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Jamie's Blog - September 2012

The Saratoga sale ring
The Saratoga sale ring

Welcome to America

I've been in the Blue Grass state of Kentucky for over six weeks now working and living at Taylor Made Farm, and what a busy and brilliant time it has been on the last placement of the NZTBA Sunline Scholarship. Lexington, the horse capital of the world has been very welcoming from my initial implementation into the Taylor Made way of life, to living with Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship, the Fasig-Tipton Select Yearling Sale in Saratoga and a special day out at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital it has been a great way to get past everything that I loved and miss about Ireland.

I said in the last blog that I was going to talk about the day-to-day duties that I perform at Taylor Made, but after reading Matt's blog from last year I didn't think it necessary to repeat what he has already said with so many other events to share. In this blog I'll try and give everyone a brief history of how Taylor Made became the leading sales agency in North America, a quick review of the Saratoga Sale and a recap of the Gr.1 racing from Saratoga and lastly my day out at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital.

Taylor Made History

Taylor Made started in 1976 when Duncan Taylor along with College friend Mike Shannon leased a farm where they began to board mares with the primary focus of breeding mares in central Kentucky. The business was incredibly successful from its initiation and after continued growth through the early years, Shannon's portion of the business was brought out by the Taylor's. Today Taylor Made is separated into a number of different companies including the boarding of clients stock, public sales, private sales and stallions. The boarding division is by far the largest with respect to the amount of people that work for the company with the farm covering over 1200 acres and they have the ability to house upwards of 350 horses all year round, but obviously their peak times are the breeding season and yearling preparation time.

The public sales division incorporates all the major sales in North America where they hold numerous records for the highest priced yearlings and broodmares as well as the leading consigner for consecutive years throughout the over thirty year life of the business which has resulted in over $1,600,000,000 in thoroughbred sales since its inception. Taylor Made also have a diverse range of clients always looking for a horse that would suit individual clients needs and this is where the private sales aspect comes into play. They brokered the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and American Oaks winner Gozzip Girl among the many other successful deals they have brokered privately.

On the stallion front Taylor Made stand there own stallions with the headline act being Unbridled's Song, a leading sire in North America year in year out. He is the sire of 90 individual stakes winners and 14 grade/group one winners, a magnificent stallion that had the highest priced filly at last year's Keeneland September sale, let's hope he's got something in there this year that can repeat the dose. First season sire Old Fashioned, a son of Unbridled's Song has already made a huge impact at the sales this year. He had a colt sell for US$250,000 at Fasig Tipton July which is now back at the farm awaiting the breaker and Taylor Made consigned a filly that made $360,000 at the Fasig Tipton Select Yearling Sale at Saratoga.

Also standing at Taylor Made is Northern Afleet, sire of the champion Amazombie the recent winner of the Grade 1 Bill Crosby Stakes at Del Mar after his win in the Breeders' Cup Sprint last year. Forestry a son of Storm Cat and sire of Preakness winner Shackleford is also at Taylor Made as well as Eskendereya, a son of champion sire Giant's Causeway. He was the 2010 equal highest rated three year old on dirt with young Coolmore stallion Lookin at Lucky and his oldest progeny are now only foals.

Taylor Made also have stallions with a number of different farms, most notably Speightstown and Tiznow with WinStar Farms. These two stallions have started their stallion careers very well; Tiznow is already the sire of 40 individual stakes winners including his exciting son Gemologist, winner of this year's running of the Wood Memorial Stakes, beating the Travers winner Alpha. Speightstown is the sire of 37 stakes winners including this years Alfret G. Vanderbilt Handicap winner Poseidon's Warrior. Aswell as these two exciting stallions they also have a number of different stallions standing in Florida and Louisana including Exclusive Quality a son of Elusive Quality and Half Ours the world record selling son of Unbridled's Song.

In conclusion a very slick well managed operation at the forefront of all technology related to the sale of thoroughbreds and sales agencies companies throughout the world, and it's great to be a part of it.

Saratoga Select Yearling Sale

Thursday 2nd August marked the start of the adventure to Saratoga Springs, New York for the two-day Fasig-Tipton Select Yearling Sale. Leaving after lunch on one of the three large semi's that would each take five horses from Taylor Made the adventure was under way, and for the next sixteen hours my duties were to make sure that the horses were comfortable in their fresh straw stalls, each equipped with water and hay to ensure they don't become dehydrated on the long trip north. No mishaps occurred and we arrived safe and sound at Saratoga at half past five the following morning ready to get the horses settled into their new surroundings before intense show days on Saturday and Sunday. Everyone was allocated their own horse that we each looked after, mucked out, bathed in the mornings, showed during the day and made sure that they were coping with everything well.
Jamie with a colt by Arch ex Frolic Away
Jamie with a colt by Arch ex Frolic Away

I was allocated a very good looking black colt by Arch out of Frolic Away, being the only Arch in the sale he had plenty of shows with everyone coming around to inspect the entire draft, but he wasn't as popular as some of the quality colts that Taylor Made had to offer. He still managed a number of individual shows before he sold on the Tuesday evening, and was eventually sold to Blandford Bloodstock, one of the largest thoroughbred purchases in Europe for US$110,000, a great return off Arch's US$30,000 service fee.

Among the highlights were three million dollar lots with the first being a big strong son of Street Cry knocked down to the bid of John Ferguson for US$1,200,000 on behalf of Sheik Mohammad. The colt is the first foal from the Canadian champion Serenading, a daughter of champion sire A.P Indy and by Darley's resident sire, the colt was always going to prove popular with a great pedigree and the physical specimen to match. The second million dollar earner was a colt by Empire Maker who sold for US$1,100,000 and makes him a full brother to the grade one winner Mushka, winner of the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes and the last was a big strong filly by Medaglia d'Oro out of the champion three year old filly of her year Wait a While. Todd Pletcher was the purchased as agent for US$1,575,000 who knows the family well having trained the mother to three grade one wins at three and four.

Gr. 1 Recap from Saratoga

Over the course of the meet at Saratoga, which ran from The 20th of July to The 3rd of September encompassing forty days of racing there were notably seventeen time honoured group one events of which will give you a quick run down of the most notable.

• The Whitney Handicap ran over 1800 meters is part of the "Win and You're in" qualification format for the Breeders Cup Classic. This years running was won by Fort Larned, a four-year-old son of E Dubai who became his sire's first grade/group one winner. Ego who won the 2010 running of the Concorde Handicap at Ellerslie is another of E Dubai's well-performed sons. Over the years the honors list includes Medaglia d'Oro, Lemon Drop Kid and Awesome Again, whom have all gone on to stand at stud in North America. Medaglia d'Oro looks to be the most promising with only six crops he has already sired seven individual group one winners including the champion Rachel Alexandra winner of the Kentucky Oaks by twenty lengths.

• The Alabama Stakes was the second of the group ones at Saratoga for 2012 with Questing taking out the race restricted to three year old fillies and run over two thousand meters. Questing is by the leading second-crop sire by stakes winners Hard Spun, the son of Danzig that stands at Darley. Hard Spun himself was a sharp racehorse winning the King's Bishop Stakes over 1400 meters like successful sires More Than Ready and Tale of the Cat

• Questing made it two group ones for the meet when she took out the running of the Coaching Club American Oaks to give Godolphin and Kiaran McLaughlin back to back success in the race after taking the race last year with It's Tricky

• The Ballyrina Stakes was won by the recent Coolmore private purchase Turbulent Descent by shuttle stallion Congrats, who stands at Vinery Australia. She is now a group one winner at 2, 3 and 4 and looks to have a very bright future as a broodmare ahead of her.

• The Personal Asign Stakes was awarded to the Todd Pletcher trained Love and Pride, giving him his second win the race. The daughter of A.P Indy has always performed well behind top echelon company such as It's Tricky, Plum Pretty, who is currently at Taylor Made and will head to the November Sale and Royal Delta, but she had her day in the sun for owners Green Hills Farm.

• The 2012 running of the million dollar Travers Stakes went right to the wire between Alpha and Golden Ticket with the first dead heat since the inception of the race. Alpha owned by Darley is a son of resident sire Bernadini and

• The six furlong Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap ran on the dirt was taken out by Poseidon's Warrior taking out this years running for. Taylor Made and WinStar partnership's Speightstown still holds the race record, running 1.08.04 in 2004.

• The Woodward Stakes is run over 1800 meters as well and restricted to older horses with this years running going to the battle hardened To Honor and Serve, the son of Bernadini now looks set to contest the Breeders Cup before being retired to stud. A Taylor Made Graduate when selling for US$575,000 as a yearling in 2009 he is now the winner of over US$1,775,000.

This is just a quick run down of the main races, although I must admit I was nowhere near excited about the American racing as I am about the spring racing that has already started with Ocean Park taking the first group one of the year in NZ, best of luck to the team as they head towards the Cox Plate.

Rood and Riddle
Horse on operating table at Rood and Riddle
Horse on operating table at Rood and Riddle

Just last week I had the amazing opportunity to spend a day at one of the best Equine Hospitals globally, Rood and Riddle. Taylor Made had a yearling heading over for surgery so John Hall the yearling manager organized for me to travel over with him and spend the day watching surgeries and having a general look around the amazing facility. I meet with the surgical crew when I first arrived and they sorted me out with a set of visitor's scrubs, ready for the first surgery of the morning where a weanling was to have a screw inserted into his fetlock across the growth plate. Now I'm not the best with the technical jargon, but in basic terms, the colt had fetlock varus, from my limited understanding it means that he is out from the knee to the fetlock and then inward from the fetlock to the foot or pigeon toed. So they put a screw through the outside of the fetlock joint, over the growth plate to slow growth and allow the growth plate on the inside of the fetlock to catch up and hopefully bring the foot back out. Most of the day was filled with these type of surgeries in weanlings before the growth plate closes off at six months or six weeks of age? There was also a number of other surgeries in one of the three surgery theatres, including tie forward and tie backs to allow the horse better access to air by opening their throat up more, a number of quality horses have had this procedure before, including So You Think in the autumn of his three year old campaign after he won his first Cox Plate.

Just a few weeks ago Bob Baffet's Bodemeister came all the way from California to be treated at Rood and Riddle after turning in some poor breezes since his last run in the Preakness where I'll Have Another ran him down in the shadows of the post. He won the Gr.I Arkansas Derby in spectacular fashion by ten lengths before he ran a close second to I'll have Another again in the Gr.1 Kentucky Derby.

Unfortunately the news wasn't all positive, Rood and Riddle found a nerve injury in his left shoulder that wouldn't heal in time for him to take on his end of season goals and has now been retired to WinStar Farm and looks to be a very exciting stallion prospect. Don't be shy to visit their website and take the brilliant video tour of the facility at http://www.roodandriddle.com/index.php

With the busy time ahead I will try and keep my mind on the job and get the last blog done before I head back to the UK, but if not, I'll be able to keep everyone informed about Tattersalls October as well. With the Keeneland sale already under way, this will make up the bulk of the last blog, but what a great learning experience it has been, being able to get your hands on so many different horses will hopefully make me a better horse person in the long run.

I also put up some photos from Saratoga on the photo blog at http://sunlinescholarship.blogspot.co.uk and will continue to put pictures up as I get around some of the great studs in Kentucky. Enjoy the great spring racing that is coming up

Until next time,

Jamie