Reaching for Roses: The Beginning of the Journey

January 19, 2011

A Couple of Notes and Comments

I would first like to thank Bloodstock in the Bluegrass and Equidaily.com for linking my blog on their sites last week. This blog had its highest weekly view total in five months and that would not have happened had my posts not been linked on the previously stated sites.

Last week I also started my last semester as an undergraduate. I remember when I graduated from high school that my projected college graduation date of May 2011 seemed very far away; however, the time has FLOWN BY and I will graduate in less than four months. For those of you that may be interested, my course schedule is listed below.

MKT 445: Sports Marketing
I am taking this class as an upper-level elective. I believe that it may be very helpful in preparing me for a career in the greatest sport in the world: horse racing.

AEC 325: Equine Law
I am really looking forward to this class. The topics that will be discussed include legal issues with stallion contracts, partnerships, horse ownership, wagering, public auctions, private sales, etc. The class is being taught by Walt Robertson’s son, Walt Robertson, Jr., who practices equine law in Lexington, KY.

AEC 321: Agriculture Futures Markets
I am taking this class to complete my minor in Agricultural Economics. The class will discuss the agricultural futures and options markets.

STA 291: Statistics
The course title is pretty self-explanatory. I am required to take this class by my major, but it could be interesting. It will also be the last “math class” that I ever take.

EQM 490: Equine Management Capstone
This is the capstone class for my major, Equine Management. The class will be centered around discussion of issues in the horse industry. There is also a group project that will be worth most of my grade. The project must analyze the various costs of owning and raising a Thoroughbred; I think I can handle that after this past year. On a side note, it has the fewest number of students of any class that I have taken during my time at UK; there are only eight students, including myself. It is also interesting to note that I am the only guy in the class, further displaying that the Equine Management major is one of the most female-dominated majors at UK (I believe it is close to 90% female).

What will I do when the above classes end and I graduate? Well that is still up in the air. I have almost completed my application for the MBA program at UK and I take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) this Saturday. I am hopeful that I get accepted to graduate school so that it will be an option upon graduation. I am also beginning the job hunt and hope to get a couple of job offers before May. I am trying to get myself as many options as possible.  

Moving on…

After a three race losing streak, my good friend Charlie (Usain Again) will drop back into the claiming ranks after six straight races at the starter allowance level. Charlie will run in the fourth race at Gulfstream Park in a $12,500 claimer. I haven’t had a chance to look at the past performances for the race, but apparently Charlie has a shot as he is 6/1 on the morning line. Good luck to Charlie and all of his connections!

Finally, I would like to make a comment about Monday’s Eclipse Awards Show. Here it is: it was dreadful. The show had about as much excitement as a middle-school sport’s team’s awards program. I turned on the Eclipse Awards in my living room and within a couple of minutes my roommates were begging me to change the channel because it was “so boring.” Boring should never be a word used to describe a large-scaled event in the horse racing industry. The show wasn’t just boring for my generation and I know this because I’ve spoken to some people from the “baby-boomer generation” that also found it painful to watch. It’s the most exciting sport in the world and the awards show may be the most boring in the world. A lot needs to change for next year’s show, but for starters, there needs to be a “big-name” star to host the show (with a stand-up routine that will actually get some laughs), some sort of musical performance, award presenters that aren’t stiff as a board, and a time-limit to acceptance speeches. I pray that next year’s show is better and that I will be able to stay awake to make it to the Horse of the Year presentation.

That is all for now as I am headed off to class. Have a great rest of the week!

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January 12, 2011

Why you won’t find Skype at Keeneland January

In less than a month I will have been a Thoroughbred owner for one year. In my short time as an owner/breeder I have found out that things don’t always work out as planned and, in fact, they rarely do. When I originally bought Sky and Skype I had planned to enter Skype in the Keeneland November Sale as a weanling. However, I was advised by many of my friends in the industry that I should wait for the Keeneland January Sale. The November sale was too big for a weanling by a non-commerical stallion and out of a non-stakes performing mare with a blank first dam. It made sense and I took their advice.

So my plans changed and I set my sights on Keeneland January.

I was fortunate enough to work the entire Keeneland September Yearling Sale for Bluewater Sales. It was an amazing experience and I’ve never learned more in a two-week period of time. It was while working this sale that I realized just how rough the market is right now. I watched hundreds of horses go through the ring for one or two thousand dollars and then would look down at my catalogue and have to pick my jaw up from the floor. Horses with fantastic pedigrees were going for nothing. What was wrong with them? Was the scope grade not perfect? Did the vet find something in the x-rays? It could have been a million things. I discovered that a horse that doesn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle will bring little to no money at auction. It has to be by the right stallion, out of the right female family, have winning siblings, look the part of a potential athlete, and have a perfect vet report. Just one missing piece and it all comes tumbling down. To say it was scary for me to watch horses go through the ring on the final days of the sale would be an understatement. Larger breeders and pinhookers can make up for several horses selling for close to nothing by hitting big with a couple of others. Unfortunately, like so many other breeders, I don’t have that many shots. In fact in my case, I have just one.

After the September sale I began to question my decision to put Skype into the Keeneland January sale. I had several consignors come out to look at her and their opinions varied on what Skype would bring at the January sale. The optimistic consignors told me that if she had a clean vet report that she could bring the stud fee (Even the Score stood for $15,000 at the time he was bred to Sky). In order to put Skype through the ring at the January sale, it would cost me close to $4,000 (entry fee, minimum consignment fee, transportation to the sale, x-rays, board at the sales grounds, and sales prep). So, if Skype vetted cleanly, looked good at the sale, and had a few people on her, then she had the potential to bring around $15,000. If she went for $15,000 then I would be paying over 25% of her sales price to put her through the ring! And what if she didn’t bring $15,000? What if enough people didn’t get a look at her or someone found something on the x-rays? What then? Would she even bring the $4,000 to cover the expenses? It’s possible that she wouldn’t and I would lose money and lose my horse. I decided that I couldn’t take this risk. Like I wrote earlier, I just have one shot and so I have to make it count.

Plans changed again.

I decided to not enter Skype in either the Keeneland January or Fasig-Tipton February sales. The risk-reward of putting her in a public auction just didn’t add up. Instead, I will be looking to sell Skype privately. This will save me money on commission and entry fees and will allow me to protect my interests a lot more than I would have been able to at a public auction. I have some ideas about how to market Skype and I already have a few people interested in her. I am hopeful that there will be more to come and I believe there will be. Skype has good size and scope and has the potential to develop into an attractive racing prospect. If I can find someone who believes in her one-tenth as much as I do, then I’ll find a buyer.

So that is the plan for now, but I don’t know what curveball this game will throw me next. Maybe this time the plans will work out and maybe I’ll be writing another post in the future about another plan. I have heard the quote, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plan.” I do not know the original origin of this quote, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to find out this person owned Thoroughbreds. I know God has a plan for me…I’m just hopeful that plan includes selling Skype for six figures ;-).

January 3, 2011

Do They Even Know We’re in Trouble?

A couple of days ago I met up with a few of my old friends from high school. There were a few guys in the group that I did not recognize; they were guys that my friends met while in college. After talking for a bit, one of the guys that did not know me asked what I wanted to do when I graduated in May. I told him that I have no definite plans at the moment, but that I hope to work in the Kentucky Thoroughbred industry. He responded by saying, “Well, I guess that means you’ll be in Kentucky your whole life then.”

When I responded to that by saying, “I hope so, but that’s kind of up in the air at the moment,” his face became confused.

“What do you mean up in the air?” he asked. “You want to be in the Thoroughbred industry…doesn’t that mean you’ll always be in Kentucky?”

I then proceeded to give him a very short summary of the problems facing the Kentucky Thoroughbred industry. He had no idea about any of it. He’s a 20-something year old from Louisville, who has lived his whole life in this state, and he honestly had no idea about what is going on with one of the state’s signature industries.

I wonder how common this is. Does the average Kentuckian even know we’re in trouble? Or will they not notice until the industry as we know it is gone from this state?

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