Festival of Foolishness

The Real Life Ventures and Adventures of Trey and Batman

by Trey Nosrac

Episode 6

My new partner from the tech world is a rookie in the harness racing yearling game. We are on the brink of purchasing of a yearling, a move that makes as much fiscal sense as buying stock in a rotary dial telephone company.

I put down my coffee and began, “Almost show time, I’m pumped. Yearling sales are a blast. Horse auctions are a high point on my social calendar. I get to eat free snacks, read large books filled with intriguing riddles, and spend money I don’t have. They are a festival of foolishness.”

“Trey, you live in a strange world.”

“Yeah, but I like the neighborhood. We are down to our last few days. It’s time for some final tweaks to our list of Trey’s rules of natural selection based on what you might call semi-factual information.”

He chuckled, “Hunches?”

“Semi-hunches, remember we have to find a yearling where we are the last hand standing. We have to accept a few things that don’t bother us but will turn off the many in the crowd.”

He looked a little lost and asked, “Like what?”

“Like I have a sire named Broadway Hall on our list. He is an oldie but goodie and while he may not be fashionable, I have always liked this stud. I also have a Cash Hall and Full Count, same story. A foal from one of these sires might fall in our price range.”

He scanned the list on his phone screen and said, “I see them. I also see you took one off the list.”

“Yeah, that one had a quirky red flag in my mind. The horse I nixed was raised on a local farm. I prefer they are raised on a commercial farm, grow up in herds, and not wander around alone or with just a few pals. Others may like the idea that this horse got a lot of personal attention, but, again, personal opinion.”

“How does a new person in the game know about breeding farms?”

“You let them know you are interested and just show up. Ohio has a bunch of nice farms. During my time as a customer, I have been to Midland Acres, Hickory Lane Farms, Marvin Raber Farm, Dublin Valley and Steiner Stock Farm. These places are beautiful. The folks who run them and work at the farms are awesome. They seem happy to see the likes of me, which makes them very rare. There are another five or six farms that I haven’t been to. If you stick around, maybe next year we can start earlier and make some visits. The sharp buyers make it a point to do their homework and check out prospects on the farms before the sale.”

“Do these farms just raise Ohio yearlings?”

“Not exclusively. Ohio is getting stronger mares and making national horses. A terrific trotter named Wolfgang was raised and sired in Ohio. Marvin Raber just raised Lawmaker on his farm. Both horses raced this year in the biggest race in the country, the Hambletonian. A couple of other local-grown pacers are right there with the best.”

“So what’s left to do?”

“More list trimming.”

“Another filter?”


He tilted his head.

I explained, “All my life I have overestimated my abilities for no obvious reason. Occasionally, I admit what I don’t know or what I can’t do.”

“Trey?” Humility? I might need to sit down.”

“One thing I can’t do is physically evaluate yearlings. It is very possible that I have a type of dyslexia where every yearling in the stall looks perfect to me and every video looks awesome to me. I really stink at this part. I’m pathetic, I can’t even pick out horses I OWN without their name on the halter.”

He opened his palms, “So what do you do?”

“I know a handful of horse trainers and grooms who spend their lives with horses. They will be at this sale. I give them a few yearlings on the list and ask them to look. I don’t ask for anything like a big physical exam. I’m not looking for perfection, just an ‘okay’ nod or a ‘not thrilled’ shrug.”

“They would do that? You trust them?”

“Batman, I keep telling you that horsepeople are really a nice group. Besides, I’m guessing these horsepeople have probably looked at every yearling six times and have already formed an opinion.”

“This opinion might make a huge difference.”

I nodded, “It’s rare when I get a thumbs down. Plus, this sale already had somebody from the Sales Company eyeball every horse, which is good. On my own, left to my conformation chops, we could come home with a yearling with two tails and three legs.”

“So, what’s our plan?”

“We head out on Thursday about noon. I will arrange quick eyeballing for our list. We stroll around, look at all the horses on our list and pretend we know what we are doing. We watch people pick up the horses’ feet, we watch grooms bring out horses and we nod knowingly. Most importantly, we scarf down some free food.”

“Then the sale starts on Friday, I figure we are about 50/50 to come home with one of these nine.”

I nodded and looked at our list, concentrated and said, “Friday we are on a mission, actually Many Missions. We may meet a Count, try to Break a Bank, Triumph with a Caviar, and maybe take a trip down Broadway looking for an MVP.”

He smiled, “How long have you been working on that?”

“All morning.”

He returned fire quickly, “Putting aside your pathetic wordplay and pitiful puns, I’m pumped too.”