Sunline Trust International Management Scholarship recipient Sam Bergerson gives us an update on his travels.
It has been a busy last couple of months to end the scholarship. Yearling preparation at WinStar has been full noise leading in to the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. A new straight-shot pool has just been finished for the yearlings so we have been very busy breaking that in with the majority of the horses swimming.
I’ve also spent a few mornings over at the Training and Rest & Rehabilitation Centres Winstar offer. It was awesome watching all the horses work around the 7 furlong round polytrack and half mile up-hill gallop, as well as seeing all the different rehabilitative procedures the various horses were undertaking. Again, no expense spared.
On one of my Saturdays off, a small group of us from work made the two hour journey to Kentucky Downs racecourse for a day out at the races. It was a turf meeting (majority of racing in the USA is run on dirt) and was very similar to the European style of racing funnily enough. The prize money on offer was top-notch with $130,000USD maiden ‘specials’ along with 4 stakes races, the feature being the $750,000 ‘Tourist’ mile, sponsored by Winstar. A great day out even with it being a punters graveyard with not a single favourite saluting.
I have also been lucky enough to visit a few of the many other beautiful studs in Kentucky. I
was fortunate enough to tick off Ashford (Coolmore), Jonabell (Godolphin), and Calumet Farms, all steeped in a rich history in their own right, and all had state of the art facilities with top quality horses.
The Keeneland 2019 Yearling Sale ran from September 9 to September 22, comprising 6 books of 4644 catalogued yearlings, making it the largest and most diverse sale in the world. As Winstar does not offer their own consignment (yearlings are sold throughout various other consigners) I worked for Denali Stud for the 2 weeks the sale ran. Days would start at 530am and normally would run for 12 hours or longer, consistently clocking up 20km walking, ‘showing’ horses each day.
It was always north of 30 °C and blaring sunshine (we ended up not seeing any rain in September) so by the end of each day, everyone, including the horses, were knackered. Denali finished 4th on the Leading Consignor’s List with a total of 112 ‘hips’ offered of which 81 sold for a gross $19,202,500 and average of $237,068.
Once one book was sold you would change barn and then show and sell the next book of horses. As such a large number of hips were offered and there was not a lot of time between each of the books, it was fairly chaotic showing each book of horses.
The highlight of our sale was a 2.15milion USD Medaglia d’Oro colt which sold to Godolphin. The highlight of Book one was a 8.2million USD American Pharoah filly out of ‘Leslies Lady’ sold by Clarkland Farm, which set a new sales record for the highest priced filly ever sold at Keeneland. An amazing result to witness. She was in the same barn as us for Book one so we got to see a fair bit of her. The Keeneland Sale ended with its fifth-highest gross in history. From 4,644 catalogued, Keeneland reported 2,855 yearlings sold grossing $360,004,700USD.
The conclusion of the sales signalled the end of the Sunline Scholarship. Before I sign out for the last time I would like to thank a few people. Firstly the Sunline Trust for their financial support in making this amazing opportunity possible. The team at NZTBA, in particular Shannon and Justine for their organisation and continued support throughout my travels. Also, the teams at Haunui Farm & Wellfield Lodge for their help before commencing the Scholarship. If anyone has any questions or queries about the scholarship please feel free to get in touch.
I’ve always found in this industry, as tough as it may be, people are always willing to go beyond and above to help you out which has made such a difference to my experience on this scholarship. I have met so many great people during my 30 weeks away and have especially enjoyed seeing how different countries operate within the thoroughbred industry.