A big boat we keep missing: 2-year-olds in training sales

by Alan Leavitt

I was all set to explain to the world why Muscle Hill’s genetics make him a super sire, when I was gobsmacked by the lead story on the Blood Horse’s website. The headline said that a colt by Nyquist sold for $2.6 million at the Gulfstream sale of two-year-olds in training. In the story about the sale, it mentioned that the big colt was sold last fall as a yearling for $140,000. That, in this kid’s part of town, qualifies as a real killing.

This kind of thing, huge returns on investments, seems to happen every other day in the thoroughbred biz. They happen because smart people in the running horse world have figured out that the 2-year-olds in training sales offer the best chance to come up with a good racehorse. And it never happens in harness racing, for the simple reason that we don’t have sales of 2-year-olds in training.

There’s absolutely no good, or even bad, reason that we don’t have those sales. The closest we ever come, which is about as close as Tina was to Ike after their breakup, is to see a few 2-year-olds thrown away in a mixed sale after someone decided they weren’t worth the stake payments.

It would be so easy to put on a sale of two-year-olds in training. The Red Mile or Delaware would be an ideal place. The sale would be held in late June. A few days before the sale itself there would be qualifying races, and only horses that qualified would be offered in the sales ring. Each one would also have to be paid up in a certain number of good stakes, as opposed to holding a sale before stake payments were due.

In other words, no corners would be cut. What would be offered would be qualified 2-year-olds with real stakes potential, and the buyers would eat them up. Anyone who’s spent time on the racetrack knows that when the baby races start, there are plenty of eagle-eyed horsemen on hand, just waiting to swoop in and make a generous offer for a baby that catches their eye.

And it makes perfect sense. Although this kid has been a life-long seller of yearlings, it still would be a very attractive prospect to owners and trainers if they could buy a proven commodity, rather than a good looking colt who has never had a bridle on his head.

Having just observed a landmark birthday, it will be up to someone else to put this concept into reality. But whoever does it will reap a rich reward, and at the same time do our business a big favor.