The continuing education of a yearling shopper

The continuing education of a yearling shopper

August 7, 2022

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by Trey Nosrac

The learning curve is steep for those who entered this sport without a harness racing background. Pedigree reading and evaluation of conformation are extremely daunting subjects. My first few partnerships occurred without understanding how to decipher those sales catalogs that my partner found so enthralling. To my early ears, all the talk about pedigrees, families, golden crosses and second dams could have been in Mongolian. My eyes glazed over and then rolled at this gibberish.

Home schooling myself using books, the Internet, and a dab of time spent jogging on weekends, was my education. Only after several years did the words on the sales pages and the puzzle of pedigrees come into focus. Somehow, unbelievably, opening a bulky yearling catalog and shopping for our annual horse became the most enjoyable part of the sport for me.

For months before the yearling sales, my pal and I become a tad maniacal, making more lists than Santa Claus receives and checking them twice, three, and four times. I turned into one of those people spouting pedigree gibberish. Searching for dreams on catalog pages and sales videos is a great time filled with hope, free from training and vet bills.

If Treys knows one thing, it is that he does not know much about the exotic world of yearling selection. It would be a treat and helpful to watch and listen to people who are experts. The pitch here is for education forums to learn and add to the fun of the annual yearling sales. All it would take is a pair of pedigree mavens and a streaming platform where they could run through a series of mock drafts of yearlings in the catalogs.

Other sports’ draft prognostication shows are everywhere. The hosts enjoy predicting, and the viewers enjoy the show. We could use a few of these energetic platforms to go deeper into research before selecting a yearling from among the thousands going to market.

While I find it moderately interesting to listen in on the hundreds of panels previewing other professional sports mock drafts, I would find it tremendously interesting to listen to experts talk about pre-yearling sales analysis. Not merely to hear what prospects in a catalog they prefer, but WHY they like the horse. What do these experts see beyond the apparent percentages and earnings, or think they see, that most of us miss?

Psychologically, there is a strong pull for these types of presentations. People love predicting things, having strong beliefs, and being proven correct. Even though the pool of yearling buyers is smallish and somewhat insular, this does not mean that we cannot incorporate some of the business techniques other sports use to motivate fans and customers during the non-action section of the season.

We all know people, you may be one of them, who immediately take each catalog, the Ohio Select, Harrisburg, Lexington, etc., and go through the pages meticulously, underlining, marking, circling, and making lists. True experts research information that is not in the catalog. Then after the yearling videos, they make adjustments. In the end, they arrive at a rating and price range.

Imagine if a couple of unbiased pedigree nerds separated a catalog into segments and analyzed the Pennsylvania yearling pacing fillies on a webinar or podcast. As a potential yearling shopper, I would be all over that. They would increase my knowledge, and they may inspire me to buy. I may or may not agree with them, but it would be fun.

The digital world has spawned passionate communities of people hoping to improve their knowledge in various niches. Deep research online is amazingly addictive, and yearling selection webinars could be attractive to us and possibly a few others in sporting fandom. Creating these new virtual communities to research and evaluate horses going to auction holds the hope of finding a few new participants. The “drafty” door may be more promising than asking young newbies to sit in the grandstands and fall in love with a glacially slow sport.

There is a similarity between a yearling sale and the world of professional sports drafts. Today, in our data-driven era, sports drafts are big business. Fans live vicariously through their home team. Even though they have no money at stake, they want to find the diamonds in the rough, debate selections, and sit on tenterhooks each draft day. With no skin in the game, they love the hunt. Imagine how interested these sports fans would find hunting for a yearling and securing their horse and franchise with their own money.

If a few expert pickers considered getting on their high horses to stream a series of yearling selection podcasts or webinars, I would be in the audience having fun and learning.

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