this group are all yearling horses from the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga 2009 Select-Yearling Sale that fit our previous focus group’s criteria.
For the $52.5 million spent on these horses, only about $10.1 million was returned as race winnings.
Example Analysis: Sale toppers from the 2011 Yearling Sale at Keeneland
The following statistics are results of the top-10-priced yearlings sold at Keeneland in 2011. No horses from the top-10-sale-price group earned their value back in race winnings. Roughly $32,000 was earned for every million dollars spent on horses in this category. The risk is substantial when racing for earnings at the track from an individual horse.
Next, we’ll look at the health of a horse and what documents and exams a buyer can request to assure that the horse is healthy prior to purchasing.
Step 3. The Vetting Process
Please remember that material presented on T’Breds is for informational purposes only. It’s accuracy at time of purchase cannot be assured. Buyers are highly encouraged to call on third-party veterinary firms and agents to perform their own personal exams at the time of purchase.
Everybody wants to buy a healthy, sound horse. What is the general process used to assess a horse’s health? First, the horse receives a routine physical, paying particular attention to the eyes, hearts, lungs, and genitalia. In some cases, like a pregnant mare, there will be specialized exams detailing the pregnancy exam. Other than radiographs of the feet, this may complete the veterinary exam in broodmares.
In the athlete, whether future or current, a detailed exam will be made of the legs, paying close attention to the soft tissue structures such as tendons and ligaments, as well as the joints. The horse will then, if possible, be jogged for soundness. Flexion exams, where specific joints are flexed prior to jogging, might be incorporated into the exam. This procedure accentuates any localized pain or problem to a specific area. Going further into the exam, the horse will also almost always receive an upper airway exam using a fiber optic endoscope. This assesses various soundness of wind issues that could be present. Then, in today’s advanced scientific arena, horses will have radiographic exams of pertinent joints, bones, and maybe even the feet. Soft tissue areas of concern could be examined by ultrasound. To assure no medications are obscuring results, blood is routinely drawn for potential drug analysis. Further, more advanced examinations might include a heart examination, measuring the size and potential volume of the heart. T’Breds will also be compiling physical characteristics data such as weight, height, girth, and other related measurements. The exercising horse might also be equipped with a GPS tracking device, returning such biometric data as speed, stride length, and heart rate. Dynamic endoscopy, fitting the horse with a scope placed during a gallop, provides the ultimate estimate of airway function and can be utilized on horses with questionable issues on a standard exam. Most horses have some form of blemish or fault on the veterinary exam. In current public auction formats, the significance of these can be hard to assess, though it’s well documented that most do not significantly affect racing soundness. A comprehensive vet exam, such as that provided by T’Breds, and your private veterinarian, using flexion tests, etc., can likely identify not only significant findings, but also the objective abnormality that doesn’t appear to be affecting the horse.
Videos provide one with general walking characteristics, as well as a conformation analysis. Conformation could be considered subjective and somewhat controversial. Such great horses as Storm Cat had offset knees; the great stallion A.P. Indy had a bad foot; his father the great Seattle Slew, had a leg that turned out; hence the name “Slew.” One can enlist the aid of an agent to help make these types of judgment calls. They should also read books, and maybe attend seminars. Videos, with attached audio, of horses training are an excellent assessment of stride characteristics and airway function. Supplied pedigrees and their analysis is an art in itself. Certain “nicks,” successful sire/broodmare-sire combinations and their grades, will be provided where possible by third party vendors. Buyers should subscribe to such periodicals as the Blood Horse and The Thoroughbred Daily News to further study and understand bloodlines and their significance. Individual state breeding programs can provide significant financial incentives to either breed, or race in their state. Generally the horse will have to be a registered state-bred to qualify. One would be encouraged to research this more, particularly if it involves registering a racehorse in a state you are interested in racing or breeding within.
Step 4. Finding Trustworthy Agents and Trainers
T’Breds provides a comprehensive list of agents and trainers to consider assisting with your purchase and perhaps even helping with other details, such as shipping. It’s important to note that most of these people are professionals that provide a host of services, such as boarding, breaking, training, foaling, etc. T’Breds, like many online applications, will offer clients the ability to review these agents. This will help immensely in assessing professional qualities. If you are new to the thoroughbred racing world, be aware that it is a conflict of interest for an agent to represent you and the seller; this leads to unscrupulous actions such as receiving kickbacks, reverse commissions, etc. It is also unethical for an agent to put you off one horse and on another that he may well own or have an interest in. Please notify T’Breds of any actions that you feel are harmful to the integrity of the transaction and the transparency and integrity of T’Breds and its participants.