by Trey Nosrac
“Well, they hated it,” I said.
He wiped a crust of snow off the passenger door with his glove, opened the door, and slipped into the warmth of the car.
I pounced, “I’ve got another idea for stallion promotion. Wanna hear it?”
“No,” he said, clicking into his seat belt.
I dropped the Lexus into gear and kept rolling, “Every year, there will be stallions in a state program that get less than a dozen broodmares. Old stallions, new stallions, risky stallions, brothers of famous stallions, cousins of famous stallions, or retired pet racehorses with stallion paperwork. Most sane breeders will not knock on the barn door of these lone wolves.”
He shrugged. “That’s how business goes. Some stallions arrive with a big splash, others with a ripple. Some are on the way in or are on the way out, and others are on the margins.”
“Do you know how many stallions in Ohio bred between 0 to 20 mares last season?”
“I have no idea.”
“A quick count in the latest Stallion Directory was over 50. I never heard of some of these stallions, but I saw plenty of stallions that I recognized who do not do much business.”
“Breeding racehorses is a crazy business,” he said.
“Yeah but put yourself inside Trey’s head for a few minutes.”
“I would prefer listening from an appropriate social distance.”
“You know that I gravitate to the underdog. Each year I look at stallions for my mare that are not fashionable, not sensible, or not commercially viable.”
“Sort of like you.”
“What’s with the zingers. Are you taking up quarantine improv? Now pay attention. I look for reasons to roll with the outcast stallion. But when I do the math and find that six people on planet earth take their broodmare to this outlier stallion, and four of them probably own the stallion, red flags start flying. This outlier sire is too dicey for even me to roll.”
“What’s your point? That you are not completely insane?”
“No, my point is that a group of these marginal stallions should get into a herd and sponsor a promotional race. Limit the race to offspring of sires that get fewer than 20 mares, give the promotional race a catchy name like, The Fringe Frolic, and then do some serious advertising.”
He shook his head and said, “You’re certifiable.”
I kept pushing, “The owners of the Fringe stallions kick in for an advertising campaign fund. They cover the moderate purse for the race with a tab or a tax of a few hundred dollars per breeding. There is not much of a downside. This category of stallions does not have much else to lure owners of broodmares. Any breeding they scare up due to the promotion would be a small miracle.”
“Do you think it would be worth the effort? Do you think it would bring customers? Would it make a difference to you or anyone looking for breeding’s?”
I paused, “It might. These stallions already have a low sticker price. Combine a low price with flawed logic, and who knows what will happen. The Fringe Frolic eligible’s will be a questionable bunch of sires going to questionable broodmares. The percentage of Fringe Frolickers that make it to the gate will likely be small and weak. Buyers of yearlings might see this as a selling point.”
“The old, big fish in a small pond theory?”
“Sure, and don’t forget that the quirky promotional race is merely a perk. The foal gets staked to regular events like everyone else.”
“Top breeding farms and major customers would pass on this idea.”
“It’s for the fringe. The whole theory stuck in my head one season when my yearling was in a sub-pool of eligible racehorses. How we got into the little pool is a long story that I will not bore you with, but although I lost money, it was my favorite harness racing experience. The sub-pool concept added a new dimension for both selling and racing.
“Who would set up the whole project? Who would take responsibility for the pool and the advertising and the race?” he asked.
“Who knows? There is no entrance exam for doing crazy stuff. Any stallion owner, group of stallion owners, heck, any entrepreneurial person could run the thing.”
He shook his head, “Can’t see this working. The numbers, logistics, and time factor would be massive headwinds.”
I turned to him and gave a final push, “But, you never know. One of these horses from a stallion nobody ever heard of could make it to some big dances, not just The Fringe Frolic.”
He smiled, “Always dreaming.”
I nodded, “It’s what horseplayers do.”